The Main (rain) Event…

So last weekend we had a marathon 5 days at Santa Pod, starting with the Peak Perfomance Practice day on the Thursday. By the time we’d set up camp we managed to get one run in before the rain came, but at least it was a promising run, pretty much equalling the best the car has run since the re-build. So the new cam and gears had done something!

Friday was brighter and the car ran well, however each time se dialled a number to qualify on, the car ran under it’s dial. This was a bit of a nuisance as with 44 cars in the field only 32 would qualify, but on the bright side at least the car was going quicker! In fact, she gave us a best of 8.64 at 152 mph, which is the best run since Dave last drove the car in 1983. Fortunately we got in the show but in the bottom half of the field at #18.

We had another attempt at qualifying higher on Saturday morning, but broke out again, this time with an 8.63 pass, which in it’s own way was pretty cool.

On three of the runs marshalls had shown concern over the amount of steam coming from the catch can after the run – we decided that this was likely to be due to a head gasket leak. It began to rain – again, so we decided to change the head gaskets. Superior gaskets were sourced from Hauser Racing and efficiently installed. It’s been a long time since  we’ve had to carry out such work at a track, but as it was wet the time was well spent.

Sadly, that’s where it all ended, as rain pretty much fell until we decided to leave at 3pm on Monday. On Sunday afternoon Paul Marston racing (also fed up with the weather) challenged Rough Diamond Racing to a bowling match in nearby Wellingborough. It was a close run thing with each team scoring a win, but the big surprise came from by our own Scott Gibbons, who although not quite 7 years old managed the high score! Perhaps in this game precision is better than power…


The only injury to speak of over the weekend was a mild case of Custard Whippers Elbow suffered by crew chief Dick. we also got some excellent slo-mo footage of the car at the start-line from Blackett Photography, which has taught us a lot about how the car is leaving the start line – it’s looks surprisingly violent!

It’s probably a good thing that we came away from the event with more jobs to do on the caravan than the race car!

Next outing, the Summernationals 23rd and 24th June. See you there…

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Ron Pudney lends his support!

We are pleased to announce that Ron Pudney, former drag racer and proprietor of London Fire Protection Services has come on board to support Rough Diamond Racing!

Ron was approached when we realised that all our fire protection equipment was out of date, and there is a requirement at Santa Pod that all teams must have adequate fire suppression equipment within their pit area – and an out of date CO2 snatched from the workshop wasn’t going to cut it!

London Fire in the past supported our sprint racing activities, but the support has been renewed now the Rough Diamond altered is back on track. We are most grateful to Ron for London Fires’ generous support.

London Fire deal with all aspects of domestic and business fire protection and can be found at or on 0208 681 5881

Here’s Ron driving his crowd pleasing Ford Mercury Cougar XR7  ‘Magician’. Later he campaigned a super gas Chevy Monza which was prepared and maintained by Dave.



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Sponsorship and hero cards.

We are very pleased to have today taken delivery of Rough Diamond Racing’s hero cards!

The artwork was done in-house and the printing taken care of by fellow Super Pro ET racer Peter Walters at PWRD – we’re very happy with the result.




We have also today agreed a small sponsorship for the altered! All we can say at the moment is that it’s with a company who previously supported our sprint cars and whose proprietor has past links with drag racing.

Unfortunately, this arrangement has clearly occurred too late for the logo to be included on the hero-card!

This exciting deal has yet to be finalised, but we’re happy that the deal is a good fit with our drag race operation. We’ll have further news in a few days – stay tuned!

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Silence broken!

It’s been a while since we posted any news on the website, but that’s not because nothing has happened……

The good news is that the Rough Diamond altered is once again back in one piece, running, and making a fine noise!

Cracks visible on the exhaust valves – a lucky escape!

What began as a simple cam change in the altered evolved into a fairly major engine re-fresh, including notching the pistons for clearance, balancing, new valve springs and new exhaust valves. Three of the exhaust valves showed cracks indicating that the heads were about to pull off the stems. We’re very happy to have caught that one as the resulting damage would be nasty – at best. Dave is patting himself on the back for that save – it’s the sort of thing a lesser engineer would miss! Typically they were oversize valves which were back ordered pretty much every where in the world, fortunately CNC Motorsports in South Dakota came to the rescue and got a new set here in seven days.

Now the cam is designed for this car (rather than a 3000lb door car!) we’ve also made a small change to the rear end gear ratio. We don’t expect these improvements to make a huge difference in performance, but they should allow the motor to run in its ‘sweet spot’ without compromising consistency. That said, it would be nice if we could dip into the 8.60’s and run over 152 m.p.h.!

Other news is that Maurice and Dave have also returned the Allard dragster back to Andy Robinson’s workshop – Lloyd Allard having worked his magic on the stainless steel blower pipes. Unfortunately this was at the cost of an alternator for Maurice’s Mercedes, as this gave up the ghost upon arrival to Andy’s. A lengthy trip courtesy of the AA got the Merc, the trailer, and the personnel back to where they needed to be.

Our new track side accommodation.

Finally, Rough Diamond Racing are now (slightly reluctantly) the owners of a caravan in which to base themselves at the race track – frankly, the cost of hotels was becoming an issue. The feeling also being that the team will have a much more enjoyable (and sociable) time with friends and other racers at the track.

All we need to do now is prepare ourselves for the marathon that will be The Main Event – June 1st to 4th.

We’re also planning on being at the Pro-racers test day on May 31st.  So drop by and say hello if you’re there!


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A Hot Rod Celebration!

We’ve been doing this how long?!

Many years ago I helped Tony Warwicker complete the build of his ’34 Ford three window coupe hot rod. I didn’t have a great deal to do – he’d already made a great job of the car when I got involved, Tony just needed a hand with some minor stuff, mainly getting it started, set up, and on the road. I recommended my MOT guy for the first test and every year since I have accompanied him to the annual test – you know, just in case. In case of what I’m not quite sure….

Well on Monday it was that time again, and it turned out that we have been doing this for 20 years! And, by the way, little has had to be done to the ’34 in all that time and it’s never failed the MOT.

Tony built this car in the tiny front garden of his house in Anerley, using parts from ’34 Corner and a 350 small-block Chevy motor. It was a labour of love, but he persevered learning as he went along while only really upsetting the neighbours when he painted the body – outside in his back garden! Tony built a smashing little Hot Rod – one I’d be proud to own.

I’ve been using Bramley Autos for MOT’s for over 25 years, and Paul Pieri, who now runs the business, had only just started working there when we first brought in the ’34.

Despite our re-location to East Kent, I still make the trip to Mitcham for my MOTs. Why? Because they are reasonable people who give sensible advice – they will not rip you off for work that doesn’t need to be done.

Bramley Autos can be found at 223 Streatham Road, Mitcham, Surrey, CR4 2AJ. ‘Phone 020 8640 0305 and tell them we sent you.

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The Allard dragster – our small part in its restoration.


On Tuesday the 27th March Rough Diamond team member Maurice Takoor and Dave went on a road trip on a mission.

Having taken an interest in the restoration to Britain’s first dragster, built and campaigned by noted car maker Sydney Allard, there was a request from the Allard Chrysler Action Group for a volunteer with a covered trailer to transport the chassis and engine from one place to another for some vital engineering work. Maurice found himself answering the call with the use of his van and the Rough Diamond trailer. Project co-0ordinator Brian Taylor accepted all too swiftly….!

Lloyd Allard taking a first look at his grandfather's creation

After and early start the pair drove to Andy Robinson’s workshop in Basingstoke where the bulk of the work has been taking place, there they were met by Allard Chrysler Action Group co-ordinator Bob Roberts, and the parts loaded easily into the trailer. Then off to Gloucester, where the car was to be delivered to the Allard workshop. This business is run by Lloyd Allard, grand-son of Sydney. Lloyd will be fabricating some new intake tubes between the blower and inlet manifold.  The normal output from this small workshop are diesel tuning components and custom aluminium radiators and intercoolers – and very fine examples they are too!

The Allard dragster outside the modern day Allard premises

It seems appropriate that the Allard dragster is once again at the premises of its creator’s family, and that they will have a hand in bringing it back to life once again.

Leaving the car in the safe hands of Lloyd, Maurice and Dave then returned home. It had been an epic journey lasting about 14 hours, appropriately passing Blackbushe Airfield (home of the first regular drag strip in the UK) and taking in most of the southern counties! The gravity of transporting such a vital and priceless piece of drag racing history was not lost on the team either.

Further information about the restoration of this historic vehicle can be found at and Allard Engineering at

In the grand scheme of things, what we at Rough Diamond Racing have contributed (in particular Maurice) is a small amount of the massive task the project involves.

The return journey will be made in a couple of weeks…..

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Rough Diamond motor ready for assembly!

So, all the parts for the altered’s motor are back from Sutton Rebore Services Ltd. where various machining and balancing operations took place. we can’t wait to get the engine reassembled and back in the frame – we don’t like having Rough Diamond in anything less than one piece!

The Gibbons family have been using the service of Sutton Rebore for about fifty years, Reg used to have them carry out machine operations on his racing hydroplane engines.

Some readers may not know that Sutton Rebore is the spiritual home of the legendary ‘Commuter’ dragster. It’s driver Tony Densham, was a partner in the business with Arthur Bailey. The designer of the first electronic timing system at Santa Pod and founder of G.Max Fuel Research Peter Billinton, was also heavily involved. The company is now run by Arthur’s son Michael, although Arthur still drives the delivery van – he’s 92!

You may just about be able to read ‘To David from Tony Densham’ inscribed on the above photo. Sadly the photo has suffered from being pinned to various walls over the last forty years!

For us at Rough Diamond Racing there is, and never has been, any other choice than the services of Sutton Rebore for essential specialist machining operations.

They are located in Sutton (who’d a guessed!) Surrey. Phone them on 0208 642 3419 and tell them we sent you!

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Buses and rallying – the common link!

Did you know that modern-day club motor sport ’12-car navigational rallying’ only exists thanks to London buses.

It’s usual for beginners to rallying to compete in these navigational rallies before moving on to ‘stage rallies’. They are held on public roads and are limited to 12 entries. Why? Because back in the 1960’s it was deemed illegal to race on the public roads of Great Britain (of course it still is!) However, the rallyists got around this rule by arguing that as London buses ran to a timetable (or clock) it could be argued that they were racing, and as no more than 12 buses were likely to be on any route at any one time, that figure became the number of cars allowed to compete in a navigational rally.

The photo above is of Dave Gibbons competing in his one and only 12 car rally – probably around 1980.

And motor-sport has buses like this to thank for ensuring the continuation of entry-level rallying for the competitor.

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Jetsprints…… Wow!

Take a 1000 h.p. alcohol big block motor, attach it to a jet propulsion unit, stick it in an excuse for a two-seater bath-tub and you have a Jetsprint Superboat!

Primarily an Aussie and Kiwi sport, and on not much more than two feet of water, these ridiculously quick boats pull up to 4G in the corners – the passenger is there to indicate which way to go round the very twisty course! Runs are made singly and usually last for less than a minute, when it goes wrong it doesn’t end well…. Many teams are made up of husband and wife.

Jetsprint can occasionally be seen on Motors TV and this short video is worth taking a look at…..

Damn, we would love to have a go at this madness! Reg Gibbons would have approved!

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Motorsport at the Palace!

May 26th and 27th sees the return of motor sport to Crystal Palace!

Run by the Sevenoaks and District Motor Club the event takes the form of a sprint using some of the park’s infield roads and parts of the original motor racing circuit. The entries will reflect the venues history as well as modern competition vehicles. There will also be car displays and a whole host of activities suitable for the whole family.

Crystal Palace was a well-known and challenging motor racing venue until it closed in 1972. I used to go there as a youngster, I saw the likes of Graham Hill driving a Formula 2 car there, and I attended the last motor sport event held before its closure – which was a kart race. One of the competitors was a young Nigel Mansell!

Crystal Palace’s motor sport history can be traced back to 1899, but the circuit proper opened in 1953. Lack of funds to bring the venue up to more modern safety standards (it was notoriously dangerous) closed the track in 1972.

There have been sprints held at the Palace before, back in the late 90’s and we were privileged to be able to compete in our Van Dieman Formula Ford, but a change in Bromley Borough Council’s policies saw the vent aborted after just 3 years. After a concerted effort by the 7Oaks club the council were convinced of the value of such an event to the community.

More information can be found at

There is also a Facebook page on


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