The 2022 season will see the return to track action for the ever-popular Nitro Funny Cars. Competition will take place over 4 rounds: Festival of Power over the Easter weekend, the FIA Main Event at the end of May, Bug Jam in July and the FIA European Finals in September. With all rounds taking place at Santa Pod Raceway, we’ve dropped the European element from the previous name and rebranded the series as the Funny Car Cup. Taking part this year will be the usual 4 Brits: Ashdown, Chapman, Phelps, and Kent, with the addition of Swede, Patrick Pers. There is also a surprise for later in the season when West Ten Motorsport field a second car, driver to be confirmed.
In the run up to the first round of the Funny Car Cup at the Festival of Power we’ll be focussing in on a driver and team to give you an overview of what it takes to field one of these monsters and have the monumental stones to actually drive one down the track
Undertaker Nitro Funny Car
Driver: Steve Ashdown
Crew Chief: Dave Bryant
One of the most dedicated drivers in the class is Steve Ashdown, who originally licenced in 2017 with the Shockwave team. Steve has seen the track from various cockpits, from Super Pro to Top Fuel but his true passion has always been for Funny Cars. “I’ve always felt an affinity for the class, it’s the brutal unpredictability of the driving experience that keeps me enthused” says Steve. The path for Steve hasn’t been smooth, a spate of engine damage lasting nearly 2 seasons followed by expensive rear end failure last season hasn’t daunted Steve, “These things can be extremely expensive, especially when they go wrong.” Steve went into the class fully aware of what kind of financial commitment it would take. Steve added “Getting these things down the track is very difficult even with an experienced tuner like Dave, you can have a string of unsuccessful runs behind you. It makes you question everything, the crew feel it, Dave feels it, everyone can have their head in their hands. Then everything clicks and the car will make a pass putting a decent number on the board and the boost for everyone is fantastic. It’s a roller coaster ride that just keeps me wanting more.”
Dave Bryant has 25 years’ experience around these cars, a very well respected and generous source of advice and problem solving for anyone with a funny car issue in the pits. Dave has hosted many drivers in his funny car including Alan Bates, Jason Phelps, Gordon Smith, Terry Haddock and Jayne Kay. As ever the aim for the coming season is pretty simple; to win. Both Steve and Dave lead a crew that is determined to win every time they square up on the start line, with a mixture of wise old heads and young enthusiasm, the crew is the heartbeat of any race car. “We’ve got some new faces for the season which is really nice, all nitro teams struggle for willing crew members so I’d ask anyone who’s interested to drop by the pits and ask the question.” The tune up in Dave’s car will remain broadly similar, the everlasting struggle with the track being the dictator in tuning issues. “The track is proving a tricky customer to tackle” said Dave “sometimes it can be extremely aggressive and we just cannot get enough power into it to allow us to build up the necessary wheel speed at the hit. Tyre shake has been an almost ever-present problem for the class, leading to breakages and damage. We need to see if we can approach the issue in a different way.” Dave added. The team are eager to hit the ground running at Easter and secure that all important 1st win of the season.