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The latest update as of June 9, 2012
Winternationals - Day One
We've made it through day one of the race, despite the best intentions of the Wellington Drinking Club to drown us all in a torrent of beer, Jack Daniels and Bundy rum. The wheelie bin in front of Mike Hyde's place is nearly full already and we've still got three days of drinking or racing (actually a bunch of both) to get through.
Yesterday was sunny and warm, with some clouds in the sky that only occasionally managed to diffuse the strong sunshine. Warm temps of around 20 C and lots of good runs by the Group 2 & 3 (sportsman) racers, with one rollover dragster crash (no injuries) just to spice it up a little.
It's been more than 10 years since I last visited Willowbank Raceway and it's looking just as good as ever. Everything's still green and beautifully manicured and the few changes I noticed were all improvements over an already great facility. The biggest change is the number of real quality cars and first-class equipment in the pits. In the group one (pro) ranks especially, the Aussies hold their own against racers anywhere in the world. And their on-track performances back that up.
I spent most of the day in the Donnelly Blasting Services encampment. With two junior dragsters, two super sedans and a supercharged outlaws sedan, the 20-odd person team has a large and well-organized layout and all the cars are serviced, shined and ready to go for each qualifying session. And under the marquee outside of the two-story tractor-trailer unit is a lounge room and dining area that wouldn't look out of place in an upscale home. Truly the way to race.
There will be a full story on the family, featuring youngest son Jake, who'll be making the transition from junior dragster to a blown alcohol funny car next year, enroute to eventual Top Alcohol competition. But it doesn't stop there as this team has big plans for older brother Daniel and father Jason in the coming years. Much more on these guys, and heaps of pics coming as soon as we have time to get the piece done.
We finished off the day at the 2nd annual Bailey Brothers Nitro Funny Car barbecue, attended by nearly 30 hardcore drag racers and their significant others, where the beer and steaks and chicken and snacks just kept coming. Great times with great folks and an experience to remember. Thankfully, the funny car(s), both of them, remained unassembled in the workshop so no one was tempted to fire one up and possibly ruin the evening with a mechanical mishap. Lots of pics coming tomorrow of the gathering and the shop.
It's now just past 7:00 am down here and we're enroute to the race under clearing skies - it rained overnight - and looking forward to the first qualifying sessions for the group one cars, starting just before noon. Then it will be nonstop - barring oildowns or other untoward incidents - blown fuel and alcohol action until sundown (5:00 pm). After that it will hopefully be an early night so that I can get to work on all the pics and stories of this adventure.
Stay tuned as there's lots more coming as soon as we get back into internet range. Unfortunately, there's no access at the track so while we can work on things there - and while we're on the road as I'm doing right now on the Pacific Motorway - we can't post anything until we get back to Mike Hyde's this evening. Until then.... fire the first pair!