The Story

Who would have thought that finding a car and bringing it home would make a grown man cry? That is exactly what happened to me... and no I didn't run myself over or anything as stupid as that!

When I was young. Wow I sound like an old man! When I was young I lived and breathed motorcycles and anything speedway related. To be honest not much has changed in regards to motorcycles and speedway. My fuel filled personality has curtailed by the cost of said interest and with the natural demands that comes with becoming a family man. That is not to say I am not happy with my lot! Who wouldn't be! I love my family! However, this past week an offer to good to be true came my way which would ignite my fuel filled passion in a way that it hasn't been in a long time!

One of my dad's old race cars became available. This is not just any race car. This was a race car built by a late great family friend 'George Winder' and was raced by my dad to win an Australian title in 1982/83. I will never forget that night all those years ago. Standing on the inn field watching dad win. It makes me cry just typing about it. What a baby I am! I vividly recall the sight, the sound and even the smell!

The article on the left was written shortly after the race. I believe the photo for the article was taken at the first event after the title. It is kind of weird seeing how much my son looks like my dad in the photo! Both have the same side burns... well until last week when I made my son shave them off... the long haired hippie!

So when I got the call saying where 'that' car was and how it was available for me to pick up. I was of mixed feelings. Firstly, I was saddened because it dawned on me how long ago it was. It hurt to know that those days can never be experienced again. But boy was I excited to know that I finally could have something physical to hang onto that reminded me of those days! A thanks to Jimmy Pyne for making the car available!

So this morning I was 'checkin out the ol' interwebs' and came across some old photos of the car and of my Dad and George Winder. I shall keep updating the slider with more pics in the future.

But now to the reason for writing this. The why am I writing about this?

I want to keep a report of the car's journey and also to write about my experience. Not because I think someone might find it interesting, but simply because I don't want to ever forget the experiences the car represents for me. You see although the car has reminded me of just how much has changed over the years. I'm not talking about the car itself here, but me personally and even how much our culture has changed. Speedway is not the same for me, it feels as though it has loss part of it's soul. However, the cool thing is despite all the change somethings can still remain. It is exciting to hold something to touch something from the past which brings magic memories! I look forward to the day when it is completed and I can see the look on my mum and dad's face when they see it again just how it was!

Update 2

I thought now would be a good time for those of you who are interested in an update on the work on restoring 'THE CAR'.

Things have moved along at a good speed... well a good speed for me anyway. The steering box has been fixed. The problem was a broken spline where the steering arm is attached.

As you can see from the new pic in the slider above that the motor is out being checked over by firthracing and eventually be painted and made pretty!

Seriously who would have thought that it would have been so hard to remove that motor from the frame! It was a right royal pain in the behind. As long as it doesn't scratch the paint going back in!

The side panels are of getting some flutes put into them just like it originally had. The rest of the body work needs a bit of work, so if anyone is good in fiberglass repair and wants to lead a hand please let me know. The budget is not big but there is a budget!

The tail shaft protective housing is done which means that chassis paint can now go ahead. The only problem with painting is that the storage shed in which it is located does not allow painting to take place on the premise. So I have to load the car onto a trailer and take it elsewhere. Not having a ute or a trailer or even a car with a towbar is really getting up my nose! I seriously think I am going to have to bite the bullet and save for a ute again.

So that is the car progress. Now let me tell you about the another part of the process that the car has helped in. Those of you who know me well may have figured out that I have have not really been the best person to be around lately. Perhaps it is yet another mid life crisis. Perhaps it is just the fact that I am a little bored with life at the moment. I guess you could say I am a bit annoyed with doing the same thing over and over again. Fixing computers for a living doesn't make you feel like you are changing the world! But! And it is a HUGE BUT! Having my son and a couple of friends over to help remove the motor was awesome! It once again reminded me of how lucky I am. I have a great family and awesome friends! I know I don't say it enough to those people in my life, "you people are awesome', and in the words of a famous aussie boxer 'and amm arr I luv yous all'.

So until next time!

Update 3

The hunt for correct era tyres has seen me going round and round in circles hehehe, and has left me deflated. Someone stop me!

The original front tyre size were marked on the tyre as 22.0x6.00 13. It seems those early holden boys and girls snap up those early 13" tyres faster than I can say 'yes' to an ice cream on a summer day... well any day for that matter... because I always say yes to ice cream! But hold the phone blocker! I have come across these period correct tyres from Avon. The ACB9 linked here might just do the trick. These tyres are 23.0x6.3 13 So unless I find something else before I finish sandblaster and painting the rims it is looking like the Avon's are the way to go. Unless someone out there has some other options for me.

On other car related things and the journey it is leading me on. This week I have been polishing the radius rods. I don't think many of them were original to the car except for the front axle locating rod. Which is pictured to the left. As I was cleaning it up and polishing I noticed slight vice marks imprinted onto them. I know that doesn't sound interesting to you. But for me I was stuck with the knowledge that these marks were caused by my Dad years ago from his vice in his shed!

Ok that is enough wishy washing thoughts and feeling for the day! Until the next update 'be good, and if you can't be good. Be very good at it'

Update 4

Sorry for the lack of updates about the car, but honestly it feels more like a burden and every time I think about the car, it has caused me to think 'I am a failure'. The plan was to finish it so Dad could do a parade lap for the Australian titles.

However, like the old saying 'everyone has a plan until they are punched in the face'. The punch in the face to me was massive. Dad passed away last November. I know that was several months ago, and it has taken me this long to write about it. Probably because, I'm an idiot and don't know how to handle things like that. While my dad and I did not always have the best relationship. I liked to think I am a better man because of him, and I do miss him. I miss hearing his voice when he would call me on my birthday and wish me 'happy birthday mate' or the fact that whenever I left his place he would always be out the front waving.

I failed to finish it before it was too late, actually it is more than that... I can't see how I will ever finish it now. The money needed to finish it is beyond me, in fact the money needed just to store it is beyond me. All I can say is 'I'm sorry Dad'.

Dean Thomas

Update 5

My last update about the car ended with 'I'm sorry Dad'. I'm sorry because I failed you! But I can't thank Pete Styles and Allan Birkett enough for what they have done! I mean look at the car... it looks awesome. These guys did not fail you dad! The car looks awesome! Not a day has gone by without me crying like a baby after seeing the car like this. It has been a huge weight off my shoulders. Finally, something which meant so much to dad is given rightful credit and attention.

I am planning to take mum down to Goulburn on the 23rd of March to watch the car lead the parade lap for the Australian Litre Sprintcar Title. I wish dad was still around to see it! Ok I have to stop my keyboard is not waterproof.


Dean Thomas