Friday, February 26, 2010

One More Sleep Until the Westernationals!

The 2010 Westernationals will get under way at the Perth Motorplex at 11am tomorrow, and I'm thinking back over the Westernationals of the past. For some reason, I have it stuck in my head that the first major drag racing meeting I shot was the 2003 Westernationals, however, I cannot find any of the photos from that meeting, or any drag racing photos from 2004. I can, however, find photos from the 2005 Westernationals, and the other day I went through those photos and picked out a number of shots that caught my attention in some way.
Gary Busch

South Australian Gary Busch drives a Funny Car in SuperCharged Outlaws, but 5 years ago he was behind the wheel of this Altered, also a SuperCharged Outlaw.
Tony Argentino

Tony Argentino is another SuperCharged Outlaw driver who has changed cars since 2005. Tony and wife Gillian purchased "The Hitman" from the USA a few years ago, retiring their 34 Ford coupe to do so.

Yet another driver making a few changes over the seasons has been Mark Sheehan. As a relatively new photogapher back in 2005, this dragster, running in Competition, didn't grab my attention any where near as much as it did looking back over the photos the other day and spotting a few markings that suggested it belonged to Mark. The first time that I can remember hearing about Mark Sheehan was as a methanol powered Altered driver. Mark has since moved on again from methanol fuel to nitromethane, having run a couple of half track passes in a nitromethane fuelled Altered before switching to a funny car body and joining an elite group of Australian Nitro Funny Car drivers.

This photo is one that has me wondering what happened to my older photos. While it's always possible that I'm just confused and this was my first Westernationals, I definately remember seeing Steve McGrath racing the Toppolino Altered that he sold to Mark Mackay in order to build this car.

The Westernationals is a round of the Australian Top Doorslammer championship, and here, Ben Bray is driving the 57 Chevrolet that used to belong to his father, Victor Bray, and is currently being driven by the Northern Territory's Matt Abel.

Looking forwards to this years event, the official Motorplex pre-Westernationals Test'n'Tune is always a great event that most people probably don't even know is on. Due to the nature of Test'n'Tunes, it's probably best that people who aren't drag racing tragics don't usually know these are on, as there is no set program and it's not uncommon to have long periods where nothing is happening on the track. For the die hards however, the Test'n'Tunes are an opportunity to get a sneak peak at a new car or bike, or perhaps a chance to see a team in action that may not have raced at the Motorplex for a while and want to re-acquaint themselves with the track. It's also a chance for even the regular teams to try something a little different with their setup, which can often make for some interesting viewing.

I wasn't able to make it to this years Westernationals Test'n'Tune, however Kate Bovell borrowed my camera gear and took a few photos so that I didn't miss out on all the fun.

Here, Carmello Belladonna guides his father Vince into the staging beams as they attempt to license Vince's shiny new AA/AP Torana. Vince's long term plans for this car include running in Australia's Top Doorslammer category.

Murray O'Connor's stunning Falcon Top Doorslammer has been repaired after a recent incident and is looking as impressive as ever.

Over 350 teams have entered for this years Westernationals, including around 60 interstate teams, making it the biggest drag racing event ever held in WA, and the biggest 2 day event in Australia.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Night Masters 1 at Barbagallo Raceway

One of my favourite meetings of the WASCC's Club Racing Season, is the Night Masters. In the past the club have run these events as a 3 event series, as a stand alone event and as a 2 event series. This years format saw the first round of the Night Masters held on the 20th of February. The second round is scheduled for the 13th of March.
Wanneroo Raceway - Night Masters

Ash Barnett curb hopping on the way up through the Esses at Wanneroo.
Wanneroo Raceway - Night Masters

Rex Meechin's UltraSport is a very impressive car, incredibly quick around Wanneroo and a work of art as well.
Wanneroo Raceway - Night Masters

Rob Hagarty had a little off track excursion on the first lap of this race, and was working hard to make up ground, as you can see here.
Wanneroo Raceway - Night Masters

In the Historic Touring Cars, Martyn Piercey got out of shape in his Alfetta GTV and nudged the Alfa of Chris Chang, sending Chang into the sand and leaving a fairly large dent in his drivers door.
Wanneroo Raceway - Night Masters

Of course, the reason this meeting is called the Night Masters, is because a large portion of the racing is under lights. Here, Street Car competitor Ivan Tan is approaching Ford Fastbreak corner in his Subaru WRX.
Wanneroo Raceway - Night Masters

Improved Production racing is growing quickly in WA, with the class now being big enough to be granted their own races at the Night Masters rounds, instead of sharing with the similar Street Car class as has happened in the past.
Wanneroo Raceway - Night Masters

Traditionally, the highlight of the Night Masters program has been the Night Masters races themselves, which featured the quickest cars out of a number of categories on the night, and consisted of 3, 3 lap mini-races with a reverse grid start for each of the mini-races. Unfortunately, in the last couple of years these races haven't been run, but I for one, am still hopeful that we will see them return in future.
Wanneroo Raceway - Night Masters

The next round of the Night Masters series is set for the 13th of March, part of a busy weekend for me, with the annual ACE Ford Club Cruise also on the 13th and the Cranksters Rod and Kustom Club's annual Pipeline Cruise on Sunday the 14th, along with the Perth Motorplex's Retro Drags event.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Experimenting With In Car Cameras

For some time now, I've been keen to experiment with some in car video camera work, and not long ago I finally bit the bullet and ordered in a mount from Camzilla. The mount turned up a couple of days before the weekends round of the Australian Top Alcohol and Pro Stock Bike championships at the Perth Motorplex. After testing it out in my 18 second ambulance on the way home from work one day, I decided to try fitting it to a couple of cars over the course of the weekend. The first car I put the mount and camera setup into was Belinda Hay's "Mrs Canada" 383 powered VN Commodore Super Streeter. This car runs regularly in the low 11 second zone and this particular pass was completed in 11.3 seconds.

After a quick look at the footage on the back of the camera, I decided to check out the Super Sedan lineup for something a little quicker. It didn't take long before I spotted Norbert Claite's low 9 second capable "Wild Ute", a 454 cube Big Block Chev powered Ford Falcon ute. Whereas I had mounted the camera to the passenger window glass in Belinda's Commodore, in Norbert's car I decided to fix the mount to the floor. The video from Norberts car gets a little shaky at times, which I put down to vibration in the floor rather than the mount itself, which is not only part of the testing process, but also a better result than some other video I've seen shot.

The camera is a Canon (of course) Legria FS200, it's about a middle of the range consumer camera, there's a lot of cheaper stuff out there and a lot more expensove stuff. This particular one is a model without an internal hard drive (as those often fail prematurely when used in cars a lot, due to the constant vibration), it does have image stabilisation, but I suspect the IS would be even better on a more expensive camera.

The mount is a Camzilla mount, these are assembled from components from a company called Ram mounts, and they look and feel like very solid gear. This mount uses 3 large suction cups to attach it to a flat (or almost flat) surface - it can handle slight curves, like a car window. The company claim you can use these mounts on the outside of cars as well as the inside, but aside from the wind noise problems that creates, I'm still not game doing that just yet.

Thanks to both of the teams for putting up with me trying out different locations in their cars to get these shots.