Lake Gairdner Speed Trials - 2000
A Week Away Dry Lakes Racing At Lake Gairdner
How quickly a year passes, the team of Rea Weir Mumford had no plans to make to many alterations to our car from last year. But at christmas I had the brain wave to build a 'nose' for the car. So along with this and a few other things Chris,Wayne, Russell, Les and I spent the 2 months since the start of the new year getting the # 24 race car ready. We even had some T-shirts done to commemorate our record breaking effort of last year!
Before we new it the time was finally here to leave, on Saturday the 4th of March we set out from Wayne's (Mumford) home at 4 am. This year there would be 7 of us making the long haul to the lake, 2 of the guys (Les and Wayne J) hadn't been before. The day was a good one for travelling, although we mucked around a bit (can never find a Mobil servo when you need one, hey Les??), but it was all fun and broke the trip up for us! As usual we had our now traditional stop in the Barossa Valley town of Nuriootpa to visit our good friends Heather and Steve Baum. After a half hour or so we said our goodbyes and were once again on the road headed for Port Augusta and the Hi-Way One motel, where we have stayed every year we have made the trip to the lake. Got to have that last night of comfort before heading into the real out back the next day.
The following morning we were up early and off to the supermarket. From here it was to Iron Knob to top up the fuel tanks and wrap the car in silage wrap for the ride on the dirt. Whilst wrapping the race car, about a half dozen of the local school kids watched in amazement at this, we got the idea to give them a marking pen and go crazy scribbling over the now well wrapped race car. So for around 15 minutes they went for it, they won't forget that walk to school for a long time!
At last we headed out of Iron Knob and onto the dirt, arriving at the lake 2 1/2 hours later. We pulled into the lake camp site first and unloaded most of the stuff we would require to live for the week. Then it was down onto the salt, which was in almost ideal condition. A lot of teams had arrived already and set up their respective pit areas. This looked like it would be our biggest event ever. After setting up our pit area and unloading the race car we spent the rest of the day until dusk helping with preparation of the course that had been going on for the last couple of days.
Monday was a slow day and was very hot but with very little wind. Unfortunately the batteries for the timers had to be replaced and this meant a trip to Wyhalla for Mike. A drivers meeting was held mid afternoon to allow Wayne O'Grady to explain the course layout to all the drivers, finally the course was open at around 5 pm. This year the course had been dragged for 9 miles with the time 3 mile timed area in the middle to allow a run both ways. This would be required for the Dennis Manning 'BUB' streamliner bike. During the day we had our car scrutinised and only had a couple of little things to do. Runs were made by as many cars as caught be fit in before dark.
Again Tuesday presented a lot of problems with the timing equipment and the course was open around mid afternoon. The course was broken up into 3 parts, a 2 mile, a 3 mile and a long course. A lot of runs were made today with Ray Charlton earning the honor (?) of being the first driver to spin his race car at Lake Gairdner in this a new century. Some big speeds were made on the long course, Chuck Salmen ran 250 mph, but in doing so the engine leaned out and this was to be his only pass of the week in the beautiful 'Sum Fun '34 roadster, John Lynch ran around 270 mph his quickest time ever in the big red, blue and shiny aluminum belly tank. Leigh Fielder made his only pass of the week at 238 mph in his Bonneville record holding Pontiac and Rod Hadfield also made his only pass of the week at 208 mph in the Studebaker that he has only recently sold! We also made a couple of passes in the # 24 car, I ran a dismal 105 mph and Wayne ran 131 mph.
Tuesday was to see the first run of the day done by the Dennis Manning "BUB" streamline bike, with the engine obviously breaking done this amazing sleek machine still peeled off a 250 mph pass. Again we were plagued with timing equipment problems, but to their credit all the teams and drivers were very patient and happy when they could get a pass. Around 6 pm the Annual General meeting was held out on the salt followed by the much waited for "Club Animal" auction. The Dennis Manning machine ran again just on sunset and the auction was halted so every-one could watch and hope for a big speed, but unfortunately it only ran in the high 220's, but as this amazing bike was towed past the big auction crowd a big cheer was given to this big group of Americans here to hopefully put this machine in the record books. It was a nice gesture by Dennis Manning that he wandered over to the auction and thanked all of us for the rousing reception. The auction was a big success as usual, thanks in no small way to the inimitable Steve "Animal" Charlton. One of the auction items was seen to be suitable to be presented to 'Stampy' ( who recently had suffered a stroke), as well as the hat being handed round for him. It was great that 'Stampy's' daughter was present and she later thanked us all for the kind gesture. At the auction I managed to snap up a few goodies. On arriving back at camp I had one of Wayne's wonderful roast dinners and settled back for the rest of the evening with a number of beers with the John Lynch team as well as the boys from Mirboo North running the world class '52 Triumph and of course downed a few with the Moe boys ( hey I'm from Moe, what can I say!), who had ran a best of 168 mph on their first pass of the week.
Thursday arrived quickly, we had to leave today at some where around 11 am. After a quick sought out of our gear at the camp we headed down onto the salt to pack up the gear there and load the race car. A lot of the teams had already left and only a handful would remain to race today. After packing up everything and loading the race car, we had the chance finally catch up and talked to a few people who we hadn't been able to see over the course of the week. The guys from the Chuck Salmen team came over to check out our car and were quite impressed, which we took as a great compliment coming from guys who wrench on one the world's most finely built dry lakes race cars. We also got to sign the pinstriped '32 dash that would be given to 'Stampy' by the D.L.R.A. as well as signing the banner bought by John lynch at the auction!
Well the time had come to leave the salt for the last time this year, up to the camp to do the final pack up of our gear. Steve Green (a visiting Canadian, who had assisted with scrutineering) would be riding with me back to Adelaide. We had an uneventful trip on the salt and then on the black top to Adelaide, to drop Steve at Mike Davidson's. This gave us the opportunity to see Mikes new house and more importantly his very impressive workshop. It is always good to see Mike's race car and having not seen it in a couple of years it was looking as good as ever. Anyhow all good things must come to an end, after goodbyes were said we were off once more headed for home. We got the opportunity to travel on the newly opened section and tunnel going up Mount Lofty. At Murray Bridge we decided to drive all night. Some 22 hours after leaving the lake I turned the coupe followed by the little tear drop trailer into our drive way. Once again my hot rod (my friend really) had taken me to Lake Gairdner and back with little or no trouble!
So in summing up, the week for our team. As usual we had a great time at the event as well as travelling to and from the event. The race car definitely takes on a sleeker race car look, with the new nose, fairing and wheel discs. Unfortunately a few things saw us not reaching our top speed of 143 mph set last year, but we weren't far away at 138 mph. So with a bit of work during the year we will be hopeful of eventually getting the race car to run faster. It was also good to take along a couple of guys who hadn't been to the lake before, I think they may become regulars. So all I can say is roll on next year.