One of the car clubs I'm in the Gold Coast Muscle Car Assn. organised a trip for us to the dragstrip two hours away.
As I've just finished and club registered my old '66 Chrysler Valiant 225 slant 6 , I thought it only fitting to give it a run down the 1320ft to see how it goes, As the car has been off the road since 07 and Ive just gone right over the brakes updating to a dual circuit power front disc setup, cut out and plated all the rust and resprayed in velved red acrylic laquer, Also as part of my race prep. I changed the oil and filter and fuel filter, replaced the perished rubber fuel lines and fitted a new fuel filter, oh and pumped the tyres up
Got my lady friend whos a Chrysler nut and has helped out a bit on the build to drive it out there...why you say?
So I could ride my Victory Vegas out of course and run her down the quarter mile, the 1320, the Asphalt Dyno!...
My race prep involved digging out a full face helmet for the race regs.
and filling up with Premium Unleaded, and checking the tyres.
We all met at a fuel stop half hour north of my place, and left together at 1230pm, had an uneventful but enjoyable cruise out to the track, the gates were still chained when we arrived and half hour later the track organisers turned up, took our tickets and let us all in , we parked , dumped excess weight, filled out the paperwork , got allotted race numbers and hit the staging lanes, our booked track time due to start at 2pm.
waiting waiting waiting, not used to these bloody full face helmets, whats going on out there?...took it back off, talking to the club pres were told theres problems with the xmas tree (start lights) but they're working on them...waiting waiting....3pm and no joy
There's just under 30 club cars itching to get out there and burn some rubber, theres a 9 second Rambler Hornet, a 10 second Torana, a smattering of 11 second and 12 second cars, then lots of 13 and 14 second Aussie and American Muscle cars, GTO's, Chevelles, Mustangs, Chevys (a nice black' 60 409), all the usual Aussie stuff a Phase 2 GTHO, a couple of Chev powered Monaros '68 to '70 vintage, Toranas etc....all waiting waiting waiting......
No one else brought a bike, well after all it's a muscle car club, but Im a long term member and got the nod at short notice that it'd be cool to run the Vic. there was a few more interested parties wondering what sort of times my Vegas 100/6 would lay down and how quick through the traps at the finish?
waiting waiting waiting....the adrenalin I had when lining up right at the front of the staging lanes alongside the car Ive been restoring for the last 2 months is starting to turn jaded...I'm dressed in full black leathers and fortunatly its winter here and only around 18 degrees C , so its bearable..just.....but this waiting...
they let the public in at 4pm to start racing at 430pm and the clocks ticking...
Rats have eaten through the fibre optic cables from the xmas tree to the control tower!!! NO XMAS TREE and NO TIMING
But as the ambos are here and all the track staff they will let us run if we like started by flags and we can have another session credited to the club later in the year, not really what we wanted to hear but at least we get a few runs.
Also word is theres a real bad head on smash a few miles back up the road and the main highways blocked in both directions so we arent going anywhere anyway (probably a txter the voice in my head says)
Helmet back on and by now my Vics cooled right off so start her up and get up to operating temp, when I cant hold my hand on the lhs of the rear barrel shes ready to rock and roll!
ok up to temp and no movement, so I switch off couple of minutes later a bloke walks over, an official with a green Willowbank Raceway shirt on, hes about to call us out... I signal to him can he bring me and the Valiant out together and he complies with my request.
M y lady friends 10 yr old boy is wielding the camera to film us for posterity and the actions about to start,
I bypass the water box not wanting nor needing to do a burnout, Im getting low on the rear Night Dragon and no sense in unduly stressing my belt drive either I think.
My lady is under instructions to drive around the water too and to not go all out on the first pass as its a 48 yr old car that hasnt driven since '07 and probably never down a drag strip.
We pull up to the start line, my boots go down and instantly stick to the surface of VHT and molten rubber...Willowbank has a full 1/4 mile of very well prepared concrete track with another 1/4 mile of braking area before the return road, its a very good track and is just over 1000ft above sea level.
The flags are up...I rev the Vic to 3000rpm and the flag drops, I ease the clutch home fast and she bogs a little then jumps as I open the throttle, bang her up into second, cant see the Valiant which is no surprise and I spearing up the track watching my tach, I know torque drops under 100 ft lb at 4200 and HP curfe starts to flatten from there but the animal instinct is strong and I take her to just past 5000 before banging another gear and up to 5000 again, I start to feel the wind and realise my body is interfering with my speed so I hunker down a little over the tank...not quite sure what gear Im in Ive lost count but Im right in the moment focussed on pushing through the finish line as fast as possible...nothing else exists
no thought of my ex taking my kids out of school for homeschool , no thought of what Im doing tomorrow, no thought of what I did last night....Im totally in the moment as I pass the finish and back off and let the bike slow under its own engine braking...as I near the return road I hit the front picks and wash off some speed , rev match a down shift then another and harder on the front brake, shift my weight to the left and turn onto the return road , in too high a gear bang her down one more...sheeeit Im going too quick bit of back brake and lean her over a bit more.... thought I was going slower than I actually was...the illusion of slowness after an exhillerating acceleration run, Im around andeager for more, a quick look behind and I see the Valiant turn in , I pull over and she stops alongside "how was it?" I ask..." I laughed aloud all the way down the strip" she replied " only got up to 60 mph though didnt wanna stress it" ....jesus she was doing 70 mph on the freeway coming out here!
OK back in the staging lanes and Im alongside no one , a solo run, r/h lane this time, visor down and around the water up to the start, the flag drops and I dump the clutch at 4000rpm and shes off a little rise of the front wheel, this tracks really sticky...Ive been down the track plenty in a car but never on a bike till today, confidence is up there and Im hard on the gas, puposely trying to short shift but its so friggin hard the natural instinct is to take her to the red!
I pass thru the traps around 160 kph (100mph, the magic ton)
My car runs 100mph through the traps which equated to a low 14 second, given I'm an amateur on a 100 cubes I'm thinking that probably ok for now but I was thinking mid to high 12s or even low 13s...but hey theres no tree or timing so its pie in the sky really.
next pass I try to line up a friends new supercharged FPVGT Ford Australias latest factory blown V8 car, I know shes run 12.8 and she leaves on the green.
Here she comes so I pull off to the right and wait...shes here and we front the staging lanes alongside each other I give the official the nod and he brings us out together, we pull in to stage the flags are up...Im a little nervous as her cars pretty quick , has traction control and over 400 horse....the flags drop and were off shes away first and I wring my beast neck, shes a carlength in front of me but not getting away.....much
Im praying for nitrous and cams as she crosses the line ahead of me, a foregone conclusion really but hey its all fun
Back for another crack, I line up my mate in the 409 Impala, he runs low 14s we leave together and Im edging him out Im a bit in front but not getting away....now Im looking straight ahead but I can feel hes not far behind, I push her through the top end in front then back off the gas let the engine do the braking.
back up for another go, I see the Valiant parked I pull up and she says all is ok says theres a bit of a ticking noise when she slows down...so I ditch the full face and put on my open CHP style helmet that I dont wear on the bike but its good for the car cos I can hear the engine and with a jet style open face its hard to hear the engine.
"Kick her in the guts Charlie!" I think to myself as I key the starter, she fires instantly settles into a nice idle , a bit of a rev and she sounds ok to me, so were off, around to the starter, now even though the girl was on orders for no burnouts I cant resist the water I leave the front brake alone though and spin the back wheel in the water till it grip with a squeal,...theres a black ' 68 Chev alongside , hes just done a hideous burnout and were up on the line.
Im all over him at the start and back focussed on the track..high speed meditation, centered, alert, tunnel vision
I pass the finish pegged on 80mph...no sign of the black chev till I back off then hes past me in the braking area billowing oil smoke out the back...his engines pretty tired.
coming back up the return road I'm back at the pits, gonna take one more run (this stuffs addictive, I warn you)
staging lanes are empty...its all over, Phils 427 Monaro has blown a transmission there hydraulic fluid all over the track...game over.
back to the pits and hear the highways still blocked , mustve been a big one, a fatality I think for the main highway to be blocked almost 3 hours...we take a detour now Im home...a fun day...no breakages and next time some timeslips.