Surface doesn't look good for racing
Well, two weeks to go until the Salt and we had it under control - Oggi (Wayne Belot) and myself had the 34 stripped and rebuilt.
All we had to do was to pull the plugs and check the valve spring tensions, dyno it, and load it onto the Big Knob Racing trailer. Easy! It was then we found a melted piston in number six. Devastating!
After a bench session, we decided to borrow the Ford 429 from the Big Knob Racing drag car. It was all hands on deck at Big Knob HQ. John Peterson and Mick Mildren rebuilt the motor in record time. Neil Davies, Colin "Murray" Clarke, Greg Williams, Frank Christie and Graham Detteler helped to rip the motor out and stick it back in. Matt Lagoon did an awesome job with the dyno - he managed to get an extra 30 hp and 140 ft lb of torque over and above last years effort. We were set for 200 mph for sure!!
The rain gods had dumped 5 inches of rain on the Lake and surrounding area six weeks out from the event, washing out the access road and flooding the Lake. But hot weather followed and the Lake was drying out and looking good. To make sure SpeedWeek went ahead, the South Australian government repaired the public access road.
Closer to the Lake, the access road is Mt. Ive Station and is private land. Len and Joy run the station. They fixed the road and prepared enough food and drink for the impending crowd. It was shaping up to be the biggest SpeedWeek ever. We had a record number of pre entries and a membership list topping 670.
We had worked like dogs. Nine people left for the salt in four cars in our convoy. We left Melbourne in high spirits. Two hours on the road and a text message told us that the meeting was cancelled. We didn't want to believe it but several more calls confirmed the crap news. Sorry kids, Christmas is cancelled this year (that's how it felt). A group meeting voted to retire to Myrniong pub for lunch (which turned into most of the day).
This year the Dry Lake didn't live up to its name - more like the Mud and Water Lake! The guys who were at the Salt tried their best to get the track organised. They could not get the grader onto the salt because the entrance was very wet. So they built a road using local rocks for a road base, topping it with local soil. A few cars tested the Lake but it was decided that the condition was not good enough for speed.
Anyway Mud and Water equals no racing. I didn't envy Rod Hadfield, Bob Ellis, and Robbie Carrol. First they had to make the decision not to run the event then they had to tell everyone.
The phones were running hot. Everyone contacted anyone they could think of who would be on the road on their way to the Salt. Some teams were already at the Lake and some others were not contactable. Some crews stayed for an outback holiday. The club still ran the annual auction raising some funds and held the annual general meeting.
A large number of crews decided to go to the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide and most of these guys stayed at Smurf's house (Steve Vorwek), filling his front and rear yard with tents and his street with buses and race trailers - just when Steve's neighbours thought that it couldn't get any worse.
Mark Dunn's Thunderstruck Team toured the Great Ocean Road. Rickshaws Hot Rod Club went fishing for crays and mud crabs, and the Moe Boys toured Victoria ending up at Castlemaine Rods BBQ/club meeting. Two yankee teams headed by Keith Turk and Gail Philips tore up a lot of dollars and time to their get cars and crew from the states to outback Australia. Thanks for the effort guys - sorry about the outcome.
Salt T Shirts/Windcheaters can be ordered by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Even though we didn't get to race and it feels like Christmas has been cancelled, we are still very grateful to all the people that have put in to get us there. Thanks also to Rod & Carol Hadfield, Tom Peach, Elvis at Rod Bods, Nicki Signs, Jet Hot Coatings, Bob Kelly, Darren Milburn, and MacDonald Brothers.
The next general meeting is likely to be a group crying session.
See you at the salt.