Shane Dale

HOLDEN HZ SAND­MAN VAN

Street Machine - - Story Photos -

SHANE Dale may be a Drag Chal­lenge new­bie for 2017, but he’s done his share of straight-line rac­ing. Fun­nily enough, as he prepped his ’77 HZ Sand­man pano for its vir­gin eighth-mile pass, a cheeky by­stander blurted: “You do re­alise that the point of drag rac­ing is to have a light, wind-re­sis­tant car, don’t you?” Un­de­terred, a few hours later Shane was on the win­ner’s podium thanks to the 502ci pow­er­house nes­tled up front and some not-too-shabby re­ac­tion times.

“It was a three-track com­pe­ti­tion and I came sec­ond over­all in Su­per Street, hav­ing only com­peted at two of the three tracks; I couldn’t be­lieve it,” Shane re­calls. The pano, which was fea­tured in Street

Ma­chine back in April 2007, had thor­oughly hum­ble be­gin­nings.

“I bought it in ’97 for $4200,” Shane says. “It was Va­len­cia or­ange with Sand­man stripes and a dented lower tail­gate. It was run­ning the orig­i­nal 253ci driv­e­line. Later I re­alised it was a gen­uine, orig­i­nal Sand­man. It was my daily driver and surf-bus for about eight years.”

The car copped a light makeover, in­clud­ing a 308ci en­gine and Borg­warner rear up­grades, which lasted a few years un­til the four-speed gear­box blew, ini­ti­at­ing a full re­build. Be­hind the big-block was bolted a trusty Stage 2 T400, 3000rpm Dom­i­na­tor stally and a nine-inch with True­trac, 3.55s and 31-spline Moser axles. Brak­ing po­ten­tial was in­creased with VT discs up front and WB Stato discs at the rear.

Shane com­pleted the whole body-of­fchas­sis paint, panel, in­te­rior and driv­e­line up­grades him­self. Many late nights were put in prior to the pano’s de­but at Sum­mer­nats 20, where it scored a Top 60 spot. A raft of tro­phy-haul­ing events and drag rac­ing fol­lowed. That was un­til about five years ago, when the van was parked up, only to be un­wrapped again a few months ago.

“With Drag Chal­lenge com­ing to SA, it seemed silly not to com­pete,” Shane reck­ons. “We love the con­cept and knew we’d have to be part of it.”

In prep­ping for the event Shane has had to aban­don the car’s show roots to ad­dress the prac­ti­cal­i­ties of driv­ing his beast around the 1500km-plus course.

“There’s a few nig­gling things that I’m fi­nally go­ing to get right, and the heads are now be­ing flowed thanks to Dar­ren at Bul­let Cylin­der Heads,” he says.

To help on the long high­way stints, he’s opt­ing for taller tyres on his Pon­tiac Ral­lye II rims to lower the revs. As for the race rub­ber: “I’ve re­cently in­vested in a set of 15-inch Convo rears – yes, I did find a pair with­out sell­ing a kid­ney – and I’ll tuck as much rub­ber as I can fit un­der my un­tubbed guards,” he says. “I plan to get a cou­ple of quar­ter-mile runs at AIR soon, as I’ve only clocked eighth­mile times with a PB of 7.8s. Af­ter that we might even buzz across to Mil­dura in it to see how the trip goes. Of course, at 8.2 litres, she’ll be pretty thirsty!”

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