WILD AT HEART
TWO of the must-see events on the Australian drag racing calendar are both at Willowbank Raceway: the Winternationals and the Jamboree.
This year’s Jamboree was a great event. Brisbane businessman and Factory Xtreme racer Collin Willshire has come on board, bringing his managerial skills to the table, and combined with what Ray Box has already put in place over the years, they ended up with a really world-class event. I think it’s a good blend of the two guys – Ray with his passion and history in the event, and Col who also has the passion and the wherewithal to move the whole deal to the next level.
I went out there and watched Benny race his Datsun. Although he didn’t get the results he would have liked, mainly through lack of time, he got some good burnouts in and the car ran well all day; he didn’t set any records but was pretty happy just to be there.
It wasn’t just about the Sport Compact racing either; there were plenty of off-track activities too. It was such a diversified event, with the car show, trade exhibits, sound-off and all the girls as well. It’s what the public wants – entertainment both on and off the track. In my opinion – and it’s only Victor Bray’s opinion – it was one of Australia’s best-laid-out events; everything was where you would expect it to be. The car show, instead of being down the bottom, was up behind the tower, leaving the Group One pits for the race teams; the drifting was down the bottom past scrutineering; and the food vendors were really well-placed for spectators – and the food was great.
There are a lot of things moving forward at Willowbank. They’ve had a couple of flatline events over the years, but this year’s Jamboree was full-on entertainment. Good food, fast cars and plenty to see, and the spectator numbers were great.
Am I interested in racing at the Jamboree? Not at all, but I like the technology and the stuff that Benny and his mates are doing with their cars.
All that technology is legal, developed and welcomed in the Sport Compact world; the problem I have is that some of the electronic assistance and control technology is creeping into our bracket, where it is banned, and that isn’t being looked at hard enough. There is so much technology out there that the sanctioning bodies – and nothing against ANDRA or IHRA here – really have a hard time keeping up with it all.
To me the biggest issue in Doorslammer for the upcoming season is compliance with the rules. I really believe that now is the time that IHRA and ANDRA ensure – and I’m not pointing the finger at anyone – that the rules are enforced. It’s about time we got serious about giving everybody a chance to win on merit. If what’s happening is legal, then we need to sing the praises of the guys who are running quick and remove the innuendo of cheating. But, if someone is doing something wrong, they deserve to be punished. It’s not just in Doorslammer but in other brackets as well. There is new technology out there that needs to be looked at – it may be within the rules but it may not be addressed by the rulebook, as it is emerging technology and gives a greater advantage. A decision needs to be made on whether it is good for the class. I don’t want to spend money on racing unless I’m sure that everyone else in the field is racing with the same interpretation of the rules, and a lot of racers out there agree with me.
With ANDRA and the 400 Thunder series both releasing their calendars for 2016-17, we will have more places to race at than in the past. We were asked to go to Springmount Raceway in October, but we will be in the US at that time. I really want to race there though; the track looks fantastic and in a great environment. If you see some of the photos with the hills in the background and the lush greenery, it really is a stunning location. Also on the Bray agenda is getting to race at Swan Hill.
When you look at what’s on offer from both series, we could get to race in Adelaide, Calder Park, Perth Motorplex, Sydney Dragway, Darwin, Alice and our home track Willowbank Raceway; there are more than enough events on the calendar. You can’t say there’s anything wrong with more races and more events at more tracks across the country.
I’ve said it from day one: My support goes to the tracks that listen to the racers in regards to safety and focus on providing the safest possible environment. The big tracks usually have the most up-to-date safety gear and better track prep due to the bigger crowds and car numbers, but that just makes the cars faster as well. That’s really important to all the racers, especially with the speeds and ETS that we are running these days.
As for us, it’s time to dust off the passport and head to America in the next couple of weeks. We are going to the NHRA meeting in Las Vegas, staying on for SEMA and the finals at Pomona, but our first stop will be the PDRA meeting in Richmond, Virginia. We’ll be catching up with Jason Scruggs, Frankie Taylor, Todd Tutterow and the PDRA boys, then going to LA to organise importing some cars. I’m not sure if too many people know, but I have an American car fetish.
We’ve set up an area in our workshop where we’ve started restoring older cars, and by that I mean we turn them into rat rods. At the moment I’ve got a ’55 Buick we’re working on, and there are four 1959 Cadillacs on the water, as well as a couple of C10s – hopefully enough to keep the guys at the shop busy while we are away. We love the rat rod stuff and plan on turning up to some car shows with some of the crazy shit we’ve been working on.
We’ve also been busy working towards securing a major sponsorship deal for the upcoming seasons – fingers crossed.