What's New What's Old What's New - July 5, 1999 E-MAIL to NORTHERN THUNDER Home Page  

in the world of drag racing

Black Bar

The latest update as of July 22, 1999

Long time between updates, eh? Not much happening, or what? Well, we've been working at it, as much as time, energy and funds permit... but we're still taking two steps back for every step forward.. on the good days, that is. The bad days... well, don't even ask. As has been the case for the past five weeks, I don't really have time to do much of an update, but I'll try to fill in some of the blanks.

As reported last month, the Winternationals was not the event we wanted it to be. While the racing was great at times, the fact we were sitting in the stands without a race car turned the whole weekend into one long torture session. The week following the Winters saw the race car finally cleared through customs... no, not delivered yet, but cleared through customs... then things really started to fall apart. First, Tom Mohan, my crew chief and the real driving force behind this project for the past few years, had to return to Canada. Then, more delays in actually having the car delivered. Quarantine inspection, more cleaning of the contents of the container (fudge under the seat of the truck, an old toothbrush and some wads of gum... all three items being an obvious danger to the country) and finally, clearance from the quarantine department.

Finally, on June 25th, the truck arrived at Ken's shop, with the container aboard. Nearly three months after we closed the doors on it in Vancouver, we finally had the race car out on the ground in Queensland, Australia. Halfway across the globe and we've finally gotten the first big step completed. Now comes the real work. Lots of it to do and barely three weeks to get the car ready for the Winter Finals. Oh, did I mention that at this point we're nearly out of money too? And I just know there will be a "few" items that I've overlooked in the parts department.

The first week sees us making almost no progress with the car, aside from rolling it in and out of the container a few times as we set up shop. Lots of welding, fabricating, etc. uses up the days quickly and the race car looks no closer to completion than when it arrived. At this point, my crew consists of Darren Fahy, Dave Coles, Kevin Kent and Alan Broome, all Aussies and all "mad keen" to see the car go down the track. Without their continuing support and hard work there wouldn't be a hope of getting the car completed. Of course Ken (Lowe) is still providing all the technical and specialty machining/fabricating help that is absolutely essential to completing the race car.

As the clock ticks down to one week before the "Finals", it becomes (very) painfully obvious that we won't meet our next (self-imposed) deadline. Remember my "one step forward, two steps back" comment earlier? Well, now it's starting to get really ugly. Nothing, absolutely nothing seems to fit without some modification. Yes, the block fits in the chassis, the heads fit on the block, the crank even fits... BUT that's about it. The main bearing clearance is fine, the rod bearing clearance is waayyy too much. The head studs are too long, the tall nuts are too tall, the rocker covers won't fit over the rocker assemblies or stands. The oil filter bracket needs to be moved, the tow hook needs to be relocated, the motor plate needs a little "loving", the offset drive for the magneto is too tight a fit, the blower belt is a few inches too long, the throttle cable is too short, the Lenco doesn't fit the bellhousing properly, the throw-out bearing is just that... thrown out (and replaced with a new one)... I could go on and on and on... but before this starts sounding like a Bill Doner advertisement for "How Not To Get Ahead in Drag Racing", I'll just stop my whingeing and get back to work.

As of today, the money has more than run out, in fact I'm having to live on handouts from some very trusting and very helpful people. Why haven't I pulled the pin and gone back to Canada and started generating some work income to finish the car and prepare it for next season? Well, after being able to arrange Tom's return flight last month in less than two days, I thought it wouldn't be a problem when it came time for me to return. Guess again Bob. Remember, this is Wilson Racing where "if anything can go wrong, it will.. and at the worst possible time and in the worst possible way". So, when I phoned Qantas last week to book my return trip to Vancouver, I was given the news that Thursday, August 5th would be the earliest available. Yeah, I'm stuck here in OZ for another two weeks, flat broke, with an unfinished race car and no prospects of getting it done and running before the end of the year.

Think it couldn't get much worse than that? Who knows? I've given up being surprised by all the roadblocks and obstacles placed in my path to "success" (or at least a faint resemblance of such). Thank goodness the winter weather down here has taken a good turn for the past few weeks. No rain to speak of and daily high temps in the low 20's (low 70's F.) and cool, not quite cold, nights. Still, it would be nice if we actually had some heat in the townhouse, other than the oven, that is.

Not sure when the next update will be coming, but stay tuned for more of Bob's "wonderful" adventures in the Land of OZ". Maybe I'll even have the nerve next time to admit how badly I drove Ken's Modified (Super Comp) dragster at the "Test 'n' Tune" on June 26th. A small hint: On the first lap it smoked, not hazed, but bloody SMOKED the tyres until half track... then the next run turned really bad. No damage, other than to my pride, but I'm hopeful of much better results in my own Top Alcohol Dragster.

Last bit(s) for the day: Victor Bray set a new "unofficial" world record for Top Doorslammer/Pro Mod cars last Saturday night with back-to-back passes of 229.01 and 229.94 mph. Good on 'ya, Victa!!! Now about that overdrive... has your calculator died, or did you just skip maths in school? Let's just say it was a "taste" more than the (already very loose) Aussie rules allow for doorslammers. Still, he made the laps and man, was that '57 Chev ever haulin'...

Congratulations also to Paul Shackleton who, after winning his first Australian National Championship Event at last month's Winternationals, backed it up with another victory at last Saturday's Winter Finals. Two in a row. Another "good on 'ya" for Paul too.

Black Bar
More news as it happens, and if you wish to provide us with any news or information to upgrade or correct any errors at this site: