From Drag Racing News, October 1979

Pro Comp at the September World Series should be a real needle affair, with the English racers out for blood, agitated by what one driver described as "Swedish cheating"! In the cause of vengence it is rumoured that teams are prepared even to lend engines in an all out attempt to shut down the Scandinavians. Word had it, that in an attempt to get a Swede into the points lead, a complete car of a fellow racer was substituted for the unrun final, after disputing this, just the engine was swopped!

Just read the piece from Drag Racing News about Sweden v England "needle". *(See entry below - Chris)

The origin of this needle was the 1978 Easter Internationals; the UK Pro Comp (as it was then) guys stepped up and started beating the Scandinavians left right and centre at this race - Pro Comp was won by the Pages' "Panic" altered with, unless my memory fails me, a 7.18 which was pretty good for Pro Comp and damned good for an altered!

Some of the Swedish racers were stunned by the UK guys' performances at this race and demanded a fuel check, which everyone passed with flying colours. But it engendered some ill-feeling which the media and the track announcers at the time used to enjoy whipping up. I remember at one race Brian Taylor talking on the PA about a Norwegian team, saying "And of course the Swedes hate the Norwegians almost as much as they hate the English" and then to his horror realising that he had two Swedish guests with him in race control. He very quickly apologised.

It got pretty jingoistic for a year or two, one stand-out memory being in 1979 when Norm Wheeldon drove the beautiful Wheeldon and Claxton Pro Comp Dragster to victory over a 16-car field at the "World Finals", including Krister Johansson who had recently run the first European Pro Comp 6. The reaction of the crowd when the win light came up in Norm's lane was something I'll remember for a long time.

Another jingoism memory is of the 1980 Easter Internationals (at which Steiner Stolen ran a 6.91 and a 6.81, the first Pro Comp 6s in the UK, and Brian Hazelton was the first European over 200 mph in Pro Comp, with a 205 mph run in the Thunderbird altered), Krister Johansson did a burnout and a fountain of fuel spewed up to gantry height from a loose connector. And the crowd went mad!

Tog UK

Good to read your site, and I couldn't agree with "Tog" more about Sept 1979 World Finals when Norm triggered the win light in Pro comp, after an amazing weekend with that spectacular small block rail. Nowadays I split my time on track days with motor cycles, and my menswear business in Great Yarmouth. Hi to all my old friends, and also to Clive in the US.

Tim Claxton, exWrangler, Rifle, Coyote,in all its guises, Victim, Tudor Rose, and Mr Shift.

Further to TOG's and Tim Claxtons memories of the event. I, like Tim, was on the startline for the Pro-Comp final against Krister Johansen. The flashbulbs and Kristers nitro flames made an amazing scene in the twilight. It was an incredible moment heightened by the knowledge that we were flying the British flag against the much better funded swedes, and also by the knowledge that we had upset a big chunk of the Brit racing contingent by putting Jim "Le Patron" Read out of the semis when he had a chance of the European championship. Rumour has it that unnamed persons offered Norm money to "sandbag" the semi - but he wouldn't have it!

I was also next to the finish line when Snow and Beadle came through in the funnys and you could have barely seperated the winning margin with a Rizla.

My last point might raise a few hackles but here goes - Reg Hazeltons Thunderbird Topo Altered going 205mph with an old 392cu in Iron Block! You're having a laugh, ain't you? This was one of the races that made it on to "World of Sport" (anyone remember Dickie Davies introducing the 'Happy Cars'). As the TV pictures showed a Swedish Funny (Bifrost, I think) was pulling away from Reg at the finish and in the crosswind its 'chute was whipping about, either this or simple technical error caused a false speed to be indicated. As far as I know Reg never backed up the record at the meeting and probably never came close to it even with the Donovan motor. I stand to be corrected on this, so if anyone out there has proof to the contrary lets hear it.

Julian Backhouse

Re Hazleton's 200mph+ speed, I don't believe it either. There was a lot of strange speeds in those days, more so than usual at this meeting and I believe it was something to do with the wind and litter!

Re Alan Bates and the first 5 second Funny Car run, I was on the startline that day and can tell you that I had never experienced a vehicle leaving the line that quick until then. However the time was disputed almost immediately by various people including Gary Page.

Jim Broome, UK

Following all the comments about the finals in 1979, yes we were offered £200 by another racer to sandbag in the semis. Norm and I had only entered the pro comp wars that year, and were naive as to what had gone on before.

We made the right decision at the time, going on to win the event, but I now understand where all the British contingent were coming from. It was however not a team event, we were out to win for ourselves, and so create a little piece of drag racing history!!

Tim Claxton, UK