Steve has successfully raced in the top tier of Drag Bike Racing for some 30 years – so far.
After going along with friends to watch the racing, he started out himself back in 1976, when he first had a go on track at a RWYB event, riding a Z1 Kawasaki, which ran low 12s times. It was the catalyst for what was to be the beginning of a long career in drag racing, as he started a full season the following year.
In 1977, Steve first came to note by winning the Street Bike class at the Santa Pod meeting in October. The following year saw him take five more Street wins, at Blackbushe, Snetterton and Santa Pod. By this time he had fitted the Kawasaki motor into a distinctive Egli frame. At the 1978 season ending Fireworks Meeting, Steve defeated two other well-known racers, by beating Brian Johnson and Pip Higham to win the Street Bike eliminator.
The desire to go quicker led to purchasing a part built blown Kawasaki drag bike, which was believed to be the first of its type to be built in this country. With help from Pat Neal, the Daytona Motorcycles sponsored machine was completed and running in 1979. Reliability on nitro was a major issue, and the pair decided something better was needed.
Come 1980, and they fielded their completely new entry. Steve was out there battling in Top Bike eliminator on the distinctive blue metal flake B.Fuel machine. The bike quickly hit the mid 9s bracket, and over a number of years of development it ran a best of 7.8s/175mph in winning on the final appearance in the Pro Fuel class in the late 80s..
Steve was then offered a ride on the fuel bike of fellow rider Phil Baimbridge, which would become the bike he still owns and races to this day. Enjoying the experience, he took up the offer to purchase the bike. Phil has remained a big help over the years, as numerous developments to produce ever more power have been made.
Over the years, Steve has won no fewer than 15 ACU Pro Fuel championships on the bike, that is known as The Dealer. One of the highlights of his many years of racing was cracking the sixes and 200 mph in the early 1990s. Since those days times have improved to a best of 6.19s/228 mph in the premier bike class, which makes him the third quickest British rider of all time. His best 60 foot time is an impressive 0.97s!
Steve really made the headlines in September 2014, when he featured in an amazing race against Fil Papafilippou at the FIM Finals event at Santa Pod. An out of control Fil changed lanes under full acceleration – and crashed into the side of Steve’s bike at high speed! Somehow the Greek rider ended up hanging on for dear life to Steve’s wheelie bars.
Totally unphased, Steve rode his own monster bike safely to a standstill, to the immense relief of his unexpected passenger, who escaped with just minor tyre burns! This unsettling incident happened in the first round of eliminations, but it did not stop the fearless Woollatt going on to win the final!
With help from his hard-working team, this low budget veteran racer shows no signs of slowing down in the premier league of two-wheel racing, as he aims for his next championship win. It is for his long and successful career in the Top Echelons of Drag Bike racing that Steve Woollatt has been inducted into the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame.
Profile by Keith Lee, May 2017
Photos by Andy Willsheer & Keith Lee