This years Dry Lake Racers Australia’s (DLRA) Speedweek was
shortened to 31/2 days due to water on Lake Gairdner. But by Wednesday
morning, we were racing. This year the 429 Big Block powered 34 Ford
Roadster Big Knob Race team was Norm Hardinge (myself), Wayne Belot (aka
Oggi), Greg Williams and Neil Davies with crew Michael Discoli, Graham
Detteler and Mark Ewart. My trusted ’76 F250 was again the tow
Due to the water on the lake, the course only had a 1 1/2 mile run up
before the timing. Oggi and I discussed tactics and put the 34 on the
test track. The cam was coming in at about 5000 revs. We calculated we
needed 6800 revs for 200 mph.
Oggi took the 34 on the first run through the timers but with a short
run up could only achieve 189 mph. We prepped the 34 for the next run.
Because racing had been delayed for 2 days, no one had blown up yet -
which meant that the record entrants (119 in total) were all trying to
run on Wednesday. At the start line, it was a matter of "Hurry Up
It wasn’t until Thursday I got a run. As it turned out it was for
the better, as I was one of the first. The weather was cool (sort of)
and I had a 2 mile run up. I had been told that the track was slippery
at the 5th mile but I was rapt, the 34 roadster drove like
it was on rails. I achieved 195.5 mph - not 200 but it’s the fastest
it has ever run.
The Moe Boy’s Falcon ran. I wanted them to run 200 mph almost as
much as I wanted it for Big Knob Racing. Greg White ran 199.225 mph - a
new record but not quite 200 mph. Roy Brand and Garry Brown, with a 10
weeks build time produced a record breaking blown XF falcon, while Bob
Ellis in his 200+ capable XP Falcon coupe ran 181.983 mph.
Rod Hadfield checked out the improved conditions and decided to
unpack his Commodore. Lionel West took it on a shakedown pass of 224.536
mph. It still had plenty up its sleeve. John Lynch and his crew were
having problems with the oil scavenger pump in their dry sump system.
Nashty (Ian Willis from WA) gave them a hand to sort it out and the
belly tank ran 253.86 mph. A long way off last years amazing 301 mph.
Bob Bowman, at something like 160 mph, had his annual spin in his
roadster – round and round and round. Bob’s best run is a straight
line was 165.8 mph. Ray Charlton’s 32 roadster did a respectable
175.618 mph with Ray at the wheel. His son, Steve Charlton clocked
170.67 mph. Dad wins!
Vic Oneil cruised into the pits and unloaded a Y Block powered 32
Coupe with a 3" windscreen. Spider built the car but couldn’t
make it to the event. Vic and his son had a ball sorting out this car
and came home with 2 new records B/FCC 120.292 mph and BGCG 125.918 mph.
Stephen Stamp took out his A Model roadster. The big horse powered
small block chev managed a very respectable 181.910 mph with Stephen at
the wheel. But, his joint driver, Aulis Soderblom took a new record at
185.013 mph. Well Done!
If DLRA had a trophy for the best presented car, it would have gone
to Alan Fountain’s lakester. Alan’s lakester debuted this year and
did a licensing pass of 168.452 mph. Next year, he will be one to watch.
Cled Davies (Chief starter) and Peter Noy (timer) kept the track open
for as long as they could to give people as many runs as possible.
Wednesday night, Len and Joy provided another great meal. After tea,
Michael and I headed to the race camp to take part in the annual
auction. Animal is the official DLRA auctioneer. He always conducts the
event in his jocks and raises a lot of money for the event in a very
entertaining way. The auction is one of the highlights of Speedweek.
Michael got some good footage for Rodders Life.
Thursday morning, we were prepping the 34 for racing. We had to fix
an oil leak, reset the tappet clearances, check the fuel and tape up all
body gaps. The track was open. I heard the sweet sound of Rod’s
540 ci Donovan at full noise. I looked up from the 34 to the track as
the bronze commodore flashed past. Race Radio UHF 8 said the run was 240
mph. Race Radio then called out that Rods car had fire underneath. I
felt sick. Graham and I grabbed our big foam extinguisher, jumped in the
F Truck, and prepared the extinguisher for use while we drove across the
We could see a cloud of smoke appearing behind the island, so I
floored the F Truck and hoped he was out of the car. Rod Hadfield’s
NOS injected Commodore exploded as we pulled up. The fire crew pulled
Rod from the car and put out a call for more extinguishers. Rod was
slowly coming to. He was alive, nothing broken and no burns. Amazing. He
was put in a stretcher and kept cool. Rod was worried about holding up
The Commodore was destroyed from the firewall forward. We suspect
that an oil leak had started to burn, the methanol fuel tank had
ruptured, and one of the nitros bottles had exploded. The rescue crew
did a great job to get Rod out of the car without injury. Thanks guys. I
stayed with Rod while his crew salvaged what was left of the Commodore.
The track was out of action for some time.
Speedweek is only possible through the efforts of many volunteers in
the club. Special thanks goes to Andy Jenkins, Peter Noy, Cled Davies,
Lennie Souter, Animal (Steve Charlton), Bob Ellis, Kevin Seville, Mark
Hadfield, Mathew Saunders, Geoffrey Marden, Chris Hanlon, Eric Smith and
Thanks to all the office holders, including Rob Carroll, Rod
Hadfield, and Brian Nicholson. Thanks also to the not so official office
holder, Carol "I’m not even a member!" Hadfield.
Last, but not least, thanks to the Big Knob Race Team and supporters,
including Elvis at Rod Bods, John Peterson, Bob Kelly, Darren Milburn,
Mat Lagoon, Tom Peach, Nicki Signs, MacDonald Bros Racing and Jet Hot
Information on Speedweek can be found at http://www.dlra.org.au
Written by Norm Hardinge.