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Santa Pod

Rushden Echo, 19th November 1965

Drag Racing - New spectacle  planned for derelict airfield

drag car

Will this be the scene next spring?

GRANDSTAND, restaurants, licensed bars, crash barriers, control towers, service pits . . . this is how the derelict Podington airfield could look in the very near future.

Mr. E. D. G. Braddick, the Melchbourne farmer who owns most of the airfield, told the "Echo" that he and some London business associates had formed a company, National Dragways, to make Podington a drag racing centre.

He said it was hoped to start work before Christmas on building a grandstand and getting the drag racing strip ready for use. "We would like to be in a position to open the track by the spring," he said.

If it proves a success they would eventually like to have additional facilities for the public, including a restaurant and, probably, licensed premises.


Drag racing is a growing sport and Mr. Gerry Belton, general secretary of the British Drag Racing Association, told the "Echo" that they would welcome the idea.

He said the association, which was controlled by the RAC, had a membership of 1,000, but there was no permanent racing strip in the country. "This would be the first permanent strip and could well develop into the centre of drag racing in this country."

In its present state he did not think the runway surface was suitable, but a little work could easily make it so.

First Taste

Mr. Braddick said that if everything went according to plan there would be drag racing, or some form of motor sport, taking place at Podington most weekends during the summer months. "We would hire the centre out to a club or association for the week­end," he said.

People in this area had their first taste of drag racing when a team from America competed against a team from the BDRA in a drag festival at Chelveston.

Northampton Chronicle & Echo, 16th April 1966

Losers get the chequered flag at Santa Pod

THE black-and-white chequered flag is a familiar sight to motor sport enthusiasts, indicating the winner at the end of races. But at one Northamptonshire circuit the chequered flag is used not at the end of the event—but at the start! The "odd man out" is the new Santa Pod raceway at the former Podington aerodrome, near Rushden. The "Pod" is the first permanent drag strip in Europe and it had its first airing at Easter.

There are only two vehicles in each race and the winner goes through to the next round.

The starter stands in between the two cars, slightly in front, with two flags in his hands. With the first flag — in this case a "Stars and Stripes," although usually the national flag is used — he points first at one driver and then the other to get the go ahead from them. Then he lifts his chequered flag from the floor — and the race is on.

The starter and marshalls who get the cars on the starting line have to wear flamboyant clothing so they are easily visible because, with the terrific acceleration of the dragsters, anyone getting in the way stands little chance of escape.

The time control box at the end of the strip has green lights on top which flash to let the crowd know who has won the particular heat. With other types of motor sport being restricted, sprinting and drag racing could become a much more popular sport.

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