THE year has got off to a busy start.
Weíve had a fair bit happening in the workshop, getting set up to do everything that we used to do in the past, including some V8 demos, full-time drag racing and travelling around the country. Weíve also got our hands full with a couple of street machine projects, including a 1951 Buick Roadmaster and working on my old faithful í57 Chevy. Iíve put a RetroRack in it Ė what a great product! It bolted straight in and voila Ė power steering! Itís so I can cruise it a bit easier; it must be my old age.
The old girl has earned her semi-retirement as an everyday streeter.
The Buick Iíve actually had at Summernats once. Itís a big car to put in the truck and a bit hard to load and unload. We bought it out of the States and have been doing a bit of work on it lately. We decided to fit a 1950 Buick waterfall grille and í55 Caddy dagmars, and have also been ratting it up a bit. Plus itís got a lift-off Carson top so you can run it as a convertible.
It has a 1966 Ford Thunderbird interior and I suppose you could describe the car as a bit of a lead sled. Itís a nice car; hopefully I can drive it to Summernats next year.
Weíve also been working on a 1952 Chevy two-door that we are making into a cabrioletstyle coupe. Iíve always wanted that particular model and we finally got hold of one. In fact, Benny bought it for me in the States, and with some help from Little Mick we are just modifying it now. Believe it or not, when I got the car the roof was chopped too much, and weíve had to raise it. I couldnít sit in the car; my knuckles used to hit the roof from the top of the steering wheel! So we lifted the roof, but it still has a six- or seven-inch chop. The project is taking a lot of work but is going well.
Iím planning on returning to the track at the Santos Super 3 Extreme meeting at Willowbank over Easter. Who knows, we might even get to match-race some of the turbo boys.
Willowbank has been good enough recently to let us do some evening test time. Thatís really given us a big step forward, because you are testing in conditions that you are actually racing in. I want to do one or two more of them before Easter to make sure I remember how to drive. Ben teases me about that all the time; he reckons Iím ďa silly old buggerĒ and have probably forgotten how! If we get the cars ready for Willowbankís Lights Out Friday-night events we might just see who the silly old bugger really is!
Do I want to keep racing? Yeah, I reckon I have a few more years in me. I canít see that Iíll be racing at 84, like that Top Fuel guy Chris Karamesines in America. I donít want to race forever Ė thereís so many street cruisers I want to finish in the workshop. The diehard racer Victor Bray is still there, but I hope these days heís getting a little smarter and wiser.
The Nationals at Calder Park seemed to go really well. We went down there a few years ago with Slamfest. The track is old, but itís not bad. They put in all the guard rails and Peter Pisalidis did a great job promoting the meeting.
Zappia was head and shoulders above the rest of the Doorslammer guys. Thatís pretty normal!
There was a bit of criticism about the track leading up to the weekend, but the story I got back was that the track was excellent over the first half, while the second half came good late in the day. Thatís just a trait of a track that doesnít get a lot of high-powered slick-equipped cars racing on it. It will continue to get better.
Overall, I think the sport is in pretty good shape. A lot of people are criticising the fact that the sport is split in two Ė the 400 Thunder and ANDRA series. I donít see it that way. We get twice the races and we can run in all the capital cities. Itís not like the old days when someone could say to you: ďYou canít run here, you canít run there.Ē Both sides want the racers to come to their tracks, so I look at it as twice as much racing. We intend to run both series, depending on our budget.
For 2016 and beyond, we had a look at what we did in the past and realised we had been doing similar things for a lot of years with the burnout and race cars. We decided that we want to spark things up a bit; we can see some areas where we can do things better. Being away from it for six months or so with Bennyís rehabilitation has given us the opportunity to see where we want to head with a fresh pair of eyes.
Am I excited about the future for Team Bray?
The answer is an absolute yes! s