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To go to earlier editions of "What's New" go to  What's Old

The latest update as of January 8, 2002

Pinch yourself; you're dreaming. This really can't be happening, can it? Three days and three updates? No, it's just an "optical confusion".... or is it? Well, dream on and see what develops in your mind's eye.

When we left off yesterday (actually late Sunday evening), we'd just finished our Winternationals weekend, celebrating our second dropped valve of the event with an appearance on the starting line, regaling the rapt audience with tales of our mis-adventures. Then all too soon it was time to pack up and head for home and lay plans for our next downunder invasion.

While I got back to the real world and the real job in Vancouver, my faithful crew of Darren Fahy, Darren Grimes, Steve Piesley, Mike Hyde, Ken Lowe and Dave Coles started stripping the car down for the off-season. In the rush to get ready for the Winternats, we hadn't finished off some areas of the car and after the race we obviously had to strip everything down and see what was broken, and what needed modifying or replacing.

Barely a month later Darren sent me the first installment of photos, showing what the car looked like after a weekend afternoon with the spanners. Here's the pics from inside the container/garage at Ken Lowe's. PS: Thanks to Ken for the kind use of his digital camera.

Welcome to the Naked Chassis Welcome to the Naked Chassis
Welcome to the Naked Chassis with the body side panels on the walls and the top panels on the rack up near the ceiling.

Fuel line and pump Coil, mag control box, oil system, air bottle, etc.
It seemed to take forever to install all the bits seen in these photos, but less than two hours to strip them off the car and pile them on the floor.

Strange top-loader rear end and parachutes Blower, injector, blower belt, magneto and helmet
Here's some of the stuff we didn't hurt: the diff, blower, injector, mag, and helmet.

The long view of the chassis Looking from the front with Dave at the back
Here's two more views of the entire container, from the front and the back. That's Dave Coles lurking (as always) in the background.

You didn't notice any pics of the engine or driveline in the container, did you? Come to think of it, neither did I. Hey guys, where is all that stuff? Darren said he took the long block home and since I've got the cylinder heads here in Vancouver, they're accounted for. So where's the rest of it?

A few weeks later, they sent along some more pics (not the best quality - they're "frame grabs" from a video taken in Darren's garage) of some of the other pieces so I could see for myself just how bad everything looked. And now you can too.....

Pistons - dead and alive Pistons - dead and alive
Six salvageable pistons out of eight isn't too bad... for one burnout

Very dead piston Very dead piston
Don't CLICK on these thumbnails if you've got a weak stomach. And just remember: this happened on a burnout, on methanol....

damaged cylinder head damaged cylinder head
Even from a distance the damage to the combustion chambers is visible

damaged combustion chamber REALLY damaged combustion chamber
And closeup it looks a lot worse. If these were water-jacketed heads....

Not quite brand-new clutch anymore New cams and repaired cam
On the left, we've got a "not quite brand-new anymore" clutch
and on the right, our two new camshafts, courtesy of Tighe Cams, along with our repaired (for the second time) Isky

We could go on and on and show you piles of bent rocker stands, beat-up rocker arms, bent pushrods, melted pushrods, bent rods, chewed-up bearings, more dead pistons, ruined sleeves, iffy lifters, etc, etc,... but by now you've gotten the point. In less than thirty seconds of full-throttle track time, we managed to use up more than $10,000 worth of parts.

Yeah I know, we've all heard the stories about guys like Doug Doucette (who once blew up three engines -- in the pits -- at a race), or Doug Herbert trying to put a blown fuel hemi on the moon, but those guys can afford that kind of grief. I can't. My budget is whatever next week's paycheque is going to be.

It's been said many, many times that there's two essential ingredients in drag racing: money and brains. But when you're overly endowed with either element (like yours truly), then you've got a problem. A big expensive ugly problem. One that I'm still working (six months later) to remedy.

So where do we go from here? Back to square one? No, we're a lot further down the road than that. We KNOW (or at least we're 99% certain) what caused all our problems and we've taken the right steps (see the previous caveat) to correct the situation. We've bought the RIGHT valves and the RIGHT rocker stands. Those two areas caused the chain reaction of carnage that you've seen and read about it.

So when does it all come back together and start running again? Hmm, that's an easy answer: 2002. Exactly when in 2002? Hmm, that's not such an easy answer. Look at it this way: the Australian Nationals (one of only two national events on the Aussie drag racing calendar this year -- hey that's a whole 'nother story for later in the week) takes place next week. The heads are still being repaired, the valves haven't arrived yet, the pistons haven't even been ordered, among many other odds and ends that we need. Can you do the math? Let's just say that the Winternationals (in June) is a more realistic return date for Northern Thunder.

As an added bonus to tonight's installment, here's some pics taken at our test sessions last March and May at Willowbank Raceway.

All dressed up with somewhere to go All dressed up with somewhere to go
Looking shiny and new, Northern Thunder prepares to assault the bitumen at the 'Bank

Burnout Launch
A burnout (with lotsa fuel out of the left bank) and the following launch (also with lots of fuel out of the left bank).... hmm....

Another burnout NOT another launch
Another day, another burnout... and oops, there goes the first of our very rare and expensive blower belts. We find out the hard way that the PSI blower doesn't like to spool down too quickly from 21,000 (blower) rpm and it cost us more money than we'd care to admit

Launching into the late afternoon sun You've seen the good and the bad; here's the ugly
The sun is very bright in Australia and it's never a good idea to aim the camera into it, as you can see from the pic on the left. As for the other one: well, let's just say it's never a good idea to pick Wilson as a subject. ESPECIALLY WHEN HE'S ONLY HALF-DRESSED.

That's a wrap for tonight's session, but be sure to come back tomorrow when we drag all the oddball pics we've collected over the years out of the files and display them in a "Definitely From The Far Side" special. Here's a sneak preview of just some of the stuff we'll have.

Twilight Zone T/F Dragster Brand X Funny Car
Words for the wise He'll get a BANG out of this
Cadillac Ranch So what's the problem? OUCH - that's gotta hurt!

Black Bar
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