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in the world of drag racing

Black Bar

The latest update as of July 27, 2000

Timing is everything, as they say. And in my case, it's positively exquisite. Exquisitely awful, that is. No sooner do I decide to load up my alcohol dragster and ship it to Australia, than the situation on both sides of the world takes an abrupt u-turn.

Since the car left Canada back in April 1999, the number of races in NHRA's Division Six where a full field of strong running cars was present, has been almost nil. And let's not even mention the Canadian National Open series, where even four cars in attendance has been a major accomplishment. Now let's look at the national event statistics. Yep, more missed opportunities.

At the first 13 events on NHRA's schedule this year, the quickest bump spot came at the first race of the season, Pomona's Winternationals, at 5.87. (The first alternate was all the way back at 6.99, however). Since then, there has not been a single alternate at the next twelve races! And the toughest field to crack into since then, at Columbus, bubbled at 6.00. Also, six of those 12 events have seen less than a full field of alcohol dragsters in attendance. Yes, I realize that travelling across the country on a weekly basis for the $1200 first round money is a quick route to the poorhouse, but still....

On the other hand, the situation in Australia has turned down also, at least in the number of events annually (five, currently), while the field numbers are holding steady. The first two events downunder this season saw seven and six cars, respectively, while the last three had full fields, and in two cases, at least one alternate. So far (with qualifying still incomplete at the season-ending Winternationals), the toughest bump spot has been 6.34, at the Nationals in Feburary.

So, on paper, I'd be doing a lot better with my car back here in Canada. And if I confined my efforts to Western Canada and the Northwestern U.S., the balance sheet wouldn't look too bad -- barring any major breakage. And you'd better believe that it's flat-out killing me to be attending races, as a spectator, where I know I could have qualified with the old 392 hemi. But that's looking in the rear-view mirror, isn't it?

Realistically, the numbers still favour my racing program remaining in Australia, for a number of reasons, not all of which I can easily explain. So when are you going to start racing that car of yours, Bob? It's getting closer is about all I can say at the moment. We are looking at next March for a debut, but that's still a long way away. However, we are making progress toward that goal.

Last night I received a very encouraging, in fact, the most encouraging call I've had from Australia in nearly a year. Dave Coles and Ken Lowe gave me an update on the progress they've been making on my behalf recently. The truck conversion (to right hand drive -- as mandated by Australian law) is complete and the truck is now at the panel-beaters (body shop) getting the rust out and being prepped for a re-spray (paint job). The new 300-litre LP gas (propane) tank will be fitted next week and the truck is nearly ready for rego (registration and licensing). Dave's promised to send over some pics of the truck as soon as possible.

Ken, meanwhile, mentioned that he's finally found a few minutes to spare in his busy schedule (and getting busier all the time -- more about that in a minute), to fabricate the spacer plate for the intake manifold. The one that will allow us to tension that 10 foot long blower belt (well, it seems that long), without having to chop the manifold down. I guess that now puts the entire blower above the roll cage. Yikes, top heavy, or what?

Ken's also drawn up the CNC program for a set of adapter plates for the headers, to allow us to use two extra bolts around each pair of pipes (remember, it's a wedge engine), and possibly keep the headers on during tire shake. The original set of pipes didn't look like they'd last through the first bout of that malady. Now it's up to me to keep the project moving ahead, with the rod bearings that I still haven't sent down, nearly a year after they were needed.

Okay, that's not a lot of news about the race car, but it's the first bit of seriously good news we've had in quite a while, isn't it? If we can keep working at it, bit by bit, the car should be ready to rock and roll almost as soon as I arrive in Brisbane next February. Now what else is Ken Lowe up to?

Besides the two altereds on the jig, the funny car that's half finished, the supercharged school dragster that's in progress, and the dozen fuel systems waiting to be flowed, that is. Well, he's taken on yet another project: He's now the VERY PROUD father of Samantha Louise Lowe, born two weeks ago and doing fine. With wife Tracey busy with her first daughter, Ken will have even more work to do at the shop. Just not enough hours in the day, is there Ken?

It's now just past midnight, so I've got to sign off and get some sleep before I head off to Seattle tomorrow. Yes, as reported here on the weekend, I've got media credentials for the NHRA Northwest Nationals, so I'll be down south, sucking up some nitro fumes this weekend. Of course we'll have a full report on the event next week, complete with as many pictures as we can take. I haven't got a starting line photo pass with the credentials, but I'll certainly be roaming the pits, getting all the behind the scenes stuff that I can find.

So, don't expect to see any updates on this, or any other page at Northern Thunder, until Monday, July 31st. Then, if my last trip to Seattle is any indication, stand back out of the way. Oops, better not say anything more until I've got those credentials in hand, eh?

Black Bar
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