10 BIG MOMENTS THE VIEW JETS AND ROCKETS
Milestones from the history of Europe’s first permanent dragstrip
In theory, thrust-powered vehicles are for exhibition purposes, not serious racing. Just don’t tell their drivers. Sweden’s Arnold Sundqvist brought the first jet dragster to Santa Pod in 1971, an unwieldy-looking machine that fairly trundled down the track, and a far cry from the afterburnerequipped, flame-and-thunder showmobiles that followed.
Rocket machines are different, emitting a few, desultory puffs of steam from their hydrogen peroxide motors while the temperatures are stabilised, then howling into the distance almost faster than the eye can see. Barry Bowles’ Blonde Bombshell was Santa Pod’s first rocket, but American Sammy Miller ( below) was the real star. While banned from running at home, Miller’s 3.58-second elapsed time over the Santa Pod quarter-mile in 1984 has never been matched, nor even approached, anywhere else.
French biker Eric Teboul flies the rocket flag today with his 280mph ‘motorcycle’, the world’s quickest