All of a sudden it's that time of the year again. The sounds of cars launching on 50+ pounds of boost, the smell of methanol in the air and the feeling of the ground shaking with each pass that's laid down. Jamboree is back in town. This leading Australian drag racing event was originally scheduled to run at the end of August, but due to a rainy forecast it was postponed until this coming weekend.
Prior to this weekend's Jamboree, the world's fastest GT-R – the Heat Treatments R32 from New Zealand – took to Willowbank Raceway for a private test session. After this short post I did last year, I was invited back to document their shakedown.
When I arrived in the morning it was great to see the team already at work in preparation for a solid day of testing and fine tuning. It's always such an eye opener to see how much work and tweaking goes into a car that runs for a few brief moments. The pilot of the world's fastest GT-R – which snatched the record from the HKS R33 GT-R – is New Zealander Reece McGregor.
Just before going out the rear tyres were swapped over by Reece's father, Keith.
Each and every year cars become lighter, grippier and of course faster. This year the GT-R has had a few minor changes to the engine and is pumping out a similar power figure to last year. Whilst having a chat with Reece he mentioned the main thing they are focusing on this year is grip down the quarter mile, as last year was quite slippery.
I took this moment to get some photos of the engine bay. I can't even imagine how many hours of hard work have gone into developing this setup.
Everything has been put together perfectly, just look at the tight fit between the dump pipe and head.
It was not only the Heat Treatments team alongside Reece McGregor but some very familiar faces from New Zealand too…
…Such as Terry and Rod Harvey from Rayglass Racing. He was not only there to give them some insight but also a helping hand.
Prior to heading out Reece jumped into the seat to run over his throttle launch to see how well the engine was holding boost in the top end. After 2 or 3 attempts it was almost spot on.
With the remaining body parts bolted on it was time to head out.
All of a sudden the chills crawled down the back of my spine. I have to say, if there was a motorsport I'm most afraid of shooting it would by far be drag racing. I lost count of how many frights I had at last year's Jamboree; seeing 2000+hp cars launch off the line, lose traction and head straight towards the wall you're standing behind is something I won't forget.
The final preparations were made, here the crew put iced water into the intercooler system.
Practice days like this are great to shoot at. With only the team and car on track, it allows for clear and uncluttered photos. It also allows me to get behind the cars for the burnout and launch.
Before I knew it the GT-R was gone.
The first couple of runs were dedicated to launch practice. Here the GT-R is being directed back in line.
First impressions were great, the car looked to be well balanced and was launching square off the line. The car ran 12psi at the front and 9psi at the year. I just love seeing the rear tyres churning at launch.
The team were very impressed at how the car performed off the line, however there was still some fine tuning to be done.
With no other cars testing that day, Reece and the team were able to review their tyre marks.
After each pass the team would immediately download the car's data to see where and what they could improve.
The aftermath of a burnout.
Hundreds of cars will run down this 1/4 mile this weekend. This particular year marks the 21st anniversary of Jamboree so we're hoping to see some record breaking runs.
After another practice launch the team reviewed the clutch and transmission where a few minor changes were required…
…While more telemetry was analysed.
Here is one of the team members making a few adjustments to the gearbox.
It was then time to top up the fluids and prepare the car for a full pass. Terry advised Reece to drive the car to his ability and see how the clutch felt.
Here is Reece getting fitted up.
For this run Reece's father Keith asked if I could shoot the car from the front end to show them how the car looked off the line…
…And I was more than happy to oblige.
From a photographer's point of view the car looked very stable off the line in comparison to last year and most definitely got my blood pumping.
From start to finish the car ran quite well down the 1/4 mile. At this was a shakedown, the team didn't attempt to break their 7.57sec record.
They say practice makes perfect and it's apparent that Reece and the Heat Treatments team are on the right path. I wish the team all the best for this year's Jamboree.