in the world of drag racing
The latest update as of May 21, 1999
Another rainy day in Brisbane -- it seems like we haven't gone 24 hours without some precipitation since I arrived. Ah well, can't let the weather get me down as there's still much to do before the container arrives. Today's schedule includes two meetings -- so far -- several phone calls and possibly some more parts pickups. By the time I've showered, shaved, dressed and am out the door, the rain has stopped and the sun is out again. I still can't get over how that happens. Already my mood is looking more upbeat.
First stop is the photo shop to drop off another roll of film for processing (remind myself to get the scanner fixed a.s.a.p.), then it's on to the highway and north to Brisbane. A planned forty-five minute drive turns into over an hour with the various "detours" I took. With what I thought was a fairly good idea of how to find the customs brokers, I took the planned turnoff and immediately plunged into a maze of one-way streets in the central business district.
After ten minutes of that nonsense I found myself heading south (out of town) and quickly took the first turnoff to Kangaroo Point. (No 'roo's there, just some rather old residences and some very dodgy-looking characters hanging about). A quick look at the UBD city directory had me off in the more-or-less right direction and with only a few more minor dramas I finally arrived at the brokers offices.
Getting past the combination receptionist-security guard ("sign in the book and put on this visitor's badge"), I was led to the office of John McNally, Customs Clearance Manager for OBM Pty. Ltd. After a few mintues of pleasantries and dispensing with some of the official paperwork (Bills of Lading and Fumigation Certificate), the bombshell dropped. "The container will have to move in-bond from the wharf to Interport, where the contents will be destuffed (unloaded from the container). Then an independent appraisal of the value of the goods therein will have to be obtained, then the Quarantine Department will have to certify the truck as fit (clean enough) to be imported, then the Customs officer will have to clear the shipment. And finally, you'll have to pay all the costs before the goods can be released."
Just another wrinkle in the linen, eh? Try reading the foregoing as a major bummer. We're not just talking lost time, extra expense and aggravation; we're very concerned about the health of the race car when the Interport mob get finished unloading it. "Of course you can be there to supervise the unloading". Small mercy anyway. But we're already pressed for time and if we lose more than two or three days getting the container to jump through these latest hoops.... then all our plans for the Winternationals are pretty much toast.
While my crew chief, Tom, is saying it just can't be done in time, I'm trying my best to convince myself that it can be done. At this point if I wasn't thinking as positively as possible, I'd just give up and head for the airport. The bottom line is that this is just one more issue to deal with, and just like every other obstacle we've encountered on our "quest", it will be overcome and we'll move on. One day at a time. Got to keep the positive ions flowing, right?
After the one-hour session at the brokers, the second meeting of the day promises to be much more enjoyable. Following my craftily laid out trail of cigarette butts back to the highway, I was soon on the Pacific Highway and headed south to Underwood and the offices of Lifestyle Australia. In sharp contrast to my first adventure of the day, the route to Lifestyle was almost too easy and I only made one wrong turn enroute.
Entering their offices, I introduced myself to their sales manager, Melissa Thompson, and spent what seemed like only a few minutes discussing our requirements for crew shirts. Price, style, logos and embroidery agreed upon, she promised to have the order ready in time for the Winters. Even if we don't get the car done in time, at least we'll have nice shirts to wear. And as promised, the visit was more than worthwhile, if only for the chance to meet Melissa. Aussie girls.... Makes me wish I was twenty years younger... or at least felt that way.
Returning to Ken's shop in the early afternoon, I received another pleasant surprise in the form of a small FedEx box. Thanks very much to Jeannie Hunter of Jager Safety Equipment of Coquitlam, BC (Canada) for shipping down my re-webbed and re-certified safety harnesses so quickly. Yet another item removed from the "to-do" list. One day at a time and one item at a time.
Sat down with Ken and reviewed our options for the Winternationals for what seemed like the hundredth time. We're now on Plan "XYZ" as things seem to change on a daily -- and sometimes hourly -- basis. With his experience in dealing with Australia's rules and regulations and realities, Ken suggested several methods to "expedite" matters when the container arrived. As always, he's left the "action" part of those plans in my "capable" hands.
As I write this latest update, the sun is almost down to the horizon and the night is beginning to close in after another all-too-short day. With darkness descending, the sounds of the birds and the view of the hills and valleys outside gradually change from Australia to a jungle-like setting. Dark, mysterious and wonderfully different. Despite all the dramas and the Vancouverish weather lately, this truly is a South Seas paradise. Next update tomorrow, so stay tuned for the latest installment of the Dragster Diaries, aka: "As The Wheel Turns".