Photographer Bastian Glaessner shot these incredibly cool pics of vintage hot rod racing at the legendary Pendine Sands. His eye and unique style has created a strong signature that feels rich and nostalgic. The images are so stunning, I could stare at these all day…
“I was super chuffed when Neil Fretwell of the VHRA recently invited me up to the rugged Welsh headland that holds the infamous ‘Pendine Sands’ for a weekend of vintage racing. Since the early 1920s cars have pelted down this 7-mile stretch of fine golden grains to chase automotive speed records. On this early July weekend a mad crowd of hot rod racers from all over Europe had assembled their beasts at this historic spot. By the time I got there Friday after dark, the field around the Museum of Speed was brimming with glorious pre-1949 rods, glistening in the moonlight, begging to be let loose on the endless stretch of tidal sands below.” ~Bastian Glaessner
“Come Saturday morning and first the Welsh weather gods got their own. Heavy winds and some blistering downpours overnight meant racers had to be patient a little while longer whilst the team of helping hands were busy getting the course up and running. Once the fences were up, the 110 yard timing section established and the mile long track cleared of stranded giant jellyfish, the show got underway. As if on cue the sun popped out from behind the clouds, crowds gathered on the beach and with a mighty “ROOOAR…” our cars rolled out onto the sands to line up in the pits. What an exciting display of vintage sheet metal that was!” ~Bastian Glaessner
“One by one our racers took to the start. The team of marshals did their best to make up for lost time and queued them up pretty sharp. With a graceful twirl and a twist the glamorous flag girls fired the rods shooting from the blocks in quick succession. Off they went, pelting down the beach, swiftly swallowed by the haze as they made their way down the straight expanse lying ahead.” ~Bastian Glaessner
“Conditions seemed to be fair enough. Early on some proud new faces joined the 100 mph club. Yet, after a days racing Neil Bennett’s record set in 2013 in his 1935 Batten Special held firm. Saturday’s efforts topped out with a max of 111.66 mph posted by Paul Beamish in his 1934 Ford Model 40 coupe spotting a V8 blown flathead engine.
Back on the dry racers were busy discussing the perks of day one whilst fine-tuning their vintage machines for the all-important final runs on Sunday. After some feverish mechanical pokery the evening was rounded off with some well-deserved pints of golden liquor.
Early next morning and the floodgates of heaven had opened once again. Oh boy did it come chucking it down this time! Master of proceedings Neil Fretwell and his fearless marshals struggled on to try and get things off the ground. But despite their best efforts racing had to be postponed until conditions improved. Still, spirits remained high and soon enough the storms had passed as quick as they came. Eventually the ankle deep deluge of rain drained off the tidal plane and racing was back on the cards.
With half the available tidal window passed racers were forced to make due with one last run to improve on Saturday’s standings. Much to everybody’s surprise though the heavenly floods had done wonders to the track. Even the seasoned competitors were chuffed to find possibly the best conditions this course had seen over the years.
Records tumbled in quick succession and the 100 mph club scooped up a host of new members along the way. My personal chum Johnny Diablo faired mighty well too. Ever the charmer, he pushed his 1931 Model A coupe (L8/C) up to a rather respectable and class leading 111.60mph. Naturally he was all smiles… Well done Johnny!
The honour of ‘King of the Beach 2016’ though went to Matt Farrant in his 1929 Model A roadster pickup powered by a small block Chevy (L8/R). Utterly determined he went all out pushing his beast to the absolute limit and thus recorded a mind-blowing 116.03 mph… BOOOM! Congratulations!
Sadly the long road back down to London called me early and I missed the final return run of close to 150 glorious hot rods roaring back down the beach towards the pits. Nevertheless it’s been great fun! Credit to all the riders for allowing me to relentlessly pester them with my cameras. You were true pros! And of course a mighty big “Thank You!” to Neil Fretwell who was kind enough to grant me unrestrained freedom to roam and mingle. Great stuff!” ~Bastian Glaessner