My pick for Racer of the Week is Ron Smith, from Croydon, Victoria, Australia. Ron was recommended to me by our friend in Oz, Rachel Mudford. Thanks, Rachel!
Ron’s 1959 Ford Anglia 105e called "Angas" is a marvelous nostalgia gasser, and Ron and his car are a popular and respected drag race team on the circuit. Ron is an immensely talented and creative guy, and his KustomBitz shop provides outstanding service to all his customers as well as Ron’s inventions, which blew my mind when I saw them. I’m going to quote Ron’s story to me in the first person, as he told it in an email that he sent last week:
As I like to say I am a low budget chicken poop bracket racer, so each dollar spent is wisely put, although at times I do wonder. The aim is for maximum fun in a light weight, low stressed package. When I was a young teenager there were a few of these English Fords running at the drags because they were cheap and plentiful over here. Not much has changed. They are still relatively cheap to get a body to work with. There were more English Fords sold over here in OZ than the American body styles back then so those English body styles dominated the modified class fields back when I was younger. Because the old bodies were everywhere in wrecking yards, they were lightweight and you could stuff big engines in them.
This car’s history is a little unknown in specific detail other than I managed to locate through a Facebook group a photo of the car back in the early 1980s racing at Wyalla in south Australia which had the same paint on it when I bought it. It was running a 4 cylinder engine back then as indicated by the faded class decals of the time etched into the back side plexiglass windows which was E/MP. E being 4cyl and MP for modified production. The paint was all peeling off in large chunks so it all had to come off and under that paint I found another layer of race paint - flouro stripes similar to the ZZ Top 34 Ford coupe, so my guess is it became a drag car sometime before that; it may even go back back to the 1970s.
It had been chopped and it had a 4-point roll cage in it, but that had no chance of protecting me in a big crash so I went about fabricating a mild steel 8 point cage with proper triangulation to stiffen up the mono construction frame and bring it up to current ANDRA tech. I then tied the roll cage into key structural parts of the mono frame so its extremely rigid yet quite light weight overall. The view was always to put the front wheels in the air, I just love that, so it had to be strong and rigid to run straight. The car still retains the original floor pan from the boot to the bottom of the firewall, where it changes. The fire wall is custom made to allow the engine to be set back as far as most class rules allow which is the back of the head cannot be further back than the bottom of the stock windscreen. This allows me to run in other classes if for example they are not running Vintage Gas at a particular meeting. There is a whole picture history of the build on face book at www.facebook.com/AngliaGasser
250ci Ford straight 6 Cylinder crossflow engine. The engine originally came out in Australian full size family sedans in the mid 1980's through to early 1990s; they were torquey engines that could tow a mobile home easily. The short block is basically the same as the early 6 cylinder Mustang engines of the late 1960s. Ford Australia designed a high port efficient crossflow alloy head to meet good fuel economy and emissions standards that stemmed from the fuel crisis of the 1980s. These alloy head crossflows make easy power, I am making over 1hp per cubic inch NA by 5500rpm in an engine that weighs approx 105kg [about 240lbs]. I run the early 200ci longer rods and good cast pistons with the later 250ci crank and block. The engine has been meticulously machined and balanced to make it live when revving it to 7000rpm. Hi comp and a mental hydraulic cam, 650fcm dp brawler carby, AussieSpeed 4 barrel intake manifold and an ICE digital ignition. It runs on Sunoco GT 260 Plus racing fuel, and boy that's a sweet smelling fuel when burnt.
Australian Borg Warner single rail 4 speed gearbox, the alloy case model which is not that strong as the early top loader, so I run a standard but good quality Exedy clutch for a bit of give' in the driveline. It runs a Toyota Hilux shortened diff with a full spool and drum brakes, with 11" Disc brakes up front rotating on 39 Ford spindles mounted on one of my custom made straight axles. It still runs leaf springs for diff location so hook up is controlled via custom made long slapper bars that maximize the tyre hit.
Aim - is basically to have a bucket load of fun in the first instance and promote the AussieSpeed brand of performance products that I am a factory outlet for. We are on the slow side at the moment, However naturally aspirated the math tells me its potential is a low 12 to high 11 on the qtr mile but reality has proven I need a 5th gear on the qtr mile for this package, so I’m working towards that now. Its set up well for 1/8th mile, best so far is 8.8sec, I think there is a full second in it yet on the 1/8th mile as I get the car dialed in and get used to it, so it could dip into the high 7s on the 1/8th mile. I need time in the the car, it’s still fairly new and there are a couple of tech problems to sort through. Once I've achieved the naturally aspirated goals I will step the fuel up to a higher octane and run a 10lbs boost roots blower on it and that should put the car up to the pointy end of the field and push the limits of the chassis combo. I am comfortable to push this combo into the low 11s maybe high 10s I guess I will see how it behaves and if my skill set gets me there first, that's the challenge for me. I like all the tech nitty gritty. Once there just make that combo super reliable and then move onto building another light weight gasser with a slightly longer wheel base with ladder bar rear end to run a Ford Windsor engine combo that could dip down into the 9s but that's a long way off yet.
Our Local Nostalgia Scene.
Has been around for a while, quite a few years in fact but only in the last couple of years has gained some serious momentum with many new cars being built or resurrected from the old days. My club Australian Nostalgia Racers [https://www.facebook.com/australiannostalgiaracers/
] is a grass roots drag racing club, with many experienced racers and a few well known group one racers from days past that are still involved in the club. As a club we run and promote our tri-series in conjunction with each of the three tracks in the southern Australian state of Victoria, we run at these 3 regional tracks where we make a weekend of it, we race Chicago shoot out style, so you get 4 to 5 runs for the day, its competitive on the track but the time slip does all the talking and at the end of the race you shake your competitors hand. As always headlined by the Vintage Gas "GASSERS" bracket plus top eliminator, Middle Eliminator, Top Gas, Aussie Muscle, US Muscle and Hot Rod. I tell you they are such a fun weekend, you camp at the track, race from dawn till dusk, listen to competition engines all day with that sweet smell of burnt racing fuel in the air, look at cool race cars and chat with the owners, and at the end of the race day stand around a camp fire with a beer and tell each other all your old stories again. This year 2019 we will be running at Portland on 23rd March, Swan Hill in May and Mildura in August. Its is great for spectators too, you can get up close and personal with the racers and their cars, we all love talking about our cars and old racers we all remember back in the day.
I'm 52 years old and I run a small hot rod and custom workshop called Kustom Bitz in the leafy outer eastern suburb of Croydon in Melbourne Victoria. I established it back in 2007, I have a diverse skills set which can be loosely defined as I work with all the metal engineering of the cars, from the chassis right through to making body panels. I have an excellent understanding of chassis suspension geometry, best practice engineering fabrication methods and manufacturing of critical components. I also tailor street rod drive lines to suit customers needs, fault find, perform correction work, and do general mechanical maintenance and smash repairs when required. I tend to do the work others can't do and I do like the odd ball build where you take some obscure old car and hot rod it in the most coolest way possible. I can do as little or as much as the customer wants, from some simple fabrication to cover areas they might be deficient in their skills, to complete turn key cars, however I don't do paint, I paint my own cars but all customer cars go out for paint to various paint shops before they return to be completed. This is a lifestyle thing for me I just really like the work and I want to get better and better till I go, I still think my best work is ahead of me. Most of my family - dad, sister, brother in-laws and cousins are hot rodders or car guys and girls of some description, so its in the blood, its all I think about, its all I want to do. I like to build cool custom cars and make them go like a cut cat full stop, that's who I am, but I don't suffer fools so I am a bit choosy on the work I take on.
I would like to thank.
My wife Jane for putting up with me and going with out a lot so I can race.
Rachel Mudford for nominating me, I will get her back at some time in the future.
My close mates for helping me in so many small ways, they know who they are and it does not go un-noticed.
Australian Nostalgia Racer members who welcomed me right from the start, I'm having a ball dudes.
Mark at AussieSpeed, Tony at Speedworks and Eric from Goody's Garage, all instrumental for me getting the tech right in my head and bounce ideas off.
Ron, we wish you good luck, safe racing and the best of times in the future!
So John, assemble it, add to it or delete as you see fit mate, I hope I have covered enough to give you enough material to fluff up a spruke.
If you want some perspective on the Australian Nostalgia Racers scene compared to the US scene Rachel Mudford and her hubby have travelled to the states a few times and crewed for Peter Russo on his nitro funny car in the US. She loves the Bakersfield cackle fest too. Rachel has grown up in a drag racing family rich in connections to Ozzy drag racing legends so shoot her a message if you are looking for material or meeting reports I reckon she would thrive on something like that. Regards Ron.