1:00 AM Still five hours to Sydney, the food and drink
are shut down for a few more hours, the video screen's gone dead, the baby's
finally asleep (or dead), and the sheila next to me's on dreamtime. Time to
turn out the light; see you in the morning.
6:00 AM Past the starboard wing we can just make out
the coast of New South Wales as we're informed in English & French that
we'll be landing in Sydney in fifteen minutes. Thank God. The torture's
8:00 AM Outside in the car park for a quick smoke
before the short trip to Brisbane. The passage through Customs & Immigration
was reasonably quick and painless this time, with a short detour through the
ion scanner being the only hiccough.
10:00 AM In comparison to the gloomy, overcast weather
in Sydney, the bright warm sunshine in Brisbane is a welcome sight. It's
forecast to be sunny and in the low 20's (C) for the rest of the week; a very
good omen for the Saturday night/Sunday test sessions.
Didn't tell you about Sunday yet, did I? Arranged on very short, like about
three days, notice, the private session for Group One (Pro) cars is a very
welcome back-up to Saturday night's "do-or-die" test 'n' tune. Now the pressure
is greatly eased, as we'll have all day Sunday, on a fully prepared track to
get the license passes done. At $275, it's an absolute bargain.
11:45 AM Walking in the door at Ken Lowe's shop, I'm
greeted by Ken, Dave Coles and Bob Shaw, all hard at work on the new Drag
Racing School modified eliminator dragster. Only a few feet away is the next
car to come out of Ken's rapidly growing stable, his nearly completed Top
Comp (or possibly, Top Alcohol) car.
The engine, Ken's old Top Alky big-block Chevy sits beside the car, along
with a newly purchased B&J three speed transmission. It appears that the
guys have been very busy in the two months since I left.
However, I quickly notice two unfinished projects on the floor near the
side door. A familiar looking black anodized fuel tank and a rather unique
blower manifold. Looks like they haven't been touched since Darren (Fahy)
pulled them off the car early in April.
Hmm, this is going to be difficult, I think to myself; we've got barely
48 hours to put the car together and get it to Willowbank. Worse is that I
don't have any "leverage", as none of the parts I'd promised to bring down
are in my suitcase.
There's not much time for anything more than some "G'Day"s and "How are
ya?"s before I'm out the door to attend to some urgent matters. First stop
is the Oxenford post office, to get the license renewal sent to ANDRA's
head office in Adelaide.
Then it's on to the motorway south to Ashmore and the bank. Due to an
oversight on my part (didn't keep a running total of all the cheques I wrote
in March), my Aussie chequing account's overdrawn and a cheque for a drum of
fuel has bounced. Ouch! That detail quickly cleared up, I'm soon back on the
road, north this time, to Bob Brackam's shop in Sumner Park.
Yes, I'd passed near his place on my way down from the airport, but a call
from Darren shortly after I arrived at Ken's shop prompted this re-tracing
of my route. It turns out that we're still short a few very ncessary items
for the "new" Racepak computer. (Despite the big bag of parts in my suitcase
borrowed off the old computer).
Stuff like a battery charger cable, the fiber-optics cable, the driveshaft
pickup cable, the data cartridge... and god knows what else. Worst of all is
that Brackam's been paid in full and isn't under any pressure to provide the
missing bits. An instruction manual would be handy too, as this Pro 1-A model
is a very different piece than my previous 2000/3000 unit.
4:00 PM A few wrong turns, a couple of frantic searches
through the street directory and I finally find myself at Bob Brackam's "Romac
Engineering" shop. Bob's in a bad mood today as his knee's acting up, he's
dealing with the usual month-end details of his large business and he's getting
frustrated trying to find all the bits for my computer and his other one which
has just been re-installed in his own Top Alcohol car.
He's got some of the missing bits, but we're still lacking the driveshaft
pickup and a data cartridge. Neither of us is even sure if my graphics card
and software will work with the new computer either. Gee, this is all starting
to sound awfully familiar, not to mention ominous, isn't it?
Grabbing what I can, I'm soon out the door and heading for the Logan Motorway
(a toll road) south-east and back to Ken's shop. Darren and Mike Hyde (a new,
and welcome, addition to the crew) will be there after work and I've got to
get the shipping container/garage opened up, the coffee on and everything
ready to work on when they arrive. Jet lag? Sorry mate, haven't got time for
6:00 PM The boys are here, the smuggled Canuck coffee
tastes awfully good and we assess the situation. Until the drain bung is
welded into the fuel tank, we can't reinstall it or hook up the steering. The
long block is fully assembled, but until the manifold see's some welding
(modifications to the plenum), we can't put the top end of the engine on,
re-plumb the fuel system to accomodate the flow-meter and have the car ready
I start making a list of jobs we need to do before Saturday and it quickly
stretches into a second page. Compounding matters is that everyone except me
has quite a bit to do still on the new drag racing school car. Hmm....
9:00 PM The jet lag finally kicks in, and while I'm
still able to, say my good night's and head over to Dave Coles' and my home
away from home. "The sheets for your bed are in the dryer." Too bad they weren't
dry enough to sleep on. So I grab a blanket and pillow and make the very short
trip to dreamland.