How this architect went from designing houses to racing hot rods
Take a Ford Thames 300E, drop in a 350 Chevrolet small-block engine, jack up the front, and what do you get?
West Sussex-based architect David “Motty” Mott (66) discovered his passion for drag racing with his father at the Blackbushe airport historic Dragfest. His baptism into the world of drag racing at age 7 turned into the ultimate bucket list item – his own Gasser.
After buying a Pro street Ford Popular 100E and taking it to the “Run What Ya Brung” at Santa Pod, Motty decided the car was too nice to risk wrecking, so he sold it on and looked for something better suited to quarter-mile drag racing.
The project was born after stumbling across a Facebook Marketplace ad for a Ford Thames 300E van that the previous owner had already started converting to a Gasser.
Naming the car “The Brickyard Shaker” followed a night of brainstorming and paid tribute to the Rudgwick Brickworks in West Sussex, home to Motty’s offices and the garage that built the Gasser, Zero Three Classic & Custom.
“The first time we fired up The Brickyard Shaker at the brickworks, our landlord called from three miles away to ask what the noise was! It’s not a subtle car.”
The metallic orange paintwork was the brainchild of Zero Three founder Sean Doyle, who Motty gave a free hand to apply his artistic vision. Sean has worked in the car industry for more than 30 years, most spent in classic and vintage car restoration.
Motty’s Gasser includes distinctive spitfire side exhausts, inspired by “Ain’t No Saint”, the now legendary Gasser chosen as the latest Hot Wheels die-cast toy.
At its first visit to Santa Pod last September, The Brickyard Shaker put down a respectable 15-second quarter-mile run, reaching speeds of 90mph. Motty has set his sights much higher when the car returns this April for the first of four or five planned visits in 2022.
He’s already brought his quarter-mile time down to the low 13 seconds at his first run of the year.
The Gasser style originated on the dragstrips of the US back in the 1950s, becoming the most popular type of hot rod for almost 20 years. Gasser’s name came about because the cars were fueled by gasoline, rather than methanol or nitromethane popular back then in drag racing cars.
A modern revival of the Gasser style led to the formation of the Gasser Circus, a group of like-minded racers who aim to keep the tradition from drag racing’s golden age alive.
Motty’s Brickyard Shaker doesn’t conform to the standards of the Gasser Circus, swapping out the traditional box steering for a more manageable rack and pinion mechanism. But Motty doesn’t regret adopting a few modern standards for his 1960s-inspired Gasser.
“I wanted to have some fun, and it didn’t matter too much if the car fitted into that class. Most important to me (at my age) was that it ran straight and true when I put my foot down.”
Car enthusiasts received the Brickyard Shaker well, and even some of the hardcore Gasser boys have made welcoming comments.
Motty encourages everyone to follow their dreams, saying it’s better to regret doing something than not doing it: