WILD AT HEART

Street Machine - - Contents - VIC­TOR BRAY

WITH Christ­mas and a new year on the hori­zon, I’d like to take time to re­flect on the 2018 drag rac­ing sea­son and also do some crys­tal-ball gaz­ing for 2019.

Race-wise, the big news for our team was that we brought Texan Frankie Tay­lor out to drive our third car. A very funny man and a great tal­ent be­hind the wheel, Frankie was a real hit with the race fans wher­ever he went.

Hav­ing some­one of Frankie’s cal­i­bre work­ing with the team was great. In Amer­ica he races al­most ev­ery week­end, and that knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence is price­less. You can talk on the phone, but noth­ing beats meet­ing faceto-face. There’s a lot of stuff we al­ready knew, but hav­ing Frankie, his brother Paul, daugh­ter Emily and chas­sis spe­cial­ist Jeremy on hand was a real bonus. We de­cided to make some changes, par­tic­u­larly with our chas­sis set-up, and it will take a few meet­ings in 2019 be­fore the re­sults show up on the score­board.

One thing the Amer­i­cans don’t quite un­der­stand when they first come over to Aus­tralia is why we run with our chas­sis so stiff. The rea­son is the tracks and the track prepa­ra­tion we have in Aus­tralia are very dif­fer­ent to what they run in Amer­ica.

Th­ese days all the teams are con­cen­trat­ing on get­ting their chas­sis work­ing bet­ter. You find that the guys who are buy­ing cars di­rect from Amer­ica al­ready have a han­dle on chas­sis set-up and do well straight out of the box.

Af­ter wit­ness­ing most teams step­ping up with PBS last sea­son, in­clud­ing sev­eral into the 5.60s, I think in 2019 we are go­ing to see Pro Slam­mers mov­ing into a new zone, with some run­ning in the 5.50s at speeds over 420km/h. Chas­sis set-up will be the num­berone pri­or­ity. As well as cur­rent champ Paul Mouhayet and reg­u­lar front-run­ner John Zap­pia, look out for Syd­ney rac­ers Emilio Spinozzi and Sam Fenech, along with Bris­bane’s Steve Ham and WA’S Kelvin Lyle to re­ally step up in 2019. Hope­fully, we can get in the mix as well.

The de­vel­op­men­tal curve in the sport over the past 12 months has been phe­nom­e­nal and in 2019 there will be no let-up. For a long time in drag rac­ing things just rolled along, with in­cre­men­tal changes in re­gards to ET and speed. You only need to look at US leg­end Scotty Can­non’s times in the 1990s, when they were flat-out run­ning 6.30 passes. To­day they are run­ning 5.60s and around 160 ki­los heav­ier. I never thought I would ever see a le­gal 5.40-sec­ond Pro Slam­mer pass. I gotta tell ya, it’s com­ing; it’s just a matter of time. Could it hap­pen in 2019? Ask me this time next year.

From a per­sonal per­spec­tive in 2018, the high­light was be­ing able to get back in the car and go rac­ing again. When I was ly­ing in the hos­pi­tal for all those months I had doubts at times that I would ever race again, and it was a mas­sive re­lief when I got the all-clear.

I wanted to make a come­back at my home track Wil­low­bank at the Win­ter­na­tion­als. That was one of the most emo­tional meet­ings in my rac­ing ca­reer. Get­ting be­hind the wheel again, I was as ner­vous as I have ever been in over 45 years of rac­ing.

As well as my fam­ily and fans I also want to ac­knowl­edge the sup­port of all our spon­sors, es­pe­cially Gulf West­ern Oil and Cen­tury Bat­ter­ies, who have stuck with me. They are both very much fam­ily-style com­pa­nies; if our spon­sors had been mas­sive cor­po­rate conglomerates I prob­a­bly would have been cut loose and given the flick.

THIS YEAR WE BROUGHT TEXAN FRANKIE TAY­LOR OUT TO DRIVE OUR THIRD CAR. A VERY FUNNY MAN AND A GREAT TAL­ENT BE­HIND THE WHEEL, FRANKIE WAS A REAL HIT WITH THE RACE FANS

In 2019 my doc­tors and fam­ily will guide my race sched­ule. The plan is to run at all the 400 Thun­der cham­pi­onship events, in­clud­ing the Wil­low­bank and Syd­ney Drag­way rounds in Jan­uary. Even though the level of com­pe­ti­tion has stepped up and there are many cham­pi­onship con­tenders out there, I still would love to have a run at an­other cham­pi­onship.

Road safety, par­tic­u­larly stop­ping kids do­ing burnouts and hooning on pub­lic roads, is an on­go­ing is­sue. There is a place for burnouts, but only within a safe and con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment. Re­cently the guys at Gulf West­ern had a cus­tomer evening at their head­quar­ters in Bris­bane. We set up a burnout pad with safety of­fi­cers, fire mar­shals and spec­ta­tor bar­ri­ers. Ben took down his ’63 Corvette burnout car and they in­vited some lo­cals who com­pete at burnout events. Gulf West­ern put on a free bar­be­cue and we had a crowd of around 400, with a lot of young lo­cal revheads turn­ing up for a look. Ben and I spent a lot of time just chat­ting to peo­ple and check­ing out some amaz­ing street cars. It was a great night; thanks to Gulf West­ern for pro­vid­ing the venue and un­der­writ­ing the night, and also to the peo­ple who came along to sup­port the event.

It also made me re­alise how times have changed. In my day, if you had a car that ran 15 sec­onds you were hot. To­day you can go out and buy a street car off the show­room floor that can do 10-sec­ond quar­ters, and if you get caught hooning un­der to­day’s laws you risk hav­ing your car im­pounded. It makes no sense and sim­ply isn’t worth it when you can do it safer and legally at events like Pow­er­cruise and Street Ma­chine Sum­mer­nats.

We have some re­ally cool cars com­ing through our work­shop early next year that I want to share with the pub­lic. Plans to have our spon­sors, their cus­tomers and car clubs come visit our work­shop are well advanced and is some­thing that I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to in 2019. If any clubs are in­ter­ested in hav­ing a day at Team Bray work­shop, get in con­tact with me and we will find a date where Ben and I can show off our culi­nary skills and you can check out the work­shop.

In the mean­time, stay safe and en­joy this spe­cial time of the year with your fam­ily and friends.

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