Keys battles mechanical gremlins

Wayne Keys had to confront plenty of mechanical challenges in his AA/AP BMW at the 2002 Westernationals. From Wayne:

“The entry list for Competition Eliminator at the Westernationals started at 22 but three vehicles did not front. There were 19 vehicles trying for 16 places. Our first qualifier at 4.45 was against Debbie O’Rourke in her Monaro. Wayne had a good leave and the Beemer looked like it was on a good number. As Wayne crossed the finish line and pulled the chutes clocking a nice solid 6.51 there was a backfire, shattering the bottom blower pulley, breaking the blower belt and the burst panel popping. This run had placed us as fifth qualifier.

“We returned to the pits for further inspection and realised an intake valve was also damaged. The crew worked solidly for four hours to get to the 9.30 third qualifier. The second qualifier was run at 6.45 when we were still working solidly on replacing parts and doing a minor rebuild of the motor. Many thanks to Robin Judd for the replacement bottom pulley. We matched up against Peter Nowak in his dragster for the final qualifier. Again the car looked to leave well and we ran a 6.57. Back into the pits to check on things. After a long, hot day the crew headed home for some well deserved rest ready for some early morning maintenance on Sunday.

“Sunday’s preparation involved checking the bearings and servicing the clutch on top of the standard checks. We fired the Beemer before the first round to discover a cracked and leaking barrel valve. Thanks to the O’Rourkes for the replacement valve. Our efficient crew had that replaced within what seemed like only minutes. It is good for Wayne to know that our crew are always giving 100%. He can hit the throttle on the Beemer knowing that it’s going to perform.

“Our first round of eliminations was against another AA/AP vehicle in the Hudson Family’s Chev C Truck. There was no handicap in this race and both sets of lights came down together. Wayne cut a good light and the car left well. At about ¾ track there was another pop of the burst panel and belt. There was enough power on board for the Beemer to still take the win with a 7.16. We returned to the pits for more serious work to be done. A check of the car indicated that a blocked nozzle had caused the backfire. Checking the engine we realised the head had to come off, indicating a burnt piston. The call was made to change a piston with only 40 minutes until the next round. Many thanks to the O’Rourke crew working alongside our own crew to get us in to the staging lanes on time.

“Our crew had now been working all day without a break but were fired up ready to race the ever improving Mal Bulley in his altered. Due to the indexes, Mal left first, Wayne cut a good light to be gaining on him quickly. Wayne was with him on the finish line but the 6.52 was not good enough. Even the guys on the finish line said it was a hard race to see the winner. Well done to Mal Bulley who went on to win the event. Though we didn’t come away with a win, we have come away from the event in a positive frame of mind. With the broken parts we encountered the Beemer could have quite easily have been packed away after the first run on Saturday or even before the first or second run on Sunday. The support from our magnificent crew and other race teams had us out there on the line. This is where the motorsport of drag racing is a great sport to be in. The spectators are also encouraging, we have so many people coming into the pits after each run we make to check on progress and offer encouragement.”