in the world of drag racing
The latest update as of May 26, 1999
Early to bed last night and early to rise today... can't be late for my first day of the Drag Race School. The learning "curve" starts early, as Ken decides it's my turn to drive the truck (his left-hand drive '78 Chevy Crewcab Duallie) out to Willowbank Raceway -- site of the school. Oh great... I've just barely learned to drive an Aussie car on the left and now I've got to switch sides and re-learn the moves. A passenger is almost essential to eliminate the substantial blind spots approaching roundabouts or merging onto highways and luckily Ken only had to shout warnings a few times.
Fortunately, it was a mostly uneventful trip up to the track, through the countryside west of Brisbane. The weather, though, was more of a concern, as thickening clouds reminded me of last week's rain. Pulling into the track, Ken is somewhat dismayed to find two drag bike teams set up and ready for a test session. While today's DRS instruction will be almost totally in the classroom, the distraction of the bikes firing up and running is definitely not needed.
No sooner do the students (six), plus one "observer" settle into their chairs and introduce themselves, when Victor Bray and his travelling roadshow pulls into the staging lanes outside the classroom. A big boy with a big toy and guaranteed to make a lot of noise, his arrival is bound to be a constant distraction. Ken gets through the first hour without a problem before things get too seriously loud. And in fact, the occasional breaks to watch and listen to the cars and bikes testing actually provide some immediate visual reinforcement to the day's lessons.
As soon as we break for lunch I make a bee-line to Victor's trailer to see all the new "trick of the week" parts he's added to the Castrol '57 Chevy Top Doorslammer. He'd told me of some of the pieces several weeks ago but today was the first time they'd actually been run. First big surprise was the 44-amp MSD mag -- single plug setup -- he'd fitted to the Brad Anderson dual-plug "fatheads".
Then the topper -- a brand-new Norm Drazy produced PSI injector hat. Taller, with the butterflies set back closer to the rotors in the blower, larger radii on the entry, etc.etc.... Then the real killer: it cost less than my current (and still brand-new) PSI hat, radiused entry and Davenport spacer plate. Arrgghhh.... Welcome to the wonderful world of obsolesence, Bob.
Lunch over and it's back to the classroom for the afternoon session. While much of the material Ken presents is designed to educate the newcomer to drag racing, there's more than one bit of info that is still new to me. A (much) wiser man than me once told me, "when you figure you know everything... then you're really in trouble". Today is just a reminder of the wisdom of that statement.
At the mid-point of the afternoon the outside instruction begins, when Ken takes everyone out to the starting line. He introduces them to all the things they'll need to be familiar with around there and then proceeds to walk them down to the deep end of the track, pointing out all the landmarks they'll need to know and when and where to do certain things in the race car. I'm spared the "exercise session" and get to come down to the return road to pick up the class after their stroll downtrack.
As the first day's instruction draws to a close, the serious business of preparing for the "stand runs" and 330' laps tomorrow is reviewed. But not before another bit of entertainment from Victor Bray. After several short bursts and one crossed-up and pedalling lap, he shocks everyone with a wild, across the centreline to finish his testing for the day. (A cracked front spoiler - when it took out the 330' cone - is the only noticeable damage, fortunately).