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Quoted From Eurodragster

“Dennis Priddle.
28th April: 
http://www.eurodragster.com/news/210423_2.jpgWith great sadness, we learned that UK Drag Racing legend Dennis Priddle passed away yesterday evening at the age of 75. Keith Lee, author of Dennis's biography, writes:

This is so hard to write; having been asked by his long time friend Phil Pead to break the news that the drag racing family has sadly lost one of it’s truly legendary figures, with the passing of Dennis Priddle. Breathing complications, caused by a fall, resulted in an emergency trip to Yeovil Hospital, where he ultimately lost his final battle peacefully last night. To drag racing fans he will always be remembered as Mister Six, after recording Europe’s first 6 second pass back in May, 1972. There were so many highlights for this fascinating character, as he played such a major part in those early years of the sport’s history.

A member of both the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame, and also the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame, Dennis was known for his driving, and equally for the standard of the machines he built. An apprenticeship at Westland Helicopters instilled in him an attention to detail, which he applied to everything in life. It was a pleasure to be able to spend so much time with him, while working on the Mister Six book. He had a wicked sense of humour, and a way of telling stories that was not to be missed. He could be a difficult character to get to know, as he was essentially a very private character at heart - but one who enjoyed good company. Those who knew him well will all have tales to tell about this colourful character.

Dennis was someone whose exploits on track were not to be missed during the two decades he raced. With success in Top Fuel and Funny Car, Dennis was a firm favourite with the race fans, and he also inspired many to compete themselves. He was someone who was never afraid to speak his mind, and could be quite intimidating with just his stare, especially if he thought you were talking rubbish! What he respected was engineering excellence, which he always strived for himself - while always taking a keen interest in new technology advances. Away from the track, he produced and fitted screw blowers to road vehicles, which attracted interest from car manufacturers. He also enjoyed working on his own model railway engineering projects in his spare time.”

 

Sad news. In case you are wondering why this is relevant to Sideways or the world of Triumph, if you bought a CV conversion kit or machined vertical links from me, Dennis machined them. 
 

We met in about 2005 when I was hunting for someone to machine the links. Luckily I went in the Vitesse and he happened to be stood outside his workshop when I rolled up. We got talking about that, and pretty soon the bonnet was up and he was eyeing my injection system with a raised eyebrow.  He had me fire it up again to prove it worked (having watched me drive it in), so I reached in flicked they key and it fired right up and settled to a steady idle - which was lucky as it it doesn’t always do that. He told me later that when he saw that he knew that either I had some idea what I was at, or I was lucky. I preferred the former....

I spent many entertaining hours in his workshop, as he had an inexhaustible supply of war stories. Top class engineer who insisted on doing things right. I used to get regular lectures about my “lack of regard for precision” and my tendency to reach for the angle grinder when a lathe or mill was the right tool for the job.

He retired a few years ago and became much harder to track down as a result, so regrettably I’ve not seen him for a a couple of years.

RIP Dennis, the world is poorer for your passing 

 

 

 

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Yes, he was a very interesting man.  He had a reputation for being "difficult" which isn't a side of him I ever really saw.  I think this mainly meant he didn't suffer fools and had a low bullshit tolerance.  I also reckon he'd mellowed a bit by the time I met him.  Very modest.  The past was the past however glorious - he had fun doing it, plus he did like to do things properly and he did like to win, because winning proved you'd done it properly.

He was a great expert on forced induction, especially superchargers of the Lysholm variety used with Laminova charge-coolers.  We talked about forced induction on a Triumph a few times...... the killer comment was always something along the lines of "my boy, when thinking of forced induction, it's always a good idea to start with an engine with decent reserves of strength".  He didn't have a very high regard for Triumph engines, (and a very low regard for their transmissions!) though I reckon that was a bit harsh in the case of the 2L 6.  Of course he always assumed I wanted at least 250 bhp..... why bother else!

Interestingly he had a fairly high regard for Lucas PI - in a competition context though.  Less so on road cars - too crude.  When I took my converted PI round to show him (he supervised my machining the throttle bodies and fuel rails in his workshop) he observed that it was the best thing you could do with a PI'd vehicle.  He was fascinated by the tuning software and especially the "self tune" aspect.  Also that it had become possible to buy a kit of parts from the internet for peanuts, build an ECU with a decent range of functions and tune it using "really impressive" software also available for relative peanuts or even free.  He was used to the likes of Webber Alpha and the older DTA stuff.  He'd got beyond wanting to get too involved with it though.

Towards the end, as the workshop was being wound up he was putting together one of his earlier cars (shamefully I've forgotten which, but it was one of the long skinny ones, along the lines of this (note extreme rear seating position)

_88686096_kl_priddle---snetterton---1975.jpg

and had many of its parts laid out in formation.  I was struggling to see where the driver could possibly fit in it.  I showed me how it worked and agreed the fit was "snug".  Surveying the layout I observed that his arse must have been right on the diff..... "balls perched right on it" he agreed.  I observed that that seemed a bit "scary" given that the diff (admittedly a robust item) was having to deal with spectacular amounts of grunt. "I had a scatter blanket...... bloody glad it never got tested though!"  Quite!

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