|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!