Dennis Priddles World Record setting slingshot
In 1973 Dennis Priddle travelled to California to purchase an AA Fueler, that had been built by, and belonged to Norm Wilcox (he also purchased Norms truck as part of the deal). The car was one of the lightest of its kind ever built at 1280 lbs and had run a best of 6.2 seconds with a heavy 392 cu in Hemi motor, it was fitted with a new Donovan 417 for Dennis. To many peoples amusement it was front engined car. At a time when many drivers were switching to rear engined machines people cast some doubt on Dennis' sanity but his reply made sense, "When I get beaten regularly by a rear engined car I'll buy one".
Before returning to the UK Dennis took the car to Pomona to compete in the Winternationals, qualifying with a 7.2 second run. The eventual outcome of this event resulted in Dennis returning home nearly three weeks later with the meeting still unfinished! (For the full account of this story from Simon Groves click here)
Back in the UK one of the first jobs to be undertaken was the addition of new front body panels. In the USA the car had been raced without a full body. Dennis, along with the help of Tony Gane, made the new panels from aluminium, making sure that they were easily removable. It was discovered later, after the cars initial shakedown runs, that in fitting the new panels they had trapped the air intake on the fuel tank, which had caused a vacuum in the tank and in turn caused the air-fuel ratio to change during a run.
The first paint scheme for the car was a trick purple job with airbrushed designs running the length of the body. This was later changed to a red and blue scheme in STP colours to match Dennis' Avenger Funny car.
Photo by Bill Dossett
In July 1973 Norm Wilcox came over to drive Mr Revell at the BDR&HRA International meetings. In the first round he qualified last with a wild out of shape eleven second run. Priddle was third in Mr Six. At the third round at the end of July the car was showing its future potential. Norm was up against Tony Nancy in the semi finals. Nancy won with a 6.59/221 to Wilcoxs red lighting 6.55 in the quickest race outside America. Dennis continued to drive his 'Mr Six' slingshot throughout the 1973 season before retiring it at the end of the year. Dennis continued to drive his 'Mr Six' slingshot throughout the 1973 season before retiring it at the end of the year.
Mr Revell ran consistent six second times through 1974 before blowing the motor on a 7.20 second run at Santa Pods Easter meeting in 1975. A month later, with a new motor, he set a new top speed record of 225mph at Blackbushe. The following weekend, April 19th, at Santa Pod, Dennis put in a single qualifying pass of 6.49. He made it to the final to meet Peter Crane in the Stormbringer. In the final on April 20th. Crane ran 6.79/204 while Dennis ran a 6.04sec E.T.at 218mph. This world record for a front engined fueler stood until the mid 1990s.
Two weeks later Dennis took Mr Revell to Snetterton in Norfolk to race in Round Four of the NDRC National Championship. He found himself up against Liz Burn, who was driving the ex Clive Skilton GTX Lizard Dragster. At the top end Liz missed her parachute release and while trying to find it crossed the centre line and hit Dennis from behind. Both cars left the track and ended up in the field. Both Liz and Dennis were OK, Mr Revell was rebuilt but the Liz & Ollie car was a write off.
Medicine Man photo by Mike Dossett
Dennis was turning his attention more to Funny Cars at this time (he debuted his new Avenger bodied car at that Snetterton meeting) but continued to drive Mr Revell until the end of the 1975 season. I was recently lucky enough to speak to Dennis and he told me that he firmly believes that during this period he ran the UKs first five second run in Mr Revell. The occasion was a match race between Priddle and Peter Crane although the date is uncertain at the moment (possibly September '75?). In one of the races Dennis beat Crane and is certain that the car ran under six seconds. The story is that the clocks failed in Dennis' lane and the E.T. was never announced or recorded but Dennis is certain that that was the one. Crane was credited with the first five at the Easter meeting the following year.
In 1976 Priddle turned his attentions to the Funny Car and Mr Revell was sold to Mike Hall who painted it blue and re-named it 'Shutdown'. Mike used the engine from his 'Shutdown' altered to run the car in the newly formed Pro Comp class. At the end of 1976 the car was purchased by Micky Naylor and re-appeared in 1977 as the 'Medicine Man' with a Chrysler/Milodon engine, again running on alcohol in the Pro Comp class.
Naylor had a successful time in the car running low sevens and in 1978 turned to nitro and moved up to Top Fuel. In July he ran his first six. By the September meeting at Santa Pod Micky had got the car down to a 6.56 but the end was near. He lost the nose weight of the car and flipped it over backwards after it wheelied off the line. The car was written off. Micky was unhurt but he never raced again. This was the end of the line for the car and the last occasion a Top Fuel slingshot was seen in the UK.
The end of the line. Photo by Nick Pettit, courtesy of Jon Spoard
Mr Revell spec. as of July 1973
|Engine||Aluminium Donovan, 417 cubic inches. Venolia pistons & rings, Anson aluminium con rods, D&D pushrods, Engle flat tappet camshaft running on Donovan needle rollers, Delta crankshaft with counterweights and TRW bearings, Al Barnes dry sump system, Hays flywheel, compression ratio 6.2-1|
|Cylinder Heads||Donovan. Aluminium rocker stands, modified stock Chrysler inlet rockers, Donovan forged exhaust rockers, Engle valve retainers, 2 1/16 inch exhaust and inlet valves|
|Blower||Vancharger GMC6-71 with teflon seals and Cragar blower drive, running at 15% overdrive|
|Fuel System||Enderle single pump and Enderle injection. Cragar inlet manifold|
|Clutch||Hays triple plate, Donovan bellhousing|
|Transmission||Donovan direct drive|
|Chassis||Chrome-moly tube, 212 inch wheelbase, built by Don Long|
|Front Axle||Built by Don Long, VW torsion bars and P&S steering box|
|Front Wheels/Tyres||Unknown rims, 225X17 Avon Speedmaster tyres|
|Rear Axle||Late model Chrysler 4.10 with Donovan halfshafts|
|Rear Wheels/Tyres||American mags, 16 1/2 inch Goodyear slicks|
|Brakes||Hurst Airheart discs|
|Body||Rear panels in magnesium by Tom Hanna (California) front panels in aluminium by Dennis Priddle and Tony Gane, paint by Mechspray (UK)|
|Miscellaneous||Simpson fire extinguishers, single oil pressure gauge, interior by Tony Nancy|
|Sponsors||Revell Model Kits, John Woolfe Racing, Radio Luxembourg, Queensway Travel, Shell Oil and Custom Car magazine|