DIXON: Fun Down In Australia
INDIANAPOLIS — It’s been an interesting experience since the last time I wrote. We went to Australia for the Easter Classic at Willowbank Raceway and had a variety of events happen.
Due to some weather issues, we missed our connection at LAX, so I started out a day later than expected, but it was OK. It’s not like you can get the next flight to Sydney every hour. Man, it is a long flight to Sydney, around 13 to 14 hours. So it takes a day or so to get use to the time change. I got there on a Friday morning. My family (wife Allison and three children) was able to come down right after that since it was Spring Break for the kids (two boys and a girl).
I went straight to the Rapisarda Racing shop in Sydney and worked with the team on preparing the Australia-based Top Fuel dragster for the Easter weekend event. They have a nice shop down there.
They have a couple of Top Fuel cars and Snake’s (Don Prudhomme) old Skoal Funny Car there, too. That Funny Car might be something we play with down the road.
I spent three days at the shop and then my family arrived. We went sightseeing for a day or so before I started doing media interviews. We drove up from Sydney to Surfers Paradise, site of the old CART races. They still have the V-8 cars race there. We spent a day or so in Surfers and then drove to Brisbane for a media event. We did a day at the beach at the Gold Coast with the kids. After the event, we went to Manly Beach near Sydney, the Easter Show which is like a State Fair and the zoo. So they had some good beach time.
We did some interviews at the track at Willowbank on Thursday and we ran the car on Friday and Saturday. It’s interesting in Australia as a lot of stores and places were shut down for Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It’s a big holiday there.
It was in the 80s (degrees) in the day and they have their racing in the nighttime. It’s their fall weather now and it’s the first time I got to wear shorts so far this year. The Midwest has had tough weather this winter and spring.
It felt great to run on a quarter-mile track again. It was exciting and then it got really exciting on my first run. It felt like a tire blew, but actually the left rear axle snapped. It was so early in the run and the car just came around so quickly. The run felt decent early and then it spun the tires. But all of sudden I was completely sideways. (WATCH THE VIDEO HERE)
The first thing that went through my head is, “Great, we come halfway around the world and this trip is going to begin and end.” I was really fortunate that I didn’t get into the wall because I felt for sure it was going to be a big hit. Then it didn’t…Luckily, it carried itself all the way around and I was able to drive the car back into my lane. I couldn’t stop the car with the brakes since they were sheared off. I pulled the chutes and shut the fuel off.
All you can think about that run is that it was a bad day at the office. Sometime a bad day at the office is when they get coffee spilled on them. Mine is a little different. We were just fortunate we didn’t hurt the car and I didn’t get hurt. It’s like a guy at Indy taking a spin and not hitting the wall.