Race Reports

Time Traveler - Licensing at Willowbank and Upcoming Palmyra Nitro Meeting


For those of you that enjoyed our first Nitro Nostalgia Funny Car “Time Traveler” promo this will be the second and I hope it will be equally as enjoying. After what we thought was a pretty successful start at Benaraby Raceway, we were determined to continue the licensing at Benaraby the following month. However, circumstances change and Ricky & Christine wanted to do some testing with there dragster so we decided to bring ‘the mountain to mohammed’ being us coming to Ricky our Nitro Master and teacher. We took Migaloo, which is the nickname for the new 5th wheeler designed to make life on the road with the grandkids more comfortable and at the moment the 35 foot 5th wheeler is being spruced up by James ‘the master painter’ and also Darren Croft is doing a lot of work on the 12 volt electrical system. The Iveco twin-cab is no GMC going down the highway but we have decided to sell the GMC and keep the package as we bought it.

On to Willowbank. Lachlan ‘the bracketeer’ Tree, Heather and I headed off after Nathan, Raquel, Greg Belz and Jeff Carr in the truck. If you know Lachlan, you would know how he passionately hates caravans so for him to drive the 5th wheeler for the first time was only because he hates my driving even more than caravans on the road. Like all groups that travel and bond together at the drags, you have to have a lot of light hearted fun when on the road and knowing Lachlan’s all consuming hate of caravans, Jeff Carr tried to enrol him in the Big 4 Caravan Program but it all stalled with the email request for $50 to join. That’s just one of our cases of frivolity that occur when we travel that adds to our life on the road. With the amount of roadworks between Brisbane and Rockhampton it ends up adding around 1 to 2 hours extra to the trip but at least the roads are finally being repaired.

The PenguinPalace headed off at 5am and the Migaloo by 6am and that’s all they would have beat us by. Nathan was making sure they were doing pit stops like Bathurst meaning they were pulling up at the servo, going to the toilet, buying something and getting on the road again. He did not want under any circumstances, us to pass him. We’ll get him eventually though. So the baby Iveco with the power chip from Greg at ARB will certainly keep up with the big boy Iveco motor home and trailer. We will certainly find out when we go to Palmyra for the 18th May meeting which is being billed as a Nitro Nostalgia event with 4 cars, 2 from Graeme Cowins stable of 7 from Sydney, local Paul Shackleton’s Shack Attack and of course our Time Traveler. We will be heading up there on Friday the 17/05. Ricky and Christine will fly in and we will bring them back to Rockhampton to service the car and then they will fly back to Brisbane on the Sunday night. We could not have done this without Ricky and we now call him Captain Ricky. I also couldn’t do this without all the wives and families and this is a classic example of there is no ‘I’ in team. Every Wednesday night and every Sunday afternoon at a bare minimum we all gather. It is a big commitment for such a small time on the strip.

Once we arrived at Willowbank on Friday, we set up and prepared as we had a lot to do for a one day meet. Unfortunately with the shorter one day meets we were just in testing mode and had to wait our turn. The total effort to do three runs required a bit of waiting in the staging lane but that has to be. I thank the Willowbank staff because without them you certainly would not have a drag meeting. We prepped the car and went out for the first run. Nathan did the burn out perfectly nice and straight. Whilebacking up and you will see by the cockpit internal video he has his thumb waving around a bit and it has tripped the air parachutes and he has backed over the chutes necessitating turning the vehicle off and pushing it forward to get the chute out and then pushing him back and believe it or not, that burnout and that back-up (which was only halfway) used a whole churn of nitro. Close on 4 gallons. They are certainly thirsty little beasts. We repacked the chutes and added another churn and again waited our turn and we did everything we wanted to do, an 8th mile shut-off pass to get some data on the racepak computer. The data is important when you are learning. It probably is important all the time but by god when you are learning it saves you blowing them up as they are very expensive. The experienced tuners can look at the spark plug and like Graeme Cowin who has 30+ years knowledge they can just look at them and know what to do. But when you are a learner at least that data saves you from very expensive mistakes. We haven’t got some of the fuel injection pills that we required to be specially made in the States and as usual they turned up on the Monday after the meeting unfortunately but they are now here for Mackay.

We analysed the data and went out for the second run, our first attempt at a full track pass and unfortunately number 5 cylinder rocker came loose. We put out the fire and believe it or not with 1 cylinder down the other cylinders pushed the car around and it was going toward the wall. At about 900 foot Nathan lifted and went through for a 6.76 at only 169mph. At the 8th mile the car went 4.29 @ 171mph which is only 10mph slower than he has been in the Hot Rod over the quarter mile. The power Nitro, we readied the car and went out for the 3rd run and there is video clips of most of the runs on the website as well as the links attached to this email. Raquel and Nathan do them up after the meetings. It is really good tuning and racing advice that we can look at and see what’s gone wrong to help analyse on the racepak computer.

By the time we got out for the third run it was after 7pm, there wasn’t a lot of high powered cars there and the track was cold and the traction had dropped off. They dragged the tractor and sprayed some traction compound down and Nathan drove it very hard, it veered over to the middle and he reefed it back and got his hand ready for the manual parachute as he wasn’t confident that the air parachutes would work after earlier failures. They worked in the first run when we didn’t want them to but not in the second when we did. It’s all happening very fast with a lot of vibration and not the best vision and he accidentally triggered the chutes a bit early and that dropped the ET & speed on the run to a 6.96 at only 155mph but it was still a good run. After the run Nathan said he didn’t intend to pull the chutes so early he just put his hand on the lever in readiness and pushed it instead of waiting.

At the end of the day, the ANDRA officials that are there for the safety of everyone signed him off for paired 8th mile runs. We will finish off the quarter mile licensing next time we go to Willowbank or to Sydney. The problem with the parachutes will be fixed, when you are travelling at speed, this car will eventually run at 230mph plus, it happens fast. You run out of braking area fast and you have to get the chutes out. If your air chutes don’t work and you have another go at it you are halfway into the braking area and then by the time you trigger the manual shoots you are running out of braking area.

We had a number of people visit us at Willowbank mainly because we had the car there. Bernie and Amanda Bond who have been in Brisbane for over 6 months with Amanda’s medical problems spent the day with us and David Tansley brought out his two boys as well as Phil Johnson a long time friend and chef at thenewest restaurant in Brisbane at 1/11 Eagle Street even came for a visit.

P.S. We are sad to say that dreaded word ‘rain’ last Wednesday 15/05 affected the Palmyra Club whilst they were having the braking area resurfaced causing the postponement of the Palmyra Outlaw Nitro Nostalgia event. This will most likely be rescheduled to the 14th September, 2013. There is nothing more frustrating than having the truck, trailer and Penguin’s Igloo all loaded and ready to go and then having to unpack and unload instead of racing. The big news is there is going to be a monster event in Sydney at Sydney Dragway on 23rd November. At this stage it will be 10 cars participating with drivers from the USA and the possibility of a New Zealander driver driving a car from Graeme Cowans stable of Nitro Nostalgia Funny Cars backed by the Aeroflow arm of Rocket International. Negotiations are currently being held with TV production crews to have the event televised nationally with it’s own 1 hour show. The Time Traveler will definitely be there.

Until we see you there…