Fresh off his stunning performance at Willowbank Raceway during the Santos Cranes Super 3 Extreme Drag Race, Chris Matheson and his Nitro Voodoo Team were pumped and confident of putting on a good show at the Nitro Champs.
Matheson came into Sydney Dragway with the quickest and fastest times ever recorded in Australia by a nitro-burning Top Fuel Motorcycle. His 6.043 Elapsed Time and Speed of 241.80 mph was mind blowing and moved the Nitro Voodoo/McBride Special up in the world rankings with a ninth place on the Elapsed Time list and fifth fastest Speed!
But, as the Willowbank race was an exhibition only for the three-time Australian Champ and his Team, he was not able to claim any ANDRA National Records. Hence why he was pumped about Sydney, as this was a Championship Event and the Records were there for the taking.
“The weather conditions were perfect and the track was well prepared by Ray Treasure and his team,” said Matheson. We have plenty of spares on board to meet the challenge and we were out to win.”
Qualifying was held on Saturday and despite struggling on two of the runs Matheson Top Qualified with a 6.078 at 226 mph following the second session, which was the quickest any bike had gone down the Sydney track, bettering the previous best of 6.111 held by Chris.
Chris Matheson - Top Qualifier
“After the first pass we swapped out an engine due to some damage ”said Matheson. I shut it off then smashed it back open which is a nitro no no and even though it was our first „test‟ run, I was chasing numbers”.
“Ordinarily I would not have got back on because it potentially can do a lot of damage to engine and gearbox from going 1500 horsepower to none and then back on. When you are that far down the track you are in direct drive mode, as the clutch doesn't have anything to do with the run. But, when I got back on, it hooked up, reared up again and tore the end of the crank off, which was to be expected.”
The last pass on Saturday night saw some more damage with the bike turning the tyre the entire run. This resulted in the crew putting in a big effort that night, going over the chassis, servicing and bleeding brakes, replacing the supercharger and servicing the gearbox.
“We left the track at 2am to grab some sleep,” said Matheson. Our Crew Chief Rodger Bloor ended up staying and put in an all-nighter. When we returned around 8am Roger was finishing up on some final touches, so we went about our normal business getting ready for our first round of eliminations.
We had Nev Smith in the opening round but he spun the tyre and crossed the centerline. We also turned the tyre and I got off just before the finish line for a 6.078/226 mph, which was enough to reset the track ET Record.
Then came that fateful semi finals.
“Everything was pretty much business as usual and we had a bye run. This normally puts us straight into the final. The bike left on a .106 reaction and went 1.081 to the 60 foot mark, which Matheson said was slow for the bike. Half track the increments read 4.07/189. The bike was still slow in the top half, as we have been in the three-second zone at over 200mph. The bike moved around a bit, as it had for most of the weekend, but I wasn‟t lifting and when it grabbed it took off and I knew it had some speed. I tucked myself in behind the front nose cone and hung on. I was aware that there was a bump in the right lane and normally would get off just after it and let the bike settle first before grabbing brakes. However, I knew I had serious speed so at the same time didn‟t want to be late on the brakes. We do run with a chute but I prefer to only use it for emergencies, “said Matheson. We run the best brakes available and we service and maintain them to the highest standard after each pass. They pull up the bike with no problems.
“I went to apply the back brakes first (having just stopped the clocks at 231.79 mph) which is on the left, but at the very same time that I lifted my fingers the bike hit a bump. This lifted my fingers, which was then followed by my hand, arm and body. As I left the bike I knew that this wasn‟t good and I can remember watching the bike disappear into the distance. This was followed by asphalt, sky and concrete walls, as I tumbled over and over down the track. By the time I came to a stop laid on my back and opened up the helmet visor to let some air in. I then wriggled fingers, arms, legs and toes to make sure they were still working. I then tried to get up, but by that time the fire crew and ambos all turned up.”
The bike went through the sand at an estimated speed of 300klms. It then went through the safety catch net before crashing into the tyre wall, snapping off the front end (as it is designed to do) and was catapulted over the fence before stopping on the hill.
I would like to thank all the officials, fire crew and ambos, as well as fans and fellow racers who called or left messages. I ended up with multiple fractures to my foot, which required a number of screws and plates, a bone graft, bruising and significant burns. Also a huge thank-you to Chris Porter from the Frasier Motorcycle sponsored Bad Bones Nitro Harley Team and our No.1 rival, who drove my transporter back to Brisbane.
While I did have intentions to bring out the “Jack Hammer” (V-Twin) for the Winters to at least try and get some points, my foot will not allow that to happen.
As all the crew were booked for the Winternationals, we have set aside most of the weekend to finish repairing Nitro Voodoo machine. For those who first saw the wreck in Sydney it was easy to draw to the conclusion that Matheson or the bike would never race again. Matheson said, not the case, we have plenty of spares, most of the damage was cosmetic, a testament to the design of the bike. Whilst we will miss the Winters, we will be more than ready to take up where we left off at our next Round in August at Hidden Valley Darwin.
Thank you once again to our Sponsors & Supporters:
WebCam, Red Line Oils, RB Performance, Rocket Industries, CRC Industries, PDS Graphics, Kitten Car Care Products, GT Radiators & Machining, Vance & Hines, Hi-Side Leathers, PR Factory Store and special thanks to Larry “Spiderman” McBride & Steve McBride.
image: Rob Sparkes