in the world of drag racing
The latest update as of June 1, 1999
9:00 am The phone rings and the news we've been holding our breath waiting for is finally received. The ship has just docked at the Conaust Terminal at Fishermen's Island in Brisbane. Our container is aboard and should be discharged later today.
The wait is over... at least one wait is over; now comes the chess match with the authorities over the necessary vehicle import approvals and the duty and sales tax payable on everything. OBM Customs Brokers (Brisbane) is handling all those details and has assured me they will do everything in their power to expedite matters.... but two slabs of VB bitter (48 bottles of beer) in the right hands might work miracles... if it comes to that.
There's no time to savour that small victory as we have to be up in Springwood in thirty minutes to flow test the first completed cylinder head. Jack Bros. Engineering has what is probably the only air flow bench in the vicinity capable of flowing the numbers we expect from our "one-off" set of B-1 heads.
Crew Chief Tom figures he has nearly 140 hours of porting work done on the heads already and even though he keeps saying that they're just done to "entry level" specs so far, feels that the flow capacity will be more than adequate. (This possible flow deficiency has been my single biggest worry about the whole B-1 concept from day one). So, today is the proverbial "moment of truth" and we enter Phil Jack's shop with more than a little nervous expectation.
After feeling a crush of disappointment upon seeing the "little-league" Superflow-110, we're more than pleasantly surprised to see the real flow bench around the corner: a hand-built 1000 CFM+ capable unit, that will surely be more than sufficient for anything we.. or anybody we'd care to race... would need. Painstaking preparation for the test proceeds smoothly, interrupted only briefly for morning "smoko" (coffee break) and then it's time to fire up "Big Bertha".
Right from bottom to top the numbers look good. The intakes are right in the "window" we were aiming for: 415 CFM (at .850" valve lift) and the exhausts far exceeded our goals with 335 CFM (at the same lift). Fantastic!! We're definitely in the ball-park, at least in the air-flow department, and now we know there's a very good chance we'll be able to produce some competitive horsepower.
Winternationals, here we come. Cover your ears, it's going to be Thunder time.... Northern style. Thanking the mob at Phil's shop, we're prepared to make tracks back to Ken's and get back to work... until I remember that almost right across the street is Lifestyle Australia. Since Tom hasn't met Melissa (Sales Manager) yet, and since I haven't talked to her since last week about our crew shirt order for the Winternats, this seems like the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.
The visit turns out to be worthwhile in several ways, as we finalize the embroidery colours and logos... and get to spend twenty minutes having coffee and chatting up one simply smashing sheila. All too soon she has to get back to other customers and we're on the highway south again. At this point Tom is so pumped up from the morning that he won't settle down until way past dark.
1:00 pm: Back at the ranch (Ken's shop) and back to work on the parts we can prepare until we take delivery of the race car. The quick-release breathers are already done, the intake manifold is starting to move into the finishing stages and the valve cover modifications are started. Installation of the oiling system in the valve covers has to be postponed though, as the correct tubing bender is nowhere to be found.
Believe me, when you lose something at Ken's... it may be days, if not weeks until it resurfaces. Not that it's messy, far from it in fact, but the sheer amount of equipment, tools and parts that fits into his workshop is incredible. Seven years after he arrived in Australia, Ken is still finding things for the first time since he left the United States.
9:00 pm: Since it's winter, the sun has been down for four hours now, we're full of Domino's pizza, tired and ready to call it a day. Lots to do tomorrow... and we're just getting started organizing the biggest thrash of our lives. One goal remains: get the race car assembled and running for the Winternats. After that, anything else (like qualifying, or winning a round, or....) will be a bonus. Stay tuned for the next chapter(s) in this ongoing saga of the Dragster Diaries.
PS: Updates for the next week or so may be rather spotty, due to the pressures of time. We'll try our best to keep everyone current, but can't really promise anything. Same goes for e-mail. We can receive your messages, but responses, especially anything more than a line or two may be a while in coming.