in the world of drag racing
The latest update as of November 11, 1998
So much news . . . and so little time to report it. If you've been following the continuing saga of BURNed-OUT BOB, (and keeping score at home) tonight will be the 58th consecutive graveyard shift for me. The only thing keeping me going at this pace is the "finish line" that's looming ever closer. The finish line in this instance is completing the new race car. Regular visitors to this site, have seen (and seen and seen) how much time, effort and especially MONEY has been spent in pursuit of this goal. The good news is that Christmas is rapidly approaching and Xmas Day is a non-working holiday on the waterfront. Gee, only 44 more shifts until I get a day off . . .
In the meantime, we've managed to put together a few new bits on the website, starting with the home page, with the new BACKFIRE !! page button up. (And a slight rearrangement of the order of the buttons). Secondly, the new North American Drag Babes photo gallery is in place. Unfortunately, it's a little thin on content so far, but stay tuned for regular additions. Lots of them, I promise.
Now for the best news: There was a BIG announcement earlier today from Australia concerning a new Top Alcohol Championship series to be run in 1999. Sponsored by Lucar Cargo Vans (a large trailer manufacturer) of Melbourne, the five race series will be conducted at Willowbank Raceway. Through the hard work of Track Manager Dennis Syrmis and Marketing Manager Rob Oberg, the sponsorship agreement was signed yesterday. Great news for the Top Alcohol racers and the spectators and more encouragement for me to get the car finished and heading downunder.
With the sanctioning body, ANDRA, only having a five race series for the Australian Championship this coming season, the additional events are most welcome indeed. Two of the races will overlap with the ANDRA series, so the total event count for the alky racers is now up to eight for 1999. Full details of the media release about the series can be viewed in our Press Clippings index.
From my perspective, the only downside is the four car fields to be run at the three non-ANDRA championship events. Even with the $1000 payout to the fifth and sixth (non) qualifiers, the competition just to qualify will be very tough. With most of the best alcohol cars in the country based around Brisbane, the fields will be very rugged indeed. Gary Phillips, Steve Reed, Steve Harker, Mark Brew, Paul Shackleton, David Glenwright, Wayne Newby and Stan Tindal are expected to contest the entire series and every one of them is a proven five second car. The qualifying sessions should be worth the price of admission alone with all these quality cars running. (What the heck have I got myself into here, trying to match wheels with this bunch??).
More good news from Australia: On Monday of this week, a major announcement was made about the proposed new dedicated drag racing facility at Blacktown, New South Wales. The new track would be built adjacent to Eastern Creek Raceway, the former "super track" of Australia, that has seemingly fallen into a black hole since its acquisition by the Australian Racing Drivers Club (a bunch of circuit and roundy-round "wankers"). With the backing of RPS Promotions, whose officers include 17-time Australian Top Fuel Champion, Jim Read and David Cook of DRAGSTER Australia magazine, the Blacktown City Council and Chamber of Commerce have warmly received the proposal.
At this time the next steps in the long process to building the new track are not known, but details should be coming out regularly in the coming months. The questions of finance and ownership are also not yet known, but the racing community of nearby Sydney should be able to somehow find the money. More news as it becomes available on this story. To see what's transpired so far, see the story in the Press Clippings index.
Finally, the 1998-99 ANDRA Championship Drag Racing truly kicked into gear with a very successful Springnationals at Adelaide International Raceway last weekend. The two-day event was a near sell-out with over 13,000 fans packing the mounds (no grandstands) on Saturday night for eliminations, with the show finally concluding after midnight. The many highlights included the sensational return to racing after a near one-year layoff by Rachelle Splatt. New mother Rachelle won Top Fuel eliminator in a wild final round battle with her old "mentor" Romeo Capitanio. She lifted before half-track when the flames went green, but got back on it when Romeo lost the blower belt shortly after. A determined effort saw her pass him before the finish line, with the engine engulfed in flames in the braking area.
Earlier in the evening, Romeo ran his first two four-second runs, the first of which defeated a fire-balling Robin Kirby in the first round. The second four in the semi-final was just enough to get around a returning to Top Fuel, "Pommie" Steve Read in Santo Rapisarda's car. With last year's championship-winning driver, Glenn Mikres, busy driving funny cars in the US, Read was put back in the seat he formerly held in 1995 and 96. Not sure if this was a one-shot deal, as Santo has been known to play musical drivers. For the full results, visit our Results page.
The only downer of the event was the rather thin field in Top Fuel. Only five cars contested the event, with the two Sainty-powered cars of Terry Sainty and Roy Smith staying away. Also missing was the new (and presumably still unlicensed) car of Andrew Cowan - no relation to Graeme Cowin. Sadly, Graeme and Andrew Cowin are not part of the scene this season, as they've moved their racing operation to Los Angeles in preparation for the 1999 NHRA season. Jim Read was also absent, and with the latest news of him being the sale of his trailer, an early return to competition for the many time champ is not expected. The next round of the championship, scheduled for the Victorian Championships at Calder Park in December may see the debut of Gary McGrath's and Andrew Cowan's new cars, to help boost the field. Let's hope so!
Last bit for the night: This weekend sees the conclusion to the 22-race NHRA national event season. Pomona Raceway in Los Angeles, California is the site of the season-ending WINSTON Finals. Tune in to TNN on Saturday for the BIG BUD Shootout for Top Fuel Cars - televised from 4:00 - 5:00 pm. P.S.T. Then catch the First Round of Top Fuel eliminations LIVE on Sunday from 11:00 am - 1:00 pm. P.S.T. and come back for the "LIVE" Final Rounds of the "Pro" categories from 5:00 - 6:00 pm. P.S.T. With the season championships all but decided in Top Fuel and Funny Car, the drama of previous Finals' may be missing, but the show should be entertaining nonetheless. Remember, it's your last chance to see drag racing on TV until next season. Don't say you weren't warned!
More news as it happens, when it happens, if it happens. Stay tuned.