1982 the Mr Shifter years.
In 1982 after the decission to sell the Apollo 2 race car I decieded that I wanted to still carry on Drag Racing. A local chap called Mick Cheley who lived near by at Quinton, Birmingham had just finished building his 1927 replica Ford Roadster with a big block petrol engine V 8 Chrysler and an automatic gearbox fitted. The car was called "Mr Shifter" The wheelbase was 100" long and the car weighed 2280lbs. I would help crew on this car for the next 12 years.
Mick kept Mr Shifter in his garage at Quinton. It was always a struggle to get the race car on it's trailer in and out of the garage.
The engine is a 383 ci Big Block Chrysler, running on petrol, with a 3 speed automatic transmission.
Top photo. 1982. Easter at Santa Pod Raceway. We sold Mick our old Caravan. Bottom photo. First run of the season in Modified Class. 10:60 @ 120 mph.
April 1992. We went up " North", to New York Raceway. We had to pitch the tent on the tarmac in the pits ! Mr Shifter did a series of run's with a best of 10:45 @ 125 mph. On the 1/4 mile.
Mick had an invite to take the Mr Shifter Race Car to Holland along with Geoff & Sylvia Hauser who ran a Dodge Charger. We all traveled together and got on the Ferry at Felixstoe. We had some Sponsorship off Sealink Ferrys which helped with the cost.
They put us all up in a nice Hotel during our stay in Steenwijk in Holland. On the Saturday the Bikers from the local Drag Racing Club took us around the street's of the small towns to promote the racing that was happening on the Sunday. This was a
bizzar parade stopping at all the towns, hundreds of people lined the streets to wellcome us and was allway's ready with a free drink for us !
On the Sunday they closed down a long road just outside Steenwijk. There were no crash barriers, just a ditch on the left side of the road and a canal on the right ! They did put a tarparlin sheet between the 1/4 mile track and the canal, I'm not sure what for ! We had geat discussions whether the drivers should put on a fire suit or a wet suit !!
Well we did three runs up the track, with a best time of 10:63 @ 206 Km there was NO return road, So the only way we could get back to the pits was to stop the racing for a while for the support vehicles to tow the race cars back.
Saturday night in the Hotel Bar. All the drivers and crew having a good time.
September 1982. World Finals at Santa Pod. Top photo new team white coats ( we look like a pair of milkmen !) Bottom photo. Simon Bates does an interview with Mick.
Winter 1982/3. Mr Shifter get's a total rebuild.
We decieded that we needed to get the car on a diet over the Winter ! So after stripping the car down, we drilled 100 - 2" holes in the chassis. We weighed all the 2" washers that came out of the holes which tipped the scales at 32 lbs.
The engine was completly rebuilt, The twin batteries were moved to the very tail of the car for better weight dispalacement. And a disc brake was also fitted on the prop-shaft to be used as a transmission brake to help stall up the coverter on the start line for a better and quicker launch.
1983. Easter at the Pod. A new class of racing called "Super Gas" This is run on a "Heads up start" (No handicap) but no quicker than 9 : 90 et. Mick lost in the Semi-finals with 10:39 @ 129 mph.
May 1983. Qualified number 1 with a 10: 40 @ 122 mph. (Roger Gorringe photo)
Mick won his first round with a slippy 10:82 @ 123 mph. Then lost in the Semi-Finals with 2 bent push rods, due to over-reving the engine !
June 1983. Top photo. We only just made it onto the Sealink Ferry, they only just shut the rear doors ! Bottom photo. Steve, Mick & Jack Cheley on a canal boat in Amsterdam.
We had only been here 5 mins when the beer was broken out !
Zandvoort Racing Circuit. We raced on the 1/8th mile here. Ran a best of 6:92 @ 175 km.
A group booking of English race cars went to Zandvoort Grand Prix Circuit to race on the 1/8th mile track. Traction was lousy with no grip at all. The location was great, we just qualified the car then walked over the road and spent the afternoon on the beach !
The night time party's were great as well that allways happed in the town which was a 10 min's walking distance from the track.
Mr Shifter did not run that well at Zandvoort but it did make good burnouts !
Back in England now at S.P.R. World Finals. Ran a best of 10 : 22 @ 127 mph. Lost out in Semi-Finals.
Winter 1984/5 Total rebuild again. Still looking for that 9 second run from somewhere ?
After a total strip down of the race car. We decieded we wanted more suspention adustment to give us better traction on bad tracks. Top photo, Steve drilling a series of holes we can alter the center of gravity of the race car. After rebuilding the engine we fitted a 200 hosepower nitrous oxide kit. that would go on top of the 700 h.p that the engine is already producing. This, we think may be to quick for the Super Gas class of racing. So the system was modified just to trickle 50 hp into the engine, being carfull not to break the 9:90 et limit in Super Gas.
Easter 1985. Easter at S.P.R. Mick ran his first 9 second run.....9 : 92 @ 134 mph.
Mick Won his first Super Gas final round with that 9:92 @ 134 mph and won this trophy.
May 1985. Long Marston Raceway. Ran a best of 9 : 85 @ 133 mph Then lost in the first round with a cracked number 3 cylinder liner !
July at Santa Pod. Cannonball meeting. To much traction here ! Top photo, Mr Shifter went into a wheel stand ! Bottom photo, the bent front axle ! Geoff Hauser straightened it out for us.
Geoff Hauser repaired the front axle for Mick on the Sunday night, on the Tuesday Morning we had to catch the Ferry to Holland.
In June we went out to Zandvoort Racing Circuit in Holland racing on the 1/8th mile.
We ran in Compitition Car Class and went two rounds before being knocked out in Semi-Finals. Best time on the 1/8th was 6.82 @ 184 Km.
August at Santa Pod. We raced in 2 classes. Super Gas & Pro-Mod. Mick WON Super Gas Final with 9:91 @ 128mph. and WON Pro- Mod Final at 9:58 @ 134 mph !
September 1985. Bitteswell in Coventry was a new track on the Airfield. Mick WON the final of Super Gas with a 10:14 @ 129 mph. He also came 2nd in the R.A.C. Championship.
October at the Pod. Saturday night Door slammer meeting. Racing in Pro-Modified. Mick WON with a record run of 9:28 @ 141 mph in the dark ! Top photo. Real race cars DO have doors !
Mr Shifter appererd in the Express & Star November 8th 1985.
The B.D.R.A. Dinner/Dance Award night in London. Mick win's most improved car in 1985
1986. Easter at Santa Pod Raceway. Mr Shifter ran a best of 9.95 @ 127 mph. Won Super Gas Final round.
May 1986. Long Marston Raceway. Ran a Gearbox slipping 10.03 @ 120 mph. Bottom photo. Found a load of shrapnell in the bottom of the auto gearbox
July 1986. Cannonball run at Santa - Pod., Broken teeth off the Crown wheel ! (To much traction again!)
Weekend after in July, We had to borrow a diff to race with at Zanvoort in Holland on the 1/8th mile track. Lost in the Semi-finals.
The Last day party before we catch the Ferry back to England.
July 1986. Long Marston Raceway. It seem's we are plagued with trasmission problems this year ! Top photo. Ran 9:94 @ 138mph. Bottom Photo. Converter fault !.
August 1986. We went to a new Drag strip called North Weald. The car ran 9:93 @ 138 mph. Which was Number 1 Qualifier in Super Gas. The Sunday was rained out !
August 1986. We went out to Germany. Used the Formular One garages for our pit's....Luxury !
Mick WON the European Challenge Trophy. We beat cars from England, Germany, Holland and France.
Next weekend we went out to a U.S. Airbase, called Glebelstadt in Germany. This was a 1/4 mile track. The race car ran a best of 9:83 @ 145 mph. But we were having to nurse a slipping converter !
One week later, We did Lye Carnival. The local press loved this European Trophy coming into the Midlands.
We ran in Pro- Modified at Long Marston. The car ran 9:47 @ 144 Then went BOOM ! in the lights !! Camshaft broke at 140 mph & took valves, pistons with it as well ! The bonnet went 100 ft in the air !
This was an expencive rebuild for Mick over the Winter. Looking at the engine after we had got it back in the workshop it seem's that the camshaft shattered in 4 pieces when the car was doing 144 mph, the pistons bent all the valves and holed sevral pistons in the process. The valve's mashed the cylinder heads and cracked the block ! So the engine was very close to being writton off ! The decission was to ditch the 383ci block
and go for a better 400ci block. These blocks are rare to find. You can only find these engine's in Chrysler Campers and the Chrysler Black and White Police Car's that run around America. Mick did find an engine in this country, which he bought. The engine was completly stripped and cleaned. then sent away for some excessive machining ! The engine was bored out to 450ci and new Venolia pistons with Bill Miller alloy conrods fitted. A new crane camshaft was also fitted. The 400 cylinder heads were skimmed and ported with new larger valves, plus a three angled valve job as well.
The body was a big problem as well. The bonnet was wrecked in the blow up. Mick did manage to repair it but trying to find the goldflake metalic paint to match the rest of the car was a big problem ? Mick decieded it was time for a change of colour, so the race car minus it's engine and gearbox was taken to Pro-Spray of Cannock for a complete re-spray. The colour chosen was "BLACK CHERRY". Andrew Signwriters from Quinton did all the lining out and the lettering.
Winter of 1986/7. Total rebuild of the engine after the blow up last year. Mick bought 8 new Venolia Pistons, and 8 Bill Miller alloy con rods.
The 383ci block was scrap, so a 400ci block was purchached and was bored out to 450ci. A 440ci crankshaft was fitted.
1987. Whilst the engine was being worked on Prospray ltd of Cannock totaly resprayed the body in Black Cherry.
Easter at Santa-Pod Raceway. Won the Final round of Super Gas with 10:03 @124 mph
April 1987 at Long Marston. The new Club N.D.R.A. is born, And a new class of heads up racing called SUPER MODIFIED.
From Left to right.....Paul Warne (Baby Bear) Dave Warne (Daddy Bear) Mick Chely (The Whale) Dave Mingay (The Goat) and Ron Pudney ( The Magician) A right rouges gallery !
Gary's Picnic at Santa - Pod Won the Final round of Pro-Modified with 9:21 @ 142mph
North Weald Airport. Mr Shifter lost in the Final Round of Super Modified. 9:56 @ 139mph. We lost first gear !
Long Marston. Super Modified Qualified number 1 with 9:33 @ 140 mph. Then the meeting was rained out !
Won Pro-Modified Final Round with a best run of 9:03 @ 144 mph (So close to an 8 second run !)
Long Marston Raceway. 4-car Super Modified field We lost the Final Round with a 9:43 @ 141mph
1989. Over the Winter we rebuilt the engine and fitted a 400 bhp fogger nitrous oxide system and a Barry Grant 1250 Domintator Carborator.
1989, Easter at Santa-Pod. Running in Pro- Mod. Our best time this weekend was 9:04 @ 142mph Mick went as far as the Semi-finals.
1988 Whitson Big Go at Santa-Pod. The car ran it's first 8:93 @ 145 mph. Mick Won his first final round this year, and the trophy.
Long Marston Raceway. We were trying to hard to run an eight second run here. The car hooked up to hard and pulled a giant wheelstand, came down and bashed the sump in ! Mick lost in the first round.
1988 World Finals at Santa-Pod. Mick won the final round with 8:93 @ 145 mph. The other car red lit !
Fireworks meeting at S.P.R. Ran a 8:98 @ 135mph qualifing run but burnt a piston (No3) just before the finish line!
Winter of 1988/9. A total rebuild of the engine was required. fitting of a new piston as well. We also got rid of the old ladder bars and made up a four link rear suspention set up with plenty of adjustment, so to plant ALL the power to the ground. we also made up some longer wheelie-bars to control the wild wheelstands. We also fitted the parachute back on, manly to save wear on the brake pads. New exhaust headers were also made up. These were made to fit under the car's running boards, just to make it a bit more arodinamic !
1989. Over the Winter we modified the race car again. Top photo. We replaced the ladder bars with a four link suspention to calm the car down a bit off the start line.
We also made some 8ft long wheelie bars to try and calm the wheelstands down a bit !
Top photo. We made new exhaust headers. Bottom photo. Car launches well and pulls a holeshot on the Rover in the other lane. Mr Shifter ran 8:85 @ 150mph !
We are finding Mick is having to use the parachute more to slow down in time before the end of the track !
First Qualyfing run, did not go to plan. The engine spit back and the nitrous gasses exploded in the scoop ! This was due to us NOT warming the engine enough ! Bottom Photo. the car ran a 8:91 @148mph
We took the race car to Cannon Hill Park in Birmingham. William Woolard from Top Gear was doing a program for BBC2 on Drag Racing.
We are going to replace Mick with a better looking driver ! This was a photo shoot we did for the 1990 "Automatic Trasmission Repair Specialists" from Hednesford. Who have sponsored Mick since 1982.
1989. Long Marston Raceway. Top photo, Mick being interviewed just before this race against Geoff Houser in his Pro-Mod Sierra. Geoff lost control and rolled his car in front of Mick.
Winter of 1989/1990. Mick went over to America to shop for speed parts for the race car. He bought some massive cylinder heads off Bill Koffel, plus intake manafold and camshaft to suit. The cylinder heads were called B.1. Named after the B.1 Bomber from WW2. So after some machining the extra large valves were ground in and the roller rockers were fitted along with triple valve springs. Because we are putting a lot more power out of this engine we felt that the gearbox would not stand up to it. A 6,000rpm stall converter was fitted with a two-speed Power Glide Gearbox was also fitted.
After fitting the big cylinder heads we relised that we were going to restriced the air flow
going into the carb ! So we cut off the old fiberglass scoop and made a complete new BIGGER one out of alloy. The rules said we had to fit 5" wide seat belts as well to stop brusing in the event of an accident with the race car.
Winter 1989/90. Another engine rebuild. Fitted a pair of B.1. Alloy cylinder heads and high rise intake manafold.
With a better camshaft and roller rockers fitted, We also fitted a two speed powerglide transmission. We are producing around 1200 BHP now !
1990. Top photo. We made a new alloy bigger scoop to get more air into the engine. Bottom photo. New 5" wide seat belts fitted.
Top photo. We made and fitted a new wing to go on the boot to help hold the rear of the car down at high speeds. Bottom photo. posing again for the SUN newspaper.
We also fitted an onboard computer which gave us some interesting readings. 0 to 60mph time 1.31 seconds. Eigth mile time of 5.35.....And Quater mile time of 8:34 @163 mph.
We were doing fairly well. The race car was going faster but we were finding that with such a short wheel base Mick was having problems holding the car in a straight line !
We could not keep the car consistant ? One run would nett us a 8 second run but the next run would have to be aborted due to the car going outershape and getting to close to the crash barriers ! This car was an accident waiting to happen !!!
Over the Winter of 1990/1 A decission was made to have a better chassis and body.
Geoff Hauser was in the middle of building a new Vauhall Calibra chassis and body for a customer, but the customer ran out of money ! So mick stepped in and bought the rolling chassis. The wheel base was 112" long. Mick fitted the engine and geerbox from the Ford T into the Calibra, when finished the car weighed 2310lbs. By this time my circumstances were changing at home when Canal Cottage was coming into my life. Over the last year we had already trained up another crewman called Steve Drew for Mick to carry on racing. I did pop around from time to time when the Calibra was racing.
1991. After a few shakedown runs the Calibra ran it's first Seven at Long Marston Raceway. 7:93 @ 165mph.
1992. At Santa Pod Raceway. Mick ran a wheelstanding 7.86 @ 175 mph !
1993. Mick ran his best ever time with this car. Nice photo of the car in the shut down area at Santa Pod Raceway.
During the early 1990's Even thou the Calibra was running quicker it was becoming clear that mick was having problems keeping up with the rest of the Pro-Modified class. The front runners were by now breaking into the high Six second brarrier. There was no way Mick having a unsponsored car could afford to run in Pro-Mod any more. Plus the expence of the engine breakages were eating into his wallet. So a decision was made to remove the nitrouse oxide system, manly to save on parts and to drop down into Top Sportsman Class where the cars would race on a handicap system. The Calibra would run a consistant 8:40's @ 160 mph. Mick carried on this type of racing untill he retired in 2006.