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Smax - Fuelled by nitro, powered by thought


Well I was born on August 9th 1954 under the fire sign of Leo in the year of the horse - destined for many things!! Son of a stage play actor and WRAF wireless operator I was brought up in the grim surrounds affectionately referred to as 'up north' - Lancashire. After a smashing childhood passing my 11+ and sometimes attending Hutton Grammar School, I fell in love for the first time... with my dad's selection of 'bangers', a love affair that carried on for years. 

Seventeen was a time of change for me, I passed my driving test, became a dad and started to collect a wide variety of 'bangers' of my own. These vehicles were rapidly turned into masterpieces utilising the art of customising; Minis, VW Beetles, Wolsleys and my first ever 'yank' by the time I reached 18 - a 1964 Ford Galaxie 390 Auto, 10x15" mags all round, open exhaust with muralled flames down both sides - thanks Odgie!! - and the ability to scare the pants off of the neighbours, a real monster. 


I purchased Odgie's '68 Ford XL 2 dr, fast back 390 GT with C6 + Monster Rubber after blowing up my own motor (seen in 'B' Movie 'Cruisin'), but unfortunately that relationship ended abruptly after I was showing off and crashed into a local brick wall. I could not afford the repair so I chopped up the front end and went drag racing - as you do !! 
Quickly running 15 second quarters in the dustbin affectionately known as 'Eat the rock' I soon became totally smitten with drag racing - hook line and sinker. I sold the XL and got Steve & Jean Tidswell's proven 1953 Ford Pop Jeans 'E' running a 327 - 4 speed, Jag axle - now renamed 'MAINLINE MENACE' 

I got this into the 12 second bracket after kissing the roll cage - my first 14 second pass in a real car! In 1981 I emigrated to Canada with my missus and two daughters Michelle and Lianne, and took the Pop with me - I rolled it first time out completely destroying the car. I found a beautiful 1948 Ford Pop in Ontario, put my running gear in and ran 10 seconds as Mainline Menace 2. 

In 1985 whilst building my Triumph Chopper "Roadhog", I signed up for the F/Car Drag Racing School in Gainsville Florida run by world champion Frank Hawley. I ran a best of 7.77 @ 188mph - best thing I'd done at that time. 

I then built my own Blown Altered in 1986, running the rare 1935 Chevy Master Coupe which was to become my trademark Mainline Menace 3. I campaigned this car around Canada and North America with the famous Supercharged Outlaws. 

I returned to the Greatest Britain in 1993, along with my English rose Belin, my two sons Aidan and Ronan and the motorless Menace. We settled in Walmer Bridge near Preston. Old friends chipped in to get me a Keith Black Hemi and helped to run the car at 7.6 seconds. Not satisfied with this I swapped the Menace rolling chassis for Britain's no. 4 alky dragster and ran in the British top alcohol championships running a best of 6.53 @ 204 first meeting. 

Getting serious

In 1996 a new MENACE was born - old body - new life. Driven at the 1996 Bulldog Bash the a new high was reached by driving the MENACE to 7.6 second at 180 mph if that wasn't enough immediately picked up, driven back to the start line, jumped into the dragster and ran 6.5 second at 210 mph. Both cars were towed back to the start - with a proud Smax rising to the jubilant cheers from the on looking crowds - all achieved on my 42nd birthday!! COOL!! 
In 1997 I was awarded the Iris Page Memorial Trophy for contribution to sport, performed a driving stunt with the famous daredevil Eddie Kidd - the lad successfully jumped his bike over my speeding car but could not avoid the a high speed impact with the tracks banking, a crash that caused career stopping injuries for Eddie. All of this was put out on News at 10.

Smax then revamped the 35 Chevy & set the European record for alky altered at 6.92 secs @ 203 mph-this record still stands & also the only alky altered to break 200 mph!!! done on my daughters 21st birthday!!!!
the dragster was sold to good friend DICKO from the bulldog & smax helps him at the annual event.
Smax then bought Al Jackson's nitro funny car a mid five second monster & managed a 5.74 second 1/4 mile @ 265mph to still remain the second fastest speed in Europe for a nitro funny car. He was visited by Tara Palmer-Tompkinson (connected to royalty) & had photos taken of Tara sat in the car.
Rich fuel brought stars from music to watch smax, BEZ from Happy Mondays,
CASS from Skunk Anansie & some of the jackass crew.

Fianlly smax got sponsorship from PURPLE LOANS to drive a top fuel dragster the kings of the sport & in 2003 Smax won the FIA championship in top fuel in his rookie year-a feat never achieved in Europe & ran a besty of 4.89 @ 303.14 mph!!!!!!OUTSTANDING!!!

Smax was invited to Monaco in southern France to receive his award & was on stage with the likes of Michael Schumacher, Kimi Rrakinoen, Montoya etc etc
an unforgettable high for Smax supported by partner Belinda, daughter Lianne & best friends Odgie & Fiona


Smax starred in a FLY ON THE WALL DOCUMENTARY called DEMON RACER as part of the WEEK ON THE WILD SIDE TV SERIES which basically sent a camera crew to "live" with different characters for a week so SMAX was followed around his daily life of taking kids to school-running his own hi-perf race shop-sorting out the race team & sponsors & racing his top methanol dragster at Santa Pod with a cruise night fire up for good measure
the 1 hour documentary was shown & well received on cable tv as at the end of the documentary Smax crashed at 200 mph making newspapers & local tv!
following this Smax took his dragster to Shakespeare county raceway to appear in the famous TV show SCRAPHEAP CHALLENGE
Smax was hired to teach Robert Llewellyn show host how to drive a dragster for the opening shot of the challenge to drag race a homebuilt drag car vs a trike. although responding well to Smaxs teachings the awesome power of the dragster phased him so Smax was to do opening burnout pretending to be Robert
during the show Smax was interviewed by Robert to act as expert to communicate to the viewers what drag racing was & what the challenge was about-starting to become a habit this TV thing!!
the BBC then hired Smax to bring his nitro funny car to do much the same thing in new show PANIC MECHANICS
AFTER BBC DROPPED top gear their longest running TV show the cable network hired different TV show hosts for new updated version called top gear GTI - SMAX WAS ASKED TO HOST THE SHOW STARRING THE ALL NEW ford ka-there was some hilarious moments as Smax argued fords claims that this car was so spacious that a university crammed 42 people into one so Smax cruised Deansgate, Manchester, stopped outside a pub & invited half pissed patrons to clamber in the KA listening to screams of LET ME OUT AFTER THE 11th PERSON CLAMBERED IN - ALL ON CAMERA!!!!!
the goldfish in a bowl incident brought many laughs!!!!
when Channel 4 bought MONSTER GARAGE Smax was one of the first to be asked to star in the show along with best friend & bike builder/entrepreneur Odgie Dannaan - the recently televised show was a big hit as Smax n crew turned a Toyota Celica supra into Britain's fastest lawnmower challenging the queens grounds man & his 50,000 quid lawnmower to a race!! 
Smax has now based himself with his family in Canada & wishes to continue his top fuel career-he is currently working with a Canadian TV team to do some more TV work incorporating racing top fuel-watch this space!!!!!

The big one

Easter 99, after major surgery on dragster chassis, a burst aftermarket oil line causes the dragster to career out of control at 200 mph and barrel roll 6 times before coming to rest - a virtual wreck. I walked away unhurt and calmly still recall the moment when the dragster started its first roll - comments were made how cool it was to turn off the fuel on the first roll upside down!!!!  
All of this has been possible with the support of various friends and crew of the Ant Hill Mob Drag Racing Team over the years and the overwhelming generosity of our sponsors... 


After licensing with the nitro funny car SMAX had yet another oil line failure on press day-a nifty driving job from smax kept the car off the guardrails but at the bulldog the 3rd & final oil line failure resulted in oil under 1 slick on the hit of the throttle putting the car on 2 wheels sideways & into the barrier
the car jumped on top of the guardrail then bounced off & headed 4 the other guardrail but SMAX got it stopped in time but the car was bent in half & the body all but destroyed
the crowd threw 1000 quid in a hat to help rebuild the fuel flopper
then during eliminations a fuel line caused a big flash fire at 100ft resulting in smax 
singing his eye brows!!
the worst was still to come as on a hard pass doing over 230mph smax suffered a huge clutch explosion resulting in a huge fireball as the nitro fumes were ignited by the clutch sparks
smax triggered the fire bottles but the fire then caught the vent of the fuel tank & exploded into a 40 ft fireball as smax struggled to see a brief parting of the flames allowed him to drive away from the guardrail but as the chutes burnt off & b*****ks boiling smax eventually rolled out the escape hatch & the safety crews were there to hose him down
with steam pouring from his fire suit he nevertheless escaped injury & the safety stuff did its job
the fire destroyed his fire suit, boots, helmet, gloves, seat belts etc as well as body damage & loss of all fuel & electrical lines!!!!PHEW!!!
after moving to top fuel his first 303mph pass ended with his chutes failing to deploy but sensible driving kept him from crashing into the field (as well as carbon fibre rear discs!!!)
good fun this drag racing lark eh?