FLYIN’ THE FLAG
STRONGER THAN A GOOD SHOT OF SCOTCH WHISKEY
Stronger Than a Good Shot of Scotch Whiskey
COLIN MILLAR BECAME IMBUED WITH THE WORLD OF HOT-RODDING AT 14 AFTER READING BOOKS AND MAGAZINES ON THE SUBJECT. THE SCOTTISH SCHOOLBOY PROCURED AN OLD MORRIS
MINOR BEFORE HE WAS OLD ENOUGH TO DRIVE, AND HAVING PASSED HIS DRIVING TEST THE FIRST TIME WHEN HE WAS 17—THE MINIMUM AGE TO HOLD A DRIVER’S LICENCE IN THE UK—IT WAS JUST NINE DAYS LATER THAT THE MINOR WAS SCOOTING AROUND HIS NEIGHBORHOOD. It wasn’t long before the Minor was disposed of in favor of a Ford Popular employing a Rover 3500cc V-8 and outfitted with the ubiquitous Jaguar rearend and Vauxhall Viva front suspension setup so beloved by rodders at the time. Colin said, “I used to race with some buddies down to Santa Pod Raceway, campaign the car on the strip all weekend, and then we’d race all the way back home [to north of the border, a roundtrip of just more than 800 miles] as fast as practically possible.”
Life in the fast lane was enjoyable for many years, until a decision was needed about whether to continue using the street Pop on the strip or acquire a purely on-track contender. The latter choice was made in 2011 when Colin bought a former strip standout, the ex-Pete Ashworth Dayglo Twister fiberglass-bodied, tube-chassised, 101-inch-wheelbase ’48 Anglia, originally constructed by Andy Robinson Race Cars in Hampshire, a well-known and respected company headed by a long-time drag racer who currently runs one of the more competitive cars in Britain’s Pro Mod ranks. The car had been sold to a racer in Malta, and following Colin’s prescient purchase it was repatriated to the UK and updated as necessary for the new owner’s outings with the Outlaw Anglia Racers’ Association. The organization was founded in 1992 and has enjoyed quite a degree of popularity throughout the past couple of decades. Colin had Webster Race Engineering
undertake some chassis work, “it had been bent at some time before I bought the car,” he said, and the engine was freshened by Ian Whitworth, a specialist in Formula 1 Stock Car power plants. The attention-arresting paint scheme and side cartoons were undertaken by a sexagenarian Scotsman, Michael
Masters, and involved some 152 hours of airbrush work. The Flyin’ Fyfer moniker being the owner’s initiative, it derives from the fact that the company for which he is the managing director has its registered office in the town of Glenrothes, Fife, Scotland. Anyone who comes from the area is colloquially known as a Fifer. “I changed the ‘i’ to a ‘y’ so it coolly complements the Flyin’ term,”
The first season of running the new ride was largely spent acclimatising driver and crew, during which time it recorded ETs in the nines. Subsequent seasons saw the car dip into the eights, and later—with the assist of nitrous oxide—the seven-second sector. Colin and companions were certainly pleased with the steady performance improvements that have seen the owner’s name rank high up in the class’ championship roster. He has finished in the second spot three times since 2012 and is determined to secure the top spot before too long.
Moving on, it was while he was seated in the stands at the 2014 California Hot Rod Reunion and soaking up the omnipresent SOCAL sunshine that long-time partner Lynn Purvis told Colin his 50th birthday treat would be an excursion to Famoso Raceway in 2015, along with the Flyin’ Fyfer. Although the date was one year up the road, there were many logistics to work out, but suffice to say matters gelled and Lynn and Colin flew out to the Golden State in autumn of 2015 for the trip of a lifetime. Arrangements had been made to compete in five races (many thanks to NHRA Division 7 Director Mike Rice for going beyond the call of duty to accommodate the fulsome itinerary of the visiting Scotsman) with the first runs on American asphalt being made at Famoso’s ANRA Fuel & Gas Finals the weekend before the California Hot Rod Reunion (CHRR). This gave Colin the opportunity to sort any gremlins before a group of friends and regular crew members flew over to join him and Lynn at the big Bakersfield bash. Entered in the Exhibition class because there was no B/Gas category at CHRR, the driver was delighted to make a number of passes in the eights and emerged the winner in four pairings. The wins, along with announcer Mike English exhorting the phrase “all the way from Scotland!” whenever the car with the home-country wing-mounted national flag and the Stars & Stripes appeared on track
with the kilted and booted coterie, certainly made for an epic experience. “I was blown away by the friendliness of fellow competitors and offers of assistance and hospitality from complete strangers,” he said. This bode well for the next stop on the U.S. tour, NHRA’s Las Vegas national event. He ran in the 8.90 index Super Comp class, comprised primarily of throttle-stopequipped dragsters. Colin was unfazed by the class entry of 100-plus and by being eliminated during a round-one double breakout.
He and his merry band of Scots did a bit of sightseeing before returning to The Strip for the Lucas Oil divisional race. The highlight of the event was when a gentleman in a golf cart stopped by his pit and spoke at length before introducing himself as Peter Clifford, NHRA’s president. “I was amazed that he should take the time to chat with me,” Colin recalled, and was even more pleasantly surprised when the Wally for Best Appearing Crew was awarded to the Flyin’ Fyfer squad, no small achievement considering the hundreds of teams on hand.
At the Lucas Oil event he competed in Top Sportsman, which allows the use of nitrous oxide. Initial employment of stage 1 nitrous on the 560-ci big-block produced a low-eight ET, prompting the driver to turn up the wick for another qualifying pass. This call unfortunately brought his racing endeavors to an end when the engine expired in a cloud of smoke. “It was my fault. I shouldn’t have gone over the top with the tune-up,” Colin honestly stated afterwards.
With no spare engine, the team was forced to forego running the last event on their schedule, the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Pomona, but at least they had the car on display in the Hot Rod Junction.
So was the five-week jaunt worth it? You bet, even though the budget was well overspent, and the credit card took a heck of a hammering. Colin wouldn’t have missed the experience for all the tea in China, and it’s safe to say that even after telling the world of the team’s U.S. exploits through postings on Facebook it’ll still be a subject of reminiscence and banter in the Santa Pod and Shakespeare County Raceway pits for the foreseeable future. Heck, it may encourage other sportsman racers to save hard and follow in the Flyin’ Fyfer footsteps by running their own car in the nation where organised drag racing began.
/ LEFT. Though the 560-ci Chevy/Merlin 3 was crafted in England by Ian Whitworth, it features the best of Yank parts: Eagle, Moroso, COMP, Jesel, Total Seal and MSD. The Brodix heads feature T&D components. The intake is also
Brodix and the carb is a Holley 1050 Dominator. The BHP is rated at 900.
/ ABOVE.The mates participating in this “living the dream” adventure: (L to R) Lynn Purvis, Sheila Climie, Nicole Wardrope, Colin Millar, Scott Crookston and Jim Fairbairn.
/ England’s Andy Robinson Race Cars (AARC) welded up the chassis. The front end/ suspension is comprised primarily of Strange components, the A-arms are ARRC. Out back, Strange components, including brakes and shocks, are predominant. The 9-inch rear is
/ ABOVE. The Flyin’ Fyfer does just that! With a whiff of nitrous, this stubby flyer (101-inch wheelbase) runs in the low eights. Fans on both sides of the Pond love the paint work, especially the graphics. Scotsmen get credit for this aspect: Paint by Glencairn Coachworks, and John Young signs did the graphics.
/ LEFT. The interior features a full cage, Kirky seat, TRS belts/harnesses and data acquisition by Motec. Andy Frost of Penn Auto in England built the powerglide, the converter is Neil Chance, and the air shifter is by Cheetah. No delay box or throttle stop is employed.