Note: This article was written in 2009, but is a fun read so we kept it. Enjoy!
Racing, or Speedway (like “Let’s go to Speedway”) as they call it, is alive and well in Australia. It is a really cool thing to know that you can travel to the complete opposite side of the planet and dirt track race on a different continent in a different culture, is almost exactly the same as here in the USA. The racers greeted me with absolute open arms, especially the group of 18 or so people that were part of our crew/entourage.
Wayne Moller and Dave Hedington (owner of Hyper Racing Australia) headed up our effort. Wayne drove the #98 Hyper car along with 18 year old Kristin Brown driving the #33. The relationships we all established will be treasured forever. It is amazing how well you can get to know a group after spending every waking second with them for 10 days. We raced 6 times in 9 nights. I do not like to put too much emphasis on my personal results, as we find happiness and joy, and have a great time no matter the results. Here is a quick list of my results for the week:
Round 1: Murray Bridge, fuel pump went out.
Round 2: Mt. Gambier, Blew up engine in lap 8 of heat race.
Round 3: Hamilton, finished 13th after running second and put to the rear for rough riding with 3 laps to go. Don’t ask.
Round 4: Warrnambool, finished second.
Round 5: Lang, finished first
Round 6: Lang, double points, double payout, finished first.
Many thanks to Wayne Moller for lending me his back up to his back up engine. Thanks to Dave Hedington and all my crew and their hard work all week. We did a lot of racing as at many of the events we ran three heat races to determine starting position.
I learned a lot from my Australian life/racing experience. You never know what God has in store for you. Open your mind and take it all in. Lessons come in many shapes and forms. Here are a few things I learned on my trip:
-Every person has a story to tell. I was on 7 different flights and got to sit next to 7 different people. One guy was a rare survivor of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, he was staying in a hotel/hut right on the beach, as the wave came in, he somehow made it to a 5’section of roof, the only part of the hotel still standing afterward. He told the story in such detail it took two hours to tell. Another was an 87 year old man that escaped from Hungary during the night in the winter of 1956. Hungary was occupied by the Soviets and the situation was not good. A math professor from Penn University taught me how to play bridge. I was reminded of the experiences you can acquire through other people’s stories. We are comfortable with people we know, but if we reach out to a stranger, we might make a new friend.
-If you fly east to west across the international dateline you will completely lose a day, mine was Christmas Day :- (
-Every track in AU at least in part, used a hill for spectators to put a blanket or lawn chairs. It worked really well; I would say better than grandstands.
-An incredible way to get fans to the track is to use a jumbotron (35’ screen) to show instant replays. Three of the six tracks had one.
-Transponders are by far the best way to score any race, hands down. Every race we used them, no issues at all.
-An RD15 is not a hard enough spec tire. That is what they used, the tires were blistering after almost every time on the track, except for Premier Speedway, (incidentally, pronounced by Australians as Prem- ee-air.)
-I am way to old to be trying to hang out with 18-25 year old people, especially if they are Australian!
-There are not Kangaroos hoping everywhere down under. We had to go to a state park at dusk to see any, other than that the only ones I saw were dead along the side of the road. They reside a lot like our deer in the Eastern US.
-We have way too much light pollution in the US. Due to their mostly rural areas and very sparse population, you can really see the stars incredibly clearly at night. What a beautiful site!
-Yes, the whirlpools spiral counter clockwise when you are on the other side of the equator. All my life I wanted to actually see that happen. Proof that our earth does spin, and scientists do know what they are talking about.
-No, they don’t race clockwise.
-When you face the sun in Australia, it rises on your right and sets on your left, and you're facing north. Man did that mess with my sense of direction. Maybe my wife would get the directions right down there!
-When a continent evolves on its own, all the animals and vegetation are completely different. Even the weeds and grasses are different.
-66% of Australia is uninhabitable because it is desert.
-Useful things to know at the track: “Knoxville line” means the starting line, “Indian file” means single file, a “spanner” is a wrench, the “witch’s hat” is the cone on the track, the “pole line” is the gutter or line dividing the infield from the track (they don’t use berms or tires), there are 7 psi in a bar, 2.2 pounds in a kilo.
-It is beyond the scope of this article to try to document all of their slang, but just one thing, don’t ever tell anyone you are “rooting” for them, try it and you will find out why.
-Australians have eliminated their one cent coin, everything gets rounded up to the nearest 5 cents.
-Everything is more expensive. A 16 oz. Coke was $3.00, a pair of jeans was $110.00. Then again, their minimum wage as I recall was $12.00/hr.
-No tipping of waitresses is allowed; then again, the service was not as good.
-Their electrical system operates on 240v. The big difference is the extension cords even for high amp applications were really skinny. A wire can carry more amperage with higher voltage with less resistance, Ohm’s law V=IR.
-22 hours is a long time to sit in an airplane.
-Rainwater captured off a house roof tastes really good. Water is in high demand, so they capture the rainwater off their roof, store it in a large 1,000-gallon tank and drink it, unfiltered.
-A Cricket match lasts 5 days! They broadcast the whole thing on TV. And people watch it!
-I love my country, my state, my home, my family. After traveling on a two-month tour of the US last year and going to Australia this year, there is a certain comfort level and love that we have for exactly where we call home.