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The latest update as of May 4, 2001

It's day one of the first Federal-Mogul Drag Racing Series event at Mission Raceway Park. We're writing this very early (as in: far too early) in the morning, and as soon as the rush-hour settles down, we'll be out on the road to the track. Before I head out though, it's waaaay past time to update everyone on what's happening at Northern Thunder, and even more importantly, what will be happening in the next month.

Remember that counter that was just above the date on this page? The one that had the latest countdown of how many days remained until my next trip to Australia? Well, I've lost the script that wrote that segment, so I'll just keep posting the latest numbers here in the middle of the What's New updates. The number today is: 25.

Not much time left to get the bags packed, call the taxi and get to the airport, is it? Here's a little time-saving hint for frequent travelers that I've come across: Just leave the suitcases in the middle of the living room floor, open, and as you come across vital stuff, like clean laundry, just toss it in. I'm sure it'll save me heaps of time at the last minute on May 29th.

Before that big day arrives, I've got to deal with quite a few items on the agenda. Lots of shopping for parts for my car, my mate's junior dragster, my other mate's Top Comp car, my other other mate's toolbox, and, if there's any room left, a new set of slicks for my race car. We've found out the hard way that 8-year-old Goodyears just don't have much "stick" left, especially with a serious amount of horsepower trying to go through them. They've only got a dozen runs on them now, but they're history.

Other necessities are at least two spare blower belts, some burst panels, maybe a clutch disc or two, and all the computer disks that I forgot to pack last time around. It's kind of tough trying to run Les Davenport's Fuel and Clutch programs and the Racepak download system without them.

So what's the big deal about this next trip? And why is it coming so soon after my last one? Those questions can be answered with two words: UNFINISHED BUSINESS. And just what is that "unfinished business"? First, we've still got to make the 2.5 license passes (one half, two full) for that all-important ANDRA Group One License. Secondly, we've got the Winternationals to race at, June 7th - 9th. That's assuming we get the first order of business completed on the previous weekend.

On the last weekend of March, we felt we were close to getting the license out of the way. We'd worked out most of the bugs in the car, the driver was getting more comfortable with each lap, and the track was prepared well enough to get some full passes done. Then the weather gods intervened, costing us at least two chances on the Friday, and totally wiped out Saturday. (Sunday was not an option for two reasons: one, the track isn't open on Sundays, and two, it was still raining).

So, now we're putting all our eggs in one basket, with just one day open to get the license done. It will be Saturday, June 2nd. There's no other option available, as again, the track's closed on the following day, and on the days leading up to the Winternationals, won't be available for testing. Looks like a big challenge, doesn't it? Ken Lowe's pet phrase "adapt, improvise and overcome" keeps coming to mind. It may be needed.

I'd like to continue this bit of a ramble, but the clock is indicating that it's time to be on the road to Mission Raceway and catch up with all my old racing friends on this side of the Pacific. We'll be back with another update on this page early next week.

In the meantime, check out the reports, results and photos from MRP's first major event of the season, the Lordco BC Nationals. Or, if you're craving some amateur video of the very first startup of my new race car, click here. NOTE: It's a Quicktime movie and it's 1.2 MB of file size. If you've got a high-speed internet connection, no worries. It loads up and starts playing almost instantly.

Now we break into the regularly scheduled report for an update from Mission Raceway

9:00 AM  Here's a quick preview of what we can expect to see at Mission Raceway Park today: rain, followed by showers, followed by more rain, a bit of wind, cool temperatures and.... more rain. The most on-track action we'll see today will be the track crew making laps with their equipment.

Let's hope my prediction and the forecast from the weather office proves wrong, but we're probably looking at a two-day event, starting late tomorrow morning. The latest weather system off the Pacific Ocean is about 24 hours late in coming through.

NOON  No rain yet and we're in the gates. Just as I climb the crossover bridge into the pits, two of the baddest Super Stock "A" cars on the planet pull into the burnout box. I'm too slow to get the camera running, but enjoyed the high level view of these wheelstanding monsters. The 8.79 at 149 mph on the scoreboard for one of them (can't remember which car) was very impressive. Looks like a good omen for a day that I didn't hold out much hope for.

By the time I get the necessary paperwork done for my Media Pass and restricted area access, the first qualifying session for Comp Eliminator is on deck. NHRA has finally bowed to reality and included Pro Mods in this category -- at least until they move them into the place of the soon-to-depart Pro Stock Truck class. Next year? I wouldn't bet against it.

Two of the best western Canadian cars; actually, Trevor Lowe's '57 Chevy and Glen Kerunsky's S-10 pickup truck, lead off the session and they put on quite a show. Lowe's 6.50 is impressive, but Kerunsky's 6.44 in his nitrous truck is under the national record. Wow, quite a start to the season for those teams. Next up is North Vancouver's Rob Harrison, with his "Igor" powered six-cylinder Beretta and despite a major starting line bog, runs -.35 under his index on the first lap of the year. Another good omen.

1:00 PM  As the sounds of blown alky and injected nitro engines fill the pits, it's starting to look like we might just beat the weather and get in today's scheduled qualifying session. Since I'm supposed to be at work in Vancouver at 4pm, I'm starting to look for someone with a cellular phone I can borrow to call for a replacement for tonight.

2:00 PM  No worries. The rain is here, a little behind schedule, but it's gaining strength by the minute and within half an hour, the balance of the day's activities are obviously lost. NHRA doesn't officially pull the plug on the day until two hours later, but by that time I'm already dry and warm in my office, for another night of toil.

Check out the photo page for the few pics I managed to click before the day ended. Then come back Saturday evening, after 9:00 pm, for the full report on what should be quite a day of action from Mission Raceway Park.

Black Bar
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