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2013: Headbanging, Finsterwalde, D

2013: Headbanging, Finsterwalde, D

(A barn find of the digital kind)

It’s a thursday, the weather report is favourable. We think it would be a shame to miss this weekend’s noisefest at Finsterwalde, way east of Würzburg. They’ll be having a 1/8 mile drag strip set up. Ancient American, Brit and German vehicles (on two and four wheels) are welcome. Rumours speak of cold beer. Always wanted to check out this event. So we grab a Panhead, the Servi-Car and four guys and set out for the Headbanging at Finsterwalde, organized by Hot Heads East.

450 km later we coast to a stop on an ex-Russian airbase, a bit run down, but very cosy. Around us a seething audio mix between percolating V8s, the potato-potato of Harly V-Twins, booming AWOs and the banshee-like shrieking of MZ two-strokes. The smell of burnt rubber and two-stroke oil is in the air. In the hangar, the size of a … erm … pretty humongous hangar, folks are going wild to the music of Rock-a-Billy-ing string instruments. There’s heavy chatting about engines, cubic inches and all the rest, and cold beer is gushing into our highway-dried system. Whoa, better ease off the suds, tomorrow we’re to drive in a straight line still.

8:00 in the morning. Pratt! Pratt! Crackle! Crackle! Fart!

Rise and shine, dudes, the first engines are being warmed up.

Our Pan is to be entered, so we scoot off to the tech inspection. Along the way they’re all ready to roll: dozens of rods, custom cars, Harleys, Indians and AWOs have found their way out of garages, basements and workshops to Hot Heads East. The “Race-TÜV” is no problem and the Pan ends up in the open class over 750cc.

There’s a brief race briefing and soon after we find ourselves in the queue waiting for the start, while the engine gets hot enough to fry eggs on. The sun is burning down and the air is boiling. Our gaze sweeps around: most of the competition has brought vintage Indians. Our first run is the epic battle Harley against Indian, Panhead against Big Chief.

The flagman gets ready, the eyes are fixed on the checkered cloth. First gear is selected with decision, the idle is kept higher than usual. The flag goes down, the Panhead zooms off, shifting up to second, OHH SH..., missed second, oh no, the Indian disappears on the horizon. That’s one quick mother, we wonder if all is really stock inside this baby!

The Pan is rolling slowly back

#to the starting grid, we kill the engine to give the old lady a chance to cool off. Now it’s the cars’ turn. Everything that’s been built before ’59 get’s thrashed don this 1/8 mile: From an A model with original 4 cylinder flathead engine, hotrods and 50s custom cars right up to gassers and Customizers East’s Slingshot dragster.

It’s our turn again: this time the duel is Pan against Pan. Our opponent came down all the way from Sweden courtesy of A-Bombers.

This time we hit an even better start, shifting is no problem, but … our space heater is two or three power settings too slow. The sky blue Pan from Sweden smokes off into the sunset, Backamo bound. Later at the bar we discover that it had a few neat mods built into it, no chance for our basically stock motor.

We watch the half-finals and finals

from a distance, though we have a very close eye on the cold beer in front of us. We need more than one to wash down the feeling of being left in the dust twice.

All through the afternoon tyres squeal, engines roar, rattle and grind, and the evening sees us all again in the hangar, keeping up the revs. Bands like Mars Attacks or The Slingshots are bringing the crowd to the boil, the racers get shiny trophies and the night is long.

Sunday morning after a hefty breakfast we start out back to headquarters. One thing’s for sure, next year we’ll be back for a beer or two at Hot Heads East, but we’ll bring a Pan that’ll fry a few Indians for breakfast.