Dangerous Bill's Down Under Adventure! 6/99
Hi folks! Australia was FANTASTIC!!!
Despite a week of trying desperately to put my computer back together and catch up on the
day job, I'm gathering notes on my trip down under to the Aussie Winternationals. I am
going to do a HUGE multi-part story on it, but I thought I'd share a few first impressions
with you... Thanks to Larry Clayton for getting me started on writing this!
To begin, however, let me say that while I was gone I had my computer in for an upgrade to
a 450 MHz Pentium with 16MB on a screaming graphics board and 10 more GB on the hard
drive. Great, right? Wrong, nitro breath!
Instead of inserting the new 10GB hard drive and copying all the stuff from
my previous 4GB hard drive to it, I found the 4GB drive IN THE BOX (kind of
like a used auto part, to let you know they actually changed it...)
I'm like, what am I going to do with a BLANK hard drive? I have months and months of work
on the other one! I got them to reinsert it at the store, but I am left with having to
copy everything over again. No big deal, except my email is totally screwed. When they
installed the new Windows 98 on the machine, it created an entirely new instance of
Outlook Express on the new drive. Now I can't seem to be able to get my old messages and
folders (containing TONS of valuable emails, many I haven't responded to) to be recognized
by the new instance. I have tried copying it over the new folders, I've tried deinstalling
Outlook Express and reinstalling it over the old folders -- the works! No joy yet. I think
I will actually have to get on the phone to Microsoft on that one. Any
ANYWAY, the reason I'm telling you all this is because I haven't looked at my email in
detail until last night. I also haven't been able to send out THANK YOU
emails to all my Australian friends because I can't find their addresses! I finally said
SCREW IT and downloaded everything on my server into the new Outlook Express instance,
because my server was jammed and couldn't accept any new messages! I will have to figure
out later how to integrate the old messages with the new, if it's at all possible. (I had
wanted to get the old messages back first, so that the new ones would flow into them...)
Oh well. Anyway, Australia was an absolute blast! The people
were super nice everywhere I went. I met dozens of online and snail mail friends and I met
about 80 percent of the Pro Racers in Australia (which isn't too hard, considering their
numbers). By the time I left, I had the draglist.com decal on the side of
about 40 pro cars -- I only missed a few. While I'm at it, let me talk about this a
My Aussie friends are the first wave of our new TEAM
Draglist concept, where pro,
semipro, and exhibition racers can get a free, one page website
on the draglist.com
site in exchange for running our decals. Small potatoes for a
"sponsorship" now, but we will do more in the future as advertising revenues
support it. After creating the websites, I will submit each to over 450
search engines. You and your car WILL be found on the net! TEAM
Draglist membership is open
to ALL racers currently racing in the standard DragList.com classes. Send me an email immediately and let's get
In the email, include a scanned photo of your car,
a scanned photo of you and/or your family or team if you have one, some details on your
car, and any desired links to your own website or to your sponsors. Also, tell me the
address where to send the decals! Of course, you can send the photos to my mailing
address, too, but this is important: I expect to do hundreds of these
individual web pages. Most of you know my schedule now -- TIGHT. In order
for this to work, I need to cut down as much as possible on typing! Put all the info you can into your email. I
certainly will welcome stuff that arrives by snail mail, but guess whose pages will be
done first? I have about 40 of the top professional racers in Australia to do, then I'm
ready for YOU! Let's get rolling! Now back
to the story...
I met dozens of new Aussie friends, who welcomed me to their country and into the Aussie
Drag scene with open arms. There is NO WAY I will try to list them tonight. I certainly
will miss several important people. I am going to tell you about some of the great people
down there, but that's coming when I can gather all my notes and don't have to go off the
top of my head after midnight on a work night! One thing that impressed me was that the
racers all knew each other (in part, I guess, due to their fewer numbers). At Victor
Bray's pit, which was one of the top hangout spots, everyone from comp dragster
drivers to top fuel guys to pro gas guys to top bike guys came to hang out and bench race.
The fuel cars got the biggest crowds as far as the fans went, but the racers all kind of
treated each other the same.
It seems I met a few hundred people who had heard of us and or the website (or the old
Drag Racing List booklet). It was great. People that I didn't expect to know who I was,
did. At one point, I pulled TF multi-time champ Jim Read, Top Alcohol
7-time champ Gary Phillips (also former driver of the Captain Crazy FC up
here), and of course 4-time Top Doorslammer champ Victor Bray together
and got a photo with them. I think I had about 18 years of Australian champions in that
one shot with me! I got to do some color announcing during the pro rounds, and Rob
Oberg and the Willowbank TV crew (yes, Willowbank has its OWN TV studio!)
shot a one-minute TV spot on draglist.com, including shots of the front
page and a 30-second interview with me. This and the entire Winternationals will show
nationally in Australia throughout the month of July. (Will I order a video copy? OH
YEAH!!!) Have I died and gone to heaven? Well, it's not over YET!
Victor Bray was cool as hell. The guy pays my way down there, puts me up
in a hotel, gets me a rental car (I didn't crash once, despite driving on the wrong side
of the road a few times for Victor's entertainment!), and introduces me to nearly everyone
in Australia. THEN, he takes about the last third of his acceptance
speech for winning the 1998/1999 Aussie Top Doorslammer crown to THANK ME
for coming down to watch him race! Unbelievable! THEN, when we get back to his pits
(at which we and a constantly changing 20 or so people drank and bench raced until the sun
came up at 6 AM), he tells me, "Marie and I have talked about it, and we want you to
take the trophy back to the states." The freaking ANDRA
Australian National Championship trophy he just won!!! I told him, NO WAY,
that's TOO much. He said, "Naw, I have four of them. I want this one to go with
you." Of course, it's still HIS and I have to give it up whenever he says, but DAMN!
It's sitting on my fireplace mantel right now. It's a hefty 17 inch tall Christmas tree.
Can you imagine the attention I got at every x-ray machine on the way back? "Uh, sir,
we have to see that thing in your bag..." It must have looked like a huge pipe bomb.
Needless to say, I still in awe of the amazing level of hospitality,
generosity, and friendship bestowed upon me by everyone I met, but especially by
Victor and Marie Bray.
After our night of partying, Victor and Marie dropped me at the hotel
for a few hours (we had given the rental car to his daughter Billi-Jo and
her friend Amy the night before to remove any reason not to drink like
mad). I grabbed a few hours of sleep (an hour at a time, as they were renovating the damn
hotel -- just what WAS the purpose of constantly banging on the pipe?) Anyway, Billi-Jo
and Amy picked me up at noon and we were off to the strip. Two kids had won a
Castrol-sponsored contest were they got strapped in with Victor in the "display"
'57 Chevy (detuned with only about 60 percent blower drive) and got to do some burnouts
and a doughnut or two. I got photos and stuff to do a story on it.
Then Victor says, "You going?" "Hell, YES!"
I got in and he gave it all it had on the return road of the strip. The Castrol '57 kicked
butt, even though it was the "detuned" version. Victor figured it still pushed
nearly 2000 horsepower. It was an absolute blast! Several patented Victor Bray burnouts
filled the interior with acrid tire smoke. I was chewing gum and grinning like a baboon
the whole time! All I kept thinking about was D.A. Santucci, who swallowed some gum and
had to be revived while winning Top Gas at the 1969 Indy Nationals. (No doubt D.A. is
tired of hearing THAT story by now). I somehow made it through all the hard launches
without "eating the Wrigleys," however, and I got to check another lifetime goal
off my list.
Shortly after, I hit the road for Brisbane, where I spent the evening
with yet another new friend, Aussie photojournalist Lex Swayn, his wife Jenny,
and their wonderful family. After a relaxing evening of dinner and conversation (and
clowning around with 5 year old Brett), I grabbed 40 winks and started
the long journey home the next morning.
I have LOTS more to tell, and this has been just a tiny
piece of it. Look for a lot more from my outstanding trip DAN UNDA soon! Let me say it to
Victor, Marie, Dennis Syrmis, and John Winterburn one
more time. Thank you. THANK you. THANK YOU!!!