Rain allows Troxel's team to prep for Sunday's action in England PODINGHAM, U.K. (May 29) -- As is at times the case at drag strips the U.S., persistent rain kept any cars from taking the track Saturday at Great Briton's Santa Pod ...
Rain allows Troxel's team to prep for Sunday's action in England
PODINGHAM, U.K. (May 29) -- As is at times the case at drag strips the U.S., persistent rain kept any cars from taking the track Saturday at Great Briton's Santa Pod Raceway.
Melanie Troxel's R2B2 Racing Pro Mod team didn't mind the delay in the action as their '67 Camaro arrived in the late afternoon as expected. The rain postponement has left the American-based team on the same footing as the rest of the field. The revamped schedule now calls for Pro Mods to get three chances at qualifying Sunday ahead of Monday's eliminations.
The word of the car's arrival spread quickly across the carnival-like setting of Santa Pod. By the time the Camaro was unloaded off the transport truck, a large crowd of fans had gathered at teammate Michael Gullqvist's pit to watch the car getting unloaded.
Despite not having a car to work on most of the day, Troxel used the downtime to meet the international media that had assembled to cover the FIA Main Event.
"This is a new track for us," Troxel said. "Part of the reason why we run the big numbers at home is because of the all-concrete tracks we race on. It may be a trick for us to learn how to run this racetrack. We don't know how different it's going to be compared to what we are used to."
The Santa Pod track is an all-asphalt raceway, so with no concrete launch pad Troxel said getting off the starting line is going to be the team's biggest challenge.
"We're going to try and take it conservatively and make it down the racetrack," she said. "We're not looking to bring the car out and run huge numbers. We want to make it down the track, qualify, then see what we can do."
Santa Pod owner Keith Bartlett said the R2B2 team's decision to race has sent a spark of excitement about the FIA Main Event through the European racing world.
"We're delighted to have Melanie here," Bartlett said. "When Michael called me about a week ago telling me they were going to try to do this I wasn't sure they'd be able to make it happen. But Roger (R2B2 owner Roger Burgess) being Roger, he was determined to make it happen.
"We're also delighted we've got a 28-car Pro Mod field here. It's amazing how far we've come in a short time in Europe. The next logical step is a form of a world series."
Burgess' announced World Wide Pro Mod Association and the Ryder Cup-style competition it proposes has piqued the interest of Pro Mod drivers and race organizers alike.
"I'm excited about it," Bartlett said. "I plan on putting (the) hosting the event very high on my priority list. That's something that has a lot of potential. We've got a common rule schedule and it's going to have wide appeal."
Saturday was also the first time Gullqvist has been before the European media since his historic NHRA victory in Atlanta, where he became the first European in history to win an NHRA national event.
"When Roger called me on that Tuesday night (before the Atlanta race, to fill in for Ray Commisso) I thought I was going to spend that weekend working on my own car," Gullqvist said. "It wasn't a hard decision to make. I checked the flights right away.
"I got going and I thought, 'This team is the best one out there.' I knew if I didn't mess up, I'd be able to do well."
Gullqvist said about 60 well-wishers met him at the airport when he returned to his native Sweden and he was whisked away to a wild celebration.
"I knew there was something going on, so during my layover in Paris I bought a new shirt," Gullqvist said. "I had the Wally ready in my luggage. When I got off the plane there was an old lady with a trolley (cart) in front of me. When she saw all these people, she kind of fell down.
"I had to lift her up. After that they took me in a special car with flags all over it to a restaurant with a lot of champagne. We partied all night."
Pro qualifying at Santa Pod begins at 10:30 a.m. local time (4:30 a.m. EDT) with three scheduled qualifying sessions.