Hi Tony, first of all congratulations for running at this years California Hot Rod Reunion.
Hi Chris, many thanks it was a dream come true and I am still in disbelief.
For some of our readers who may not know about you, how did you get started in drag racing, and what cars have you run in your career?
It seems a long time ago now when I purchased my Morris 1000 with a 3.8 triple carb E type engine in, running on methanol. I actually started in the street rod scene after going to a rod run in Romford, Essex and seeing Barry George there with his V6 mark one Cortina. I built a Morris 1000 with a 1622cc BMC engine in. A parts store was shutting down and had every panel new which I purchased and so the car was built. Since then there has been hundreds of cars from various mark one Cortina’s to a 440 ford Capri and from a Mustang fastback that I fitted the interior out with the curtains from the house, while my wife was in hospital giving birth to our 55 Chevy with a V10 Viper engine in that we have now. Race cars I have owned are the Morris 1000, then I purchased the Bennett Brothers Phantasm and renamed it Robopop and repainted it with murals, I was then asked if I wanted to buy the old Frenzy so the pop got sold and a supercharged big block Chevy was purchased along with Frenzy. This was renamed Spirit of Frenzy and ran real strong for a few years.
At this point in my life I had the terrible news that I had cancer. Thanks to a supportive family and fantastic medical staff we kicked it into touch and looked forward to the rest of my life.
It was at this point that I was asked by Knut Soderqvist if I wanted to sell Spirit of Frenzy to some guys from Malta. A deal was struck but part of the deal was I had to go and drive it at the next meeting. Well I took along crew chief and all round good guy Charlie Draper plus Rob Nigh who carried out various jobs on the car like paint etc. The car was the first V8 in Malta and one the meeting an experience I will never forget.
Now we step up to an alky altered built by Steve Hodkinson from the USA and we was the first into the 6’s and held that record for 7 years. This car was then sold and I am never racing again haha.
A deal was struck with long time racer and friend Harlan Thompson to purchase his second fuel funny car. We ran this car to mid 6 second runs in various guises trying to get that one big sponsor.
This car was sold and I am never racing again, no I mean it this time haha
We went to Bakersfield and a fuel altered was for sale which we purchased. We had a few problems with this and well we all know what happened when the car came down from carrying the wheels. I hit the wall and my wife hit me. Believe me the latter hurt more.
Right I really mean it this time, were done, no more racing, I have gardening to do.
Now at this point I blame Dave Bryant plus Jason and Roy Phelps. They said they would rebuild the car with a current nitro fuel funny car chassis. Oh go on then one more go!!!!
We ran this car down into the low 6’s over a few years and had a fantastic time with great friends.
We had just been had over by a Spanish builder who stole our dream and our money and to this day lives in our house without paying us a penny back. Sounds wrong and it gets worse when the solicitor we had was in with the builder GGrrrrr. Spanish law is a funny old thing!!!!
So the car had to go along with the race trailer and home for many meetings.
Time to recoup and build a house, then she said I can go back racing lol.
I saw an advert for a 34 in Holland. It was an ex TCI show car now with a Hemi in and ready to race. I spoke to my long time friends and crew Kevin Miller, John Mordey, Ian Walkerdine, Micky Moore and finally the poser himself Jimmy Mackenzie. It was agreed we could do a few meetings a year as we were all older now haha. Well what turned out after a complete revamp none of us expected. The 34 is one awesome showpiece that runs the numbers to back it up. We are all really pleased with the end result and it has attracted much attention across the world.
So that would be it, we are all happy doing a bit of gardening and a few races a year plus the odd show with the 55 and the 34.
Every other year the whole Venom team go away for the New Year and last year it was Cyprus. On the morning we were due to leave the minibus came with everyone on ready but we were both really ill so never made it. We flew out the next day on what must have been like flying over Germany in World War 1 as everyone thought it was the end. The young lady next to me was sobbing her heart out and asking if the plane was going to crash. Well obviously we did land but how that put a different perspective on life for the future.
My wife pointed out that I was going to be 60 this year (thanks for that) and did I want a party ? Hell no I want to race on the Patch in Bakersfield. We explained to the crew that they may need to save all their pennies for October. When we got home the first idea was to do as Bob Glassup had done and ship the 34 over and run it. However I noticed Richard Hartman had his 55 funny car for sale. I asked him if he would be interested in renting it for the meeting. He rang back a week or so later to explain that the 55 was too old for Nostalgia Funny Car but he would love to do the meeting and he had a new 69 Camaro ready to run so a deal was struck. I would go over for a couple of test runs then enter the meeting at Bakersfield.
There are so many stories attached to these meetings but I will save them for the grandkids. We arrived at Bakersfield and first Qualifier came round, wonder who will be in the other lane? I was standing next to the car putting my head restraint on and this guy came up and said “stay safe” it was none other than the man himself Cruz Pedregon. Tony Betts from Basildon in UK is up against flippin Cruz Pedregon at the Patch. Did I need to keep my cool now! I shook his hand and said good luck Cruz. I was Shxtting myself, don’t mess up its only first qualifying run. Well I did mess up but not as bad as he did and I crossed the line first. So that’s all I am telling the grandkids haha. It was an 8 second run and the car had run a 5.6 with Richard driving. No pressure then. Richard and the crew came down to the end of the track but I thought someone had passed away. No body spoke and the car was taken back to the pits and stripped ready for the afternoon run. Virgil Hartman came up and went through the run and explained where I went wrong. Must try harder!!!!
Second qualifier went very similar as there is a solenoid under the throttle that operates an actuator on the fuel shut off to keep it on. I was being pushed up in the seat and pushing the throttle with my toes. As the throttle came off the actuator came off as well and my arm was shutting the fuel lever. The moment full throttle was on again the actuator was on and all hell broke loose haha. Another 8 second run and a quiet trip back. I told Richard he should have drove at this meeting and me at a smaller event. Being the super nice guy he is, his answer was “This is your dream not mine “. Right then tomorrow you are gonna get it.
Virgil sat me down and had a quiet word with me, he is really clever you could not see any bruises. This is it my last chance to qualify, I need a low 5.9 and I am in the show. I was really calm and everyone had a smile on their face. I think they knew!!!!
Well a 6.1 at 249 mph was just not good enough, but boy was it good.
What a dream!
What a birthday!
What great friends!
What a great family!
Thank you one and all!
What does 2016 hold for team Venom?
I had a couple of offers while in the USA that hopefully come true.
The 34 will be at a few meetings in Europe
If a plan can be put together I would love to run a NFC in Europe
There are a few other things that are in the pipeline for 2016 like a 1948 panel truck, Mark Williams rear and a blown big block built by Rob and Nick at ICE engines. This is all being built by the maestro Wayne Streams.
Good morning from the 24th California Hot Rod Reunion, what a fantastic weekend it has been! The 3rd and final qualifier saw Tony Betts run 6.112 at 245.89 mph, living the dream in the Hartman’s Running Wild ‘69 Camaro. Tony has done a fine job throughout the weekend and should be proud of his achievements. It is plain to see that his chances were high to qualify if he had more runs in the car, the first couple of runs he was just settling in and getting comfortable. Tony has done a fantastic job in difficult circumstances and if the 6.11 was run one Saturday…. well who knows, but the numbers and confidence were going in the right direction. Richard & Virgil both thought Tony had done a great job, as did the massive supporting English contingent in attendance at this 2015 Hot Rod Reunion.
This is the lion’s den of nostalgia fuel funny car racing in the world with many top racers behind Tony in the qualifying at this event. Cruz Pedregon 6.562, Dennis Swearingen 6.401, Marcus Lawson 6.55 to name but a few of the 33 nitro funny cars. Tony ended up qualified in the 24th position. Absolutely fantastic......and the story continues! The bump spot was 5.898 so my prediction was good, Bazz Young ran 5.995 at 239.02 mph in his stunning ‘69 Camaro missing out from getting in the field for 3rd time, but it's a tough show to get into with the bump at 5.898 and low E.T at 5.642, and top speeds of 262.28, incidentally both set by a ‘69 Camaro.
Good morning from sunny Bakersfield, where it seems like 90% of the UK drag racers are in attendance. I've never known a March Meet or Hot Rod Reunion with so many happy British fans in attendance!
Qualifier 1 in nitro funny car was a mixed bag with some of the big names not making the show. Tony Betts had an issue with tyre shake & issues with the pedal and ill-fitting fire boots, he was struggling to keep his foot planted managing to run an 8.8 et, so it was off to Simpson for some new fire boots. In round one Bazz Young didn't make the field either but that all changed in round two with Bazz running 5.99 @ 235 mph and was on the bump spot with only a few cars to run, but was bumped out by Marc Meadows in the ‘Good Times’ car pushing the bump to 5.96, Bazz has got another chance today.
As for Tony's 2nd qualifier in his new fire boots the car sounded crisp and strong warming the motor, Tony pulled round to the line and all seemed well and the burnout was fine but on reversing up the car seemed slow, he went to the line and the engine sounded great but on the hit the car was sluggish only running 8.19 so it was obvious the car had issues but Tony was good and did everything that was expected of him. In the pit following a complete engine breakdown it was found that the clutch was fried and there may be some Lenco issues ....but hey this is drag racing U.S. style! So that leaves his third and final attempt at qualifying. Tony has got 1 new complete motor, a new two speed Lenco and a brand new clutch, so things could get better today, let’s keep our fingers crossed. Oh and as for those new Simpson fire boots well they had to go back in exchange for a smaller size! Driving a new fuel funny car at the California Hot Rod Reunion is a very tall order, and Tony is doing a stellar job!!
Tony is looking
cool and relaxed he knows all eyes are on him. The car is looking good and they are looking to fire up at about 3 pm local time . Their are some heavy hitters looking to qualify tomorrow
with a bump spot projected to be in the 5.80s. It's going to be a tough field...but Tony has got all the ingredients to win the event and the Hartmans definitely are expecting to do very very
well. No pressure on Tony!!
Also in the AA /FC line up is ex-pat Brit Bazz Young, he has run the reunion twice before but failed to qualify despite running in the 5.90s. Bazz is originally from Birmingham, he then moved to
Australia and now lives races in the States.
NitrOlympX With Ramon running against Lee Galimore
The following Dragstalgia Videos courtesy of Neil Dilkes
I have just heard from the new team of Lotsabeera and Best with an artist rendering of the new car, what a beauty!!
Here are some words from car owner/driver, Jon Best.
"The build is progressing, with the engine nearly complete. Attention will turn shortly to the chassis. The choice of body was an easy one when I decided to just go with my gut. I always liked the Corvette, so it had to be. Darren West at Power Race Graphics, www.powerracegraphics.com took on board my design brief, and having pooled some ideas, came up with a render that exceeded my expectations, and I've been blown away by the support and kind words that have been received since announcing it, so a big thank you to everyone.
Next up will be to finish up the last of the engine items and get the body shipped over in preparation for the chassis build"
I am sure you will all join me in wishing Jon all the very best with this build, looking forward very much to seeing it at the track!
Over the last year the Apache team have made fantastic progress, tuning the car to some seriously impressive numbers, would that change for Dragstalgia?? Simply no, Rob Loaring calling tuning duties on the car saw Tim to a string of low 6 second passes, resulting the best for the event 6.1341 and best speed 224.40 to qualify at number 1. Sadly the rains came to wash away any chance of the final, so based on that number 1 qualifier the team took away the big prize of the event, nostalgia cannonball winner! Congratulations to Tim and the whole Apache team!!
Also in attendance is class regular, Ramon van der Weurf. The usually ultra consistant alky car had the team scratching their heads for the weekend chasing non firing cylinders. There was an
issue with the number 1 cylinder predominately, all data showing there was no burn happening. This lead to a string of 6.7 second runs, around 0.4 seconds off from where Ramon normally is. No
doubt the team will have this sorted soon and will be up at the front again soon
Saturday afternoon saw the eagerly await debut of the new car for Bob Glassup, now named Bubblegum. With almost all new cars there are a certain amount of shake down runs, for the car and driver!
Bob took to the funny car excellently and will surely be a force to be reckoned with in the future. The car is beautifully turned out and is a credit to all involved.
The Chaos fuel altered was in the hands of new driver, Jake Clayton. Although the car was 'turned down' from the awesome 6.1's Nick Davies was running, it is still a fuel altered and demands a
great deal of respect! Jake handled the licensing duties fantastically and hopefully we will see the car making storming runs again before it is retired at the end of the year (see the news
article for the 13th of August at www.eurodragster.com for further details of this news)
Dave Grabham made a return to the track in Freddy's Revenge. When the car was fired up in the pits all sounded good, however when on the track it wouldn't fire properly for the burnouts
or runs. The general thoughts are there is a mag issue preventing the motor to load, on the second attempt Dave shut off after the attempted burnout. Running these cars sure isn't easy!
Though not running in the Nostalgia Cannonball, there has to be an honourable mention to Clive Mechaell driving the California Kid nitro altered. After a few eventful years of trying at
Dragstalgia, it all came together in 2015 and Clive made a full power pass down the Santa Pod track, well done to the whole team!
For those of you who could tear yourself away from the on track action there was the chance to see the new car of Simon Hayward on display in the pits. In 1973 Paula Murphy came over to the UK
with her "Miss STP" Plymouth Duster funny car. Santa Pod brought the car and handed over the running to UK drag racing legend Nobby Hills. Under his guidance and driven by Owen Hayward the
duster, renamed Houndog 7, became one
of the real favourites of European drag racing in the early days. This new team under owner/driver Simon Hayward (Owens son) aim to re-create the look, feel and excitement of this historic
Another progress car making its debut is the nitrobug of Andy Raw. Though with still lots to be done, these cars are showing a great interest in the class, that should be a real crowd favourite come next year as the cars become completed. Check out the teams page for a look at who is about, plus others in the pipeline not mentioned here!
What a great show again put on by the nostalgia racers at Santa Pod. Maybe next year there will be more funny cars ready for action to add some more depth to the field, even so it was a great
show put on by the Nostalgia Cannonball competitors, bring on 2016!
The first outing for the NFCC saw 3 cars entered, the Apache funny car of Tim Garlick and the altereds of Nick Davies driving Chaos and Dave Grabham in Freddy's Revenge. Where others
struggled on the cold Santa Pod track for the season opener, the NFCC guys put on a show for the fans!
Celebrating 30 years of drag racing was Dave Grabham in the Freddy's Revenge methanol burning altered. After some time out of the seat giving son Chris a chance in the hot seat Dave's return saw him carding a 7.97 at 161.91. The weekend was not without issues for the team, problems meaning that was Dave's only pass down the 1/4 mile.
The highlight of the weekend for many was the show put on by the Chaos fuel altered of Nick Davies going against the Apache funny car of Tim Garlick. There was a scary moment for Tim when
the newly fitted screen let go on the last run on Saturday, a quick return to base for the old nitro splattered screen and Apache was ready to go. Sunday came and saw the teams return to the
track and ready to go,
both cars were really on song and got to grips with the cold track excellently. Tim was posting some fantastic 6.2's but could not quite better Chaos who ran the fastest altered pass in U.K
history, a 6.12 at 230.12mph. Many congratulations to the Chaos team! Sadly for the Apache car an up close encounter with one of the timing blocks put a hole in the lovely Firebird body, but
no doubt it will be back looking as good as new at the next event.
The Santa Pod Summer Nationals is the next race meeting for the NFCC, no doubt Apache will be looking for the win light against Chaos, Freddy's Revenge will be looking for more from their combination, and hopefully some of the absent teams will make an appearance to gives the fans another amazing spectacle.
Hopefully see everyone there!!
I have just heard from one of our readers in America about their car they have just built, but are unfortunately having to sell. Although not a nostalgia funny car (at the moment) a change of
body and there you are! Here are some pictures and a spec list below, check out the great price!!
I have just now completed the building of this machine and will not be able to support it financially. So I have decided to put it up for sale!!!
• 125 inch WB. Current advanced ET certification. The car will certify to 5.99 and faster, NHRA legal.
• Strange 9.5in top loader rear end with 4.29 gears.
• 60 inch wheelie bar with single hand adjustment.
• Layback style seat.
• Moved the motor forward 2.75inches to correct for running Methanol.
• Changed from a hand brake to a foot brake (Due running a converter.)
• Added a removable steering crossover. (For easy transmission access.)
• Goodyear 34.5 x 17 x 15 Rears Convo pro wheels with 5in back spacing
• Goodyear 24 x 4.5 x 15 Fronts Convo pro wheels, spindle mount.
• Mckinney style fuel and oil tanks.
Engine and Transmission:
• TFX 92 block, 4.375 Bore.
• Bryant 4.250 Crank std/std.
• GRP 3300 rods.
• Venolia pistons.
• Total seal rings.
• Brad Anderson Stage V alcohol heads.
• Brad Anderson Stage V Blue rocker stands.
• Brad Anderson magnesium intake, front burst panel.
• Littlefield 1474 High Helix Retro style Supercharger. On a 2 inch set back plate.
• Enderle buzzard injector with K-style barrel valve.
• Stainless steel hat lines a rubber port lines.
• Enderle 1100 fuel pump.
• Aluminum angled idler setup.
• B&J three speed 1.25 x 1.35 = 1.69 low gear ratio.
• Quick drive converter drive unit.
• Us transmission 1309 converter 5500-6000 stall.
• Simpson 5 point restraints.
• Taylor supercharger restraint including bag and injector.
• Taylor transmission blanket.
• DJ engine diaper.
• DJ 20pound fire suppression system.
• Simpson drive fresh air system.
• MSD 44 Amp Magneto.
• MSD 8147 point box.
• MSD Red coil.
• MSD power grid timing controller.
• K&R Pro cube.
• RPM Data pro blower 20 channel data recording system.
• Pro stage feature.
• Pneumatic throttle control.
The car is fresh and ready for competition. $55,000
No Trades, buyer is responsible for shipping fees.
If interested please contact:
8171 Locust Drive
Littleton, CO 80125