NZ Update #7

NZ-Navigation Page

NZ-Original announcement (Sept. 2003)

NZ Update #1 - Preparation (Oct. 15, 2003)

NZ Update #2 - Shipping the cars (Oct. 24, 2003)

NZ Update #3 - The second container (Late November)

NZ Update #4 - A Small Glitch (December 8th)

NZ Update #5 - Cars in NZ and OK (January 9, 2004)

NZ Update #6 - Arrival in NZ (Jan. 24)

NZ Update #7 - After first race weekend (February 2)

NZ Update #8 - Levels Raceway-Timaru

NZ Update #8.5 - Touring Queenstown Area

NZ Update #9 - Teretonga Raceway in Invercargill

NZ Update #10 - Dunedin Street Race

NZ Epilogue - The Last Update (March 6, 2004)

                                       (Pictures and captions at bottom of text)

[Saturday night]
Let's see. Where did I leave off? Oh yes, we had arrived in Christchurch and were staying with Larry and Kay at their fabulous home and the race cars were safe and sound.

Since then Elaine, Diane's sister, has arrived and we've started racing. We got out of Larry and Kay's hair and are staying at a hotel in downtown Christchurch. Yet another very nice accommodation. We be livin' real high on the hog so far.

The track was available on Thursday and Friday afternoon for testing and practice. Very nice to have that track time, especially since it was dry, nice weather. It gave us a chance to really learn the track with a minimum (nil actually) of traffic. Thanks goodness because the weather was to be wet for the weekend's racing.

The rest of the NZ or Bust Gang arrived on Thursday and Friday, but didn't get as much quality track time as did Diane and I. Terry's Super 7 which Dean Meiling is driving was acting up a bit. In fact, carburetor jetting on several of our cars wasn't quite up to snuff. With the help of a friendly NZ guy (just hanging about) we got thru some Weber carburetor tuning issues on Diane's and Phil's cars, but we struggled with the Super 7 into Saturday.

Saturday race day was off and on raining so Diane got her first chance to race in the rain. She did really well, although she did have one on-track spin. Better than my first rain race in Michigan several years ago where I spun the car FOUR full rotations in one fell swoop in that race!

Diane ran well in spite of it all and I think I'm running good times, but hard to tell so far. I did qualify third in my second run group, a couple seconds behind a twin-cam Brabham FB and virtually tied with another FF. But in the races I fell back due to getting clobbered on the standing start. Had big time wheel spin in the wet, couldn't get it hooked up, got passed by about four guys at the start, and then pretty much chickened out at turn one with all the damn spray and lost a few more places. But got a lot of ‘em back by passing and watching them fly off the track in the wet. Finished fourth (I think). It's hard to tell exactly how I'm doing because the FF's are referred to as "Formula Fraud" by the locals and not sure many of them would qualify for RMVR's Legal & Proud. All very strange.

I somehow managed to miss my first qualifying session (Duh!), putting me at the back of the pack for my first race. Just as well. Turn one in the rain was something to be observed from afar (which I did!). Actually both Diane and I are entered into two race groups. Don't ask. It's the most Byzantine grouping system in the world. But, two for the price of one is great. We raced our fannies off on Saturday. VERY, VERY short races, sometimes just four or five laps. And the qualifying session for my first run group (which I missed) was all of four laps (in the wet). They have an AMB timing system, but not run with the efficiency or good ol' RMVR. Still haven't seen all out results from today.

Anyway, we all survived Saturday's wet, but sometimes dry racing, and had a grand time. We think we've got the Super 7 squared away but need some dry track on Sunday to see for sure.

Saturday evening they have an awards banquet (Yes, before Sunday race results) primarily because it's just a big party with a zillion awards and recognition, many of them just for giggles. No race results are rewarded. It's one big mutual admiration society with many awards for just being good people. Kinda' nice and lots of fun. Mucho booze and really great food and we met some really nice local folks.

By the way, the featured race group this weekend is the very active F-5000 group which they have down here. There was a grid of SEVENTEEN F-5000 cars. Pretty darn amazing. On Friday night one of the ring leaders of this NZ/Australian F-5000 Association threw a grand party at his house and was nice enough to include the Denver NZ or Bust Gang, now affectionately knows as "The Container People". We think it's a term of endearment, but . . . ????

[Sunday evening]
Egads! Today's weather was even worse. Drizzle or rain all day. No sun at all. We all got our chance to get in some "quality"; rain driving experience. Frankly, while a bit more exciting than fair weather racing, I thought it was great fun!

Diane, however, was less than thrilled. Both of us decided, however, to only run our one race group, not both. Nevertheless we each got in three races on Sunday.

In spite of the rain, Diane did prevail, going out in all sessions with nothing worse than having one on-track spin and then, wouldn't you know it, the damn thing wouldn't start. But she was in a safe spot but had to sit out the last few laps staring at oncoming traffic and the yellow corner flag. No biggie.

It turns out her Miller Sports Racer is less than waterproof and she took on a LOT of water while racing. In my race car things were actually quite dry and I had a blast. But the locals had a couple of advantages; First, they do really good standing starts and second, they could go into a very fast Pueblo-like turn #1 with spray so heavy that you had no friggin' idea what was in front of you. I was less than talented on both scores. We both got better at standing starts, but never did get comfortable with not being able to see who was where in a high speed corner. FLASH FOR YOU RACER FOLKS!!!! RAIN LIGHTS ARE A TOTAL JOKE -- By the time you see a rain light it's way too late. Mercifully neither of us had to find out the hard way.

Anyway, Diane did real well, staying out of trouble a getting kudos from everyone. There were precious few lady racers. While Diane generally ran a solid mid-pack, that's not too bad for a rain-rookie. But mid-pack is sure as heck is not the easiest place to be with a lot of spray. Rain isn't a bother. But spray from other cars is BAD NEWS.

Yours truly was able to grid third and fourth and to finish second in race one and third in race number two. Not bad for a dry land racer at a new track trying to beat Twin Cams and highly ILLEGAL Formula Fords. As noted in Saturday's notes, vintage (they call it "Classic") FF isn't policed at all. It's what ever you deep appropriate. When I asked one fellow about it, he said "A couple of them might be legal")

We think we got the problems sorted out on the Hefty/Meiling Super 7. Richer gas jets and a tightening a loose intake manifold put it back proper. Then we had to re-jigger all the cars to convert a brake light to a rain light which they require on all cars.

No parties tonight. Diane, Elaine and I just stayed in our very nice hotel rooms with wine we were given at last night's party, some cheese and crackers and salami that Elaine had picked up, ordered some room service goodies, and enjoyed the evening drying out. (Did I mention that Diane got REAL soaked?) Nothing like a hot shower and a nice hotel room.

Tomorrow night is a party at Larry & Kay's house. We'll stay here in Christchurch a few days, get the cars cleaned up, and then head for Timaru later next week.

[Monday Evening]
Larry and Kay thru a superb party at their wonderful house. They invited the Denver "Container People", a few other racers, and a number of their neighborhood friends. It was a grand affair, a good time had by all. They really went all out for us. We presented them both with some Thank-you gifts of appreciation for all the work they've done on our behalf Thanks, Larry and Kay.

My apologies to all of you dial-up web browsers. Down here I too am on dial-up and now realize how painful it is to visit my website. Just too many graphics. But, just be patient and let them download. Hopefully it's worth it.

So, later. That's it for now.

denvergang.jpg (36751 bytes)This is a picture of the Denver Gang taken at Larry & Kay's party Monday evening. Missing is Dean Meiling who was off on another commitment.

ttpits.jpg (36043 bytes)The pits for the six Denver Gang cars at Ruapuna. The big trailer/awning with Terry's, Paul's and Phil's cars under it belongs to John Crawford's outfit and you see our old reliable 10x20 green popup with our two cars under it. With all the rain, it was essential to be under cover. We'll use a similar paddock arrangement for Timaru with Crawford hauling cars down there.

5000spray.jpg (31757 bytes)The featured cars for the weekend was the F-5000 grid. They had about 17 here for the event, but by Sunday's rain soaked race, only about 10 took the green flat (actually it was a red light that goes off, not a green flag). Anyway, the spray from these guys was awesome. I don't' know how they kept 'em on the track. Come to think of it, a lot of 'em flew off during the race. A real crowd pleaser, for sure.

dianerain.jpg (21674 bytes)You've maybe already seen this image. It was included in the emailed version of this NZ Update #7. On Saturday Diane had just successfully finished her first rain race and was smiling form ear-to-ear. Well, we think it was a smile. Of course, Sunday it rained even harder for all our racing, but she prevailed, going out for every session.

banquet.jpg (34018 bytes)

At the track Saturday evening there was a huge banquet, under a tent, with probably 400 folks there. Much booze and many giggles. You'll maybe recognize some of our Denver group at this table,

5000shop2.jpg (44025 bytes)These are but several of the monster F-5000 cars that John's shop was caring for this weekend. There were a total of seven that he was caring for and all of 'em will also be going to the Invercargill race. There are seriously nice cars.

dianeaurhtorspass.jpg (34344 bytes)Just to let you see that it wasn't all race cars and racing. On Wednesday Diane, Elaine, and I drove up to Arthur's Pass which is only about 1.5 hours west of Christchurch. Very, very beautiful.


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