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Pendine Sands
Hot Rod Races

We are pleased to announce that the ninth running of the Hot Rod Races will be happening on Pendine Sands over the weekend of 14th and 15th May 2022. Once again there will be two days of non-stop racing action on the historic beach in Carmarthenshire, South Wales. We will be starting around 10am each day and racing for around five to six hours, with high speed thrills from start to finish. Everything is determined by the tide so times can’t be set in stone.

 

This incredible, award winning event has fast become the most important date on the UK hot rod calendar, with participants coming from all over the globe to take part in the world’s fastest and most exciting beach racing competition available to traditional hot rods and customs. Racing is only open to members of the Vintage Hot Rod Association and their pre-1949 hot rods and customs, so it’s guaranteed old time action all the way. Whilst pit passes are only for VHRA members, spectating is free from outside the pits, you’ll find more details on that further down the page. 

 

There are classes for all types of vehicles and engines, with cars being built just to break class records. All vehicles run on a course with a 1/2 mile run up, followed by a time flying 1/16th of a mile, which is where these antique hot rods can hit speeds in excess of 120 mph.
 

Our latest report, previous race results and records are below.

Race and Pit Passes - VHRA Members Only - ALL PASSES SOLD OUT

Race and Pit Passes can only be purchased by members of the VHRA. All competing vehicles must be be VHRA eligible and meet the criteria defined in our Racing Rules & Regulations. Only pass holders will be allowed access to the pits. All passes have sold out. 

Race Classes

V - Vintage - Pre 54 engines, inclusive of all Ford flathead V8’s

L - Late - 1954 and later engines

 

4 - 4 Cylinder

6 - 6 Cylinder

8 - 8 Cylinder

U - Unlimited Cylinders

 

B - Blown - Supercharger or Turbo

 

F - Flathead - ALL valves in block, no OHV conversions

 

R - Roadster - Open top factory cars. Roof chops allowed, top must be down.

C - Closed Car - Fixed roof factory cars. Roof chops allowed.

M - Modified - Open top special & shortened bodies, including non-factory bodies. 

S - Streamliner - Closed car special & shortened bodies, including belly tanks and non-factory bodies.

K - Full Body - Factory cars post 1934. All  body styles, roof chops allowed. 

Free Spectating - No Pass Required

Outside of the pits it’s free to come and spectate. The view of the race cars is fantastic and you you can wander down the beach to see the cars at speed. There is a parking fee of £5 per car payable to the council on the day, which will allow you to park on the hallowed beach in your car. No pre-booking or ticket is required, you do not need to be a member and there is no limit on numbers. This will not permit you to enter the pit or race areas, but there will be the opportunity to get up close to the cars either side of racing. We scrutineer the race cars on Friday from midday, which is a great day to take a look at the cars and talk to the owners, as they take over the village. Dogs on leads are welcome. Strictly no drones, Pendine Sands is a no-fly zone.

 

Press

Press applications must be made in writing by email to info@vhra.co.uk. Requests by social media will not be accepted. When getting in touch, let us have a link to your website and details of your media credentials. Space is limited in the pits and we will not be able to issue press passes to all applicants. Priority will go to those in the national and international motoring and vintage lifestyle press that will best represent the VHRA. If a press pass is issued, this will not allow access to the racecourse. Any form of recording or photography for commercial purposes requires the formal consent of the VHRA for which there may be a fee payable. Press applications come to a close on 1st April 2022.

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Accommodation

For those wishing to stay nearby there are a number of options. If you are quick then the Parkdean Caravan Park across the road is the place to stay. Book online or call 0344 335 3580. Bookings are done on a short break basis and start from around £250 for a 6 berth caravan. Check out their website for details of the accommodation available. There are also hotels and B&B’s in the area, just search on Google for more details. Alternatively, contact Carmarthenshire visitor information on 01267 231557, or by email to carmarthentic@carmarthenshire.gov.uk.

 

Sponsors

As well as the VHRA presenting a one-off racer’s jersey to the King of the Beach, we also have a number of sponsors and contributors to thank for their support. Royal Kustoms for the King of the Beach trophy, garland and bottle of Champagne. Stromberg Carburetor are sponsoring the fastest Vintage engined car with a trophy and a prize. There will be books from Men’s File and 100mph Club T-Shirts sponsored by Juarez Fabrication. Our regular crew of the Sidewinders will be on hand all weekend, and finally, Jacqueline Davies Art for the design work. In addition, the girls working at the event and on the start line will be kitted out by Freddies of Pinewood. We urge you to click on the logos below to find out a little more about them.

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2022 Pendine Sands
Hot Rod Races

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Although our tenth year, this was only the ninth running of the Hot Rod Races because of the cancelled event back in 2020. We were lucky to be able to go ahead in 2021, when we were the first post-COVID event of any size in South Wales, but there were limitations on what we could do. This year, however, was as good as restriction free, so we knew it was going to be a bigger and better event, with racers returning confidently to Pendine, both from at home and overseas.

 

The event was held earlier this year as there were very few suitable tides later in the summer, or they clashed with bank holidays, which would be too busy for us to use the beach the way we do on race days. There was a fair bit of weather watching running up to the races, and those of us that arrived early in Pendine saw the rain fall in spades, but it did seem to be improving as each day came and went. 

 

The usual schedule was in place for scrutineering and race days, with the former all taking place in the top car park on Friday, sharing marquee space with our pop-up shop and reception area. Vehicle inspections kicked off at midday, and was followed by a constant stream of cars filling the two bays until shortly after 7pm. This is where we get to see old friends and familiar cars, but also the opportunity to meet newer members of the VHRA, as well as any new creations, and for 2022 the talk of the town was Glenn Bilquist’s incredible twin straight eight Buick powered streamliner., with voluptuous curves that were certainly going to turn heads on the beach. As always, the official event T shirts, designed by Jacqueline Davies, went down a storm, with some sizes selling out before we even turned a wheel on the beach. 

On Saturday, an early start was the order of the day, with high tide peaking not too long after 5am. The early birds were there to watch it happen, but it was a couple of hours until we were able to put tyres on the sand. As soon as they could, the Sidewinders hit the beach in their various old jalopies, laden with timing gear and track equipment, so that they could set up for the day’s racing. Plenty of helpers were on hand to make the transition from headland to beach, putting up fences, walking the course, staking more than a mile of safe zone for the spectators, plus a myriad of other jobs that makes the Hot Rod Races what it is. The beach was a little slow to drain, so the start was delayed, but shortly before 9.30am, the first of the cars made its way to the timed area half a mile away. This year that honour went to Chris Nash and his Model A phaeton. Chris had an epic journey from Colchester to Pendine, when, with only around 40 of the 300 miles under his belt, the bottom end started knocking on his four banger. Chris turned tail, went home, swapped in his spare engine, then started over on his trip. Chris opened the account for the days racing with a run of 67.98 mph. The remainder of the racing Sidewinders got their runs in, ran back from the top end, then it was all hands on deck as they dotted themselves around site to carry out their respective duties. What followed was a fantastic day’s racing, with an ever improving track, records being broken, and at the close of play, somewhere in the region of 300 runs made down the famous sands. First of the big numbers on the board was early in proceedings, when car number 40, the blown OHV four banger T roadster belonging to Pete Ayres became the second banger powered car to top 100 mph, with a blistering 102.06 mph. More excitement followed when first timer Mark Littleford was pushed from the line in his 1937 sprint car. No clutch and an in-out box means Mark had to be bump started from the line by Will Ticehurst’s trusty GMC truck, but once he got rolling, an opening speed of 97.50 mph made it look like the V6/M record could be in trouble. Higher in the running order, (we go in membership number order if you were wondering), it was the tale of two streamliners. Wearing number 595, was the aforementioned 16 cylinder behemoth belonging to Glenn Bilquist. Never has a car had quite so many cameras pointing at it on Pendine Sands. Glenn was as cool as a cucumber, and the maiden voyage for the car netted him a credible 80.51 mph. Just a handful of cars later was the also recently finished P38 drop tank belonging to Jamie Williams. It was originally planned for the car to run in the yet uncontested V8BF/S class, but time constraints meant that the supercharger was omitted, and Jamie was running against the Chris Rawlin’s record of 102.63 mph in V8F/S. With this in his sights, Jamie clocked a fantastic 99.34 mph, just a few mph short. It was an incredible run to watch and time and place slipped away as the car went down the course, hairs stood up on my arms, and an image of post-war lakes racing were recreated on a beach in South Wales. The first wave of runs went like clockwork, leaving 2019's King of the Beach, Marcus Bennett out in front as the fastest car so far, with an account opening of 119.68 mph. The second set of runs went equally well, both from a organisational and racing point of view, with the competition hotting up for the King of the Beach. First of the big hitters was Steve Read in his needle nosed T roadster, running a very healthy Chevy motor, and clocked 114.26 mph, improving on his first run of the day by 1 mph. Stephen Hill wasn’t to be outdone, and when the clock stopped on his second run, the roadster pickup had run just shy of his last year’s best, reading at 121.83 mph. Don Cobell and David Sollis were racking up big numbers in L8/C too, running 110.66 and 111.05 respectively. Mark Littleford gets another mention, upping his speed to 108.04 mph and taking the V6/M record in the bargain. At the other end of the scale in the flathead four classes, Andrew Charlton bested his own record in V4/C to 69.10 mph, whilst Soren Stenstrom ran strong in V4F/R, with an 83.11 mph. There was plenty of excitement in the flathead V8 classes too, where we saw the much streamlined A-V8 roadster raced by Kevin Heffernan hit 104.88 mph, whilst Jamie Williams crept up slightly in his drop tank with 99.43 mph. Roy Holmes’ 47 Coupe was also on top form, when he upped his V8BF/K record to 104.10 mph. As for that big ol' streamliner, Glenn ran his fastest time of the meet, setting the record at 88.54 mph.

After pushing time to the limit, pack up was frantic, with Alan Boxall and Matt Bolt having to wade into the sea to retrieve track equipment as the tide took away the evidence of the day’s racing. Alan’s boots fell apart and Matt’s pumps were still wet the next day. The trials and tribulations of being a Sidewinder!

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As always, Sunday set up went quicker thanks to Saturday’s refresher course. Although we were on the beach half an hour later due to the swing in tide times, the ball got rolling at much the same time as the previous day. The course was vey different on Sunday than Saturday; more debris had raised its head, so it was a narrow track compared to usual, as well as being closer to the dunes, which was where the safe line for racing was. Nonetheless, it was an excellent surface, so hopes were high for more record breaking antics. Unfortunately, not long into proceedings, a headwind came along and stayed for the remainder of the day, knocking a few mph off most of the previous days efforts. That didn’t mean there wasn’t any less excitement, with David Sollis improving on each run, topping out at 112. 58 mph on his final dash down the course, sadly failing to hit his previous best, putting him out of the running for King of the Beach. Mark Littleford continued to improve in his sprint car, finally stopping the clock at 108.76 mph on his last run. Another record fell, this time to Martin Clewlow and his 1938 Ford coupe in V8F/K. Martin has been chipping ever closer to Dan Parker’s 2015 record for a few years now, and he finally upped it by 3mph to 97.76 mph, quite the achievement for a car of its size.

 

The only fly in the ointment was that at around midday, someone decided to put a drone above the racers, despite being told it was not permitted. Not only is it distracting and dangerous for the racers, Pendine Sands is a strict no-fly zone because of the nature of the activities at MOD Pendine. Thanks to some swift action from the marshals, it was made clear that the drone wasn’t welcome, we were able to placate the MOD and continue racing.

 

In a similar vein to Saturday, the team on the start line, ably assisted by those on timing stand and further up the course, were able to push through the cars for another 300 or so runs in total, meaning all those that wanted them got four runs in over the course of the weekend. All that was left to round out the track action was the final return of the racers from the top end, with close on 150 cars moving together back towards the pits. A slow moving swarm of cars, with a collective noise like no other, that’s an incredible close to what we consider was one of the best Hot Rod Races to date. We can’t wait to see what the 10th running in 2023 brings us.

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With the sand settled, seven new entrants were inducted into the 100 MPH Club, each earning the most expensive T shirt they will ever own, with a the same number of records being set amongst the various classes. Special mention should go to Hans Rikk, who became the first person to hold three records on Pendine Sands, when his L6F/M Pan American hit 71.66 mph, earning him a print from Jacquline Davies in the process.

 

New Records - sponsored by Men’s File Magazine:

L6F/M - Hans Rik - 71.66 mph

V4/C - Andrew Charlton - 69.10 mph

V4B/R - Pete Ayres - 102.06 mph

V6/M - Mark Littleford - 108.76 mph

V8BF/K - Roy Holmes - 104.10 mph

V8F/K - Martin Clewlow - 97.76 mph

VU/S - Glenn Bilquist - 88.54 mph

 

New 100 MPH Club Members - Sponsored by Juarez Fabrication

V6/M - Mark Littleford - 108.76 mph

L8/R - Chris Gittings - 105.38

L8/K - Charlie Batsford - 103.63 mph

L8/R - Justin Lowe - 102.29 mph

L8/R - Carl Byatt - 101.90 mph

L8/R - Helen Hickey - 100.49 mph

L8/C - Arron Tully - 100.09 mph.

 

The standings for King of the Beach didn’t change on Sunday, which meant that Stephen Hill took the title for the second year in succession with his Saturday best of 121.83 mph. Thanks go to Royal Kustoms for their continued generous sponsorship and trophy. Stephen will also be receiving a King of the Beach racer’s jersey courtesy of the VHRA. Stephen tells us this may be the last time his roadster pickup takes to the beach as it is being painted next year to restore it to its former glory. For those that don’t know, look up the Dean Lowe roadster pickup on Google, and you’ll see just how historically important Stephen's car is.

 

As well as setting a record, Mark Littleford won the prize for the Fastest Vintage Engined Car of the meet, courtesy of sponsorship from Stromberg Carburetors.

 

The Tony Cardy Memorial Trophy, awarded by the East Coast Sidewinders for the Fastest Unblown Street Flathead, went to Kevin Heffernan for his 104.88 mph run in his A roadster.

 

The final award was courtesy of Peter Stevens, which was a bottle of his infamous Slow Gin, for the slowest pass of the weekend, which was presented to Lene Hansen and her Model A speedster, whose best of the meet was a lowly 27.66 mph.

 

Thanks as always to our aforementioned sponsors , please click on their logos at the top of the page to support those that support us. Thanks also to the East Coast Sidewinders for making the Hot Rod Races run as smoothly as it does, as well as Scarlett, Isabelle and Alice for flag duties. And a big hug to all those members and helpers that help out on race day to put the event up and down like lightning, we couldn’t do out without your efforts. Finally, thanks to Ella Mae Walker for the imagery used in this report.

 

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