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Ken Lowe's Racers diary (first half of 2000)
Go to last half of 2000 click here 
Go to previous diaries click here

I've got a late start on the diary this year mostly due to the time consuming web site.  We have finished three customers cars in the last few weeks and have been pushing hard on other customers work as well. Fuel systems have swamped us as well and when we get 10 minutes to spare we are either maintaining the Drag Race School car or working on the two extra cars for the school.  The chassis are done for the two extra cars and the bodies are started. The engine for the supercharged car is almost ready to assemble and the other non supercharged car engine is a short block and heads. Progress is slower than any of us want but we have a responsibility to our KLRC customers that must be met.

15 January 2000 Saturday Willowbank Round 1 Castrol New Year series. Rained out - Bummer

29 January 2000 Saturday Willowbank Test & Tune Scott Jug has the car rented for some training. He does very well and impresses everyone. This is his first time in the DRS car since the school.

5 February 2000 Saturday Willowbank Round 2 Castrol New Year series. Scott Bennett drove the DRS car.

26 February 2000 Saturday Willowbank Test & Tune Scott Jug has the car rented for some more training. Again he does very well and impresses everyone.

18 March 2000 Saturday Willowbank Round 3 Castrol New Year series. Scott Bennett drove.

24 March 2000 Friday We leave for Gladstone. It's about a 8 hour trip but we want a casual drive up. The race track in on the south end of town and we stop in and have a look before we drive on to the hotel.  The local  racers are having a get together at the bar at the hotel and were invited to join. After dinner we stop in for a drink and then off to bed.  The race track is located in the township Benaraby, just south of Gladstone. To check out their web site click here.

25 March 2000 Saturday wpe45.jpg (13441 bytes) Great sign !!
Gladstone March Meet. The race track is run by a great bunch of dedicated racers who go out of their way to make you feel welcome. We think the track itself is quite good with the only down side being the unpaved return road and staging lanes. (That being changed as you read this) Several of the us went up to Gladstone from the Surfers Paradise Drag Race Club to assist in promoting the race to help the racers raise money for track improvements.  Along with Bret Stephens and his 53 Studebaker we did a display at the local Autobarn car parts place the morning of the race. The Autobarn is just across from a large mall and the spectator traffic that morning was great. They had the local rock radio station  out there doing on site broadcasting as well. The resulting turn out was terrific at the track that night making it a very profitable venture for the track. Scott Bennett drove the DRS car this race doing very well going three rounds before smoking the tires.  Yes - on a Modified car he smoked the tires. Late at night the accumulation of sand and dirt on the track becomes too much for the VHT to work and the cars with some horsepower just blow the tires off. After his burn out I walked over to look at the tires and they were covered in sand. This problem will be solved with the paved return road and staging lanes.  The elimination's structure was interesting. Everybody made three rounds and the best after three rounds ran off for the finals. This prevents someone from traveling for 8 hours and loosing first round and feeling like the tow was for nothing. Not a bad system especially for DYO format racing.

26 March 2000 Sunday Tow back home. I'm really impressed buying gasoline at $0.90 a liter. I'm also cranky with myself as I have been putting off converting the truck to LP which is about $0.45 a liter. If I had done that before this trip this trip would have paid for almost 25% of the conversion. ... bummer
Get ready for work tomorrow.

7 April 2000 Friday – We check out the new starter and it is a kick butt starter. After we start the engine we hear a noise and shut the engine off and discover the new starters lock ring for the gear is broken in tow and has fallen off allowing the gear to touch the flex plate gear – ugly! Take the lock collar off the original starter and install it on the new starter. Start the engine again and observe the collar just occasionally hitting the flex plate ring gear. Get out the tiny belt sander and polish up the rough gears on the flex plate and polish the OD of the lock collar. Start the engine a half dozen times and everything looks good (sounds good as well). Load the car for a test and tune on Saturday.

8 April 2000 Saturday – Work in the shop all morning on customer stuff and leave for the T&T at 2:00pm Unload and fire up the engine. All is Ok until we bring up the revs and the lock collar and the flex plate touch again with another lock collar failure. Now we have no starter. Loaded up for the trip back home. Ray Raaymakers was there to do some testing with his new Top Comp dragster. We did his fuel system a few weeks ago and he was having trouble getting oil pressure on his KB so we lend him a hand to solve the problem. He went on to make two successful launches. We get home about 9:00pm

9 April 2000 Sunday – I worked on the web site for the afternoon.

13 April 2000 Thursday – The extra new starter arrives with it the spare collets and lock wires.

14 April 2000 Friday – All the new starters checked out and everything works well. The car is loaded and the truck and trailer are connected and we are all ready to go. Now we have two spare starters!!

15 April 2000 Saturday - wpe51.jpg (22345 bytes)
Race day – Dave Coles is driving today. Bob Shaw and Scott Bennett is the crew today. Bob and Scott have been helping for several races now and are getting very good. I am leaving more and more to them keeping an eye just to make sure all is OK and it always is. This really builds my confidence and I continue to add to their list of responsibilities. They are becoming a very good crew.

Today started off half a step behind and got worse. Scotty was late getting to the shop so we were late leaving. We get to the track and a friend has left their trailer in our pit spot. (We have an agreement with Willowbank for a designated pit spot so we are near the foot traffic in the back of the grandstands to assist in promoting the Drag Race School) I drop the trailer and get the car out to get to scruteneering as soon as possible. In Modified you must get to scruteneering as soon as possible as you need to get you first qualifying lap in the first session so you can collect as much info as possible.

I got growled at because where I left the trailer I had accidentally left the back edge of the trailer overhang the roadway in the pits and people had to turn to miss the end of the trailer. So now I move the trailer to our pit spot as set up the pit area. I know its getting near winter here but the daytime is still quite warm (89F) and I’m sweating. We do miss the first session (I hate that) but we are there for the second session. I’m trying something on the tune up (fuel system) and it does not work and the car runs a number I do not expect (I hate that too) so I change it for the second run and the corrected altitude quickly shoots up. So I miss the tune up the second time. Beautiful weather and a great day for racing but am I ever struggling. When I complain to a competitor about how rotten my day is going he replies. "Yes, but that means your luck bank is gaining credits". I thought to myself I hope so.

For first round we don’t have enough good information to make a good call on the dial in so we pick a number we know we can run but feel the car can run a bit quicker. Dave cuts a .471 light to his competitors .417 - oops. Our car runs great 60’ and great incrementals up to the 1000 foot so the car is on a good lap. Dave gets wobbly and has to get off the throttle. Guess what! The competitor cannot see the front of our car in the dark (its black with black wheels) and he drives it through to break out by .006 (One withdrawal from the luck bank)

With the incremental information from this pass we make a better call on our dial in by going back in our records and finding very similar incremental times and then using that as our dial in number.

Second round we draw a bye (One more withdrawal from the luck bank) and get to make a full pass and gather some good information for a better dial in. Dave does a burn out and stops before the start line. Rolls in to stage (forgetting to pull back into low gear) and tries to stage. We all know the transbrake does not work in high gear and he rolls through. @#$%&*$@#& was said by all ... mostly Dave.

Third round we are paired with Nigel Golder (1681) who’s been on a streak lately. I’m pretty confident with our dial in (I don’t think we are going to be off more than 0.02 on our dial in) Nigel leaves first nailing a great .417 light. Dave has to wait for Nigel to leave and glances over to see his car move, when he looks back his yellow is on and he is late. A .633 comes up on the board and its not looking good. Dave runs 0.025 off his dial in and Nigel is .16 off his dial in and Dave looses. Math later decided that if Dave had cut a .599 or better light he would have won. Dave said "I have a list of everything I can do wrong and I’m ticking them off one at a time so I don’t have to do them again."

I think the luck bank is dry now........

When the rounds get down to seven cars four of them are KLRC cars. Graeme Frawley, Dave Coles, Rodney Moore, David Mullins.

Graeme Frawley goes on to win in the Drag Race School Modified Eliminator. I believe this almost gives him a strangle hold on the championship again this year.  Graeme and his dad Bob are such a nice people to talk to and such good racers. Just last week a former Super Sedan racer who had sold his car called me and commented how he had noticed that the Drag Race School Modified racers all shared a lot of camaraderie with each other and that he liked that and wanted to build a Modified car. Nice comment. I agreed with him that this was the environment in Modified but between the burnout and the finish line we hated each other. The rest of the time it was all friendly rivalry and that any racer would help another any time that we could.   After all we do this stuff because we enjoy racing each other.  Stay tuned we could be adding another racer to Modified Eliminator.

16 April 2000 Sunday – This afternoon I spend working on the web site adding some photos from yesterdays racing. If you want to have a look go to the photo page of Modified Section of the web site.

19 April 2000 Wednesday - Scotty came by and did a lot of tidy up on the DRS car. We're putting it in the Hot Rod Show next week with Graeme Frawley, David Mullins and  Warren Sichter's cars.  Just a big family reunion. I did a deal with a battery company that is displaying at the Hot Rod show to raffle off a spot in the school.

22 April 2000 Saturday - I've got a lot of web work to do today as I have a new section to finish and load. This week was very busy and the car does not need a lot of work so we worked overtime on customer stuff. We did work Tuesday and Thursday nights on the body of the new Top Comp dragster car were putting together. Bob Brackham has loaded me a blower that had been banged pretty hard. I had to retime it and put new nylatron and Teflon in it. It's almost ready to reassemble. 

23 April 2000 Sunday - Web site updates today. I loaded the Comp and SS eliminator proposed changes. Have a look and let me know what you think (Let ANDRA know as well)

26 April 2000 Wednesday - Found some more photos of the other Modified racers so I updated the web site.
Scott came by today and he did a final clean on the car to get it ready for the show. We are loading tomorrow and tomorrow night setting up at the show. 

27 April 2000 Thursday Dave finishes off the car skates we are making to move the car in and out of building easier. Graeme and I stay on the phone organizing the floor coverings and the barrier chain. Tracey finds it at a bargain of only $2.50/meter she bolts down and gets it for us. We leave for Brisbane about 5:00pm. When we get there Warren Sichter has already unloaded his car and left it for us. David unloads his car right after us and then Graeme arrives to unload. All of us set up the display and David and Graeme break out the polish and the rags for a final clean. By 10:00pm we are back on the road back to the Gold Coast arriving back home about 11:00pm.

28 April 2000 Friday Morning I work on the fiberglass jobs I have going and in the afternoon I go back to Brisbane to see how big the show is and check no he fliers. The display is gathering a lot of attention. The deal we did with Battery World is working well and they are getting lots of entries. The literature rack is low of fliers so I refill.

29 April 2000 Saturday Busy at the shop this morning. The afternoon I run back to the show to have a look at the whole thing myself. Nice show lots of stuff and lots of good looking stuff.  Fliers are going well too.

30 April 2000 Sunday Tracey and I drove up so she could have a look at the show and take more fliers up as we were running low last night. Guess what we were out!!! So far we have given out over 600 fliers. I had to pop a body out of the mould today and gel coat the mould for another body we need to lay up on Monday. Therefore I could not be at the show awards presentation this evening. Graeme was there representing us and he called a few minutes ago with the results. Of the hundreds of cars on  display there there were a lot of race cars. In the Competition Division of the show there were a lot of very good looking race cars so I had no illusions about winning a show position after all the cars we had on display are real racers that go the starting line at every race. What's more the Drag Race School car has 376 passes on it with over 70 different drivers now. I received a phone call from Graeme a few minutes ago and .... Guess what!!! We took  1-2-3 in the competition division. David Mullins (KLRC car#49) took number 1 and Graeme Frawley (KLRC car#65) took number 2 and the Drag Race School car (KLRC car#50) took number 3.  Have a look at the HOT ROD SHOW

1 May 2000 Monday Last day of the show. Public holiday here. I have to drive back to Brisbane with more DRS promo fliers. I have some glass work to finish so I have to bolt up there in the morning when I get there we are down to 2 fliers (timing is everything). I did not stay long but I did get to talk to John Noonan. He says he may come back to TAD if Sydney gets a track. I spend the rest of the day doing the glass work and Scott and Dave come by about 6:00pm so we can drive back to Brisbane to get the car out of the show. We get there about 7:15 and the show is tearing down. We get loaded and on the road back to the Gold Coast by 8:30 and stop for some dinner at McD's I find a crack in the right rear fender of the Dooley. I thought that black car got a little close in that construction area at the entrance to the on ramp. I didn't hear or feel anything so it must not have been too hard. We get back to the shop about 9:45pm. Hit the sack big day tomorrow again.

2 May 2000 Tuesday Holidays are over for everyone else so the phone is ringing off the hook as soon as I walk in the shop. Battery World is very happy with the results and wants to do more with us again next year. Scott comes by and we move the truck and trailer around and unload the car so they can do the maintenance on the car for the race next week end.

3 May 2000 Wednesday Normal shop day today - flat out. No work on the car tonight. Just shop work and take an evening off.

4 May 2000 Thursday Regular shop day but Scott comes by and finishes all the maintenance on the car but does not load it yet. The car has lost a little ET but picked up MPH so he check the cam timing and finds that it has moved 4 degrees as the chain has seated in from new. We decide to leave it that way as we don't mind loosing a little ET and gaining the MPH after all it is DYO.
I have to leave at 6:00pm to attend to my duties as a ANDRA Division Delegate at the monthly Division Council meeting. This breaks at 12:00pm (midnight!!!) take an hours drive home and then it is 2:00am by the time I hit the sack.

5 May 2000 Friday Up at 6:00am for work busy day today. I have appointments in Southport that will take three hours out of my day.  Dave is installing the new windscreen I made for Wayne Colemans car. As an ANDRA Tech inspector I have to have a look at a car and provide some guidance on what they are doing.  At 6:00pm Scott and Mike load the car and pack the trailer they finish at 8:00pm and we are ready to leave at 6:00am tomorrow.
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Dave Coles driving the DRS car at the 6 May 2000 Pro Am
6 May 2000 Saturday Our normal crew of Scott Bennett, Mike Hinde and Bob Shaw load up at 6:00am with the driver today (Dave Coles) and we are off to the race. Overcast but a high overcast the weather man says it will clear. Later it does clear to a cloudless sky making a warm beautiful day for drag racing. If I had a million dollars (I don't) I would not be anywhere else doing anything else.
We arrive at the track at 8:30am and line up outside the gate which opens a few minutes before 9:00am. We drop the trailer at the pit spot and quickly unload the car to take it to scruteneering (tech). We are one of the first in line at the 6 lane scruteneering shed and quickly pass through scruteneering and pull the car back to the pit spot next to the trailer. We perform all of our standard warm up procedures checking the function of the car to insure all systems are ready.
At 11:06am our first run produces a 9.047 @151.52 in 1372 corrected altitude air, which was a result I did not expect (I hate that). I have noticed the first run is always a bit slow and attribute that to our "between race engine storage procedure" which we decide we will change. The next run is at 1:00pm and produces a 8.945 @ 152.49 in 1488 corrected altitude air. Now that is what I expected the car to give us. Our third and final shot is at 2:56pm and gives us a 8.940 @ 146.63 in 1472 air. The mph was off as the driver admitted he had clicked it at the finish line but the 1000' incremental times was identical to the previous run. Our first race of the night was at 6.41pm and the air was dropping like a rock. (It does that this time of year) Graeme Frawley had run 8.65, 8.66,8.65 during the day and on his pass (he was in front of us) he ran a 8.62 which is way off for him and his tune up. He broke out an lost. We had selected a 8.94 dial in but changed it to a 8.91but the air was dropping so fast by the time we ran a few minutes later at 6:41pm (the sun had been down now for about 45 minutes) the air was down to 870 feet I knew the car would go quicker than the 8.91 but how much quicker? I left the dial in alone and informed the driver the situation. The car ran a 8.843 @ 155.98 making the car break out of the dial in by 0.067 seconds. (I wish he had given me a full pass on his last qualifying pass) The other driver broke out as well so it would have been a race at the finish line but it did not help that Dave red lighted with a .370 .... well so what!! This is Dave's third race in the car and he says he learns some thing at every race. He has attended the Drag Race School and passed the course but sometimes the lessons from the school don't really sink in until you are on the starting line.  Some people have to do it to learn it. There are a 1000 ways to lose but only one way to win and that is to get it all correct. (Unless someone hands you a win)  It was a beautiful day and we all had a lot of fun today.

It is really hard on me because I know the car has the potential to win. But the car can only do so much and because we lease the car to DRS graduates that have no experience in the car they all have a big learning curve. In many ways it is easier to drive a non DYO car than a DYO car as the DYO driver has to know his equipment very well and the only way to get to know your equipment is to make lots of passes.
We pack up and leave for home stopping by the roadhouse for a hamburger.

7 May 2000 Sunday .. I write up the report from last night. Tracey and I take the day off and relax a little bit spending some quality time together. We are 7 1/2 months now and Samantha Louise is due on 30 July. This is a really great time for us.   

8 May 2000 Monday I work late at the shop on Wayne Colemans car.

9 May 2000 Tuesday Bob Shaw comes by tonight to work on the body of the second DRS car. We have to make a new nose to match the top body radii of the new tin. Bob does a bit of grafting of the new and the old and gets a new nose plug started.

10 May 2000 Wednesday We took the night off .... boy that feel good.

11 May 2000 Thursday Bob Shaw comes by tonight and works on the new nose plug. When he leaves it is almost ready to lay up a mould on. I work late tonight on Wayne Colemans car I wish I could get caught up so I could work on our cars.

12 May 2000 Friday David Coles cuts the transmission covers and starts the bending of the covers for the DRS cars and one for a customer. Scotty comes by this evening and works on the cylinder heads for the DRS car. I work on Wayne Colemans car all day again and into the evening.... it is looking good.

13 May 2000 Saturday  I left the hill today. For those who know my set up here you know that I rarely leave "the hill" (our property is on a hill).  The steel supply people deliver. The aluminum supply people deliver. The fiberglass supply people deliver.  Pizza Hut and Domino's deliver ... so why should I leave the hill. Anyway,  Tracey and I went to Southport today to get some things. (I make it sound like a 3 hour trip, in fact it is a 15 minute trip) Today I broke down and purchased a new keyboard for my computer. The old one had most of the letters rubbed off the keys and the edges were polished smooth.  I was getting sick and tired of dealing with sticking keys and buttons that did not work properly. I loved the feel of the old keyboard so much I even learned some ASCII for some of the keys that did not work .... now that is pitiful.  The new keyboard is like power steering compared to the old one. I had to find one that had all the keys in the same place though and the cost was a whopping $28.00 AUD that's about $15.00 US these days.  Why did I not get a new one years ago ..... I am too stubborn for my own good. 
Scott came by today and is port matching the new cylinder heads to the new tunnel ram injector manifold.  The cylinder heads will be ready this weekend .. so he says.   That is all we need to finish before we assemble the third normally aspirated DRS engine.  The second one is in the car and the first one is now a spare.  
I have the nylatron installed and machined in the rotors of the supercharger  of the graduate school car and the Teflon installed as well. We assembled the rotors with the nylatron and the Teflon our of the rotors and timed the rotors as this is a borrowed blower and had been banged and the drive splines were twisted a little but other than that it is real good shape.  On Sunday afternoon I'm putting the blower back together ..... it makes the DRS graduate car just that little bit closer to ready.
Tomorrow is Mothers Day and were planning a little Mom stuff in the morning and then back to work on the cars. 

14 May 2000 Sunday (Mothers Day) Call my Mom in Florida this morning ... actually it is Saturday night there. Mom-in-law (Pat) lives just over the hill and she comes up for breakfast. The Sunday morning ritual of reading the newspaper goes quickly ... not a lot of stuff in the paper today. We go to the broadwater for lunch and a walk on the beach. Sunday afternoon I work on the house getting it ready to paint the living room and entrance foyer. I have lived here over six years I guess I have to finally fix the place up a bit. The plan was to work on the cars some this afternoon ... well that didn't happen.

15 May 2000 Monday  Normal full day at the shop lots of work and lots of phone calls. I work on Wayne Colemans car and Dave is bending trans covers. This evening is not a work night on our cars but I worked back and started the electrical trays for the drivers compartments.

16 May 2000 Tuesday Again I worked on Wayne Colemans car and Dave worked on the trans cover mount brackets. This evening was a work night on our cars so Bob was there finishing the new nose to match the new tin on the new cars. The new tin makes a different radius when it is rolled and therefore the nose needs a new radii to match. After the nose is done I will make a mould and then we can produce noses quickly.   Mike installed and degreed the new cam in the third engine and Scott finished port matching the cylinder heads for that engine. Now they have to be washed and assembled. I worked on the electrical trays tonight. 

17 May 2000 Wednesday Today Dave is bending steering wheels. We have had them cut for a while but have not had time to set up and finish them.  After bending they go out to the polisher. Dave helps me assemble the blower (finally). One more chunk of of the puzzle done.

18 May 2000 Thursday As I write this the day draws to a close and I'll be glad this one is gone. Some days are good and some aren't this was one of them. It started bad when I turned my CNC mill on and the key pad did not operated the machine. This was never going to be cheap. I did find the parts in Melbourne and put them on the way, after all what is a few thousand dollars (when you don't have it).    Tomorrow will be a better day .........

19 May 2000 Friday Tony Buckley called and the Liberty trans arrived and he wants to bring it down with the car so we can fit it to the bellhousing and into the car.  He said the new cylinder heads and manifold will be done next Wednesday (in the US).  More air freight!!  

20 May 2000 Saturday Shop clean up and get ready for Tony's car coming in. Tony arrives about 2:00pm and we work on it until almost midnight (Domino's delivers).   I have to be up at 5:00am tomorrow for the car show.  I get an email from Patrick Hale helping me with a formula I have been chasing .... what a good guy he was for helping me out. If you get a chance check out his web site

21 May 2000 Sunday We are at or car club display at Carrara today for the car show and swap meet. The Surfers Paradise Drag Race Association (ours) is the only car club  in Australia that pays tow money for every race a club member attends. Simon (club president-KLRC car 42) wants everyone there early because the swap meet stuff starts early.  Thank goodness it's only 15 minutes from our shop to Carrara.

wpe49.jpg (3868 bytes) 6:15am at Carrara we are only about 1/2 mile from the ocean and the due is heavy on the grass. Here we just arrived and haven't even got the car out of the box yet. You can see the sun coming up just behind the trailer.  The car show was good as the guys did a great job of promoting the show and the weather helped as it was a perfect day. Not a cloud in the sky and the temp was perfect. We raised a lot of money for the club and Ken got to promote the Drag Race School.  I got back to the shop this afternoon and checked the email and updated the web.  I am talking to someone who may be able to provide us with video of the Modified cars at Willowbank. Hope it works out if it does I'll start a video archive and post them to the net for all to see.

22 May 2000 Monday Busy-Busy-Busy Parts arrived for the CNC - hope this gets the CNC back in operation.  Keith Burgan's report comes in from Englishtown so I post it to the web.  I had to drive to Southport and pick up some hardware. Standard Monday morning telephone - non stop. More later.

23 May 2000 Tuesday Tonight we work on the new bodies for the new cars. The new material for the bodies means we have to make new noses. Nose plugs are almost done.
24 May 2000 Wednesday - No work tonight. Paint in the house
25 May 2000 Thursday - Lay up the moulds for the new noses and make the engine panels for car 58. The engine panels finish off the looks of the car as well as provide more advertising space. The engine panels on 58 and 59 have to be two piece as the cars are longer in the back to allow room for the blower drive. Now we have to roll the edges and make the kick outs for the back panels and that part is done.
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26 May 2000 Friday - More paint in the house.
27 May 2000 Saturday -  Finish laying up the nose moulds. I'll let sit for a day or so and then pop the plug out. Then I have to sand it back to 2000 and polish the mould. Then I have to wax it 6 times to insure the new product I lay in it will release. Just a little work. I loaded up some videos to our video archive.
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29 May 2000 Monday - I pop the new nose mould off the plug and trim it up. Now back to customer work.

30 May 2000 Tuesday - Tonight Bob Shaw waxes the new nose mould. I take Tracey out to dinner and when I return we spray the gel coat in the new plug to get ready to lay up the nose. Bob goes on the work on the kick outs for the engine panels on the second DRS car.

1 June 2000 Thursday - I have a DC meeting tonight but all the guys come by to check out the car and get it ready for this weekend.  The DC meeting ends about 11:20pm and it is an hour drive home.

2 June 2000  Friday - Adam Burgess comes by and picks up his new dragster. The turbocharged triple rotor rotary should fly with his clutchless five speed trans in his new KLRC dragster. He is getting it ready for showing at the Fast Fours and Rotary's Jamboree at Willowbank the week after the Winternationals.

3 June 2000 Saturday - Melissa Thompson has the car leased for a test and tune tonight so she can get her license to drive a the Winternationals next weekend. Melissa went to the Drag Race School several months ago and has found some sponsors so we can race. The night is cold and the track is cold. No one is getting down the track and we are no different. The first time she smoked the tires we thought because the tires were not hot enough so we do it again. The second time she uses the front brakes to help warm the tires and they are 95Fon the starting line. (good enough) and they are clean and the track has no marbles in front of the back tires and it smokes again. (shades of last Winternationals)  She does a good job pedaling the car but has to make two good passes for her license and so far we have none. The driver is doing their job but the crew chief can't get the car down the track. After the second run we take the car back to the trailer and we make some changes. Third time to the start line and the car goes down the track, straight as a string. She clicked it just a little early with a 9.03 (her personal best) Fourth time, the guys forgot to turn the CO2 bottle on and all we got was a burnout as the car idled down the track . The fifth run saw another straight as a string run nailing a 8.80 time slip. (Her new personal best, again)  Track champ Graeme Frawley was watching and commented he was impressed that we were able to get down the track. Graeme and Rodney Moore both were testing and having more than their share of problems. Our new trick may be just the secret for the Winternationals this year.

I guess Dennis got tired of having me go to the tower to see what the air was doing. They have installed a computer monitor in the wall of the bottom floor of the tower so anyone can walk up and have a look anytime they want.  Another Willowbank first. Does another track - anywhere - do that for the racers?  The Winternats will see a better track prep and maintenance but we learned a valuable lesson tonight.  We had a blast tonight and were looking forward to next weekend..... Winternationals

8 June 2000 Thursday We drop the truck and trailer in our pit spot about 12:00 noon and get the tires for the altered (Wayne Colemans's car) from Pro Stock racer Col Shore. Wayne crews on Cols car and is purchasing his engine for the altered.   We take the tires back to the shop to mount on the rims so we can roll the car on the front of my open trailer that Travis Lefting from New Zealand is using for his altered. The mounting becomes a problem as the tires will no inflate as tubeless tires. We load the car carrying it supported from the chassis about 8:30 pm and head for bed. We have to get up at 4:30 am to leave by 5:00 am to arrive at 6:00 am when the gates open.   wpe49.jpg (19812 bytes)
Just have everything set up in our pit space on Friday morning ready for the first round of qualifying.

9 June 2000 Friday - We get in the gate and are about the fifth or sixth person through scrutennring (tech). Warm up the car for Melissa and make the final decision on our race strategy. When we thought we were going to have very good air and cold temperature and a cold track we made a strategy to cope with that. The night before I logged on to the Amberly Air Force base weather information (right next to the race track) and calculated the weather based on if we were racing that night. The calculated at -1465 feet and since we had no data for that air and the track would be cold we were going employ our new "roll out" starting line strategy. Today we realize the weather is warm and overcast we go back to our old strategy as we have lots of data on that weather information. Melissa makes the first pass at 11:00am running the cars best speed ever at 157.40 miles per hour. On her next pass (the weather was still dropping) it ran 8.74 in 247 foot corrected air. Since we only get three of the four passes allocated for qualifying we decide to use two today and only one tomorrow. Normally we would try to make more of the passes closer to the first round time but I felt Melissa needed more passes than I needed the information and the weather was a little iffy for tomorrow and I thought we would only get one pass tomorrow anyway. We talk to a lot of people today and everyone is stopping by for a bit of a yarn. Good day all round. Our crew of Scott Bennett, Dave Coles, Mike Hinde and Bob Shaw did a great job today which left me to take care of customers problems.  It is good to have great guys helping you.
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View of inside our pit space.  The television/VCR is running a tape promoting the Drag Race School.  The altered is Wayne Colemans new car which is almost done. Here you see our driver Melissa Thompson and two of our crew, Dave Coles and Bob Shaw.   

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Melissa showing off for the new sponsors, Shell Helix, Stone Brothers Racing (Group A touring car team), John Williams Auto Sales, Lifestyle Apparel, and Capabala 4WD Wreckers.    Stone Brothers have named Melissa "Stone Cold Melissa Thompson" when in actual fact Melissa is one of the warmest nicest people you would ever want to meet any where (except for the starting line).  She is killer on the tree as we have had to put more delay in the "box" for her than we have had to for any other driver. Go - Melissa.
Melissa has worked hard to get sponsors for the team and she works hard for the sponsors making sure they get more than their moneys worth.
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You may notice that Melissa's additions to the Drag Race School car is starting to make the car look like the drag racers yellow pages.

10 June 2000 Saturday - The sky looks terrible.  It was overcast yesterday but it looks real ugly now.  We warm the car up and head for the staging lanes. We are near the back of the lanes when it starts to rain. We are not boxed in so we head back to the trailer and under the awning as fast as possible. The rain sets in and doesn't stop for the rest of the day. We head for home about 5:00pm as the qualifying for the day is over.

11 June 2000 Sunday - When I get up in the morning I can hear the rain on the roof of the house. Many times it has been pouring down here on the Gold Coast but dry at Willowbank. We are up and going, getting to the track at 8:00am. As we pull in the front gate it is still raining and we are greeted with the news that the race has been rescheduled for the first weekend in October.  Now to dig out the cars and get everything loaded in the cold rain and go home. Bummer!!! When we get the altered home (display car) we have to give it a good rub and oil down as the chassis is bare and starting to rust a little bit. Nothing a little elbow grease does not solve.

12 June 2000 Monday - Public Holiday here. This morning there is not a cloud in the sky and the temp is 63 degrees with a slight warm coastal breeze coming in off the Coral Sea. The rain has settled all the dust and the plants and grass all look refreshed. We have to get everything out and clean it all up and get the shop cleaned for work tomorrow. Today I have to look at a station wagon for Tracey as the sporty Toyota Celica is difficult to get a baby car seat in. Goody by Celica hello wagon. Tomorrow I'm going to look at a gas kit for my Chevy Dooley to change the truck from gasoline (petrol) to LPG. As a conversion to full LPG the consumption rate and the power is the same or a little better. Apparently the dual fuel kits (petrol and LPG) are the ones that are inefficient and cause a power loss.  The cost of gasoline (petrol) is 85-90 cents a liter or about $3.60 a gallon ($2.05US dollars a gallon) by changing to LPG the cost is 41cents a liter or a little less than half the cost per unit. This will make it about $1.00USD per gallon for me, not far from what they pay in the US. In Australia rarely do you find a petrol station that does not have a LPG filling stand. My tank will be 238 liters and mounted in the back of the bed of the truck where I had the big gasoline tank before. My truck pulling the trailer gets about 8.5 miles per gallon so the tank should get me just over 500 miles between fill ups. This is not a bad range for traveling. 

13 June 2000 Tuesday - Usually we work on the car tonight but after the Winternationals everyone is trying to play catch up with their personal lives therefore no work on the cars tonight. We do have a display this weekend at the RNA showgrounds so we will work tomorrow night to tidy things up a bit.  Today Dave and I went to Brisbane and picked up our LP stuff for the Dooley. Great timing - today Minister Beattie took off our 8.5 cent per liter subsidy and our petrol prices will rise by at least 8.5 cents a liter. Here comes the LP conversion just in a nick of time. There will be a run on LP conversions now.

14 June 2000 Wednesday - This morning I had an occasion to talk to Rob Helton on the phone. Rob was a key member of my TAD team in the US. He contributed a lot to us winning our three championships. Today he is helping Danny Townsend on his TAFC.  After a little chat he mentioned that petrol (gasoline) prices had risen to $2.00 a gallon in the US. After doing some factoring this turns out to be the same price as we are paying in Queensland (while the subsidy was on). I don't feel so bad now that we all are getting jabbed with the prices. The conversion to LP is truly a bargain now. This is an option we have here in Oz that the US racers do not have as there LP is not available at all petrol stations like it is here.  Rob said all is well and they are racing this weekend at Columbus (Springnationals). Last weekend in Joilet (Chicago) the car drifted across the centerline and the blower belt broke on Cheesmans car - bumm luck.   I asked Rob if he would write a racers diary for Danny (I know Danny won't) and then email it to me and I'll post it on the web. We'll have to wait and see.

We knocked off customer stuff today at 2:00pm so Dave and I started the gas (LP) conversion. We had removed the old big petrol tank out of the truck a few weeks ago and all we had to do was to take the sleeper off to mount the new 238 liter tank (62 gallon).wpe49.jpg (37767 bytes)
All apart now all we have to do is to put it together.

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We welded the bolts to the brackets so it would be a one man job to install the nuts from underneath. We made some 1/4" thick 2 1/2" diameter washers to provide supports for the mounting bolts.

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Sleeper back on, tank installed now hook up the plumbing.

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Tank installed now all we have to do is install the converter and mixer. The converter changes the LP from a liquid to a gas by using the hot water from the engine. The mixer is essentially the carburetor as it mixes the gas and the air. After they are installed finish the wiring and get it inspected for approval. I think later I will remove the original gasoline tanks and install additional tanks underneath as well for a greater driving range. I will complete the installation without installing the mixer and continue to drive it on petrol until the conversion is approved.

$0.41cents (Australian)  a liter = $1.56 Australian a gallon or $0.89 (US) a gallon = what a bargain!!!

I hope you are not too critical of the untidy shop as we have not cleaned up yet from the Winternationals thrash. We just have too much going on right now.  It's late and tomorrow is another big day. Tomorrow night we have to take the DRS car to the Brisbane Show Grounds for another show. It never stops around here.

15 June 2000 Thursday - Scott came by about 5:30pm and we drove the truck and trailer to Brisbane for the Auto One car show. We set up the display and were back home by 11:00pm. Bob Shaw came by and did some work on the tin on the second DRS car.

16 June 2000 Friday - Customer stuff all day worked late to catch up, we did no work on the DRS car stuff. We had another batch of Kiwi's stop in today for a look around. All the Kiwi's I have met are all dead set good serious racers and this batch was no different. 

17 June 2000 Saturday - I worked on the gas set today for the Dooley but was interrupted a bit so the progress was a little slow.wpe49.jpg (12018 bytes)
The item on the left is the "converter" it converts the liquid fuel into a gas. The item on the right is the "mixer" it mixes the gas and the air. The mixer replaces the carburetor. The large elbow on the converter connects with a hose to the large elbow on the mixer this puts the gas to the mixer. Simple isn't it. The mixer has three screws. One for idle air like a carburetor, one for idle fuel volume like a carburetor. And unlike a carburetor a screw for the main fuel volume setting. Apparently the biggest problem might be that if your ignition system is weak gas will find it for you. Good wires and a strong coil are a good investment. I'll let you know how it turns out on our truck. The converter mounts on the inner fender  panel. I had to make a tricky little mounting bracket because to mount the converter low so the hot water from the engine would flow through it easily it had to be mounted below the radiator level. That is what the two elbows are for on the side of the converter.  The button in the center is a manual cold weather primer, not really needed on the Gold Coast.

18 June 2000 Sunday - This morning I read the paper and had breakfast with my wife and did a few chores around the house. The afternoon I finished the converter bracket and mounted the converter on the Black Dooley and connected the water hoses. We had supper and we went to Brisbane to pick up the car from the car show. Well there went another Sunday.wpe49.jpg (38396 bytes)
You will notice I mounted the converter low so the hot water from the engine will flow through it properly. Now all I have to do is run the supply line from the tank to the converter, install the mixer (replacing the carburetor) and get it inspected. 

19 June 2000 Monday - Big day today we had over 160 trucks come in today and the tractor was pushing dirt all day. No work on the cars tonight ... tired.

20 June 2000 Tuesday - Huge day today. We got a lot done in the shop lots of parts orders going out. Lots of quotes done. Big email day today. I heard from a long lost friend because of the net.  After dinner I jack up the Dooley and put the gas line from the tank to the converter. One more job done. Worked on the electrical trays for the other two school cars. Tonight our winter temperature at 11:00pm is 64 F.   Not a bad winter !!! Good night I'm gone to bed.

21 June 2000 Wednesday - Rainy today. I'm thinking about breaking this diary down in to the first six months and then the last six months of the year so it does not take so long to load. I did not work on my race cars tonight as we are getting ready for the baby at the house. Only four weeks to go now.

22 June 2000 Thursday -  Busy at the shop today. Lots of dirt coming in for filling the valley next to the house. So far this week I have had almost 300 truck loads ... This is kind of like bringing the mountain to Mohammad.  If I were a phrophet. Glenn Anderson came by this evening and orderd a car so we spent the evening discussing his new car, therefore I got no work done on my cars. Tomorrow is another day.

This page has gotten pretty big and takes a while to load so I am going to break it up into two sections. The first section (this one) covers the first half of the year and the second section covers the last six months of the year.

Go to last half of 2000 click here 
Go to previous diaries click here

Ken's comments
Do you really love drag racing or is it just a personal ego trip?
I have raced all classes of cars. In 1963 was racing a F/Gas 53 Chevy then an E/Gas 55 Chevy and then a L/Stock 67 Chevy. In 1967 I started racing an injected small block altered. In 1969 I started with a dragster that raced C,B,A/Dragster classes. 1974 when NHRA started Pro Comp I started racing injected nitro and later when they added supercharged alcohol I raced AA/DA (as it was called then). It later became Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car. I am only saying this to qualify some statements that I will make later. In 1980-81 I raced Top Gas East with a front engine dragster also driving my wife's DYO dragster for a while.. In 1982-83 I raced go-karts winning three championships. In 1984 I was racing a FED in TAD with a big block Chevy. In 1985 we build a new rear engine dragster. When I raced TAD we won many races and championships and set many track records. We did a hell of a lot of racing all over the USA. As tough as Top Alcohol Dragster type racing is successful DYO racing is no different, it is just as tough. How many racers have you seen go up through the ranks but how many do you see come back down the ranks? How many former fuel or alcohol racers have you seen move back down the ranks when they cannot afford to race what they have "risen" to. It is expensive at the top and when the money tree runs out you can't do it at that level anymore so what happens now. They retire/quit for a list of reasons that is as long as your arm. If they love drag racing why don't they just build something they can afford to race? EGO!!! Try to think of someone who has "retired" from racing and imagine them in a DYO car at the local race track on Saturday night losing a another DYO racer. That EGO is fragile isn't it. DYO is tough and those who win are good at what they do so losing to them is no shame and winning is just like winning a Top Alcohol round (except cheaper).
I have an ego just like everyone else but I love drag racing more than the size of my ego. I have raced TAD and would again if I could afford it (but I can't right now) so I would rather be racing a very inexpensive DYO car on Saturday night at the local track than sitting at the pub telling my mates how good I was back then. DYO is a different type of racing and when you are good at it you know your car, you know yourself and you are very specially aware of what is going on around you. All skills that you need in a successful TAD or any other type of race car. Some day I will have my TAD car going again and I will be a better driver because I decided to step back and keep racing with a DYO car that I could afford. I know a lot of racers that step out for a year because they can't afford it and the year becomes 5 to 10 years and then they get back in a very fast car. They have not driven in those 5-10 years and they are not ready for the new car because they have not driven in a very long time. My advise is to race what you can afford to keep your skills up besides your are missing all the fun. As long as blood pumps throughout my veins I will always be a drag racer. I go to the race track because I love winning. I hate losing, but I hate not racing more, so I keep coming back.

Go to last half of 2000 click here 
Go to previous diaries click here

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