in the world of drag racing
The latest update as of October 3, 1998
Ten days since the last update . . . What's happening, Bob?? Well, we've actually been very busy getting something done other than working on the website. Even though much work remains to be done on the race car, it's time to stop for a few days and catch my breath. In my last update, mention was made of a new infusion of funds, now I'll tell you what happened with it.
Does anyone still think that race cars run on fuel (gas, alcohol, nitro) ? Well, you're wrong; they run on MONEY, and lots of it!! And when the "money pump" leans out . . . they just don't run at all. The new "Northern Thunder" car has leaned out and backfired more than once this year, but finally all the pieces are here (or at least on the way) and we can actually see the starting line in the distance. In this case, the starting line is located in Australia . . . at Willowbank Raceway and even firing the engine is still nearly seven months away.
Want a quick lesson on how to spend $25,000 in a (very) few easy steps? First: purchase a shipping container big enough to hold the race car, truck, spare parts and equipment ($3700). Second: make the final payment on a new PSI blower ($6400). Third: buy a crankshaft and set of lifters from Crower ($4000). Fourth: buy an MSD 44-amp magneto, drive, accessories and spares ($5000). Fifth: buy rocker assemblies and spares from T&D Machine ($2000). Sixth: buy a clutch (with titanium bits of course) from Crower ($4200).
Total it up and the $25K is gone before we even get around to the connecting rods, pushrods, some blower drive pieces, more fuel system stuff, engine diaper, etc. etc. etc. Also not mentioned is the intake manifold that Ken Lowe will be fabricating when we arrive in Australia next April. And remember, all the stuff listed above is in addition to nearly $100,000 that's gone into the car in the last year.
Just putting those numbers on the screen makes me think back to how this whole "journey" started. Turn the clock back 18 years to 1980 when I was faced with a "crossroads" type decision: Continue building up a 1964 Plymouth factory Super-Stock (SS/BA) or get really serious and go dragster racing. It's hard to believe now, but back then the cost factor favoured the dragster, so that's the route I took.
I Purchased an engine (and garage full of spare parts) from Bill Phillips for $4000 and a complete dragster, trailer, firesuit, starter and spare parts from Larry Chricton and Bob Marsden for $11,000. Cheap, eh?? Eighteen years and a few hundred thousand dollars later we've arrived at our current position. Much older, not much wiser, definitely not wealthier, but still dedicated to my personal proverb: Drag Racing is life itself; Without it there is nothing. (End of sermon).
As mentioned in the last update, the latest issue of DRAGSTER Australia has a two-page feature article about the "Northern Thunder" downunder invasion next year. To read the story, visit our Press Clippings index. The original plan to have the car in Australia by Christmas and racing in January has been scrapped. Instead, we will be shipping the car out at the end of February, arriving in April and start testing in May, leading up to our OZ debut at the Winternationals in June.
The several month delay will allow us to fatten-up the bank account, and put us on a much firmer footing when we do start running the car. The long-term plan to keep the car in Australia permanently hasn't changed, and the short delay will help greatly in achieving the goals of that plan.
We're just dying to take some pictures of the car with the new (white) paint, but until the rain stops long enough to roll it outside, we'll just have to wait. The graphics are still a "work in progress" by John Baremans' Autographics firm in Sydney, Australia, but he's promised to deliver the finished design "any day now". So, as usual, stay tuned to "What's New" to see what all this Northern Thunder "noise" is all about.