Americans and the various cars they bring to the Festival of Speed always play a major role in proceedings. In fact, it’s fair to say that FoS wouldn’t be the same without earth-shuddering V8s and the ever-colourful presence of the people who drive them. This year, however, we’re taking the involvement of our transatlantic cousins all the way up to 11 …
‘The King’ Richard Petty will be making yet another popular appearance (did you see the crowds that followed him absolutely everywhere last year?) and this time will be honouring us with the presence of his 1970 NASCAR championship-winning Plymouth Superbird. On the off-chance that these be-winged monsters have escaped your attention, you need to know that this was the car (well, actually it’s Dodge equivalent: the Daytona) which was the first ever to achieve an average lap speed of 200mph. In fact, here it is doing just that at Talladega in the hands of Buddy Baker. Younger fans will recognise Petty’s Plymouth as the inspiration for The King from the Disney movie Cars.
Keeping the legendary NASCAR driver and car combination company will be the returning Kerry Earnhardt who will again pilot one of his late father Dale’s imposing number three Richard Childress Racing Chevrolets. Also, former NASCAR champion Bobby Labonte will be making his debut at FoS in a current-spec’ Chevrolet Impala SS, but he’ll be mistaken if he thinks he’s in for a gentle cruise up the hill! Goodwood favourite Anthony Reid is lined-up to go head-to-head against the Impala in Michael Waltrip Racing’s Toyota Camry Cup car. If you’ve ever seen Mr Reid attack the hill you’ll know what kind of show is in store. Add to this the sight of former NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Mike Skinner who will be out there to try and beat the NASCARs up the hill in a shoot-out on Sunday. His ride? A Chevy Silverado pickup modified especially for hillclimbing Are we sitting comfortably ..?
Anybody who’s ever seen the Rat Trap ‘fuel altered’ car running at FoS will understand the appeal of a car more familiar with drag strips (and whose horsepower is measured in multiples of 1000) running up the hill. Burnouts occur with pleasing regularity and when that’s not happening, the spectacle of a huge V8 cackling away as it burns methanol is not to be missed. Although this year Ron Hope and his crew will be keeping Rat Trap Stateside, we have the wonderful news that the godfather of racing himself – Don Garlits – will be gracing us with his presence of one of his fabled Swamp Rat dragsters. Being a famous entertainer we’d advise you to expect noise … Lots of noise!
At this point you’d be forgiven for thinking ‘Hmm, not a bad line up of American iron there’, and you’d be dead right. But we’re not done yet. Ever heard of Stadium Supertrucks? Consider a 600bhp, lightweight pickup truck with the ability to gain 20 feet of air over man-made jumps in the middle of a racing lap… whilst wheel-to-wheel! Don’t believe us? Click here … Robby Gordon will be throwing his supertruck around the new and improved Activities Field, where he will be joined by seven-time US off-road champion ‘Ballistic’ BJ Baldwin with his similar Endurance Trophy truck. Perhaps we should open a book on who will jump the highest?
Rounding-off this unprecedented gathering at FoS of Americana will be the maiden appearance of World of Outlaws Sprint Cars, which will be wheelying their way up the hill. What else do you need to know about them? Well, they run 850bhp V8s which burn methanol, have no gears (including reverse), rarely have all four wheels pointing in a straight line, and frequently loft the front wheels clear off the ground like this. Should be fun, then!