Santa Pod Raceway located in England has been on my bucket list for around 10 years. If you’re a racing enthusiast, event promotor, track owner, racer, or just someone that likes to go to fun events, I hope you take 10 minutes to read why I think it should be on your bucket list as well!
When I left home on my way to Britain for the Doorslammers race at Santa Pod Raceway, I was expecting some good drag racing at a new track, but what I got was a WHOLE lot more. Santa Pod Raceway is more than a drag strip, it’s a massive family entertainment facility! Here’s the main components that impressed me during the 7 days of racing I was there for
As you enter Santa Pod you know they mean business, they have a massive staff office at the entrance with a dozen branded vehicles – Entering the facility through the security gate it’s like arriving at a festival as you drive through the camp grounds that were PACKED both weekends. Then you pass the live action arena, circus rides, and food court (explained later)
The Drag Strip
The first time I walked onto the track I got chills, after seeing so many videos from Santa Pod it was surreal to finally be standing on the track, it was more… overwhelming than what I pictured from different video angles – with large grandstands on one side, closer than any drag strip I’ve been to, the signature “tower” over the burnout box, VIP suites nearly on top of the burnout box and starting line, and the famous “hill” stretching nearly the whole 1320’
The variety of cars was very refreshing & exciting for me, being spoiled by seeing nearly everything cool in the street car world int he U.S. at this point, it’s hard to get excited sometimes, I was energized and motivated every day of both weekends simply because there were so many cool cars & stories to capture – obviously there were a lot of different European cars, as well as a different car culture and style of building cars in general. I knew there would be plenty of cars from the UK, but what I didn’t understand was that 50% of them would be from MANY other European countries, Sweden had a HUGE presence.
From 9am to 3am if you were bored, you weren’t trying to have fun! During racing if there were downtime the track had a stunt bike, stunt cars, things going on in the live action arena, nostalgia airline fly-overs, live entertainers, a life like robot show, and so many more things to do. Typically at drag races, once the racing is over the track is a ghost town – at Santa Pod there is an energetic night life like I’ve never seen at a drag strip – between the circus rides, camping parties, live music at their beer garden and a massive concert stage during the first weekend, I never wanted to leave!
Live Action Arena
Along “the hill” on the right side of the drag strip, if you ere bored of racing, it was raining, or there was a cleanup, you can simply turn 180 degrees and watch drifting, precision driving, CAR FOOTBALL (soccer), monster trucks, RIDE in a monster truck, and other events during several days of events (all outline on their website)
Safety crew & equipment
Santa Pod takes this to the next level, it’s very clear they have a BIG focus on safety… During every pair of cars down the track there is a track staff in charge of staging their individual lane, a fire crew member watching an individual car, and 6-7 spotters spaced out down the track. When the big nitro / methanol cars are running the fire guys are in full fire suits & masks holding fire suppression tanks, and a 3rd member is on an ATV fitted with a custom built water pump & tank for quick & agile response anywhere on the facility, and places the fire truck cannot reach (in or past the sand pit) – EACH and every car that drove onto the track got a full inspection inside, outside, and underneath before making their pass down the track. Just before the racers staged, they had to give the safety crew assigned to their car a thumbs up, I haven’t seen anything this thorough before.
I’ve never been to a drag strip that’s had more than their standard track food and maybe 2-3 food trucks to help with large events – Santa Pod had 12… TWELVE completely different types of food vendors in a food court, with several scattered around different areas as well, I could have eaten something different nearly every meal I had there, and the longest I waited was 15 minutes (because the pizza truck made it in front of you with an oven)
Amazing track staff
Santa Pod has the largest track staff I’ve seen at any track so far, they had around 60 staff with 30 of them full time. The staff I worked with on the track were all enthusiasts or loved what they did… it showed. The core track staff worked their asses off to minimize down time, dry the track in record time (I’ve never seen anything like it), and keep racers safe. The two starting line managers have a friendly competition to see who’s lane is upkeep better comparing different incrementals in various classes and the overall best 60’ and E/T of the event.
No shortage of events
They have over 40 some events of wide varying interests, something for everyone – The Doorslammers event was actually paired with a VW bus show which made for a really unique dynamic and a massive crowd every day for both events.
The Santa Pod Website is RIDICULOUS (http://www.santapod.co.uk/) Before I came I knew EXACTLY what I was in for, each event has its own mini-website, for both events I was able to see the racer roster with pictures, driver names & vehicle info, full run down of the massive entertainment options during the events, the racing schedule, results & videos from previous years, live results during the event, etc.
From the moment I got there, I signed in at the office, received parking passes for full access, press pass, and a brochure will full information on everything involved with the event, a map of the facility, full schedule for each day, and racer info.
The media office near the starting line has drinks/snacks during the day and a dedicated staff member during all racing hours to make sure you have what you need, know where to shoot, etc.
The amount & quality of the equipment was something I haven’t seen at more than 3 or 4 tracks so far – they deal with rain A LOT and have TWO jet dryers, a scrubber, a brand new one of a kind tire rotator built by a fabricator in the UK, their super unique sprayer is the first I’ve seen with the prep tank & sprayer being a trailer that’s towed behind their Nissan “GLUEBird” (Bluebird) – every time they ran it, it was another piece of the entertainment of the event with an operator riding on the back, holding on hard for some fast u-turns, turning the valve at the right time to start/stop the prep spray. I was lucky enough to ride along on the sprayer for a few laps, it was a blast, and a unique experience no one has ever gotten as a spectator.
Last but not least the biggest component that makes Santa Pod what it is, the staff, the media I worked alongside, the racers, and the fans were all so welcoming and pleasant to party with at the track – especially when things went south in London, I couldn’t believe the number of people who reached out that I had just met, or never met before that offered assistance, replacement items, loaner equipment (thanks again Calluim!), and some that reached out to talk or hang out that took my mind off things and showed me a great time to get this whole experience back on track (Like Jay who let me stop by his house, check out his Pagani & took me out to dinner with more great new friends) – so many awesome memories with my new British race car family I won’t forget!
I’m writing this 2 months after leaving the UK regrettably, but we are just days away from unloading a big pile of videos on our YouTube channel so you can really see the cool sh*t the U.K. has to offer! I highly suggest ANYONE reading this to put Santa Pod on your bucket list, you won’t regret it!