Scott MacLean endured a tough Santo’s Summer Thunder event at Sydney Dragway in the fourth round of the 400 Thunder Pro Slammer Championship. The rollercoaster of emotion began before the event, with the team’s private testing on the Wednesday not going to plan thanks to car-damaging tyre shake that left MacLean stunned at its ferocity.
“Savage is the best word I can use to describe the shake we had,” he said. “This car is normally so smooth and this was the first time it has had that kind of tyre shake.
“Out of the short drag racing career I have had, that was the worst I have experienced. As I rolled down the rest of the track I could hear it making noises and I couldn’t work out what it had hurt.
“I got out of the car and found the wheelie bar had broken and was dragging on the ground. At first I thought ‘that is not so bad’ and then I found out things were not so good.”
The team’s teardown in the pits revealed bent four link bars in the rear end of the car as well as broken wheelie bars – plenty of work ahead of a major championship event. Fortunately Sydney chassis builder Craig Burns and SCF Race Cars were ready to assist and repaired the essential components in record time, with the MacLean Motorsport crew going above and beyond the call of duty to get the Monaro ready for official pre-event testing on the Friday.
Crew chief Darren Mayer, of DMPE Inc said the forces of the tyre shake allowed the rear end to rotate and impact the wishbone suspension with force.
“This all happened as the car was approaching the top of second gear,” he said. “The tyre shake Scotty drove through was normal as he drove through it but the violent shake was what he felt as the bars failed.
“The rear end rolled excessively up into the car putting the drive shaft at an excessive upward angle – would speculate upwards of 25 degrees. At that point the wishbone was impacted and this put a shock throughout the car that broke supporting bars and welds to the wishbone mount and supporting areas.
“Clearly this set us back from the focus of crew and driver training. The focus turned to damage repair. Craig Burns and his two sons kept their shop open to us well into the night – a favour I definitely appreciate and hope to return when given the opportunity.
“Our crew came together and we put a repair plan together to repair the chassis properly so that the car’s integrity could be reestablished. Our boys are not afraid of hard work. Our new crew member Andy McConnell got to experience a bad day at the track with MacLean Motorsports and he stepped up and impressed me with his work ethic and fabrication skills.”
MacLean echoed Mayer’s applause of the team’s efforts.
“Our crew worked their butts off and I am very proud of their work ethic and the hours they put in to get us back into the race,” he said.
Friday testing yielded a 5.79 at a strong 254mph as the DMPE Inc engine performed well in the heat. It looked like the ship was beginning to turn around, but race day had other ideas.
The first round proved particularly wild as the MacLean Motorsport Monaro got up on to two wheels and crossed into the opposite lane, fortunately missing opponent Steven Ham.
A round two solo provided an opportunity to steady, with a 5.85 at 252mph getting MacLean’s eye back into the game.
A final round confrontation with Ben Bray saw MacLean leave too soon, jumping the green by four hundredths of a second. But in a strange turn of events, a similar situation to MacLean’s first round occurred when Bray crossed lanes near the finish line, handing the victory back to MacLean.
“To salvage two wins from three rounds considering the start we had is probably a good result. I'm still upbeat about it all even though this meeting threw a lot at us.”
MacLean Motorsport now makes the long trek to Perth Motorplex for the Westernationals, where the team has enjoyed some strong performances.
“Perth is like a second home track for us, we have a lot of friends there and our car runs well at the Motorplex,” MacLean said.
While the temptation exists to continue a testing regime in preparation for next season, Mayer said he wants to instead bring an A-game.
“I have given Scotty exercises to do to help improve his reaction time consistency, the team will be preparing the MacLean Motorsports hot rod and I will be also doing my homework in preparation for the team’s first win,” he said.
Mayer also wished to pass on his thanks to the people behind the scenes who ensure MacLean Motorsport remains one of the most professional teams in drag racing.
“I would like to thank Mark and Sharyn Latham-Callcott for opening their house to us – truly wonderful people with three amazing daughters,” he said. “I look forward to going to Sydney because of this family.
“Rachel MacLean deserves a standing ovation for organising the team and for everything she does that is unseen and happens when the car is tucked away in the trailer.
“Dale Gummow, thank you for keeping us alive as we are not smart enough to stop working and eat. For dressing our wounds, and all the things you do to keep us focused.
“And to the most important two people in my life. My lovely wife who wants to come to Australia every time I leave because she was born here and my number one Olivia ‘Danger’ Mayer – the light of my life and the reason we will win very soon. She wants me to say hello to her on TV after winning an Australian race and there is not a team in the country capable of stopping me from doing this for her.”
The Westernationals takes place at Perth Motorplex on March 3 and 4.