THE East Coast Thunder Nationals at Sydney Dragway produced a great result for Team Bray when our American import, Frankie Taylor, took the win in Pro Slammer. Itís been a while since our last win; in fact you need to go back to Santoís Summer Thunder earlier this year.
Frankie and I go back over 10 years and to finally get him to race in Australia had been a goal of mine for some time. He was going to run at the Winters this year until I got crook and we had to cancel. Heís such a diehard racer.
He wasnít in the fastest car out there; in fact he only qualified eighth, but he is a world-class driver and got the job done.
Frankie drove the sister car to Benís Corvette, and some Willowbank test runs were the first time it had run. We bought the car from Chris VanítHof, and it had sat in the workshop at home for a while. Because I wasnít racing, we spoke to Gulf Western and asked them what they wanted to do. We agreed to bring the car out for Sydney, where their headquarters are, so to run a 5.938 and take the win was a pretty good result, and we ran 5.833 in the semis too.
To win first up was fantastic, and a rarity in any class of racing in this day and age.
The car looked really great and Iíve got to thank my grandson Jakson for coming up with the design and artwork. The car was originally red, but Gulf Western wanted it black and it came up a treat. Ben did most of the work on getting the car ready and I helped out where I could.
Frankie gave us plenty of useful info regarding some of the problems that weíve been having. They are problems they see day to day in America because they race so often. Frankie was great with the fans, too, and I know he wants to come back to race again. One thing that surprised him was the number of spectators who came around to our pits wearing Frankie Taylor shirts, which they obviously had bought when they were over in the US watching him race.
Ben did well and it was bad luck that he broke a belt in the second round against Zap, but being realistic I donít think he would have beaten him, as Zap reset the record on that run to an amazing 5.60 flat. But we are slowly creeping up each time we go out there. One thing is for sure: If you are not learning then youíre going backwards.
Moits Racing had its second outing in Pro Slammer and probably didnít go as good as the team (or most of us) expected after laying down some awesome numbers in prerace testing. Thatís the beauty of the class.
Race day is a totally different beast. Thatís why we decide the winner at race events and donít let the keyboard crew chiefs decide over the internet.
An interesting point that came out of the event was that a few of the top cars, including Bennyís and Zapís, broke belts, and you gotta ask the question: Why?
The answer is pretty straightforward: power.
Doorslammers are producing around 3000hp and that is putting massive stress on all parts of the powertrain. These belts are not designed for supercharged engines making that much power. Some of the belts we use are designed
for longevity, going 400rpm for 10 years, not 10,000 revs for around five seconds. We are overloading the products, no question about that. Over the weekend there were hundreds of runs, so when we see belts being abused as much as they are, I think the failure rate was relatively low.
I didnít see all that much of Top Fuel running over the new 1000-foot distance. I donít think the spectators sitting in the grandstand would have noticed much difference. But like it or not, 1000 feet is what weíve got now, so letís move on.
The question of 16-car versus eight-car fields is back in the news, as Sydney was able to attract 19 entries, so the race organisers went with a 16-car elimination format. My preference is to go with the bigger field. The problem we are always going to have is that we need to run an extra round of racing, and that can screw up the running of the event. Basically, we are out of sync with the rest of the Pro classes that run eight-car fields, so the challenge is how to fit the first round into the format. If we are to do four rounds of racing on the one day they should advertise the fact that Doorslammer races early in the morning. That would keep sponsors and fans happy as well. The reason we like the 16-car field is so eight cars arenít parked in the pits, but if no one is watching the first round it defeats the purpose. There are a few issues that need to be resolved before we run 16-car fields permanently, but if you look at the car counts at Sydney, then we do need to look at whatís best.
The Nationals was the first time Iíd been out to a race meeting in a while and got to mix with the public. I had a great time and canít tell you how much I missed being around the fans and the other racers. Mentally it was a real boost, though physically I was really stuffed at the end of the day. I was overwhelmed by the number of people who came around to say hello and pass on their best wishes. Iíve got a bit to go before I slip back behind the wheel. Being away for six months or so made me appreciate the quality of the racers and fans, and how much I missed being around drag racing. s