in the world of drag racing
The latest update as of May 18, 1999
The morning post arrives and among all the invoices, junk mail and personal stuff, is a small packet from ANDRA. Opening the envelope reveals a red folder, containing a copy of the current rulebook, a booklet on the contingency program, a log book (for the race car) and.... a Top Alcohol license. Too right! At this point the license is only "provisional", until I've succesfully completed "Performance Testing", which is one half-pass and two full passes, observed by an ANDRA Steward.
To anyone familiar with the NHRA licensing system, this might seem somewhat too easy, and done in the wrong order, but it serves the racers well down here. The license application and medical form, plus a passport-type photograph were sent to the ANDRA head office in Adelaide when I arrived in Australia last week and less than ten days later the license has arrived.
Before I do the performance testing, scheduled for the first day of the Winternationals, the car has to undergo technical inspection and receive a tech sticker. (This is the equivalent of chassis certification with NHRA). Then at each race meeting, the vehicle undergoes "scrutineering" which is noted in the vehicle log book.
By the way, the only items (for Top Alcohol) currently requiring SFI certification are the safety harness, blower restraint and burst panel. That's a very welcome change to the NHRA system of taking out a second mortgage each year to re-certify everything from the chassis to your underwear. At last count, I'd be looking at nearly $5000 (CDN) to get everything up to snuff for this season in North America. And that's with all brand-new, never been bolted onto the race car, equipment. Ouch!
The afternoon is spent dealing with another of the million little details to be covered before the car goes down the track at Willowbank. It's time to call Melissa at Lifestyle Australia and order up some crew shirts. Although the order deadline has passed and the minimum order is 30 shirts, my connection with Ken Lowe pays yet another dividend and they promise to get them done in time and in the small quantity required. At least we'll be halfway presentable for the Winternationals. Melissa invites me up to their shop in Underwood for a tour around the facility and a coffee and Ken promises that the trip will be more than worthwhile... for a number of reasons.... starting and ending with Melissa. What's the address??
Late afternoon run down to the photo shop at Helensvale to pick up the first roll of film from this trip and as always, I'm truly amazed at how well the photos turned out. They really must make those "disposable" cameras idiot-proof, as I'm far from being a photographer, but the shots always turn out acceptably, if not great. I can hardly wait to get back to the shop, fire up Ken's scanner and add some images to this page.
Alas, another computer wrinkle; after spending nearly ten minutes finding where the scanner software was hidden on his computer (in Aldus Pagemaker, of course), we try to scan the first photo... and try again, and try yet again. Everything seems to be working, the lights are blinking, the software seems to be working, what's wrong?
On the fourth attempt, we lift the lid and don't see anything, except the platen moving underneath the photo; no light... an almost new (high-dollar) scanner with a burnt out light. Since the scanner was purchased from a large general electronics store, it may be a bit of a drama to track down another lightbulb.... which hopefully will cure the problem. We'll just have to wait and see, won't we?