in the world of drag racing
The latest update as of October 9, 1998
Things look kinda slow around here lately, don't they? Nothing happening, or what?? Well, it's the old Catch 22, when there's nothing going on then I've got lots of time to update the site and when I'm busy with the only reason I have to live (the dragster), then there's no time to update the web site. Sadly for some people, there aren't too many rockets being launched these days, as most of my complaints have been aired and continuing to flog the proverbial "deceased equine" gets boring after a while. So if you want to see Wilson's mouth - and not necessarily his brain - at FULL throttle, click over to What's Old and check out some of our editorials from August and September. Fear not, there will be more "thunder" here soon, it's just that I can't keep blasting away on a daily basis.
After nearly eight months, the PSI blower has finally arrived, almost!! While out getting a (too) large cheque certified this morning, the UPS truck arrived... and left. They'll be back tomorrow though and once I hand over the $1092.67 ransom (government taxes), I'll finally have a piece of speed equipment that cost more than my first home!! Am I crazy?!? Nine out of Ten doctors would probably say yes... hell, ninety-nine out of a hundred people would probably agree too, but that issue's between me and my psychiatrist.
By the way, for the American visitors to this site, you might be interested to know just how much it costs to (attempt to) go fast in Canada. Today's exchange rate for U.S. dollars was 56% ... in other words, our dollar is worth only 65 cents across the border. Then we add the 7% G.S.T. (goods and services tax - goon squad tax - gone for a s**t tax, etc.) which of course is compounded on the U.S. value converted to Canuck bucks . . . the total cost is about 65% over the U.S. price, plus of course, shipping and brokerage fees.
Is it any wonder why there just aren't that many really fast race cars in Canada? And why so few of them compete at races in the States? Looking back at receipts from just four years ago makes me almost cry, when I notice that the exchange rate was quite often 15-20%. Wow, how low have we sunk in just a few years. The only area we outpace any other country in these days is our income tax rates. They've kept rising to keep pace with our national debt, as almost one-third of tax collected in Canada is used simply to pay the interest on that debt, not leaving much to waste on all the other pet projects of the politicians. Most weeks my paycheque sees nearly 50% of the gross going directly to Ottawa (national capital). Canada is a beautiful country with many nice features, but we certainly PAY for the "privilege" of living here. Gee, how the hell did we get from drag racing to politics? Enough political commentary, back to the show.
Since there is so much Australian content on this site, you might also be interested to know just how much MORE expensive it is to race downunder. Their dollar is usually about 58 cents U.S. (70% exchange rate) and their Customs department has invented some wonderful methods to gouge/extract/extort money out of the racers down there. First of course, is the conversion of the U.S. price into Oz dollars, then a 20% "uplift" is added to that amount. . . what in the hell is an uplift?!? An innocuous way of saying "bend over and take it like a man?" Then when that dust settles, they add the duty and sales tax, totalling . . . better be sitting down for this one: 32% for a grand total of about 125% over the U.S. price. (Don't forget that all these numbers keep compounding all the way through the transaction).
And then try to guess how much it costs for shipping to Australia, and brokerage, and insurance, etc.etc. It's a complete wonder how anyone can compete in the fast classes down there, and leaves no doubt as to why 40-run rods, tires, etc. are considered "like new". When I first visited that country last year, I was rather surprised to see some very marginal (in my opinion) equipment being used; now I wonder how they can even afford that stuff, let alone new parts.
Site Updates: Found some great new additions to the Top Ten Lists including one great one about "Rule Changes We'd Like To See" for the Fuel Altered crowd. My favourite of course, is #2: "All teams must have a hot babe to back up their car after the burnout..." If you're in doubt about that one, just check out the Aussie Drag Babes photo gallery.
I've updated some of the links pages and just realized last weekend how a minor bug has crept into some of the pages. It's a bit of work to clean up the code that caused it, but soon all the little dashes that appeared just below the lower right hand corner of the navigation "buttons" will have been eliminated. Believe me, neatness counts with computers. Almost right is totally wrong, and sometimes it can take months to figure out why things just don't work properly. It's a big learning curve, but that's more than half the fun, isn't it?
Alas, still no pictures of the new Northern Thunder car and all the shiny new "beads and trinkets" we've bought recently for it. As soon as the rain holds off long enough for us to roll it out of the trailer and snap some pics they will be up on this site. Along with some pics of the "new shop" and the truck and trailer. The quality won't be great, as my photographic skills are best suited to the $9.99 cardboard cameras from the discount drugstore, but you'll be able to see what we've been talking/writing about for the last six months.
Now for the Aussie news promised in the headline to this piece. First bit is some belated congratulations to new mom Rachelle Splatt on the birth of her daughter Kayla on August 29. The first announcement I've seen came on the ANDRA website today, complete with the first picture of mother, daughter and "partner" (soon to be husband). Despite her new obligations, Rachelle is very much looking forward to being back in the seat of her Top Fuel dragster for the first race of the new season: the Springnationals at Adelaide International Raceway on November 7. We wish her and the family the best for the future, and hope she can make a successful return to competition.
Second bit from downunder concerns our good friend on the Gold Coast, Ken Lowe who has successfully graduated his first class (of six students) from his Drag School. He's also already filled four of the six available spots for the second class, scheduled for October 21-23 at Willowbank Raceway. After several failed attempts by other people to start an Australian drag racing school, Ken has once again succeeded where others have not. The positive feedback from the first class and the support of Dennis Syrmis (Willowbank Track Manager), Rob Oberg (Willowbank Marketing Manager) and Mark Brew (partner and driver of Ken's Top Alcohol dragster) augers well for the future of the school.
Pictured left to right is Dave Coles, Steven Wockner, Stephen Reilly, Nathan Peirano, Glenn Willetts, Steve Courtney and Peter Deguara (kneeling)
To read all the details, check out the first edition of Ken's Harbinger Press - Newsletter in our Press Clippings index. Don't forget, with winter rapidly approaching here in North America, a holiday in Australia (where it's almost always sunny and warm) combined with a visit to the Ken Lowe Drag Racing School could truly be the holiday of a lifetime. Remember, the Aussie dollars are cheap, accomodation is reasonable, the people are very friendly, the Aussie Drag Babes, etc. are all great reasons to make the trip. For more details, check out the Drag School page or e-mail Ken at The Drag Racing School for more information.
News from the West Coast of Australia is very good. Perth's current dragstrip, Ravenswood International Raceway will be relocated within the next two years. The current location near Mandurah has been hampered by its distance from the city and increasing residential construction near the site. The new track location will be much closer to Perth and located in an industrial area, limiting the disruptions to the community. Also, the new site will be a multi-purpose facility, incorporating a new speedway (oval track) and will be capable of holding larger crowds than the current track. Progressive people out west, including Managing Director Gary Miocevich, Track Manager Ray Treasure, and jack of all trades Stuart Bond are capably guiding Ravenswood into the 21st century. Good on ya' mates !
That's all the news we have time for now, but don't forget to keep watching this space for those long-promised pictures of the new Northern Thunder Top Alcohol Dragster and more information about its progress. Plus all the latest drag racing news and anything else we get wound up about.