Sydney Dragway, November 21st 2010

This was a very big weekend for Nostalgia Drag Racing not only in Sydney, but in Australia. It was the first time outside of the U.S. that 4 Nitro Nostalgia themed cars had appeared at the one venue for a Chicago style event.

The weekend started off on the Saturday with an Open Day at Rocket Industries with a car show, free BBQ and a cackle fest. It was a great turnout and the weather was super to boot.

The Saturday evening saw another BBQ at the track in the Australian Nostalgia Fuel Association's (A.N.F.A.) pit area. About 60 ANFA members, family and friends enjoyed a laid back cook-out to wind down an eventful day.

Sunday dawned just great. We had been used to rain every time lately that we tried to lap the car, so to see the sun raging was a great feeling.

The team assembled at the trailer about 7.30am and proceeded to 'set-up camp'. This time was a little different, as we were expecting a lot of guests, so we had a separate cantina for the crew and friends. We also had taken delivery of some new 'eze-ups' and had to play with them a little, but when all assembled together, we had more shade than an eclipse.

We had also taken delivery of our 2 new U.S. designed and made t-shirts back in August, but had not had an event to show them at till now, so Wendy was run off her feet with the sales of the new threads. We also had mounted 20 pieces of shrapnel, comprising pistons, rods and 'carnage odds' to polished timber bases and plonked a Black Widow gold and black plaque on them. The fans just loved them, we sold 12 and took some orders for more, but what was even more amusing was the pictures that were taken of them and after our last pass, which we hurt the old girl, one of our crew guys with a weird sense of humour (Tommy) added a note; "New Stock Coming" and placed it on the table. Never let it be said that our whole crew doesn't have a sense of humour.

Down to the racing part of the program.

We fired the car for a warm up and a checkout about 10am to make sure there was nothing majorly wrong that would leave us time to fix. Started fine, warmed her up then leaked the cylinders for a reading for the rest of the day, adjusted the new clutch and we're ready to go.

At about noon, with one hour to racing, we started her up again, warmed her, made all of the necessary checks and made the decision that she was ready to lap, dropped her onto the bitumen and pushed her out for the tow to the start line.

We had drawn the "Nitro Express" 57 Chev FC of the Cowin Family first round on a seeded basis. Mark and Andrew had never raced each other before in the big show Top Fuel, so there was a bit of a "I'll get you" and "I'll see you at the bottom" style of good natured banter that had everybody in the staging lanes chuckling. Ah, these young jockeys.

Rolled to the start up box, let the 57 burnout first, started the engine, Mario checked her over then sent her to the burnout box. Mark did a nice solid but short burnout and reversed back to be sitting near the start, with the 57 on the other side of the lanes, both crews checked both cars over and the message came from both chiefs to stage them. On the green, Andrew had a slight lead with a reaction of .160 to Marks .197 and as they crossed the 60 foot timers, the 57 got there in 1.01 while our black car reached them in 1.18, so already we were behind the 8 ball. At half track, the 57 went past at 3.95 and we followed at 4.45.... there's half a second already.

Through the traps and Andrew broke the beams with a 6.03 at 227 mph (365 kph). Mark followed with a 6.64 at 218 mph (350 kph), good mph considering the time.

So, that was first round. Norm Longfield then beat Dave Armstrong and as I was a tad busy, I have no idea of the times.

We scooted back to the pit, and wheeled the car under the Taj Mahal, and up on the jax. The decision was made to leak the cylinders again and compare them to the reading from the warm-up earlier in the day. Number 5 cylinder had dropped a bunch, so we decided to pull one head off and see if the valves were a tad bent or the piston had a problem. Nothing, all checked out just fine, so let's put her back on and start her again. While Joey was under the car changing the oil, Mario asked him to turn the motor over (still with the one head off) and she had a tight spot. A little more muscle and she turned over. We should have picked something up then. On the warm up, she didn't want to shut down easily.... should have sensed something again. There was a small fuel leak which we couldn't stop when the motor was running, so we swapped out a return line and putting another one in its place. It just didn't seem like the motor was happy though. Dropped her onto the tarmac and headed to the lanes. Buckled Mark in the car to run Norm Longfield, as we have been waiting to lap each other for a very long while.

Started the car in the box near the start line, moved to the burnout pad and again Mark made a nice sharp sorter style of burnout. But, things didn't seem quite right. The motor went off song a little bit and as I was walking down across the start line, I looked back at Vince as I couldn't see anything where I was and put my arms out as if to say "What..." and he motioned to bring him back. I still had not seen the oil on the track where Mark had stopped and turned around to guide Mark back when he went past me. When we stopped on the line, the officials had waved us to shut it down and after we looked down the front of the engine.... there was a smaller cousin of the Exxon Valdez. Pushed her back off the line and towed back to the pit, put her up on jax and started to have a good look, although we couldn't see much.... there was oil everywhere.

Hmm, OK let's drop the belly pan and see what we can see. Yep, full of oil, OK, let's check the diaper, yep there's the rest of the oil. Oil everywhere except in the pan. Now we can see the pan. Two nice little holes punched through the bottom of it. She has broken a rod bolt. Damn, common occurrence, but why us?

Pulled all of the oily parts off and Tommy played dishwasher and cleaned up everything. No good tearing anything else off, so buttoned her all up and put her back in the box. The whole team then set about dismantling the Taj, and putting all the gear back into storage for the short trip home.

I had to run some people to the airport, so Joey parked the trailer where it normally goes, and when I arrived home thought that I would have a quick peek at everything, and quite funny, we had placed the two absorption pads from the diaper in a tray on the floor of the trailer, and they had leaked, so between that and a small oil can that had fallen over on the trip home, oil was leaking from two spots, and just looked like the trailer was bleeding as well.... what a day.

We have several people that make it all happen, and I know that I repeat myself a bit here, but without these people, the companies and family and friends, this whole operation just don't happen.

The crew guys from De Don, Mario Mariani and his trusted fellow Italian two handed man Vince Della Cioppa. Masters of the universe.... except this time we had a falling star.

Joey, our transport manager, quartermaster and diver. Exceptional.

Tommy, Mr Fabrication and the man of a thousand folded arm poses.... everywhere when you need him and the target of all of our team photographers....

Buddy, our resident computer geek. From the RacePak to the canards, good deal... and he even flies in to play silly buggers with us.

Mark the leather footed shoe, a hit with the families and kids alike. Cool under pressure and loves sitting with the ladies in the pit!

The Ladies Catering and Photo Corps. We had enough food to feed the whole complex. Every guest who entered the cantina was made to feel warm and cuddly... and FAT! Great spread, great hospitality and great gals.

There is a list of sponsors who help out when we need them,

Nitro Fuels, Transport Today, Teng Tools, Koala Auto Kare, Quickstrip, Translock, Tony Thomas Engineering, Jeff Rogers Wholesale Cars, AutoXcel, Santos Cranes, Race Glides and many others. Thank you.

That finishes our season heading up to Christmas, and we will start again in the New Year with a fresh motor and a keen and refreshed crew, looking to improve on our best from before.

From our team, we hope you and your family have a Super Christmas and all of your family stay safe and well,

Steve and Wendy Turner and the Black Widow Team.

For more pictures see Sydney Dragway - November 21st, 2010 in the Gallery

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