80s Funny Cars

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Mid-Eighties

80s Funny Cars: Europe

Text by Danny White

In the latest round of 80s Funny Cars, we travel across the Atlantic to cover some of the best Europe had to offer, including Harlan Thompson, The Cannonball team, Alan Herridge, and others. - November 27, 2008

American Harlan Thompson became Europe's top funny car pilot in the eighties at the wheel of Knut Soderquist's machine. Beginning with the Tre Kroner Machine and continuing with a series of Budweiser backed cars, Thompson and Soderquist set the pace for Europe. This version of Knut's Trans Am ran 6.20 at Santa Pod; an updated version ran 5.93 in 1988. (Photo by Mick Farmer, courtesy of Jon Spoard /ukdrn.co.uk; info from Draglist files)

The Cannonball was the ex-Don Prudhomme Army machine bought by Santa Pod's owner Roy Phelps. Prudhomme drove the car for Phelps in 1980 at Phelps' Santa Pod track. The famed Arrow was repainted and named after the movie Cannonball Run. Phelps then applied the name to the biggest funny car race outside of the United States. Bill Sherratt got the driving job for the Arrow after a try out in 1980 at the wheel of Phelps’ Rain City Warrior alcohol car. Sherratt won Santa Pod's 1982 "Cannonball" race and ran a best of 6.35, 241. In 1986, John Niedowitz took over the driving chores, running a 7.02, 188 best in the venerable machine as late as 1988. (Photo by Mark Gredzinski, courtesy Alan Currans/theaccellerationarchieve.uk; additional text from Curt Swartz and info from Draglist files)

Nobby Hills was one of the pioneers of British drag racing and had been racing from almost the beginning. By the eighties after racing dragsters and funny cars, Nobby built Houndog 10, this Dodge Challenger. The Keith Black Hemi powered machine was one of the most consistent funny cars of the era. Hills enjoyed sponsorship from Sldo, a heavy equipment company. Nobby's driver of choice was Owen Hayward. Owen had a bad fire in the Houndog 10 at Mantorp Park in 1983. The car burned severely, prompting the building of a new car. In 2008, the Houndog team debuted a new Camaro. (Photo by Paul Garland, courtesy of Jon Spoard/ukdrn.co.uk; info from Draglist files)

Dennis Priddle is considered by some to be Europe's version of Don Garlits. He is probably best known for his homebuilt Top Fuelers, but he also ran a series of tough funny cars. The John Wolfe Racing Monza was Priddle's final funny car. Dennis built the car himself, drove it, and tuned it to 6.50s. Priddle sold the car to the Page Brothers and turned his attention to his Top Fueler in 1981. (Photo by Paul Garland, courtesy of Jon Spoard/ukdrn.co.uk; info from Draglist files)

Rune Fjeld bought Al Bergler's last "Motown Shaker" Trans Am and kept the name after the famed tin man retired from racing. This was Rune's third fuel funny car, which he raced from 1983 to 1987. Fjeld achieved a best of 6.21, 223 at Santa Pod. Rune continues to race to this day with series of fuelers with various drivers. (Photo by Alan Currans, courtesy of Alan Currans/theaccelerationarchive.co.uk; info from Draglist files)

The Page Brothers, Gary, Clive, and Dave, came to fame in England with their Panic altered. The brothers bought Dennis Priddle's "JWR" car in 1981 and put it on the track in 1982. All the brothers drove the car at one point or another, each hitting best times in the 6.60 zone. Bob Jarrett purchased part of team, and drove the Panic in late 1984 to a 6.73 at 207. The team sold the car to an alcohol funny car team and bought one of Tom Hoover's funny cars, which they put into the fives. (Photo by Timo Aartomaa, courtesy of Alan Currans/theaccelerationarchive.co.uk; additional text from Curt Swartz and info from Draglist files)

The famed Stones Racing Team bought the ex-Ray Beadle Blue Max car from Roy Phelps after their ex-Schumacher Cuda was getting too old. The Stones continued to run their beloved Chevy at first, but the team later switched over to the standard Chrysler Hemi. Dave Stone got the funny to run mid-sixes at best. The final Stone's funny car was destroyed in fire at Santa Pod in summer of 1983. Owen Hayward jumped into action and helped get Dave Stone out of the car. The Stones retired from FC racing after that incident. (Photo by Alan Currans, courtesy of Alan Currans/theaccelerationarchive.co.uk; additional text from Curt Swartz and info from Draglist files)

Leif Dalbach and his partner raced a series of fuel funny cars backed by Canon Cameras. The pair built this Challenger after racing a Celica and a Vega. The Challenger had a Keith Black Hemi that ran 6.50, 222 in 1981. The pair retired after the 1983 season of racing. (Photo by Timo Aartomaa, courtesy of Alan Currans/theaccelerationarchive.co.uk; info from Draglist files)

Lee Anders Hasselstrom was one of the most popular and hard-running European Funny Car stars of the late 1970s into the eighties. The Red Baron was Lee Anders’ nickname. He was best remembered for his Flygvapnet (Swedish Air Force) backed funny cars. By the mid-eighties, Hasseltrom built this Coca-Cola backed Camaro. It featured a paint job similar to John Force's American machine. Lee Anders ran a great 5.99 in the Camaro to become one of the first five-second European funny cars at Santa Pod. Tragically, Lee Anders was killed in a qualifying accident in Pitea, Sweden, on July 22, 1988. (Photo by Andy Watson, courtesy of Jon Spoard/ukdrn.co.uk; additional text from Darren West and info from Draglist files)

Alan Herridge was one of the great hot rodders of British drag racing. The popular "Bootsie" could do everything on a racecar, from building and tuning to driving. Herridge was known best for the Gladiator funny car as well as the Asphalt Alleygator Top Fuel dragster that he drove for Roy Phelps. In 1980, Alan built this good-looking Trans Am; it is shown with the second paint job in this photo. Bootsie ran a great 6.19, 241 in the car at Santa Pod in 1981. Herridge died when he crashed his brand new "Midnight Cowboy" jet funny car on its first pass, on November 6, 1983, at Santa Pod. (Photo by Alan Currans, courtesy of Alan Currans/theaccelerationarchive.co.uk; Additional text from Curt Swartz and info from Draglist files)

 

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