Crew tune up for top speed
IN a sport where components are measured in thousandths of an inch and each trip down the track can cost thousands of dollars, a good mechanic can be the difference between success and failure.
While the driver receives the public accolades, the men behind the scenes, the ones with grease-covered hands, are arguably as important to results on the track.
When top fuel championship leader Damien Harris hits the Willowbank quarter-mile track this weekend, he'll do so in a car lovingly assembled by Ipswich mechanic Tim Adams.
The BTP Racing crew chief works fulltime on the team's two cars - a top fuel dragster and nitro funny-car. He attends around 10 racing events a year, spending the rest of the time at his Hatton Vale base maintaining the two cars.
What's incredible for the championship-leading team is the three key players are separated by no less than 4703km for most of the year.
Driver Harris lives in Perth, Adams is based in Hatton Vale and team co-owner Paul Shackleton resides in Mackay.
So how does the trio manage to lead the championship with so little time together?
"A lot of phone calls," Adams said. "The phone bills get pretty big at times when you are trying to organise everything.
"Basically my knowledge allows us to do it.
"I work fulltime on the cars and let the boys know what we need."
The 36-year-old grew up in Leichhardt, developing his petrol-powered passion by the time he was a teenager.
While Adams has spent his life behind the scenes, he admits it would be terrific to strap himself into the cockpit for his own run down the track.
"I've never driven," he said. "I'd love to but I've never had the money.
"I went to America in 2002 and worked on cars to learn the trade.
"I didn't earn any money at all but we travelled around living off whatever we could.
"It was a ball but it was also a tough time.
"While I was over there building up my knowledge, others were at home here building businesses that now allow them to race."
But with a talented driver like Harris behind the wheel, Adams is happy to focus on putting the best possible car on the track.
With each run of the team's dragster costing up to $9000, the dedicated mechanic understands the pressure to perform.
"Drag racing is 80% in the workshop and 20% at the racetrack," he said.
"When your weekend goes smoothly to plan, it's because the work was done at the shop that allowed it to happen. It's very satisfying when that happens."
Adams is determined to find that winning formula this weekend at Willowbank.
After last year's finals were washed out, the father-of-one is keen to mastermind a win on his home track. "I always love to run well here at Willowbank in front of my family and friends," he said.
The Winternationals at Willowbank Raceway this weekend feature racing from Top Fuel, Top Alcohol, Top Doorslammer, Pro Stock, Top Bike, Pro Stock Extreme, Competition, Super Stock, Super Compact, Competition Bike, Supercharged Outlaws, Modified, Super Sedan, Super Street, Modified Bike, Junior Dragster and Super Gas.
- Schedule: Today - On-track action from 8am, including the first round of qualifying for Pro Stock at about 4.50pm.
- Tomorrow: On-track action from 9am. Pro Series qualifying from noon.
- Sunday: On-track action from 8.30am. Pro Series qualifying from noon.
- Monday: On-track action from 8.30am. Pro Series racing from 11am, finals for all categories from 2.45pm.