Getting race cars to the circuit always produces some whimsical moments as well. An incident happened with one crew on the way to the Mt Cotton hill climb circuit. They arrived and got out to drive the car off the trailer - except there was no car on the trailer! They knew they had put it on the trailer, so they hurriedly retraced their route and there it was, sitting in the middle of the road at a set of traffic lights. Obviously they had not tied it down and it just quietly rolled off backwards after they had taken off. Fortunately no damage, and nobody had hit it.
Even boats fall off trailers!
Motor racing may be serious, but the people involved in it are all “characters” in one way or another. By the way, all the following tales are totally true.
One relates to one of the top motor racers in Australia, who brought his Holden sedan racer from Sydney to Brisbane to compete against the best that the Brisbane teams could offer. On paper, the cars were very similar in all respects, but the Sydneysider was quickest after the first practice. It was then that one of the local crews spotted the opposition sawing off the end of the exhaust pipe. Being a quick thinking young lad, he noted that the other team had dropped it in the rubbish bin and retrieved it. Rushing off to his team, they sawed exactly the same length off their exhaust pipe, this obviously being some sort of demon tweak. However, while they were doing it, the Sydneysider came past. “Why are you doing that?” he asked. It was then that he also revealed that the reason they had sawn the end off theirs was they had changed trailers and the exhaust pipe was sticking out and catching on the side of the trailer!
This next one happened to one of my team members, and I was the witness to it, and we still laugh about it. We had been invited to do some promotional laps at the local dirt speedway with our four car team, running them between each race. Our fourth member was running late and rocketed in with just five minutes to spare. “She’ll be right,” he said, after releasing the tie-downs holding the car on the trailer, and then neatly reversed the race car off his trailer, but he had forgotten to put the ramps in position, and it jumped off the end. Luckily no damage, despite its one meter drop-off.
The next true (and amazing) tale happened when I was on a Porsche club rally, and we were coming back from Adelaide, a 3,000 km trip. Australia is a big place! We had pulled into a motel for the evening, and we were 11 cars, every one a Porsche 911. I got out, pushed the locking button down on the driver’s door and swung the door shut. As it clicked into place, to my horror, I saw that the keys were still in the ignition. What to do? Porsches are just about thief-proof, and none of us were accomplished car thieves like Nic Cage in the great movie “Gone in 30 seconds”. In desperation, I asked for the other 10 driver’s keys and tried them in my door lock. Amazingly, the keys from the 911 parked closest to mine opened my door! And just as amazingly, my key would not open his, though his would open mine. But neither key would operate the ignition of the other car. I was certainly lucky that evening.
The final story is about a motorcycle racer who used to travel to meetings with his race bike in the sidecar of his outfit. It blew a piston on the way to a meeting but the resourceful rider turned up a new piston out of hardwood, fitted the rings, fixed a metal plate to the top of the piston and carried on motoring! That’s what we call ‘bush’ engineering.