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The Steve Turner Black Widow nitro FED hit the track last weekend at a Sydney Dragway test and tune, this is Turner’s blog on the day about getting one of these beast down the quarter


Well we finally caught up from our washout Test ‘n Tune from May last Sunday here in sunny old, cold Sydney.  The weather wasn’t the kindest to us on the day, as we were able to sneak a lap in about Noon, then a heavy shower, which was good as we pulled the unit apart anyway, then as the rain stopped and dried up a little, we got out again about 4pm.  Still, the track was clean with all of the water, but from about 150 feet out from the start, it started to get a little slick.  The track guys done all that they could under the circumstances, with even the little used track dryer making an appearance, but also the cold temp didn’t help anybody in the end.

Our week heading into the event was a bit comical, as Wendy and I had been away for a while, and the guys had not been anywhere near the car, so the first trip back into the shop was opening drawers and doors to remember where all the tools and parts were located. A bit funny actually, as most of us are senior citizens ‘in waiting’, and just remembering how the car went together brought a lot of laughs from everybody associated with each task.  Ah, can’t wait to get to a ripe old age.

Tommy had made a new trolley to load the car from the shop into the trailer, and apart from a few very small bugs (like muscles needed…) the unit performed flawlessly.  Sure makes backing the car out of the shop a whole lot easier.  We also had some really neat pinstriping applied to the car before the last rained out event by Lee Holt at Coupes Pinstriping, tt gave the old girl that retro look.  Shame Mark tried to clean the cowl at the event from the excess oil on the body and took some of the design off the cowl, possibly not as bad as me when a few days after the pinstriping was applied, I attempted to clean the body with prepsol…yep, one lot of pinstriped cobwebs from the side of the body ‘gone’.

We were pretty much ready to go for the rained out event from May, so there wasn’t a lot to do.  Mario and Vince when over the fuel system again and again, just checking and double checking.  Tommy had our new offset mag drive unit ready to roll as well, and after a few teething problems to install it, we were good to go.  Loaded the car up Saturday afternoon, with Tommy’s new chassis trolley, and was watching the footy on the TV at 5pm, never had that happen before.

Sunday dawned cloudy after some overnight rain, but was pretty nice by mid morning, till the DARK DARK grey clouds rolled in about 2pm.  Unloaded the car and set up camp, and put a marquee at the front of the trailer this time for the crew, their wives and our friends to use as a lunch room.  We had 17 people along for the ride this time, as one thing Wendy and I have always stated, we want EVERYONE to enjoy the car and the day out, no matter how good or bad.

Again Mario was not happy with a section of the fuel system and kept checking the return poppets, tried several competitors leak down units, but after a while, decided to stick with what he had set the unit up with beforehand.  Started the engine and warmed everything up.  Again Mario went searching through the fuel system, and again several times we lit her off, and in the end, the verdict came, send it.

Buttoned all the car back together and towed around to the staging lanes.  Man, this was a BUSY Test ‘n Tune day.  There were a lot of racers waiting in the lanes, I think with oil downs and breakages that it was developing into one of those days. Suited Mark up and belted him in the car, then gave the nod to the officials that we were ready to attempt a lap if possible.  They were excellent, and pushed us to the pointy end of the lanes and before we knew it, we were on the start pad.  Since the last visit here, we have revisited our procedure from the start-up to the staging, and nearly have a nice settled program in place.  Everybody was a lot more aware of their role this time.  Some people had NEVER been on the line and some people had been a VERY long time since they were on the line, but we are rapidly bringing all our guys up to speed.

The engine fired, Mario looked her over again and motioned to move to the burnout box.  Vince gave Mark the fist pump (Explanation-burn up Turners dollars) and the car sounded sweet and executed a nice little burnout across the line.  We brought him back to the line, Mario gave the send it signal, he staged, and zoom.  About 1100 feet, she sounded a bit off like she had ran out of fuel.  The time represented that with a 7.1 at only 151mph.  We cruised to the braking area where Mark had pulled up in the braking area still on the track, and as he had pulled both chutes, and the carbon brakes…well that little old gal just pulled up like somebody threw a dime in front of her.  Funny question from the track crew to Mark. ‘Where do you want the chutes put’ after they had rolled them up…to which Mark replied ‘Gees, dunno, we have never been this far till now…’.  Fixed all that up and towed back to the pit to an expectant Mario who was waiting to look his baby over.  Decided to pull the heads and pan and have a good look, as Mark had noted, and the Racepak told us, no fuel.

Number 4 piston had just nipped the ring lands, so decided to put a new soldier in for duty.  All the rest was fine, bearings and oil were great.  Lost 8 spark plugs though.  They were a little light on in the electrode department.  Our latest celebrity crew appearance was Tony Delutis, cousin of Mario, who has always crewed on these engines in the big show.  With he on one side, our resident celebrity Vinny on the other, and grass cutter Joe underneath, it is just like having your own personal ‘ A Team’ on board.  These guys are slick.  We had the whole unit back together again in no time with a ‘no hurry today’ attitude, and as the rain had stopped, and the pit was a tad dry, we decided to head back out and try our luck again.

Arrived at the head of the lanes and the Officials told us if you get ready in 5 minutes, you can run virtually straight away.  Cool deal.  Same thing, rolled through the water, nice straight burnout, brought her back before the line, Mario blessed her, then Mark dropped her into the beams. Bit of clutch dust again (as we have not got it tight) and she was up on the tyres and motoring pretty good.  A little wiggle to the left, Mark corrected, then a big wiggle to the right.  Ooops, that’s enough.  Mark lifted off the throttle, and coasted through for whatever the time was.  Track was a tad slick out mid way down.  Went to the bottom to retrieve the car and Mark, and on overall appearances, everything looked fine.  No re-appearance of the small oil leak from the first run, and nothing looking out of place.  OK, let’s tow back.

Some very huge black clouds were bearing down on the track as we came through the pit, and we figured that we had about 30 minutes to load to avoid a bigger shower.  Put the car under the awning, half the crew getting the car ready for travel and the other half packing up camp.  When the boys were backing the rockers off, holey dooley.  The inlet pushrod from Number 4 had broken about 2 inches from the top.  On analyse of the computer, it happened in the burnout at the hit of the throttle.  Dumped the fuel and oil, loaded the car and chattels and headed off just as the day was canned cause of the impending shower that had arrived.

On Wednesday night, we will tear the engine and car apart and start all over again.  Try to figure out our fuel problem and why the old gal broke the pushrod.  Ah, too much fun!

Some thanks need to be acknowledged here;
The Black Widow Ladies Auxiliary.  These gals (Wendy, Pam, Annette, Natalie, Hiam and Marie) kept everybody fed and watered all day.  It’s a bit sad when you go to the track, work your butt off all day, yet come home weighing more than when you went. ‘Thanks Gals’.
Tony D; Thanks for the hand man, you were an asset today. You are the best apprentice Vinnie has ever had!

Jeff Rogers Wholesale Cars; Jeff Rogers, is my oldest (and I mean that) and longest buddy ever.  We met when he was 19 and I was 21.  You do the maths.  Jeff has always supported whatever deal Wendy and I do, has utmost faith in our choice of racers, and has backed us 100% of the way.  His company has been associated with every race car that we have ever owned.  Twas a pleasure having your wit and wisdom for the day.  Thankyou!

Also thanks to Lee for the pinstriping, and a very BIG shout out to Grant from Angel Signs. I send an e-mail with what we need, and he sends one back saying ‘come and get em’.  How do you beat that?  Good deal Bud, thanks much.

Geoff Paradise from Transport Today, one of our majors.  Geoff is the link with Hyundai and our team, the glue.  Continually working on the three way arrangement between Transport Today, the Black Widow and Hyundai.  Wants the deal to succeed just as much as us.  A great guy to have in your corner.

Santo Rapisarda from Santos Cranes.  Many times I went to Santo with cap in hand, and he always had the same reply. ‘Go see Robbie and fix it’.  Damn, it’s great to have people with such an understanding of what it takes to make these cars run.  Thanks mate, Freddy would be proud!

OK, this just may get boring here, but the following people make this car happen.  Make NO BONES about it, Wendy and I just could not run this car without these people.  They put in plenty of hours that nobody sees.  They ring at all hours with what they have been thinking about and are going to do.  Gees, it’s a luxury we have not been used to before.  In no order, but as I look at a photo- Tony Thomas, Joe Camilleri, Buddy Ryder, Mario Mariani, Vince Della Cioppa, Tony Delutis, Mark Mariani  and Aaron Turner. – GREAT JOB GUYS.

At this very stage, we do not have a further date, but after we tear the engine down, check her all out, then we will jump at the next opportunity that presents itself, and YOU my lucky reader friend, will be able to view another saga in the ‘Black Widow-What I done last weekend’ diaries.

Many thanks, Turner and the Blonde…

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