It was with a heavy heart that I pulled out of our camp on Saturday with a badly damaged race car, knowing that I had probably made my last pass down that stretch of graded salt that I love, yet hate!, but on the other hand I was glad to be able to say thanks to the fire crew, the emergency response guys, the many people there to help and all those who showed so much concern. A big thanks also to those who got their extinguishers to the fire thus saving a total loss of the car.
There was no sign of any trouble on the run, we pushed the car to around 50 mph, running up to around 125 in first, knowing how wet the track was I went straight to 2nd gear trying to avoid wheel spin and shifted into 3rd just on 200 mph and hitting the first timers at 225mph, I made a quick check on the fuel pressure and pressed the NOS button which immediately cut the motor completely, so released it and pressed it again, the same thing happened, so as to not waste the run altogether just wound it to the 6 mile and a 240mph run, I was getting off the power slowly and knowing there was wet salt ahead I pulled the chute, but nothing happened, so started down shifting to around 100 before touching the brake, it was then things started to go wrong. I noticed smoke coming between the bonnet and the front screen, then smelt oil, I then killed the ignition, turning to get well off the track and jamming on the brakes before hitting the extinguishers, which was when things really got serious. I was instantly blinded and gasping for air. I hit the electric window switches before realising they donít work without the ignition being on. It was then I thought I had better do things in order, I got the wheel off, got my belt off, reaching forward along the net I found the door handle and got that open, then I started on the net having real trouble getting the strength to get the pin out, I finally got it out and started to get out, but remembered my head not following my body because the fan lead was still connected to my helmet, but the net was the main trouble, it was not down and that is all I remember until someone was saying something about ďmove your legsĒ, then realising the emergency guy was wetting me down and Norm Hardinge was there along with my brother Mark and Debra Dawson all having worried looks on their faces. Thanks guys.
It was a close call and things would have been really serious if the fire crew wasnít there. What it appears has happened, sometime after leaving the line the pressure line from the dry sump pump had split, spraying oil onto the left hand header, setting fire to it, burning through the main battery power lead which then dropped onto the steel extinguisher line, completely cutting it in half and when I hit the extinguishers nothing came out of the nozzle on the left side, the fire had burnt through one of the two fuel lines from the tank setting fire to the tank which blew up instantly heating the NOS bottle so quick the relief valve hadnít gone off and it consequently exploded completely destroying the front of the car, buckling the chassis, wishbone, firewall and body, all fuel pumps, regulator, front tyres, wiring etc. Nothing is impossible to fix but I canít justify the cost involved, every bit of $150.0.00 would be needed. The motor appears to be o.k. and the computer appears to have done its job as it was programmed not to allow the NOS to come in under any one of four conditions: low fuel pressure, low oil pressure (which is what we must have been getting), excessive temperature or excessive RPM.
There are many lessons to be learned from this ride: All drivers must be timed to see how long it takes them to get out of their vehicle fully suited, electric windows must be wired to be live when the ignition is off, extinguishers charged with contents that donít overcome the driver (which is now available but wasnít when we built our car), engine bays must be completely separate from the interior, it is no good having extinguishers going off where there is no fire and possibly the biggest lesson of all is that the fire crew couldnít get to the fire because of the completely sealed front. All these problems could be easily overcome and I have written to the new Chief Steward with these and other suggestions.
This yearís event was by far our biggest entry list and losing two days with the water blowing in really put us in an almost impossible position. Many people didnít even get a run, anyone who paid and didnít get a run please let us know and we can make sure it carries over for next yearís event. I ask people who were affected not to get too upset as it is all a learning curve and streamlining will be introduced as we learn. Remember we are all volunteering our time.
On a happier note the Ranger was happy as were Len and Joy Newton, our auction was a very successful event and the U.S. team went away with praise for our efforts even though the water ruined any chance they had to get the record they wanted, under normal conditions 90% of the previous meetings would have seen them get it. I feel really bad as I talked them into coming at the last Bonneville meet. I talked to Mike Akatiff at length on the Friday night when they decided to pull the pin on it and he was very disappointed but said he had learned valuable lessons in many areas. When they pulled out they left the club some oil, 5 popup shade covers, a ground sheet and 6 drums of fuel which I bought home and have given to Bob Fisher Superchargers to sell for us, they also left us the money given to us for expenses which they well covered and I will write to them with a thank you from the club. I will also be sending thanks to the Fire crew and Firejack Pty. Ltd. who Peter Noy works for, as they fuelled our extinguishers at no expense.
There were many people who worked hard to make this event happen, but from my observations the ones that need special thanking were: Gary Brennan, who worked tirelessly from an early arrival to a late leave along with conducting a raffle that raised around $300.00 after expenses. Mark Hadfield and Debra Dawson who didnít see any of the event as they manned the Merchandising tent from the start to the finish. Animal and his team right through to the cleanup worked to make it happen. Trevor Beck and Kevin Saville were always ready when something had to be done, Garry Baker in his role as bike scrutineer was flat out but undoubtedly Bob Ellis needs a special thank you, Bob stepped in to work as car scrutineer helping Len Souter who was under a lot of pressure when our replacement scrutineer we had organised couldnít make it. Bob was still helping out on Thursday when he has supposed to be running, a big thanks Bob. Andy the Camp Commander was also flat out keeping the toilets, showers and the camp sites organised, thanks Andy. Tom Carroll and Stan did whatever had to be done to help Rob and all the Stanís again at the cleanup showed their expertise.
John and Paul Broughan gave much needed help when required but as I said, many made it happen, so thanks to everyone.
What about the American lady who said to Mark that she was running a little short of cash and asked was there an ATM in the area!!!!
The total number of entries this year was 112 and the total number of runs made was 268, which is not too bad considering the circumstances.
If you have any ideas that could help in any area or if you can help with the running of the meeting please send a letter to DLRA, P.O. Box 349, Castlemaine. Vic 3450 or an email to:email@example.com.
Well another meeting has been completed. I believe it was a successful meeting even if we did have few problems like a very wet course, some people not following start line procedures, a couple of motorcycle accidents and a fire . Itís enough to give the chief steward grey hair. I guess Iím lucky mine is already grey. At least we ran some new records. I am currently reviewing the incidents and the rule book to try and stop anything happening in the future. Gary Baker (the motor cycle steward ) has sent me his review of the motor cycle rules and I intend to go with what he has recommended. There will also be some changes to the car rules to do with positioning of fuel tanks & nitrous bottles, welded steering components & possibly fire systems. New race cars and motorcycles that are either under construction or on the drawing board will need to fit into an existing class as I donít want to create any more classes or modify any classes to suit peoples ideas. If anybody has any enquiries or wants to have a talk about any issues please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Or call me on 0419134683 In finishing I would like to thank all the people that volunteered their time and effort to run the event . without these people there wouldnít be an event.
Now to the race car.
Iím pretty happy with the speed that we achieved with the old coupe ( another 1 mile an hour would have been nice ) but it just means we will have to bring it back for another try next year. I believe the old Cleveland has got 200mph in it with some better traction. Wheelspin and going sideways at 160+mph was some fun. I intend to get the engine on the dyno during the year and try some bigger carbies to see if we can find a few more horsepower to help us along the way.
Best regards Brian Nicholson member 131
Lake Gairdner Scenic Tour.
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