in the world of drag racing
The latest update as of May 16, 1999
04:30 am: Bloody 'ell.... what's that noise?? Where am I? WHO am I? Finally, the brain starts to kick into gear and I realize that it's time to get up for today's Swap Meet at the Carrara "Footy" Grounds. (Australian Rules Football stadium). For some unkown reason, Aussie's love to schedule these things at an hour when nobody in their right mind would even consider being awake. So what am I doing getting up now? Read the previous sentence... "anyone in their right mind". Starting to see the picture now?
Anyways, I've got to roll out of the sack now and drive up to Ken's place in Oxenford in time to leave for Carrara at 5:30. We've promised to get his Drag Racing School car there and set-up before the gates open at 7 am. Since the door prize at the Swap Meet is a fully-paid course at Ken's school, it's pretty much essential that we be there on time. Still fighting off the effects of three hours sleep, I pull into Ken's driveway (only two minutes late) just past 5:30, with the sun only faintly lightening the sky over the ocean.
A few minutes pass before Ken appears in the darkness and quickly we're on our way. Before we even reach the highway, I have to ask Ken whether he knows the way to the meet... nope, he doesn't have any idea either. Next item on the agenda is figuring out how to maneuver his Chevy crew-cab duallie and 39 foot Chaparral trailer through the construction zones and onto the highway. To make a long story short: you just make up your route as you go along.
We figured the quickest way to find the meet was to take the main exit to Carrara and drive down the main street until we saw some signs. The first one we saw was in the rear-view mirror as we passed the stadium, just as Ken was saying, "oh no, no way Simon would have rented anything like that... it'll be in a farmer's paddock (field) somewhere". Surprise! Thank goodness Ken was driving... I'd still be trying to get the rig turned around.
Through the gate and told where to park and set-up, we open the truck doors and immediately sink into several inches of standing water, covering some very soggy grass. (It hasn't rained for nearly a week, so where did all this water come from? We're still trying to figure that out). Oh this is going to be fun. Not to mention getting out of here (without the aid of a tow truck) at the end of the day.
8:00 am: The car's unloaded and set-up, the displays are laid out, the winter sun is shining brightly, the gates are open and the spectators are pouring in.... or at least trickling in. Since the Surfers Paradise Drag Racing Association doesn't have a large advertising budget and the impact of the short segment on Friday night's TV news and the mention in the Gold Coast Bulletin newspaper is not expected to be too great, no one is disappointed by the relatively small attendance. My estimate would be about 1000 people, plus nearly 40 race cars on display, plus about the same number of swap stalls. Stars of the show would have to be the Drag Racing School car and Peter Gratz's Dodge Daytona Top Doorslammer.
As the morning wears on and the sun shines ever brighter; remember, this is winter and the temperature is over 25 C (77 F) at 10 am; -- pretty rugged weather, eh? -- the bench racing, visiting and sheila spotting kicks into high gear. Not a bad way to spend the day, even though my feet are soaked and the truck and trailer have sunk at least a few inches deeper into the swamp since we arrived. Got that tow truck number handy, Ken?
Since the meet started at 7 am, the organizers have decided to close it down shortly after 1 pm. All too soon, it's time to get back to work, load up the car and head back to Oxenford to see if the VCR taped the "Drag Racing 99" program (the Wild Bunch Classic from Willowbank on May 8th). With the car safely loaded, the trans in low gear - low range (six-speed underdrive) and a judicious use of the throttle, Ken eased the rig out of the swamp with a minimum of wheelspin and safely out the gate. Although the videotape was waiting for us when we got back, we didn't have the time to sit down and watch it. Maybe tomorrow.
9:00 pm: After dealing with three blown-up computers earlier in the week, realizing that all the software I brought from Canada wouldn't install in the fourth computer -- since it doesn't have a CD-ROM drive and with only a 240 MB hard drive and 8 MB of RAM, that trying to upgrade it to accept the 56K modem I purchased was just not going to work..... We switch to plan "K" and attempt to save all the raw text files into HTML files on Ken's new computer in his house. (All the text files, including this page, are being written on a very old, by current standards, 486 computer in Ken's Chaparral).
Unfortunately, Plan "K" doesn't work either, as Ken's new computer has version 4.5 of NetScape, which won't allow me to save the files properly. At this point I'm almost ready to throw in the towel when it occurs to me that I might be able to find an older version of Netscape somewhere in cyberspace.
Fast forward to 10 pm. NetScape 3.04 has been downloaded; "What's New" has been saved as an HTML file and now all we have to do is get the file transfer program loaded up -- and working -- so I can send all this from Australia to the server in Burnaby, BC, Canada. Arrgghh!! ... "Cannot connect" ... Oh man, what now? Oh.... the computer's "off-line"... that might be the problem. Dial-Up, Log-On and try again. Eureka... it's working. It's actually happening. Close the file transfer program and click on to Northern Thunder and double-check.... YES, it's there. Ten days, much aggravation, more than a few dramas along the way... but we've finally done it.
Moral of this story: Next time Bob, bring ALL your own computer equipment down in the suitcase. Of course, we know the old story about "putting all your eggs in one basket"... and how easily they can get broken. Especially by airline baggage handlers. But, for the time being, making do with a borrowed computer will just have to do. Time to log off and head for the home in Gaven Heights now... it's been a very long day and tomorrow will come all too early.