Jet Funny Car
Last updated 06/11/16
News from the JetShed
(written by Helen Rusling - Firestorm's co-owner & crew chief)
3rd November 2016
Final update for this year, and what a year it has been, when 2016 arrived as we have done each year we said "This year Firestorm has to be back on track"! Thankfully, this happened and little did we know how much we would achieve and how pleased we would be at the end of the season. To pick up from where I left off back in August, it was great to return to Santa Pod Raceway over the weekend of 20th and 21st August, it was a lovely weekend but with very strong gusty winds. We also had a few showers of rain on Saturday so decided that safety first we would not run the car. Disappointing as we need to get as much tracktime in as possible but it is still early days for us so it did make sense. We got on with some cleaning and polishing though so at least we ended up with a very clean Firestorm.
Sunday dawned a better day, still a side wind but it had calmed down a bit and wasn’t quite as strong. Due to the winds we ran eighth mile only but we did two stout passes including a now over zealous fireshow which had to be cut short! A bit of work required on that, we can't complain though - at least we now have a fireshow.
Following the weekend at the Pod, we headed north to our home track of York Raceway for the August Bank Holiday weekend where again we had a great weekends testing including our newly found fireshow which went down a treat with everyone - last we were there it didn't work at all. There is still a way to go before we are 100% tested so each time we go to the line we are gathering data from the car to help us set it up to achieve our goals for the new Firestorm – it is a completely different car to the old one.
Next stop was back to Shakey armed with a new Simpson parachute. Very early on it became obvious that since the new car is a lot lighter than the old one, one of the parachutes was way too fierce so we had a new one made by Simpson to our specification. Courtesy of our good friend and photographer Dave Derry, we also had the benefit of a GoPro camera fitted at the rear of the car to check the chute operation, which I’m pleased to say was perfect. Following this he kindly fitted the camera at the side of the cockpit for us to monitor what was happening during the run. It all worked brilliantly not only giving us valuable information but as a bonus it has given us some great footage which has since been posted on Firestorm’s Facebook Group and is now on the website in the Photographs page.
Over the weekend we did some slight adjustments to the fuel system and Roger was comfortable leaving it on a little longer, shutting off just before 1000ft. All weekend times and speeds had all been to plan but then on the first run on Sunday after a strong launch it was obvious that the car was really trucking we were rewarded with a timing slip of 5.92 at 245 at the quarter mile with the car shut off about a 1000’. Our first ever 5 second run, that is the ultimate reward for all the hard work and the cause of much celebration in the pits! It caught everyone by surprise, you can hear it in Jerry Cookson's voice as he was commentating and the cheers from everyone spectating says it all - its all in the new video footage taken from the startline. We also had the on board camera going at the end of the run when I gave Roger the news - its captured an absolutely brilliant moment and its lovely to be able to share it with everyone.
Two weeks ago we had a trip to Santa Pod for a RWYB for the final test weekend of this year. Saturday was a cold day with some light patchy rain, we managed to sneak in 2 runs despite one run being aborted, we had to shut down on the startline just as Roger was going into stage because of rain. Really disappointing but as I stood on the startline it went from super grippy to super slippy in a millisecond. Santa Pod always prepare their track even at a RWYB, but water on a prepared track turns it into an ice rink – literally. The two runs we had were strong runs with early shut offs at around 1000’. The final run on Saturday was at the end of the day just as it was going dark which is always good to see and Ian Blackett of Blackett Photography captured some great photo’s of the car. One shot in particular shows diamonds which is a great sign that the motor is happy and healthy, they are even reflected in the track surface – cracking photo Ian. To finish the day off nicely Roger backed up our 5 second run from Shakespeare County Raceway, so its official, we definitely have a 5 second car and we are still on our base settings. Happy days. Sunday we had another couple of 1000’ runs, both really strong and one of them yet another 5 at 5.96 - brilliant.
We have now been to York Raceway, Shakespeare County Raceway and Santa Pod and each time the welcome we received from both the track crew and race fans has been absolutely fantastic. We have been blown away by people buying our old but now nostalgic Pontiac Firestorm merchandise and posters, thank you. All proceeds of which have gone towards the continued cost of testing and development – thank you. We are now committing to the 2017 season and as soon as we have some confirmed dates they will be posted on Firestorm's Facebook Group. This website is not as easy to update for us now (technology has moved on faster than us) so we are currently looking into a new one, in the meantime we will publish anything on Facebook. Have a great 'off season' (its too early to mention Christmas lol although it'll be here before we know it) and we will see you at the track in 2017!
19th August 2016
As promised on our last report, this update is all about the testing! Happy days, its been a long time coming but is already showing good results.
We started our testing with an initial start up away from the track to test pressures and to check for leaks – both of which were OK. There was a small leak which considering it was a complete rebuild of all the systems we felt this to be a good result and system pressures all looked good. I think we’d both been holding our breath for this startup as the engine had not been started since the crash and whilst Roger had checked everything he possibly could it was nerve racking firing it up for the first time, but all went well and we both had big smiles and felt a huge sense of relief following this initial test.
Next stop was York Raceway 2nd/3rd July. We did have one problem at this stage, Roger didn’t have either a helmet or firesuit. We had ordered them but it was late in the day as we had to find the money first as always. Roger had contacted Simpson Racing UK who are near to Bridlington, North Yorkshire and a supplier of Simpson helmets, they were more than happy to also order Roger’s new Simpson firesuit as well as the helmet. Whilst we knew Roger wouldn’t have the firesuit for this meeting we had hoped the helmet might turn up in time, it did but it was late on Friday. As we were already loaded and on the way to the track there was no way we could get it. Roger had managed to borrow his old firesuit back with the offer of his old helmet but as Craig from Simpson said, “borrowing a firesuit is one thing, but borrowing a helmet is another and not ideal” so on a Friday night Craig jumped in his car and met us at the track with it. Top bloke, he couldn’t have been more helpful, so any requirements for Simpson products these are definitely the guys to contact!
We received a very warm welcome from everyone at York Raceway. It was a breezy weekend and a little cool but the sun did shine which made for a great weekends drag racing. We were joined this weekend by Gary Malin and Sue Roland but also by Graham and Diane Sykes which was a bonus and a real pleasure. Graham has been a huge help and indeed a contributor to the build of this new car and it was great that they could be there at Firestorm’s inaugural meeting. The aim of this weekend was purely to get the car down the track, we had no intention of looking for performance, apart from the obvious checks to the new car, Roger also needs some valuable track time. Crew also needed some time both around the car and working on the startline procedures, its amazing how something that you’ve done hundreds of times suddenly no longer comes naturally, we were getting everything done and did get there but just not necessarily in the right order!
The first run was without lighting the burner all went well but it highlighted some areas that needed tweaking. Fortunately, everything could be done at the track. It soon became apparent how much social media has changed since we were last at the track. Immediately after the first run there was much activity on Facebook, not least of all generated by Chris Murty who had taken the opportunity to live stream Firestorm’s first outing on the York Raceway Facebook page – certainly not the most spectacular run but it definitely captured a very special moment! If you aren't already a member Firestorm has its own Facebook group that you can join where there is a huge amount of photo's and video footage posted.
The second run of the day was another good clean start, up until this point we hadn’t tested the fireshow so this was the moment, we had plenty of smoke but very little flame so that was going to be put on the to do list! Roger lit the burner with a couple of afterburner pops but did another soft launch to give himself chance to get used to the track again.
We called it a day at that and really enjoyed getting back into the swing of things with a compulsory BBQ, followed by a couple of beers in the track bar. A great end to what had been quite an intense but brilliant day.
Sunday dawned as another breezy but bright day, we aimed to do another two runs. All went well with both runs, we were still chasing the illusive fireshow, but we finished the weekend with a launch on full afterburner, it was a really strong run and as you can see from the photo’s Roger was a very happy boy – you could see the grin even inside his helmet. We were both absolutely chuffed at how the weekend had gone, massive thanks to the crew for the weekend Gary, Sue, Graham and Diane and to the Murty family and all the crew at York Raceway for helping us to make it happen, we finished off the weekend by surprising Roj with a bottle of champers! Check out photographs taken from the weekend on the Photographs page.
Following the successful weekend at York Raceway, we contacted Jerry Cookson from Shakespeare County Raceway about the possibility of some track time there and again we were made very welcome. We went to the Midsummer Madness weekend meeting on 23rd/24th July, it was fantastic to catch up with old friends and fans of Firestorm but we also met some new ones into the bargain. We had taken with us the Pontiac Firebird T-shirts and Posters we hadn’t really thought about selling them but people still bought them which was great as all the proceeds will go towards the continued test and development of the new car. As most of you know we are privately owned team without sponsorship so the costs are down to us, hence every little bit of funding helps.
The weather gods were once again very kind to us despite a mixed forecast. The small amount of rain that was forecast seemed to skirt round us which made for a great weekends racing with an excellent turnout of both bikes and cars. We had two runs on Saturday and one on Sunday. We were still looking for the elusive fire show which finally put in an appearance on the last run of the weekend on Sunday much to everyone’s pleasure. The plan for this weekends testing was further track time for Roger and some steady check out passes for the car, all went really well and we came away with the cars first 207mph pass in 6.38 seconds over the ¼ mile – absolutely brilliant considering the car had been shut off since the 1/8th mile! The numbers up to the 1/8th mile are all very promising, Firestorm is putting in some pretty stout runs on what is ultimately our base settings – once again big smiles all round. To put the icing on the cake, Gary and Susie surprised both myself and Roger with a magnum of champagne to help us celebrate Firestorm’s first 6 second run at over 200mph, thanks guys!! The video from the final run with Firestorm's famous fireshow has been posted onto the Photographs page, along with some photo's taken from the weekend.
Firestorm has now been back into the workshop for a complete check now its stretched its legs down the quarter mile and we are now ready for our next test weekend. Darren Prentice from Santa Pod Raceway had already contacted us to congratulate us on our return and extended an invitation to continue our testing at Santa Pod. We will be there on the weekend of 20th and 21st August for this weekends Run What Ya Brung and Monster Truck Nationals. We are really excited and looking forward to Firestorm’s return to the Pod, it’ll be great once again to catch up with old friends and fans of Firestorm and hopefully gain a few new ones into the bargain. We'll possibly not be doing full passes this weekend as we will be gathering data, not only on the motor but on the car as a whole. The combination so far is working well but we are also being cautious with new parachutes, if we pick up the speed in small increments there will be no nasty surprises. As always we have the help and support from across the pond in the form of the Hanna family. We will take along the remaining Pontiac Firebird t-shirts and posters should anyone wish to purchase them – these are the last few remaining and once they’re gone they’re gone! All proceeds raised will go towards the ongoing test and development of Firestorm.
Following this coming weekends test at Santa Pod Raceway we will then be heading north once again to our home track York Raceway where will be at the 6th National Hot Rod Reunion to be held over the Bank Holiday weekend on Sunday & Monday 28th/29th August. This will be an absolutely cracking weekends racing so if you can be there it is one for the diary.
Thanks once again to everyone for their continued help and support, many of whom have gone above and beyond the call of duty, Firestorm wouldn’t be where it is today without you!
17th May 2016
So here we are, the final leg to “Job Done”. As those of you who have kept in touch will know it has been a long and difficult road but that’s just how life can be some times. Whilst in recent times much of the work carried out wasn’t always visible making it appear that not a lot had happened, with this update you will definitely see where we have been.
We were disappointed not to have been able to test at the end of last year, we simply ran out of time, but we have been marching on and it has been a really exciting winter culminating in a fully painted new Mustang body for Firestorm now complete with new windscreen. We hope you agree, we feel it is looking absolutely stunning!
Once again we have been lucky and have had some great people working with us, which has meant that whilst we have had one or two hiccups along the way these have been dealt with and sorted with really good outcomes.
Gary at Gold RV sourced new brakes complete with parking brake for the trailer and these have been fitted this last weekend.
Seat belts are now fitted, we have a new carbon fibre roll cage hood which has been manufactured by carbon fibre guru, John Hansell of carbon-fibre.com and side windows have been made and fitted to the body. An additional part was also required which connected the engine to the air intakes, after trying many different products, a mould was made by Roger, Dave from Tech Spray manufactured the part from the mould in fibreglass with the final part manufactured by carbon-fibre.com in carbon fibre.
The Hairy Glass carbon fibre body has been painted to the design created for us by Darren West of Power Race Graphics and we are really pleased with the outcome. The design has worked well to show off the sleek lines of the Mustang body, but as with all good paint jobs it all starts with the preparation, the credit for this has to given to Dave from Tech Spray who worked really hard to get an even shape on both sides of the car whilst also working on retaining the shaping on the air intakes which is needed to achieve maximum air flow. All this hard work has culminated in the shape and features on the body being enhanced, giving the body its final sexy shape. When you look at the amount of work that has gone into the alterations to the body you can fully appreciate the massive amount of work that also had to go into the preparation to smooth out some of the alterations ready for paint.
We had also contacted Andy and Tom Scott of Custom Painthouse, about possibly airbrushing the grill and front and rear lights. We thought it might be a tall order but how wrong we were – not only have they done that but they have also done the Firestorm name down the side of the car. The attention to detail is phenomenal, words don’t do it justice, it is outside of this world and truly, the icing on the cake. Andy and Tom are award winning airbrush artists and by sheer good luck they are also from our home town of Rotherham, living less than a mile from where we lived! Not only are they both superb artists they are also really knowledgeable with regards to design and preparation work so worked with everyone to get the very best from the design and also achieve a stunning final finish. We cannot thank them enough for all their hard work and contributions to the Firestorm cause.
Check out some of their brilliant work on their website or even better follow them on Facebook - Custom Painthouse to see what they are currently working on. It is amazing what they do.
Andy Scott had put us in touch with Mick from The Spray Shop in Barnsley where the car was taken for final paint and lacquer. It came from there looking absolutely gorgeous and good enough to go to a custom car show never mind to the race track!
Before Christmas we had been shopping round to have a windscreen manufactured for the car. With the old car we had been able to do them ourselves as the screen area on the old body was much smaller so the screen could be flat. It’s a different matter now, the screen has to have a double curvature in it so it has been much more difficult to source. We were originally pointed in the direction of someone near Telford, we had a mould taken of the windscreen area so we didn’t have to take the body anywhere, the mould was dropped off in December with a delivery promise of early January. After much messing about, chasing up, phone calls not being returned and excuses being made we picked up the mould without a windscreen. This was so disappointing as time is very precious and we are still aiming to be out this season. So following a phone call to fellow drag racer Paul at Direct Plastics, Sheffield we were pointed in the direction of a Company in Bolton called Plastics 4 Performance who we now know are the world leading manufacturer in preformed Motorsport lexan window kits and also offer a bespoke service for anything not listed in their catalogue which covers both historic and modern cars. Roger spoke to Paul at Plastics 4 Performance who assured us we were now in the right place and he was really keen to help. We had picked up the mould from Telford on Monday and dropped it off in Bolton on Tuesday. What a difference a day makes!! We were obviously in the right place now, not only were they really helpful, once they’d heard about all the problems we’d had they pulled out all the stops for us and we picked up our new screen one week later! We cannot thank them enough. It is the absolute bees knees, it fits really well and looks stunning on the car.
We’ve got a few small(ish) jobs left to do on the car, trailer brakes need wiring into the system, fuel to buy, then we’re off testing.
There you have it, that’s where we are today, next report will be testing. Watch this space.
20th August 2015
Here it is at last, a long overdue update on how Firestorm is progressing. We have had a very busy year, personally, with work and also with Firestorm. Amongst other things, we have moved out of our home of the last 25 years, as I'm sure most of you know moving house can be a job in itself but this also meant a relocation of the Roger's workshop. All has gone very well, and Firestorm is now located in a new home which is actually larger than the one we had and has given Roger the space he needed to do the final fitting of the body to the car. Late last year Roger committed to a sizeable project for a local firm which has taken and is still taking quite a lot of hours, the downside being that this has meant less time working on Firestorm, the upside is that it has provided the necessary funds to complete Firestorm which previously weren't available. Every cloud has a silver lining.
Prior to all this happening great progress had already been made with Firestorm. Having got the chassis back from the powder coaters in the early part of this year, Roger had been really busy assembling Firestorm for the final time. Having put the General Electric J85 motor back in, he moved on to the valve work for the fuel and air system, all the valves were then plumbed in including the pumps and fuel control unit and finally he remade the wiring harness to take into account the new onboard systems.
The innovative new hubs, spindles and steering components, which were designed and manufactured by Graham Sykes of GSPE have the discs and calipers fitted and are now on the car, brakes bled and ready to go. New tyres have been sourced and arrived from the USA with the assistance of Lee Child of LA Racing Parts so Firestorm is once again sat on all four wheels. That is a brilliant sight and does bring it home just how far we have come and how close we are to completion. As soon as is humanly possible it will be ready for an engine startup and initial tests.
New parts for the fire suppressant system and new harness were sourced from Andy Robinson Racecars and are fitted on the car.
The new Carbon Fibre Ford Mustang body has also had further development work carried out to it. Once again carbon-fibre.com have done us proud and have produced the spill plates, with John Hansell even giving up a Sunday for us, he brought the parts down and gave some invaluable help in fitting them to the car. He is now working on the wing, which should be completed in the next few weeks. Johns help is invaluable to us, not only is he an expert with carbon fibre, he also has a wealth of knowledge on aerodynamics for us to draw on.
We have also got the Chevy Silverado out of storage and after some TLC it is now back on the road and raring to go. It needed the usual amount of parts, brakes, callipers etc which was to be expected after being stood for a good amount of time. For all the parts required we dealt with Eurodragster.com News Sponsor US Automotive who were superb, we couldn't fault the level of service received and would recommend anyone with an American vehicle to try US Automotive. We have both missed the pickup so we have really enjoyed cruising round in him, it does make your face ache though as neither of us could stop smiling - simple pleasures in life! Whilst it may not seem much, this is another hurdle crossed and box ticked, we will now have a look at the trailer which has also been stored, see what is required and get that back on the road.
So, all in all, another busy year with much achieved, whilst we still have a good sized list of 'jobs to do and things to get' we are still aiming to test in 2015 and will hopefully be able to report on that before the end of the year.
Here are a few photo's we have taken along the way so far this year.
11th January 2015
Happy New Year everyone! Hope you've all had a great Christmas and New Year. As always its been a very busy time, particularly having a few extra days off work, its been a good opportunity to crack on with building the new Firestorm and you can really see where we've been. Since the last update we have had the frame powder coated - we were lucky to find some guys not far from us in Barnsley, who had an oven big enough to take the chassis and were more than willing to work with us and keen to get involved in the Firestorm project. LCS Powder Coatings had a great understanding of what was required having worked with racers before. LCS is a one stop shop, they will blast, prepare and coat anything that they can get in the oven and in any colour, and will also collect and deliver. They appreciated that whilst the car wasn't on the track we still needed it doing yesterday and shifted some things around to accommodate us. They were great guys to deal with.
LCS delivered the chassis back to the workshop saving us a lot of time and money, having got the chassis back the final build could begin. Roger had already fitted and then removed quite a few of the parts but even having done that there was still quite a lot to do. It has been good though bringing boxes of parts and fittings down out of the loft where they've been stored and finally getting them onto the car where they belong, everything is now being fitted for the last time so will stay on the car. Exciting times!
Having made alterations to the position and size of the dashboard we needed a new top cover for the drivers compartment. On the previous report we published photo's of the new dash and top cover in wood, so here are photo's of the finished items courtesy of John from carbon-fibre.com. We also needed to refurbish and coat the side panels on the drivers compartment, yours truly said why don't we have carbon panels to go with the new top cover, instead of spending money on the aluminium panels which wouldn't really match. Roger phoned John, "yes, no problem" (we like those 3 words)! We all agree that the end result was well worth the effort ...
12th July 2014
Firestorm is coming on a treat! We have had a really busy but very productive year so far and are very pleased that it is now close to being a complete car! Once again, John Hansell of carbon-fibre.com has worked his magic on the modifications to Firestorms new Mustang body.
Earlier this year Roger and good friend John Hughes spent a couple of weekends mounting the body so that Carbon John could get cracking on the last modifications to the body. What a result! The new carbon fibre body is now completely modified and fits nicely round the new air intakes that he had made previously. Saying it like that makes it sound like such a simple job - far from it, it took Carbon John and his guys weeks to complete the transformation but as with all their work it was worth the wait. Rather than trying to describe it - take a look at the first photo's to be released of the New Firestorm - "Next Generation".
We still have the spill plates and rear wing to complete - again this is another job undertaken by Carbon John, they are already roughed out in wood ready for the final fit. We also have a new carbon fibre top chassis cover and a dash being fabricated as we speak.
Now the complete car is back in our shop we have finalised the last few chassis mounts for the body (hopefully - I'm sure there will be one that will have escaped our attention). Roger has had a few long drawn out weekends recently removing the powder coating from the drivers compartment which is the only existing part of the old chassis. Unbelievable how that stuff sticks! Almost finished now so it just requires a coat of paint to complete it.
Following that we need to get the body painted. Apart from building up the car, there are still a quite a few jobs on the list including buying tyres, fire suit, helmet etc. We also need to source a windscreen - another challenge as the screen will have to be convex. If you know of anyone who specialises in that please let us know as we are just looking into it now.
In conclusion, this is it, a complete car - its needs putting together but we are finally on the last lap.
29th December 2013
"Good used funny car body required". We quickly realised that these are a bunch of words that do not go together very well.
So we decided to buy a new Ford Mustang body in carbon fibre from Hairy Glass in Florida. There are a number of reasons for this. It underlines the fact that we moved on and are not rebuilding the old Firestorm, this is totally different. Also the Mustang lends itself better to the modifications we need to do to it for our newly designed inlets. So, that's it Firestormer's, our boy is now flying the "Blue Oval"!
OK decision made - new Mustang it is, now we have to get the money to send a decent deposit to Hairy Glass to get the job started then work much more for the final payment and don't forget the shipping, duty and VAT! This has taken up quite a lot of this year.
Good friend Lee Child of LA Racing Parts said he would let us share one of his containers to ship it so when the body was finished we organised for it to be collected from Hairy Glass in Florida and taken to Newark N.J. Easy - but the first two shippers refused to take it as it was not in a solid crate. All of this had nothing to do with Lee. Funny Car bodies are delivered on a skeleton frame (see photo), to have someone make a crate would cost a fortune. Lee jumped into action on our behalf and in no time the body was on its way to Newark. The problem now was that unless you could beam it to Newark in a time machine it was going to miss the container, and it did! Long faces all round. Lee jumped into action again and started organising another container to share! Thanks Lee!
When we finally collected the body from the shipping company it was well worth the wait. So having got the body back to our shop we tried it on. Needs stretching 8", we knew that because the last one did! What we didn't figure on was the cockpit being positioned so far to the back of the car - by 10". OK we'll move the cockpit forward and stretch the wheelbase and try it again.
That's a royal we! We had already contacted John Hansell @ carbon-fibre.com, who made the beautiful inlets so when I called him to let him know the news John just said "that's not a problem, bring it to me". That's what we like to hear! Joking aside, absolutely anything that you require in any composite material from design right to the finished product can be accomplished by this company - I cannot recommend them highly enough.
Brought it back, put it on the chassis - perfect. Wheelbase correct - cockpit in the right place and ready for the next stage. John has agreed to take on the job of moulding the body around the inlets - this is a huge job, but nothing worries these guys. Take a look at their website from the links and you will see why. What a top team to have on your side. So the body is now at Johns place for him to fix the cockpit permanently and when that's done we will take the rolling chassis and jig to him to start on the inlets. This has been a long time coming but it will be worth the wait.
1st December 2012
Here we are in December, and I’ve just realised that
the last update was February - where has this year gone! I know that many
of you as supporters and fans of Firestorm are finding it frustrating that
Firestorm is still not back on track, but please believe me when I say it is
really frustrating for us here too. It has been a pretty difficult time
for us in many ways since Easter 2010 when Firestorm had its unscheduled meeting
with the wall at Santa Pod Raceway. We didn't have the money to rebuild
the car which has meant that for the best part we have to earn first and repair
the car as we go which also means that the only work we outsource are parts that
Roger is unable to do himself, and as he's pretty handy in the workshop this
isn't much. Some jobs that are quite minor but are very time consuming
could be out sourced to move it all along quicker but that takes our valuable
cash, so Roger does them. Both myself and Rog work full time which doesn't
leave a lot of time for working on the car - hence it is still not on the track!
If you have a look at Al Hannas Top Secret, the stunning centre drive Jet Funny Car you will get a pretty good idea on the lines we are working on - although we are not doing a carbon copy of Big Al's car as we have added our own thoughts and ideas.
Top Secret - Al Hannas Centre Drive Jet Funny Car
We contacted good friend Darren West of Power Race Graphics and asked him to come up with a new design for a new car that was unmistakably Firestorm using its original colours. We think he's done a stunning job! Thanks Darren.
We are currently looking at all options with regards to purchasing a body for Firestorm, we should hopefully have some news on that before the end of the year. Watch this space!
Graham Sykes from GSPE has been working his magic and has designed and manufactured some more really spectacular parts for Firestorm. Graham came up with idea's that would definitely improve the four corners of the car, the two right hand corners needed replacement anyway after contact with the wall, so the right thing to do was to let Graham design and manufacture new parts all round, with his expertise in that field. Grahams efforts are astonishing, the weight saving over our original parts has to be seen to be believed, that in turn will help brake performance amongst many other things!
So, in summary, all the different components of Firestorm are nearing completion and we are a big step closer to getting back to the track although, I don't feel we can say that we have repaired Firestorm, I think what is closer to the truth is to say that we have built a new and improved Firestorm! That is the really exciting part and I'm sure it will be worth the wait.
5th February 2012
We are still working hard to get Firestorm back on the track, with many hours being spent in the workshop. Since the last update there has been a lot done and achieved but to be perfectly honest it doesn't really make very exciting reading for the website. Components such as new mountings for the air regulator and for the gearbox support - all necessary but to be honest - pretty boring. A secondary catch tank has had to be incorporated for one of the new systems on Firestorm - again necessary and has taken time to manufacture and fit in exactly the right place. New "A" frames have now been made and are also ready to fit.
We decided some time ago that although the car had to be fixed it would be pointless to rebuild it just the same as it was. With a project of this size its not much different money wise to go the whole hog and upgrade as much as is humanly possible so with our good friend Al Hanna "pointing and nodding" we put together a plan.
As reported before amongst other things, this has meant repositioning the fuel tanks, the motor and a considerable amount of valve work etc. With the motor in a different place the tail pipe shield won't fit either and so it goes on. Another change because of the modifications is some new tin work which will be required for the top part of the drivers 'office'. All this work is to accommodate a stunning new inlet system designed by Hanna motorsport, we have had some input and we've made slight changes to the original design to suit our needs. All of this and the new tailpipe and afterburner is very exciting for us, its a massive change but progress is never made without change, we have to move on.
Aside from the rebuilding of Firestorm, the 'day jobs' are very busy which is not so good with regards to time being spent in the workshop but it is good as we still need a considerable amount of money to complete the project. At this point we are still looking at all the options on the body and whichever option we choose it will again be an enormous amount of work.
25th September 2011
Good progress is now being made on Firestorm's rebuild - as always not quick enough and very frustrating but we can only do what we can do, both with money and time that is available to us. Since May, we have continued to fabricate new parts for Firestorm not only to replace bent and broken parts but also to upgrade/modify some parts. Some of these may not have been completely necessary but for those of you who know Roger, you will know he takes huge pride in the construction of Firestorm and if anytime is a good time to improve on anything then this is it!
We have taken delivery of some stunning carbon fibre components which we have had made at Hansell Composites. This has allowed us to move forward on many other jobs. We feel that the cause of the accident was due to an aerodynamic problem and therefore much of the work we are doing is to try to ensure we have covered all bases as much as we possibly can. Due to these changes, some of which are major, it is sometimes the case that the one part needs to made and fitted before we can find places for other parts. Hansell did a quick turn around of the new components and even though Hansell's prices were very reasonable, the delays have been down to us having to find the money to get the job done as this is a large and major part. As part of these upgrades - some work has had to be done on the fuel tank position and has meant modifications to the fuel tanks themselves. This has been completed this weekend. Another job crossed off the list! Also as part of these upgrades the motor has had to be repositioned, this is a fairly major change and has meant that we have had to have different engine mounts made, once again Graham at GSPE has done a superb job - as you will see from the photo.
Among the recently completed jobs are a new fuel manifold, relocation and modifications to the valve work and making fittings to put it all together. (Some things you just can't buy)! New smaller operating valves are replacing some of the more bulkier items. Times have changed considerably since we first did the valves and hosework on Firestorm.
Due to lack of space in our workshop, completed parts are checked for correct fitment and then stored away, hence there aren't any new photos of the complete car, so please be patient, these will be forthcoming.
Once again, thanks to Big Al, Rich and Ellen Hanna for their continued support and guidance - its great to have someone who's giving us a huge amount of information and encouragement. Thanks guys!
7th May 2011
Please accept our sincere apologies for the down time of the Firestorm website! We had not been able to update it due to 'technical difficulties' but all sorted now, so going forward we will be putting regular updates on of our progress.
Good, positive news from the Firestorm camp for 2011! Firestorm is on his way back – there is still quite a long way to go but we are getting there! We are working very closely with our friends at Hanna Motorsports on this rebuild, thanks to the Hanna family, their wealth of knowledge and experience have been invaluable so far and we are sure that will continue for a long time.
Firestorms chassis has been repaired and is now back in our workshop in Rotherham, after both the front and rear of the chassis have been replaced in their entirety. Graham had suggested that we should have a team meeting with good friend Brian Walsh and survey the damage on the now totally stripped chassis. Graham and Brian go back a long way in racing circles and have worked together on some very high end racing projects. Roger is also no novice as he was very much involved in the initial build of Firestorm’s chassis and worked with Bob Jinkens on a number of race car projects. So one Saturday in the workshop after some deliberation and tea, Roger uttered these words “Do you think we can fix this Brian”? “Yeh, its only tubes – and most of them are straight”! So what we had thought was possibly going to be a very difficult job suddenly became very achievable, still a big job but achievable – a huge sigh of relief echoed around the Firestorm camp that day!
Since the chassis came home Roger has been burning the midnight oil fabricating, welding and swearing a lot putting the necessary fixtures and brackets on the chassis for the valves, chute cans, fuel tanks, catch tanks etc. It all takes a bunch of time but it has to be done. It needs to be totally rebuilt with every valve, hose and wire in place before its stripped again and the chassis powder coated. This way there should be no last minute welding jobs on a newly powder coated chassis – in theory!
It is great to have achieved this much, particularly as most of you know, we are a privately owned and funded team and this is a massive project and not one that was planned. We are indebted to everyone for all the help we have been given but we both have to thank Brian and Graham in particular as both of them have gone above and beyond the call of duty to ‘make this happen’!
We are working very closely with Graham Sykes of Sykes Performance Engineering on 'upgrading' quite a few components on Firestorm. As you may know both Graham and Diane Sykes are our number one crew, but aside from that as a precision engineer Graham has a wealth of knowledge gained in many different area's of motor racing including working with works racing teams and designing and building his own V8 Drag Bike. He is currently working on some really special components for the chassis and steering gear, all of which will be a significant upgrade to the original Firestorm. Graham also has experience working with 'aerodynamics' and has quite a few idea's regarding development of the new body. More news on that later.
There will be some major changes to Firestorm along the way but it will still be the Firestorm that we all love with its centre drive configuration with side inlets – all to be revealed later.......