in the world of drag racing
The latest update as of August 5, 1999
3:30 am Bloody 'ell... what's happenin' mate? Is the house on fire?... A cyclone coming?... ohhhh.... time to get up.... already? It's somewhat amazing that in this digital age we can have six or seven clocks in the house... all with different (and wrong) times. Let's fire up the computer and find out what the time really is. Christ... it is 3:30 am and we don't have to be on the road to the airport until 5:00. Oh well, may as well roll out of the sack and have some brekkie to tide me over until I can feast on the "delicacies" that Qantas has waiting for me on the plane(s).
5:09 am A "balanced" breakfast later: two cups of instant coffee and two cigarettes and... we're late... Let's get moving Darren; I can't afford to miss this flight. The ticket is non-refundable, and speaking of funds... I'm down to my last 85 cents. We're on the road now and I'm amazed to see so much traffic on the highway this early in the morning. Where's everyone going? I soon have the answer as it appears they're all headed to the same destination we are... the airport.
7:00 am We arrived safely, and more or less on time at the airport, checked in and now I'm boarding my first (of three) flights today. Oh, it's going to be one of those days you dread and just want to get through with a minimum of discomfort. The first "bird" is a 767 (aka: flying sardine can) for the Brisbane to Sydney leg; thank god it's only a 90 minute flight. Ah, breakfast; omelette, snag (sausage) and a tomato wedge, two miniature cups of coffee and orange juice. (I swear I used to eat better in jail.... long, long ago in another lifetime...) Soon we're starting to descend into Sydney and my last look at Australia for nearly five months. Like Brisbane, it's shaping up to be another "beaut" day down here too. The sun is shining brightly, the air is warm, the sky's clear... and I'm leaving. The weather back in Vancouver better be at least this good. Even though it's still "winter" here and summer back home.
10:00 am Aboard the second plane now: a much larger 747... with lots of extra leg and elbow room. First glitch of today's adventure: we have to wait ten minutes for a "pushback" from the terminal, then taxi for a few minutes until we reach the rear of the "staging lanes"... "This is your captain speaking; there are five planes ahead of us on the runway, so we'll experience a delay of at least twenty minutes before takeoff".... Then it'll "only" be another NINE hours to Honolulu. I've already got one nicotine patch on... time for a reinforcement? And how long until lunch? I'm starving already.
11:00 am By the way, who's driving this rocketship anyway? Feels like John Force is at the controls... on a bad day, right now. The "on-board telemetry" on the video screen shows us motoring along at nearly 700 mph and whoops... we're really rocking and rolling now. Oh shit.... here comes lunch... literally.... as a cart full of meals runs down the aisle with a stewardess vainly trying to rein it in. Don't spill the drinks, please. At the rate this trip is going, my 25 years of sobriety may be put to the test long before we land.
Later Finally things settled down long enough to get through lunch and the first movie. Gee, only five and a half hours left until Honolulu. After the movie, the telemetry comes back on to show we've throttled back to only 570 mph and a much smoother ride. Maybe they cranked some more wing into it? Nah, the pilot probably just found the "groove" and we're cruising along at 33,000 feet. The fuel mixture must have been leaned a bunch too, as even though it's -38 C outside, the corrected altitude must be pretty lousy. (Yeah, I know it's a jet, not a piston engine, but let me "riff" on the concept anyway)
So what's been happening on the other side of the world for the past three months? Since leaving Vancouver on May 5th, I've only phoned home once, sent two or three e-mails and haven't heard or seen very much news at all about Vancouver, British Columbia or Canada. The only story out of Canada deemed newsworthy enough to make the Brisbane newspapers was "Hookers given free mobile (cellular) phones"... Say what? (It's not nearly as ludicrous as it sounds, but the full story is best left to the "straight" media to report).
Since my internet access has been quite minimal, my on-line time has been devoted almost exclusively to keeping up on the world of drag racing. And even that hasn't been too successful, as only so much can be gathered in a few hurried minutes on someone else's computer. Not to mention the lack of "hard copy" provided by Pravda (oops, I mean National Dragster), or Drag Racing Monthly (oops, out of business) and other drag racing publications. It seems that the only Aussie racers "up" on the North American or European scene are those with internet access.
Next year will be different though; I'll have a mobile phone (an absolute necessity downunder), a home phone with internet access (I'll have my own computer available full-time) and cable television. NOTE: You can watch more NHRA national events on TV in Australia this year than in Canada, if you have cable. Is that weird, or is that weird? Plus, there are three regional drag racing shows broadcast regularly (Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia) and almost weekly highlights on a national network.
Later... much later NINE hours since I boarded this flying cattle boat and at this point it finally dawns on me why all the airports have those large signs at the entrances. "Firearms and other weapons prohibited". Trust me, if I was armed right now, there would be blood in the aisles and bullet holes everywhere. Years ago, air travel was only for the rich... or at least those who pretended to be. Despite the very steep fares between Australia and Canada, it seems that every derelict who can manage to walk (or crawl) aboard is on this flight. How on earth all these fat, stupid, smelly cretins could be gathered in this one place is beyond me. Even more mind-boggling is wondering how they could have gathered enough money to buy a ticket. "Stewardess, bring me a quadruple rum and hold the coke". Only ONE more hour to go... will I make it?
8:00 pm Finally we're on the ground in Honolulu. Only seven more hours of misery to Vancouver now and for the first time today, the "finish line" doesn't seem quite so far away. Time for another "meal" of coffee and cigarettes, then onto the third and thankfully, last, plane of the day and home. That is, of course, assuming that I've still got one to return to. If you saw Larry Pfister's news about the demolition of my apartment back in May, you might be wondering too. I'm not even going to think about the three months worth of unpaid bills that have piled up either. Or the newspapers, the mail, the faxes, the answering machines.... etc. Oh well, by the time I get home today/tomorrow I'll be way past too tired to care... for a day or two at least.
3:00 am We've arrived in Vancouver to a warm, but overcast day. Even though it's 10:00 am Thursday here, my body still thinks it's 3:00 am (Friday, in Brisbane). In other words, I'm dead on my feet and running strictly on auto-pilot at this point.... Watching an almost empty baggage carousel go round and round and round and still waiting for my second suitcase to appear out of the bowels of the "Lost World of Luggage" that lurks beneath the airport. "Face it Bob, everyone else is gone, nearly all the bags are gone and your suitcase just isn't coming out".... Oh man, what else could go wrong? (The most worrisome aspect is that a nearly identical suitcase, with tags indicating a home address near Melbourne, Australia is still on the carousel). Oh no... someone grabbed mine by mistake??. The people at "Lost Luggage Hell" are courteous and friendly, but less than helpful and only mildly encouraging. Maybe tomorrow.... Maybe. Nothing left to do but go outside, have a smoke and then grab a taxi home.
3:00 am Now it's 3:00 am, Vancouver time, and I'm still up and writing this update. A "short nap" in the afternoon totally screwed up my body clock and I guess this fourth cup of coffee since midnight isn't helping me get sleepy either. Still, it's time to wrap up this update and call it a night... or morning... or whatever. Over the weekend, I'll try to catch up on a few things and post another update after I've had some real rest. Until then, remember, for the latest news, even if we have to invent it, check out this page on a regular basis.