Odds and Ends
(see bottom of page for updated history)
How you got started!
Both Nobby and Owen, unbeknown to either of them, attended the First International Drag Festival. Smoke poured off the tiers of the early American dragsters and impressive speeds of 180 mph in 8 seconds from standing start were the order of the day. They were both impressed.
Two years later Owen joined the ‘Jack Olding’ company at the start of his engineering career, to meet up with Nobby who was by then building the third Houndog dragster.
Owens heart leapt at the thought of getting in on the action and quickly became an active member of the Houndog team with practical and financial support.
Although in the early days the Houndog cars were driven in competition by Mike Hutcherson, Owen played a significant part in test driving after unending modifications to the cars.
(Click for larger picture)
This was published in the
September 1966 edition of Drag Racing & Hot Rod, the picture was taken at
the meeting held on 31 July
The caption reads" 'Movin' Mike Hutcherson struggles 'Houndog III' across the line after a 300yd. 7 minute push to qualify in the Class Eliminations. Note the lightweight mirrors used to reflect the timing light beams on the finish line."
In the race report it clarified that the 'run' was actually 7 minutes and 24 seconds and happened because the car bogged off the line and lost fire. Whoever wrote the article was getting confused between 'Norman Hill' and Mike Hutcherson. After all that effort they could not get the car out for the next round!
1971 Plymouth Duster
Ed pink Engine 1900 bhp
This car was originally run by Paula Murphy in the United States under the name of Miss STP. It was brought over to this country with another car Stardust, in 1973. Santa Pod bought both of the cars and entrusted Miss STP to Nobby Hills. Nobby was far too tall to fit into the car so he asked Owen to take the driving seat, who gladly accepted the offer. So 1974 saw the start of Owens driving career. Owens natural abilities come to the fore, and its not long before sevens are being achieved.
Owens first burn out was like trying to accelerate a fast car on a ice rink. This was impressive to watch with plenty of smoke off the tires, as the car got well out of shape and only just missed the Christmas tree (start lights).
You sit well back inside the funny car with serious fire protection to body and face so you are left with tunnel vision seeing little more than the front screen well ahead of you.
As the car accelerates the scene in front of you moves, often dramatically to one side or the other and the secret is to keep where you are going in vision. On one occasion the entire finish line disappeared below the screen with only the clouds in sight. A rapid shut down of the engine prevented over revving and allowed the car to crash back down to earth, with minor damage!
At one point Houndog 7 was the fastest funny car in Europe.
The end of Houndog 7 came in a race against a pro fuel dragster driven by Roz Prior.
One of the cars in the previous race had suffered a major engine failure on the start line and left the area covered in oil. Our team were aware of this but had no option but to use the lane. The car was staged to the side of the remains of the oil slick but this meant one tire was on ideal traction conditions and the other on less used dusty surface. On the green the launch was good and the car accelerated well along side the pro fuel dragster but then disaster struck as the strain on the drive shaft taking most of the load caused it to sheer. With the other wheel still driving hard it spun the car mid strip causing it to roll, catch the barrier before somersaulting and eventually ending up well battered and minus its body but at least on its wheels. Owen was extricated with difficulty, Dave Watts wrenched the deformed steering coulomb out of the chassis to release him, and he was whisked off to Northampton General with fortunately little more than concussion.
Houndog 7 was a write off but work on the new car, Houndog 9 had already begun.
Back in 1973, Houndog had raced against Tony Nancy in his Top Fuel Dragster. Nancy's car was the inspiration for the 1974 Houndog fueller.
21st July 1974 saw the first of the new home built Houndog 8 dragster, from the original plans of Tony Nancy’s dragster. The first English built dragster to have a reverse gear, and was painted to match Houndog 7. Mike Hutcherson had the pleasure of driving the new car. In 1975 Mike left the team and Owen took charge of the diving.
Some of the best racing ever seen is how the early season was described in the Drag racing press. Owen hitting 6.5 ET’s in the Dragster. By 1976 the Houndog teams Trophy cabinet had grown due to the excellent driving of Owen, consistently achieving 6.5 ET’s in dragster. A Santa Pod timing slip shows the Dragster ran email@example.com in April 1976.
Engine: 8,000 cc supercharged
Bhp 2,000 @ 8,500 rpm
Fuel 90% Nitro methane 10% Alcohol
Best time 6.62 seconds for the standing quarter
Best speed 218.64 mph
Funny car designed and built by Nobby Hills.
The car was called Chevy Pup.
In 1978 the new Funny car was ready. It had a Chevy Vega body wrapping nicely around a 426 cu.in Chrysler Engine. SLDO, the company both Owen and Nobby worked for, gave the team sponsorship and the new car was painted in their red and white colors.
Owen Hayward was running a very creditable 6.49 in the
The Chevy Pup achieved stardom in the press as well.
The Chevy Pup was sold to Roz Prior.
3rd November 1979 Houndog 10 makes its first visit.
Keith Black Powered, Dodge Challenger bodied, SLD Olding sponsored.
The new car was making an impact on and off the track, a first run of 7.1@196mph and a booking to appear at the Jochen Rihnt show in Essen, West Germany. The 11th, 12th and 13th of January 1980 it was seen at National Exhibition centre, Birmingham, England, the following week its in Stuttgart followed by Zurich, back home and then to Berlin for the international Betr Exhibition 8th to 18th May 1980, and the Hills/Hayward Challenger bodied funny car is looking forward to doing competition with Don "The Snake" Prudhomme at the September finals. Owen recently piloted the car to a new European speed record in Sweden with a terminal speed of 234.38 mph at the end of a 6.4 et run
In the final of the 1981 Cannonball as a replacement for the broken Gladiator Funny car, Owen drives around an oil down to miss out on winning the Cannonball by 1.66 seconds overall. The winner Wild Bill Sherratt.
Dave Stone s accident
Dave Stone is reported to be
recovering well from is ordeal at the Big Go when the stardust funny car
fireballed at 200mph. Dave suffered first degree burns, and some more severe
burns to his back and hands as he struggled to free himself from the blazing
wreck, the body and seat melting around him. The fearsome heat from the latter
burning through his firesuit as it stuck to him. Unable to lean on the
disintegrating body and pull himself out of the roof hatch, Dave was forced to
exit through the window opening but caught his foot in the motor and hung
helpless for vital seconds, burning his hands and feet and suffering scorching
on his arms until a fire marshall and race opponent Owen Hayward arrived on the
scene to drag him clear. The as-yet unnamed fire marshall also suffered burns in
the process, but Dave’s condition would have been far more serious if it had
not been for his and Owens brave assistance.
The Official Journal of the British Drag Racing Association, Drag Racing News, July 1983
November 1980, the Fireworks meet, and the major debut was the Nobby Hills Racing Demag fuel Altered. A flame burnout and a very quick firstname.lastname@example.org mph from this beautiful creation.
1988: Martyn Hannis and Peter Barnett persuaded Chris Tugwell, a local show promoter, to buy Nobby Hills' Houndog Fuel FC, and Doug Bond bought the late Jim Read's Le Patron Pro Comp Dragster.
Peter's aim was to promote drag racing and to compete only in Funny Car events, for example the Cannonball. Peter called it a day at the end of 1991.
1992 Kenny McCormack took over the driving seat of the Funny Car, and Martyn rebuilt the engine to run on alcohol rather than nitro. Now the crew were busy - two race cars, both in Top Alcohol!
1996 Martyn took over the complete financing of both cars. Talks with Gulf Oil resulted in a sponsorship deal and both cars were painted in Gulf colours. Both cars ran 426 Keith Black engines with three-speeds.
Kenny in the low sevens is not far behind, the Funny Car now sporting a Nissan 300ZX body.
Houndog chassis and body 1990 / 1991
Believed to be the Houndog Chassis with a Nissan 300ZX body c 1996