In previous years I've driven the #79 car. But in 2003 I got to sub in for Jim Graham in his "Fast 78" car. Jim and Roly were expecting a baby any day now, a momentous occasion for which Jim wisely chose to remain at home in Edmonton.
Since Jim was not taking part in the 2003 Lac la Biche Western Ice Race Championship event, I was drafted in to drive his 'new' #78 car. The old #78 was rebadged as #77 and would be driven by rookie Craig Assenheimer, yet another member of the Graham Ryan Consulting Ltd crew, and Don Pohl would finally get to drive his own #79 car at Lac la Biche.
To help me get settled in with the new car, we ran a few practice starts out on
the icy street in front of the GRC headquarters...
|Here's another shot of the new car #78.|
|These Chevettes are fully licensed, insured, road legal, and typically driven to the local race events, and hopefully back home again. But it's a long trip from Edmonton to Lac la Biche, so the cars are trailered to this event.|
|The guys at Graham Ryan
Consulting Ltd specialize in Accident Investigations and
Reconstructions. One of the neater gizmos in their arsenal of toys
is this Vericomm data unit, hung by suction cups from the
windshield. In our test session, practicing starts on the slippery
road, we used it to measure the acceleration of 'Fast 78'.
Other instrumentation seen in this photo include the prominent engine tachometer, artfully stuck to the dash with red duct tape, and on the right edge of the image you can see the rack that normally holds Jim's cell phone. That's a handy item in case you're ever overcome by a sudden urge to send out for pizza, while in the middle of a race.
|Jim sets and arms the Vericomm to record our acceleration from a standing start in 1st gear up to a speed of 40 km/hr. He explains that he chose a speed of 40 km/h (25 mph) so we wouldn't need to make any gear changes during our acceleration run.|
|We ease the car up to the staging lights, wait for the christmas
tree to run its countdown, then launch when the lights go green, um sort of...
The entire trick is to keep the rear wheels hooked up with traction. A completely stock 1.6 litre Chevette engine is not exactly blessed with awesome power. Still, on an icy road surface like this, it is capable of spinning the tires even in third gear.
|At the end of the first run, the Vericomm reports an impressive
acceleration of 0.185 g! Totally awesome!
Jim looks pleased with these results.
But we can still do better than that.
|Then it's time for another run.
We just need to make a quick U-turn, "before that van hits us"...
|Multiple runs and many U-turns later, I'm starting to feel a little
conspicuous doing all these noisy drag racing runs, in broad daylight, up
and down the same section of street, right outside all these office
windows. Surely someone must have called the cops by now.
But, if you overlook the U-turns and excessive noise, we're really not doing anything illegal. Heck, we're not even breaking the 50 km/h (30 mph) speed limit!
Back home in Ottawa I'd surely have been arrested by now for doing anything as annoying as this. But evidently people are far more relaxed about this sort of stuff out here on the western frontier in Edmonton.
Jim insists that we're fine. He says it's called "Research".
|Our best run of the day!
Zero to 40 km/h in a mere 4.7 seconds over a distance of 26.6 meters, for an astounding average acceleration of 0.241 g. Truly awesome, eh?
To put this into the proper perspective, within a similar 4.5 seconds from a standing start, top fuel dragsters can cover an entire quarter mile (402 meters), attaining a speed of 300 mph (480 km/h), while launching at 8 g!!!
Ho-hum, big deal. Bet they can't do that on ice.
|After all this whiplash inducing acceleration, Jim asks "How's your neck?"