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The latest update as of March 31, 2001

5:40 AM:   Geez Dave, we're starting at 8am today, so shut the bleeding alarm clock off. "I'm on the dunny mate, so kill it yerself". So starts another day in Queensland: Beautiful One Day, Perfect The Next (with some variations, like today). Despite yesterday's rain, which continued into the evening, the roads are dry and the temperature's already in the low 20's.

7:30 AM:   Breakfast (two cups of coffee) is over, and it's time to start rounding up today's crew. First stop is Mike "The Kiwi" Hinde's place down in Rosewood, then up to Ken Lowe's to pick him up, then, finally, to Darren's in Cornubia. Five minutes later we're out on the Logan Motorway in Dave's "Mazda-rati" and making tracks for Willowbank. (Let's hope it's a quick trip, as there's three of us crammed into the back seat of this compact -- as in really compact car). The weather's looking good and everyone's spirits are up.

9:30 AM:   Through the front gate at the track, which is still deserted, and down to the scrutineering (tech inspection) shed where we were able to leave the cars and trailers last night. Since the gates don't open for another four and a half hours, we want to get warmed up and make one or two short hops before anyone else arrives. With Ken, Dave & Mike busy on the modified dragster, it's just Darren and myself getting the "big boy" prepared for the day. Our pace is steady, not rushed, and in barely thirty minutes we've got the dragster ready for warming up.

10:30 AM:   The first glitch of the day has just developed, in the form of rain. Yes, the dreaded "R" word has struck again. Almost as soon as we arrived, the skies clouded over and got progressively darker. We kept working, trying to ignore the situation, but when the first sprinkles of rain started hitting our faces as we rolled the car out of the shed for the warmup, we knew it was going to be another one of "those days". We reluctantly roll the car back inside and have no option but to sit and wait out the rain shower.

11:30 AM:   The rain stopped more than half an hour ago, and the sun has broken through the clouds; in the distance, the skies look clear and the clouds are rapidly moving past us, heading west. Maybe we've got a chance to get something useful done today, so we roll the car out again and go through the warming procedure. Everything looks good and all we have to do at this point is change the oil, top up the fuel tank and get ready to go to the starting line. Before we even get a chance to finish those tasks, the rain is back, not heavily, but adding to the water already on the track, and with the track crew not arriving for at least another hour, we're starting to face what seems like the inevitable.

12:30 AM:   Raceway manager Dennis Syrmis has arrived, and informs us that he won't consider cancelling the event until after 2:00 PM. We're still alternating between light showers and warm sunshine, so there's some hope. Faint hope, but hope nonetheless. A few other early arrivals are pitted near the timing tower and we spend some time bench racing with them and considering our options if today turns into a rainout.

2:30 PM:   With the track at least two hours away from being in a runable condition, it's time for lunch. At least the canteen workers have set up shop and the burgers on the grill are drawing us like flies to "stuff". With hardly anyone on the grounds, we get some personal service and some great "works" burgers, hot chips, and coffee for lunch. Best meal I've had all week... come to think of it, one of the first meals I've had all week. Before we get halfway through our feast, Mr. Syrmis comes out of the tower and delivers the kill sign to the day. "We're done; the weather forecast is worsening, and the satellite picture is showing a continuing series of showers, leaving us with no option but to cancel the event. Sorry, Bob".

5:00 PM:   We're back at Ken's shop and have just finished the dirtiest, most unwelcome job in drag racing: unloading all our gear and putting it all away in the container. This afternoon's unloading is an especially unhappy task for me, as it means the end of this road trip, and the end of our quest for a Group One license until June.... at least. (More about that in tomorrow's update). I give my thanks to the hard-working group of guys who did most of the heavy work today (and over the last six weeks). Thanks heaps mates, as I couldn't have done even a quarter of this without you.

9:30 PM:   This is a strange feeling, being home early on a Saturday evening. I've been at a race track (Warwick, Willowbank, and Calder Park) every Saturday until waaaay past dark every Saturday since I arrived here in mid-February. Even stranger is that we've just finished watching eliminations from the O'Reilly Nationals (last week at Houston), on ESPN. It's something that I wouldn't be able to do back home in Canada, unless I had a "grey" market satellite dish. Even though Australia is very proud and protective of their national culture, they still allow their citizens to view U.S. sports television programs, unlike their broadcast control counterparts in Canada. Pity, eh?

It's too late and I'm too tired to fly off into a rant about the CRTC (Canadian Radio Television Commission), but one of these days... Looks like it's time to wrap up this update, call it a night, try to wake up Dave (who's been catching zzzz's on the lounge for the last hour), and crawl off to bed. There won't be any sleeping in or relaxing in the morning, as I'll only have a few hours to get ready before going over to Ken's shop, and then off to Darren's for my last evening in Australia (this time around).

Tune in again tomorrow for the final update from Australia... and then hang on for a series of expanded reports -- complete with heaps of pictures -- in the coming week. It's going to be quite a while before this whole thing spools back down to idle speed. From the way it's gone so far this year, that might be sometime in the middle of the next decade.

Black Bar
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