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Lake Gairdner Speed Trials - 1998
by Rod Hadfield
The first members arrived on Saturday, unlocked and connected up the essentials at the newly acquired campsite on the Lakes edge, bought by DLRA members from Rosco McGlashan. Some Castlemaine members left Saturday morning taking in the drag meeting in Adelaide that night, then continuing on to Lake Gairdner on Sunday morning. The course location was chosen and a specially made pull was dragged the full three miles of the course to maker it 100% flat under perfect skies.
Monday saw scrutinering underway, the track markers placed along each side and the timing caravan and equipment positioned and checked with a few passes being put, down by early arrivers. By Monday night most crews had arrived end unloaded.
Tuesday dawned very hot and the scrutinering continued, the press and spectators had arrived and licensing passes were put down by new drivers. All was ready Car a great days racing on Wednesday, even though some crews had experienced troubles, Mark Hadfield breaking a gearbox in his Mustang, John lynch breaking suspension components and a Hemi powered T model breaking it's auto (something you don't run at the salt).
Wednesday arrived and all could tail that records would tumble, the air was cool no wind and light cloud cover. Ray Charlton in his `32 Roadster upped his best speed his son, Stephen in his XB sedan also put in his best pass ever, then the staggering pass by Mike Davidson in his side Valve T model running 168 mph, this caused great excitement at the start line as the speed was announced over the radio. Rod Hadfield who had put dawn a couple of good passes the day before put everything into his first run and pushed the '53 Studebaker into the 200mph club with what turned out to be the fastest speed of the meeting before blowing the head gasket on the CRS Rodent motor as he crossed the finish line. Mike Davidson then decided to run again and pushed the nitrous button as he approached the timers and the side valve ran 176 mph, don't ever say side valves can't go with the right attention. John Lynch's bad luck continued as he screwed the tailshaft out of his bellytank when the parachute accidentally deployed during a test run. Also experiencing more bad luck was "lucky" Keiser with his streamliner bike powered by two cylinders cut from a Rolls Royce Merlin. Mark Hadfield returned from Adelaide with another gearbox as brother Rod pulled the Rodent engine apart to find he had the wrong head gaskets forcing him to pack and head for home.
Thursday saw more bad luck for Lynch mob with a split water tank after having replaced the tailshaft. The wind began to blow early allowing only a few cars to make passes, the stewards then closed the track and most crews decided to pack although the wind died down later in the day.
There were many passes put down over the meeting and it was great to see the Sydney crew in the Bob Bowman built car, Kevin Saville couldn't get the new combination to perform like the old one, but much was learned this year, many people contributed to the events success, especially Andy Jenkins, Leigh Fielder, Wayne O'Grady to mention just a few.
Dick Williams from the USA is in Australia at the present time arranging for another US tour next year and says he has 10 cars lined up including World Record Holder Al Teague, The Summers Brothers famous Golden Rod and the beautiful '34 Roadster of Chuck Salmon's. Three New Zealanders have also put their names down including Richard Hollywood with his very fast XP Falcon and drag racer Garth Hogan, so do yourself a favour and keep March free for the 1999 Lake Gairdner Speed Trails, you will never experience anything like it.
Compiled by Peter Noy
Records shown are either Open or a Record prior to this meeting.
Thanks to Geoff G.Rea and Wayne O'Grady