There's just so much to do around here to catch up that I really can't afford
to spend the time doing tonight's little update.... but when a magazine sees
fit to give me a story, with pictures, then my ego kicks into hyperdrive
and I've just got to spread the news.
A few hours ago, my good friend Grant Stephens, from
Cackling Pipes dropped a short message
of congratulations about my latest media "coup". Assuming it was a short piece
in the annual "Top Alcohol Planners & Schemers" issue of Dragster Australia,
I thanked him for passing along the news. While I was at it, I asked if he
could scan and email me the piece so I could see what was happening with the
Top Alcohol class for next year... and more importantly: how we stacked up
against the established players, and what, if any, impact we were expected to
have next season.
As usual, Grant was back very quickly with the scan, but it was a page in
the issue before the "Planners" edition, with the title of "Living The Dream".
Whew. From a short, hurried conversation between myself and DA editor David
Cook (while we were hurriedly unloading our gear from the back of a rented
ute), he managed to convert my ramblings into a coherent and pretty much
"spot on" article.
Here it is, pretty much the way it was published, courtesty of DRAGSTER
BOB WILSON: Driving into the Winternationals, this writer
pulled up alongside a flat bed trailer hitched to a ute loaded with tools
and junk, and on the trailer sat a white dragster with TA/D on the wing and
a curious looking engine in the chassis. Who the hell owns that? we asked
The answer was simple in the pits, it was Canadian Bob Wilson's car, with
a unique B-1-headed TFX engine, and sponsorship from Kingston Park Raceway.
The Canuck, who has been plotting and planning to race in Australia for
the past four years, finally got his car to a track, just a short two years
later than originally projected.
"It's been an expensive four years," said Wilson. "Things we never dreamed
could go wrong did and the budget continued to be stressed to the breaking
point. But we're here."
The car saw only its second shot in anger at a Willowbank test and tune
the weekend before the Winternationals. On a half pass the rocker arm stands
lifted off the heads and it hydrauliced one piston, causing unseen valve train
damage that was to plague the car throughout the Winters.
"These heads have only five 3/8 in. bolts to hold the stands down, and it's
not good enough. We worked hard to get new inserts and longer bolts into it
and the rebuild was only finished at 11 pm Thursday night".
The engine is a unique combination of TFX bottom end with a pair of Brodix
B-1 heads. They were designed by Dave Koffel and were popular on US Pro Stock
cars in the early 90s. They flow almost the same as a pair of Fat Heads and
Wilson chose them because he figured under the Australian T/A rules, with the
lower blower overdrives, the smaller combustion chamber would result in higher
Wilson was getting many ideas from a US team which was running a similar
combo, but having invested heavily in the parts he was a little dismayed when
his mentors turned up at the beginning of the 2001 NHRA season with a complete
Brad Anderson combo and went two-tenths quicker than ever.
As he related this, Wilson grimaced.
Anyway, here he was, at the race, battling the chaos of a pit arrangement
that was ad hoc at best, a 20,000 km gap to home and a bunch of new car blues.
And he was loving it.
"Can you believe this?" he asked at the end of qualifying. "Can you just
believe this? I set out to do it and here I am. My old 392 iron-motored car
at home had only ever taken me to a best of 7.4s, and here I am, having run
6.33 on a less than ideal run, and at my first 200 mph speed and I've qualified.
This is awesome!"
Wilson didn't find it easy to get into the race. His car continued to show
the stresses of that valve train damage, and he was forced to sit out the
final session until Phil Jack could repair his heads overnight, hoping that
he wouldn't be bumped from the show.
He stayed in, at number eight, but was left behind in the first round
after his car dropped a valve in the burnout, leaving him to watch Mark Brew
storm to a 5.65.
Wilson figures he's just begun here. He has a fully enclosed trailer on
its way from Canada, and has already booked his tickets to return in December
for the Castrol Series round and is eagerly awaiting news of the Top Alcohol
Championship meetings next season because he intends to run every one of
Reproduced courtesy of Dragster Australia
Quite the story, eh? Aside from a few minor errors and omissions, that's
pretty much the way it happened. And even before the issue hit the newstands,
the schedule for 2002 changed slightly, with the first meeting (the Castrol
Summer Championships at Willowbank) taking place on January 18th, instead of
it's usual late December date.
Now all we have to do is make it happen. The plane tickets have been
rebooked; the trailer shipping is in negotiation; the new parts and pieces
are being ordered, and the crew are sending me daily updates on our progress.
Just 188 days left to cross off the calendar and then we can embark on the
next great adventure. It can't come too soon... but I know it will.
That's all we have time for tonight; except to mention that we've updated
the latest results, points standings and race reports from around the world:
The Top Fuel Tour of Sweden event from Germany; The Cannonball from Santa
Pod in England; The Konica Winternationals from Australia and the NHRA Pep
Boys 50th Anniversary race from last weekend at Pomona. Check it all out by
clicking on the StatsPage button.
Next update? Hmm, hard to tell.... maybe tomorrow, maybe not. You'll just
have to check in to find out, won't you?