Huntingdon-based Magpas Air Ambulance received an unusual charity donation earlier this month.

An online auction had taken place on eBay to determine who would earn the right to be first to traverse the brand new, all-concrete dragstrip at Santa Pod Raceway, the motorsport venue located in Northamptonshire.

The auction proceeds were shared between Magpas and another regional air ambulance organisation.

Each of the dragstrip's two lanes comprised a separate lot in the auction. The winning bidders were invited to make the inaugural drive up the new track to open the season's first public track day event. Each was presented with a framed certificate to commemorate the unique occasion.

Magpas Air Ambulance doctor, Scott Castell was on hand to accept a cheque for £500 and to witness the special moment. The winning bidder for the Coldfire-sponsored left lane was, Neale Saunders, while Jordan Bradford travelled all the way from Sevenoaks, in Kent, for the privilege of driving the Autoglym-sponsored right lane, despite the freezing conditions which had arrived overnight.

Drag racing is like cricket: rain stops play. With snow flurries continually moisturising the track surface, normal restrictions were temporarily suspended and the two drivers were allowed to take the green light and motor gingerly to the finish line to fulfil their ceremonial duty. The bitter cold and wet prevented all but a handful of full runs taking place later in the day.

Santa Pod's public track days are known as 'Run What Ya Brung' events. Any driver or motorcyclist can enter on presentation of a valid road licence and a £35 admission and signing-on fee.

Santa Pod's new concrete dragstrip is the product of a major building project. Construction began in November and involved a complete excavation beneath the Second World War runway that had underpinned several asphalt resurfacings carried out since the racetrack opened in 1966.

Laid with laser-measured precision, the surface will be the equal of the finest in America and will accommodate vehicles ranging from these public track day entrants to 300mph dragsters.

The new track will be subjected to its first heavy-duty, competitive action at Easter, when the Festival Of Power hosts the opening round of 2018's national drag racing championships for cars and motorcycles, together with the spectacular Jet Car Shootout. Along with some 250 teams in national competition, a trio of Top Fuel Dragsters is scheduled to limber up for the FIA European Championship's Round 1 in May. Information is available and tickets may be booked online at www.santapod.com.