in the world of drag racing
To go to earlier editions of "What's New" go to
The latest update as of January 8, 2002
Pinch yourself; you're dreaming. This really can't be happening, can it?
Three days and three updates? No, it's just an "optical confusion".... or is
it? Well, dream on and see what develops in your mind's eye.
When we left off yesterday (actually late Sunday evening), we'd just finished
our Winternationals weekend, celebrating our second dropped valve of the event
with an appearance on the starting line, regaling the rapt audience with tales
of our mis-adventures. Then all too soon it was time to pack up and head for
home and lay plans for our next downunder invasion.
While I got back to the real world and the real job in Vancouver, my faithful
crew of Darren Fahy, Darren Grimes, Steve Piesley, Mike Hyde, Ken Lowe and
Dave Coles started stripping the car down for the off-season. In the rush to
get ready for the Winternats, we hadn't finished off some areas of the car and
after the race we obviously had to strip everything down and see what was
broken, and what needed modifying or replacing.
Barely a month later Darren sent me the first installment of photos, showing
what the car looked like after a weekend afternoon with the spanners. Here's
the pics from inside the container/garage at Ken Lowe's. PS: Thanks to Ken
for the kind use of his digital camera.
Welcome to the Naked Chassis with the body side panels on the walls
and the top panels on the rack up near the ceiling.
It seemed to take forever to install all the bits seen in these photos,
but less than two hours to strip them off the car and pile them on the floor.
Here's some of the stuff we didn't hurt: the diff, blower, injector, mag,
Here's two more views of the entire container, from the front and the back.
That's Dave Coles lurking (as always) in the background.
You didn't notice any pics of the engine or driveline in the container,
did you? Come to think of it, neither did I. Hey guys, where is all that
stuff? Darren said he took the long block home and since I've got the cylinder
heads here in Vancouver, they're accounted for. So where's the rest of it?
A few weeks later, they sent along some more pics (not the best quality -
they're "frame grabs" from a video taken in Darren's garage) of some of the
other pieces so I could see for myself just how bad everything looked. And
now you can too.....
Six salvageable pistons out of eight isn't too bad... for one burnout
Don't CLICK on these thumbnails if you've got a weak stomach. And just
remember: this happened on a burnout, on methanol....
Even from a distance the damage to the combustion chambers is visible
And closeup it looks a lot worse. If these were water-jacketed heads....
On the left, we've got a "not quite brand-new anymore" clutch
and on the right, our two new camshafts, courtesy of Tighe Cams, along with
our repaired (for the second time) Isky
We could go on and on and show you piles of bent rocker stands, beat-up
rocker arms, bent pushrods, melted pushrods, bent rods, chewed-up bearings,
more dead pistons, ruined sleeves, iffy lifters, etc, etc,... but by now you've
gotten the point. In less than thirty seconds of full-throttle track time,
we managed to use up more than $10,000 worth of parts.
Yeah I know, we've all heard the stories about guys like Doug Doucette
(who once blew up three engines -- in the pits -- at a race), or Doug Herbert
trying to put a blown fuel hemi on the moon, but those guys can afford that
kind of grief. I can't. My budget is whatever next week's paycheque is going
It's been said many, many times that there's two essential ingredients in
drag racing: money and brains. But when you're overly endowed with either
element (like yours truly), then you've got a problem. A big expensive ugly
problem. One that I'm still working (six months later) to remedy.
So where do we go from here? Back to square one? No, we're a lot further
down the road than that. We KNOW (or at least we're 99% certain) what caused
all our problems and we've taken the right steps (see the previous caveat) to
correct the situation. We've bought the RIGHT valves and the RIGHT rocker
stands. Those two areas caused the chain reaction of carnage that you've seen
and read about it.
So when does it all come back together and start running again? Hmm, that's
an easy answer: 2002. Exactly when in 2002? Hmm, that's not such an easy answer.
Look at it this way: the Australian Nationals (one of only two national events
on the Aussie drag racing calendar this year -- hey that's a whole 'nother
story for later in the week) takes place next week. The heads are still being
repaired, the valves haven't arrived yet, the pistons haven't even been ordered,
among many other odds and ends that we need. Can you do the math? Let's just
say that the Winternationals (in June) is a more realistic return date for
As an added bonus to tonight's installment, here's some pics taken at our
test sessions last March and May at Willowbank Raceway.
Looking shiny and new, Northern Thunder prepares to assault the bitumen
at the 'Bank
A burnout (with lotsa fuel out of the left bank) and the following launch
(also with lots of fuel out of the left bank).... hmm....
Another day, another burnout... and oops, there goes the first of our very
rare and expensive blower belts. We find out the hard way that the PSI blower
doesn't like to spool down too quickly from 21,000 (blower) rpm and it cost
us more money than we'd care to admit
The sun is very bright in Australia and it's never a good idea to aim the
camera into it, as you can see from the pic on the left. As for the other one:
well, let's just say it's never a good idea to pick Wilson as a subject.
ESPECIALLY WHEN HE'S ONLY HALF-DRESSED.
That's a wrap for tonight's session, but be sure to come back tomorrow
when we drag all the oddball pics we've collected over the years out of the
files and display them in a "Definitely From The Far Side"
special. Here's a sneak preview of just some of the stuff we'll have.
More news as it happens, and if you wish to provide us with any news or information
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