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The 2018 Gulf Western Oil Nitro Thunder (May 4-5) was a pivotal event for Jim Read Racing. Depending on the outcome, crew chief Bruce Read had left the door open for a possible appearance at the 51st Winternationals.

However, the combination of tricky conditions in Sydney and the continuation of breaking supercharger belts, saw the door closed.

“As much as we wanted to go to the Winternationals, we missed the window on our clutch program again. The Sydney track was tight and we had to battle with mine shaft conditions, but it was the same for everyone,” said Read.

“The medieval changes we had to make to the car to get it down the track on the last run at minus 17 feet density altitude was always going to be a challenge. Just to give you a picture the optimum altitude for Top Fuel cars is around 1600 to 2200 feet and we are expected to put a 10,000 horsepower dragster down a racetrack, where the racing surface was only 56 degrees!

“I’m not using this as an excuse because we clearly were off our game (even in the good conditions) but what I had to do to the car to get it down the track was completely in reverse to normal. We are talking massive changes. Not a turn here or there. We normally change things in small increments, but in this instance, we took half our primary weight off our clutch to get it off the start-line!

“Even though our 60 foots were great, the track was that tight and cold the car couldn’t function after 60 feet.  Nowhere else in the world do they run in those conditions.

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Older heads prevailed in the end with the tuning.

“After Willowbank we went over the car and checked everything. Every team here refers to someone in America. In our case I’m fortunate to be friends with Kalitta Motorsports. They suggested a couple of things, but I was a little stubborn (laughing), and whilst I listened to their opinion, and I have to say that both the advice I got from Jim O and from Dad were similar, too my detriment I choose to go my own path. This wasn’t the right one and subsequently, both Dad and Jimo were proved to be correct because in the final pass of the night, I did what my Dad advised to do (grin), and of course the car went down the track," said Read.

The team will not be contesting the Winternationals this year electing to focus on a full tilt attack at the championship next season

"We did leave the door open for the Winters, however it really wasn’t in our budget this year and the car clearly isn’t a happy camper. I’m also heading over to the States for a few weeks helping out the Kalitta’s. I’m very fortunate to have a 10 plus year relationship with the Kalitta family and I’m fortunate to learn a lot from them both in what I see and from questions I throw at them.

“Once that is finished we’ll hopefully test at Sydney around September with the intention to try and run all the Top Fuel rounds.

“We have some excellent support from our corporate sponsors – McDonalds, North Vic Engines, Valvoline, Oddessy Batteries, Premiair Hire, Pacific Pools, PMP Motorsport Products and others. With their help and support, our intent is to run for a championship next season.