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in the world of drag racing

Black Bar

The latest update as of March 27, 2000

And you know what: for a change . . . I was, and glad of it, too. For the first time this year I ventured out to my local track, Mission Raceway Park and everything cooperated: the traffic was light (one hour drive on the freeway), the sun was shining, the temps (15 C - 59 F) were warm and there were some pretty neat hot rods in the pits -- and on the track.

My time was rather limited, as I had to be back in Vancouver for work at 4:00 pm (typical, eh?) but I was able to see a few runs or attempts at runs by some of the hot cars and spent several hours touring the pits, bench racing with lots of old friends (and you didn't think I had any, didn't ya?) and generally catching up on things. Plus, giving the new Canon Optura a workout in outdoor conditions for the first time.

Yes, I can hear the critics already: "Don't give up your day job!" No fear of that happening, as I don't work day shift anyway. And I never did claim to be a photographer -- and after you've seen my "work" you'll have the proof. Give me twenty or thirty years of practice like Pfister and Carlson and Thomas and Heitanen have and I might be half as good as they are. In the meantime, I'll do what I can and post it on the internet and let people enjoy the results (if they can).

First up, and the prime reason for my being there: George Swann and his brand new, front-engine Top Fuel Dragster. For the past two weeks I was kicking myself for not being there for the very first fire-up of this car; but it was worth waiting to see it really throbbing yesterday. Fired up right away - nice and clean - and sounding VERY healthy - even on the "light load" of 80% percent. George has promised to crank up the "volume" (actually the percentage) in the near future and see what happens.

I'm not sure how long it will be until the car actually goes down the track; that is up to George's finances as he still has to update his firesuit and safety harnesses, add a trans blanket and fire bottle and get a new helmet. Then it's full speed ahead. In the meantime, here's what it looks like on the jack stands. (Click on the thumbnails to see the full-size views).

Mission Raceway tower Staging lanes and Mt. Baker
Well actually very first is this view of the tower and starting line;
then the background as viewed through the staging lanes:
the mighty Fraser River and Washington State's Mt. Baker in the distance;
Track elevation: 26 feet -- at low tide!

George Swann AA/FD George Swann AA/FD
Two views of George's dragster - gleaming in the spring sunshine

George Swann AA/FD George Swann AA/FD
Two views of the "hot seat"; Yes, that's a full-floater M-W rear end

George Swann AA/FD
The lettering on the cowl and the flames are pretty cool, eh?

When I arrived at Mission, I was only a few seconds behind George coming through the gate, so was quite surprised to find him unhooking the trailer by himself when I got into the pits. "So where's the crew?" Looking around, George said, "I guess you're looking at it" -- referring to himself. Actually, he'd told his helpers not to bother hurrying out as there was no pressure to be in the staging lanes or get anything done other than fire up the car.

Two hours later all was in readiness and they lit up that old Hemi in front of a sizeable crowd. Two or three whacks of the throttle later, the crowd had thinned out considerably -- or at least moved waaaaay back from the really loud nitro monster.

PS: If you'd really like to see what the car looked like running -- unfortunately, I've still got a bug in the program and there's no sound (bummer of the first order, eh?) -- click on this link to see a short (eight seconds) video of the car. You better have a FAST connection too: it's ONE MB in length.

George Swann AA/FD George Swann AA/FD
Fired up and running and sounding great!

George Swann AA/FD George Swann AA/FD
Yeah, it's alive, but stand clear, it is burning NITRO, after all

George Swann AA/FD George Swann AA/FD
So what did ya think, George? Wanna do it again soon?

While waiting for George to fire up his new hot rod, I took a tour of the pits to see all the new cars that were out getting ready for the season. First one to catch my eye was this Super Comp dragster, with a very neat paint job.

Cool paint job
Cool paint job Cool paint job

Then I found this very trick new carbon-fibre injector hat, sitting atop the BDS "Pro Charger" and sheet-metal manifold from Trevor Lowe's "Fraser Valley Vending" '57 Chevy Pro Mod. After their first on-off-on-off run, they were too busy thrashing on the car to say much about the induction system.

Carbon-fibre hat Carbon-fibre hat

Next stop on the "tour" was the Bob MacDonald pits to take a close look at his '32 Ford 5-Window. NOTE: Please correct me if I'm wrong -- the previous information is just a wild guess. When they've got doors, I'm as good as lost! Another thing I don't understand: I was certain he'd put a 392 Hemi in it; the mill in the pics sure looks Bowtie-ish to me . . .

Bob MacDonald
Bob MacDonald Bob MacDonald

Last stop before I headed for the parking lot was at the Mundie's Towing, Ralph Paulik Top Comp pits. He's been running this dragster for five years now and last season was his best to date. Ralph finished #6 in the Division Six Top Comp standings, despite missing one meet and having to miss eliminations at another. He's certain they've got a pretty bulletproof combination for this season and is aiming for an even higher finish in a very tough bracket, starting in (less than) three weeks at Boise, Idaho. Good luck to Ralph and his hard-working crew.

Ralph Paulik Ralph Paulik
Ralph Paulik Ralph Paulik
Talk about your close-fitting engines;
How do ya change the blower pulley, Ralph? Hoist the engine out of the chassis?

Ralph Paulik
Sorry we couldn't watch you run, but it was time to head off to work

Well, that's it for the first time out this year. Next event on the Mission Raceway schedule is the first (local) points race of the year: April 1-2. Weather and work permitting, I'll be there. Oh yes, before I forget: there were lots of other cars out there, but most of them had doors and after a while, they all start to look alike, don't they? And there were some funny cars too: Rod Clough and his BCAA-sponsored Top Comp'er and Mike Giuliani's newly painted Renascent Collision Top Alcohol Funny Car. Hey Mike, you shook so hard on that run at 2:00 pm that it nearly rattled my breakfast burger out of my hands. Calm it down a bit for the next time, eh?

Black Bar
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