Well what can I say rain, rain, rain, not good. The build up to the race was a busy one for all the Jim Read Racing team as both race cars needed to be serviced after our back to back Perth races. For me personally it was very busy with plans for the media day at Sydney Dragway for the new McDonalds signage at the venue and launching the Junior Dragster Search for a Star Promotion and the Summernationals event at Sydney Dragway would be the first event flying the McDonalds branding on the Auto one sponsored Top Fuel dragster.
Phil Read launches the 8000hp fueler down Sydney Dragway
Meetings were held at McDonalds Head office discussing how and when we could assemble all the media together to get maximum exposure for the launch and to promote the Summernationals at Sydney Dragway. Originally we were hoping to launch with the Sunrise Show early Thursday morning, this created a problem with not having enough junior dragster teams available for the promotion which included having two race cars performing a run for the attending television crews.
With school and work commitments for most race teams, Thursday morning didn’t look promising so Friday morning before qualifying commenced seemed a better timeframe, we were sure we would have 6 or so Junior Dragster teams available and a full crew to fire up the Auto one dragster for the camera crew.
The entire Jim Read Racing crew delivered the race cars to the track on Wednesday night and after finalising a few changes with the cars and completing the set up of the corporate hospitality area for all the sponsors attending the race and media launch we were good to go.
Friday morning was very busy for our team as the launch was getting closer to the 10am start. We were hopeful of having 6 of the junior drag race teams attend the launch for the cameras. To say that we were blown away with the turnout is an understatement, 22 junior dragster drivers, crews and their families pulled their cleaned & polished & professionally turned out race cars onto the start line under the huge McDonalds signage for the television crews.
Junior Dragster drivers are the future of our sport, and the way they all conducted themselves including the drivers that were interviewed is a credit to them, their teams & families and I believe we have a healthy future.
Channel 9 and Network 10’s One HD Sports crews attended the launch all anxious to get the best footage and photographs for their stations, as well as the locals newspapers and all the motor magazine people.
The television crews told us that they wanted the Junior Dragsters and the Top Fuel Dragster to do full passes to make more of an impact for the news reports and to push the Summernationals at Sydney Dragway.
This request made my brother Bruce (crew chief) a little nervous as the car was set up for a fire up, not running a full pass. The track was still green, meaning, not having any cars racing on it to give the traction required for a top fuel car. I told him that if the car did smoke the tyres I would catch it quick enough not to hurt the motor and give us bad exposure on the news. (For the record I was hoping I could do that and not make a fool of myself). I also assured him I would not go past 1/3 race track, he reluctantly agreed.
With the television crews ready the Junior Dragsters completed their passes with perfect precision. Then with everybody watching and it was time to impress for the cameras and encourage spectators to attend the event over the weekend. The burnout was a little high revving and I thought, oh no the track is very slick out here I have to be ready. I backed up from the burnout and was given the all clear to stage the car. All the while I am thinking, “Be ready, this could get exciting”. I staged the car and as the lights went green I opened the throttle, I felt the car start to skate and as expected I lose traction and smoked the tyres. I was off the throttle not long after I left the start line hoping that it was enough for the gathered media. When I returned to the start line I was interviews by them and found out they were very happy with the footage and where planning on it going to air that day which was a great result for Sydney Dragway, McDonalds and the sport of drag racing in general.
After a burning hot day, qualifying commenced later that night with overcast skies and changing weather conditions, I’m glad I’m not a crew chief!
With burnouts completed by Mark Mariani and myself, I pulled the Auto one dragster into stage. On the green light the car left strong and around ¼ track I felt a cylinder stop firing or drop as we call it, I lifted off the throttle to save the motor, I knew we had two more qualifying shots that night (or so I thought) to get the car sorted out.
Back in the pit area the crew got to work pulling everything apart with their Snap On tools. The car was back together with fresh Valvoline oil and new Champion spark plugs ready to go when the weather closed in, cancelling the rest of the Friday’s qualifying. The only positive to come out of a situation like this is it gives me more time to spend with all our great sponsors in the corporate area located between the two race cars.
Saturday morning and the weather didn’t look good. It continued to rain and the event was cancelled. Both JRR teams worked as one and packed everything up and headed back to the race shop. Its times like these I feel for all the guys, they put in many hours of work to get ready for a race meeting and they are excited and as pumped as I am ready to race and do battle with all the competitors, only to be beaten by the weather.
To all the Junior Dragster drivers and teams, as a driver I was very proud of you and thank you for the support and professionalism you showed in front of the cameras during the media launch.
To all our great sponsors Auto One, Valvoline, MTU Detroit Diesel, McDonalds, Champion Sparkplugs, Wynn’s, Hurlcon, Goodson, Mulgoa Quarries and Bullet Eyewear, thank you for your continued support of our race team.
To all the great fans who attended the Summernationals in Sydney even with the threat of rain, thanks for coming and for your support also.
I look forward to seeing you all at the next event on April 17 & 18 at Willowbank Raceway in Ipswich Queensland.