Daddy Cool

People Culture

2018 - When Daddy Cool turned tragedy into triumph

The 2017 drag racing season was bittersweet for the Daddy Cool family drag racing team.

The year began with drag racer Dave “Sag” Southworth in hospital and diagnosed with terminal biliary duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma). Knowing he had one more summer left, he and his family decided to spend most of it enjoying his final drag racing season.

The Adrian Flux-backed ‘Daddy Cool’ is a rear-engined rail dragster powered by a supercharged and fuel-injected 4.0L Rover V8 running on 100% methanol. It competes in nostalgia racing as part of the Wild Bunch group of racers.

Sag had previously achieved 8-second passes from a standing start over the quarter mile, but he had never crossed the finish line at 150mph. This was his ambition during 2017.

During 2017 Sag was given Palliative Chemotherapy treatment, which he balanced with respect to race meetings.

Despite this, on one fantastic run during the May meeting at Shakespeare County Raceway near Stratford Upon Avon, Sag was able to achieve 150mph.

In June, at the same venue, he won first place within the Wild Bunch for the first time ever. In July, and with failing health, he delayed his Chemo until after the Dragstalgia race meeting at Santa Pod. He was still doing low 9 second passes will 147mph terminal speeds. A week later he won his final ever race at his favourite venue Shakespeare County Raceway, and his opponent was Mark Coulsell in his “Ballbreaker” front engine rail dragster. Mark had asked to race against Sag, as Sag was Mark’s first ever opponent. Mark had lost his first race against Daddy Cool and wanted a chance to even the score. Sag happily took up the challenge and showed Mark what Daddy Cool was capable of, which was a winning 9.2 second at 148mph. A victorious way to end a 37-year drag racing career.

Sadly, Sag lost his race against cancer two weeks later.

The 2017 Wild Bunch Annual Award Ceremony took place in November that year. Most of the team were there, and towards the end of the night announced that it intended to carry on racing with Daddy Cool. Sag and the team were awarded numerous annual and prestigious awards that night, including:-

• Best Radical Dragster
• Wild Bunch 7th Place Overall
• Personal Achievement Award
• Above and Beyond Award
• Fastest British Engined Dragster
• The Don Garlits Spirit of Drag Racing Trophy

At another awards ceremony, Sag was posthumously awarded The Iris Page Memorial Trophy for his contribution to drag racing under such difficult circumstances.

2018 began with very mixed emotions for the family and team. In April the family got together and voted for who each one thought was the best person in the team to drive Daddy Cool. It was a unanimous decision that Faye Hern – Sag’s daughter – was to take up the role.

The July Dragstalgia meeting at Santa Pod was the first ever time Faye had driven any dragster, let alone Daddy Cool. The team agreed to do its best, but no-one knew what would transpire with a Rookie driver. Daddy Cool was first on the track when Shana (Back up Girl) was nearly two years old, and Kyle (Chief Mechanic) was nearly one year old. The whole family had grown up as a family and race team, so everything in the Pits was second nature and alterations made to the trailer during the winter had made things a little easier.

Faye’s first run began with a great burn out and cheering in the stands. She set off perfectly but shut down at three-quarter track. It turns out Faye felt a slight wiggle and didn’t take any chances. Perfect.
Time: 11.16 seconds. Terminal speed: 76.97mph

The team was happy. Very happy.

Second Run: 9.64 seconds. Terminal speed: 143.92mph
Third Run: 9.26 seconds and 146.77mph
Fourth Run: 9.19 seconds, 147.65mph
Fifth Run: 9.06 seconds, 147.72mph
Sixth Run: 9.13 seconds, 147.73mph

An incredible return to form for Daddy Cool.

At the Wild Bunch prize giving at the end of the meeting, Faye was awarded Spirit of Nostalgia and the Best Car Award. She thanked everyone for being so encouraging and supportive during her first ever race meeting as a driver. The Santa Pod commentator personally paid special tribute to her as each run was impressive and better than the last, and he dubbed her a natural race driver with a fantastic future ahead of her.

It had been an emotional roller coaster for all the team over the past two years, but the team faced devastating news and a tragic situation by simply “getting on with it”. A lot has happened since losing Sag. The Team Movie Maker Chloe has started a degree course, Back up Girl Shana and Mechanic Jamie got married last October, driver Faye graduated as a Doctor of Chemistry one week after Dragstalgia, and more recently Chief Mechanic Kyle has proposed to Team Organiser and Scribe, Becky.

Here’s to a very successful and fulfilling future for the Daddy Cool Team.