For Jason Hedges, a career best third place in the 400 Thunder Pro Stock Championship for 2017-18 was a sign of more good things to come.
With a consistently quick car that was battling for event wins and the championship, Hedges was brimming with confidence about his prospects for the 2018-19 season. So much so, that in an attempt to get ahead of the game he made the decision to be the first Australian Pro Stock racer to convert to the soon-to-be-mandated unleaded fuel.
His main race engine was shipped back to the United States and unfortunately was not race ready for the first round of the championship at the East Coast Thunder in Sydney last November. Fortunately for Hedges, the next round of the series was not scheduled until almost six months later at Willowbank for the Super Thunder event on Good Friday.
“We received the engine back from the U.S. in late February and everything was looking good,” said Jason. “Our engine builder said that it was showing some really promising results on the dyno so we couldn’t wait to put the engine in the car and run at Sydney Dragway for some testing in March.”
“Unfortunately being the first Pro Car on unleaded fuel meant that we really didn’t have a baseline for what the engine wanted. We set everything where we thought it should be but it just wasn’t happy.”
Little did the team know that a parts failure inside was robbing the engine of horsepower, with the team trying to accommodate via the fuel delivery and clutch settings for what they assumed was just part of the learning curve of unleaded fuel.
“VP Race Fuels have been great with their supply of knowledge about what guys in the U.S. have run with this unleaded fuel, and we thought we had a pretty good idea of where it needed to be. Unfortunately, on the morning of the second day, a rod exited the sump due to parts failure, and an oiling issue and caused a whole lot of damage to just about everything inside the engine from the manifold down.” he said.
“The only up side was that we didn’t oil down the track due to the containment devices on board."
"We usually get 60 to 80 runs on an engine before a freshen, so for something to go this wrong in only two half passes, it had to be a catastrophic parts failure.”
The damage forced Jason Hedges to withdraw from the Gulf Western Oil Nitro Thunder at Sydney Dragway, and has put his participation at the season ending Winternationals in doubt.
“I’m so disappointed for everyone, especially my racing partners. My crew work so hard and were pumped for this,” a dejected Hedges said.
“Pro Stock has never been easy, but we decided to go and blaze our own trail to try to get ahead of some of these guys who are right at the front, the Tremaynes and the Daleys – and it just bit us on the backside massively. We will regroup and hopefully we can get an engine package together for the Winternationals in June. I just want to run the damn number 3 on my car at least once this season!”
Victorian Engine Builder Danny Selva is working around the clock on the new engine program for Hedges.
"We will now rebuild this motor here on our home soil, as soon as parts supply will allow, then get back to track testing this bad boy," concluded Hedges.