Race Reports

Time Traveler - Palmyra Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Cars 2013


This was our first Outlaw Nitro Funny Car meeting where we actually got to race someone. With only the 6 licensing runs being 3 at Benaraby and 3 at Willowbank under the belt, we headed off with both the Penguin’s Palace and the Penguin’s Igloo and a cast of thousands to Palmyra. We travelled up on the Friday and set up camp.

Craig, Renee, Connor and Chloe took the GTR up as it had to go to the closest dealer which happens to be in Mackay for a little bit of warranty work. Interestingly, Renee even had a drive on the way back. Nathan & Raquel drove up with there kids including my newest Grandchild Lucia Grace Peirano who at only 18 days old was off to her 1st race meeting. Friday nights ‘Test-n-Tune’ saw Zachary have around 5-6 runs in the GTR all of which were no quicker than the Penguin’s initial effort at Palmyra Dragway. So as far as GTR racing in Street,Poppy Pete is still the fastest. Now Zac, Nathan and Craig have all had a crack and next up it will be Crofty’s turn. To be continued at a drag strip close by.

Saturday we were all prepared and had the good fortune to have Ricky and Christine Steffens and Steve one of their talented crewmen off the big show crocodile nitro car helping us as our Steve Randall was stuck in Emerald concrete pumping. Whilst we are still learning, we were able to, which Heather and I are both proud of, do 5 runs in a day with 2 hour turn arounds. Whilst it may look easy from the grandstand it is a lot harder in real life if you are dealing with a hot engine, hot oil, hot clutch etc., in fact everything is hot. Whilst this is still an Outlaw Nostalgia style funny car with the 6/71 blower, small amp mag and 21 gallon pump and is nowhere near the big show cars, it is still a lot of work. Heather and I thank everyone on the team.

For the first time we had the use of the Digital Nitro Checker which Paul Shackleton so kindly brought in for us from the USA. It revealed that whilst we have been manually doing it and thinking that we are running at 85% nitro, we really have only been running at 81.3% so we were 3.7% off where we thought we were. It is just too much to ‘up the ante’ straight away so we ended up putting another 2% in it and when we aim up in Sydney we will certainly look to add more to the tank. It’s surprising what the expensive technology can do for you. The only downside was that Jeff and Ralph kept topping up the mixing jug and had a bit too much in it when Jeff accidentally miss-hit the aerator and blew nitro all over his face. He was in a bit of bother and we covered him in water and he went and had a shower as well as a fresh change of clothes as they were a bit hot with the nitro down the bottom end.

We started off with a test pass to try and get back in the groove as it had been awhile since we had run the car. We were contracted to do 3 runs but we ended up doing 5, which was our choice as we had all the crew there as well as Ricky, Christine and Steve there to tutor us. Belzy was working on the oil with Craig, Zac and Nathan all working tirelessly. It was hot and with a cloud of nitro under the tent we established one thing. We need one of those big fans. So upon our return I contacted the Loy Brothers in Warwick and we will definitely have one for Sydney.

We were a little rusty to say the least, on the test pass we left the throttle stop, the car still went 5.31 at 119mph, and also there was a leak in the fuel system which meant Nathan had some trouble getting it shut off.

We then moved onto racing against 2 of Graeme Cowins stable of Outlaw Nitro Funny Cars. In the 1st round we took on Shane Olive in Fast Company and unfortunately after a 0.083 reaction to Shane’s 0.208 the car shook the tyres at about 150 feet and Nathan backed off as Shane was then long gone, in the second round we were up against Daniel Schultz in the Schultz Family Dodge Funny Car which was our first win on a solo when they had a fuel problem after the burnout. Despite the solo and a couple of pedals as the car drifted to the wall we still ran a 4.45 at 157mph. In the 3rd Round we were up against Let’s Boogie with Rick Gauci driving and with the weather cooling nicely and the dew not set in yet expectations of a good run were high. Well the big build up and the throttle stop was again left on the car causing a frustrating end to racing as Let’s Boogie ran a 4.01 at 187mph that would have been hard to beat.

Once we completed our contracted runs we then took the opportunity, even though it was 8pm and the dew was coming in like a freight train, to put youngest son Zachary in for his first licensing run. He did the burn-out, backed up, staged and with the typical nitro explosion punched it out to about 150 feet and got off the gas.

It was one of those special moments down at the bottom end when I roared down on the Penguin Scooter and gave him a bit of a hug, had a bit of a cry as usual. I was so proud of what both our boys have done and so proud of the whole team. You get that one first nitro blast and when he jumped out and Iasked him what was it like he was so excited and said it was unbelievable. You just couldn’t compare it with the outlaw car.

I was recently talking to Peter Leahy who was down in Sydney and did 2 runs in ‘Let’s Boogie’ to get his license and we know that Peter has had a stack of runs both here and in the USA but he said you just can’t beat that cackle and pop, the clutch dust and the sheer excitement of racing a nitro car.

By the time we packed up it was about 11.30pm so we had a couple of refreshments and then we all crashed out for the night. We all rose at 6am and headed back to Ilbilbie to have the traditional Ilbilbie breakfast and proceeded to eat them out of house and home then headed back to Rockhampton where Zac had his first ever go reversing into our driveway in the Penguin Palace and Trailer and Greg Belz did an excellent job of backing in the Penguin’s Igloo 5th Wheeler. We all unpacked and then got stuck into pulling the Nitro car apart which for those of you who are not aware, you have to remove the super charger, both heads, the sump then take out all the rods and pistons, the clutch, two speed Lenco, tail shaft out and you end up with everything apart and you go through the ritual of checking and re-checking and re-checking and then putting it back together with a fresh set of bearings. The clutch plates generally go in the bin because they are worn out. We have an old fly-wheel grinder for which we sourced a special stone from the USA and grind the donut and the pressure plate. It is an incredible amount of work for 6 seconds of fun but it is what we do because we love it.

In closing, as you can see by some of the photos that we put up, it is not just about the drags, it is about the family and friends. The camaraderie we share is truly special. Most of the grandkids were up there and they always have a great time and manage to get in some sort of trouble but they get to go for poppy rides on the scooter. It is a time that we can all be together with our family, friends and colleagues.

Our next event will be the Outlaw Nitro Funny Car Extravaganza at Sydney Dragway on the 23rd November currently being organised by Graeme Cowin and Cowin Family Racing in conjunction with the APSA Grand Finals where there are all sorts of Pro Street cars. There will be wheelstander’s and a 7.0 Pro Eliminator for blown altereds. Have a look at the ad that I have tacked on to the end of this Pro Mail. There will be 10-13 Outlaw Nitro Cars and it will be a special part of history in Australia.