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Published: March 5th 2010
Off To The Car HospitalThe cycle ride has been on hold for a few days so my son Sam and I could take part in the annual Fraser Car Club’s track day at Taupo. Sam flew in from Sydney where he lives, and I flew north from Hokitika. But the weekend suffered a major setback.
PD470 loaded on to a borrowed trailer for the long, slow journey back to Auckland. It's probably impossible to see in this web picture, but the problem is a broken wishbone, a chrome plated tube on the right of the photo close to the wheel.
To be blunt, the little Fraser was stuffed. Sam and I stood on the grass alongside the race track and waited for the recovery vehicle. There wasn’t much talking, although Sam started to say sorry. He felt responsible for what had happened - he’d been driving. But I knew, and I think he did to, that it wasn’t his fault.
The car is nearly 20 years old and for the first half of its life it was raced pretty hard. It’s had an easier time in the three years I’ve owned it, but it was inevitable that eventually something was going to break.
A Silver Lining?
In many ways it was both good and bad luck that the suspension failure happened at the very start of the Fraser Club track day - as we and the other drivers were being led
A Quick Ride
Jed Davies owns this well maintained and used example of a Fraser. He's been a club member for 11 years and with lots of driver experience was happy to give Sam a high speed ride around the Taupo circuit.
on a lap of the circuit to learn the best way of handling the corners.
The bad part was that our day was ruined. The good part was that it had happened on the track while we were travelling slowly. It didn’t pay to think about the consequences if it had happened the previous day as we travelled at speed in a Fraser convoy from Auckland to Taupo.
As we waited to be trailered back to the pits, one of the race officials came by and in an effort to lift our spirits, told us there was a chance we might get the car running again. All we needed was a spare lower wishbone. The original had sheared with a bang that sounded like a tyre blowing out. We were doing about 70 kph, and Sam had just given the steering wheel a little jiggle and applied the brakes to begin the process of warming up the tyres for the racing to come. The car lurched to the left and for a moment Sam fought it, until it was obvious something was very wrong. He switched off the engine, and I jumped out
Pumped Up And Ready To Go
Sam behind the wheel of Paul Miller's Fraser. Preparing to head out onto the circuit.
and pushed the car off the track so we were out of the way
Once back in the pits, it soon became clear we weren’t going to be able to repair the damage that day. So while I tried to find a way to get the car back to Auckland, Sam watched the action through the wire barrier alongside the pit straight. I could tell by the slump of his shoulders he was feeling pretty low, and I didn’t blame him. He had flown home from Sydney especially for the occasion.
Other Drivers To The Rescue
But what happened next says something about the friendliness of the Fraser Car Club. Before long, Sam was out as a passenger in two other cars, although one of those was forced to retire because of its own mechanical problems. That left Sam wondering if he was jinxing the cars somehow.
But then Paul Miller of Hawera did the unthinkable. He let Sam drive his treasured 2-litre Fraser in one of the afternoon’s events. It was hard to tell who was most nervous - Paul reckoned it was Sam but I’m not so sure.
First time on a race track.
A Good Start But….
Within moments of starting, Sam was showing a confidence that saw him pass several cars in quick succession. But then he found a gap that was his undoing. Without anyone to follow, he misjudged his speed into the tight lefthander at the end of the pit straight. He braked too late, and flew off the track in a shower of gravel. He soon rejoined the other cars, but was content not to push his luck again.
The journey home to Auckland was a slow one. The Fraser was on a borrowed trailer being towed by a borrowed 4WD. It’s now in the Fraser hospital undergoing surgery - two new wishbones, new shock absorbers and a thorough check over for any other damage.
As for Sam, he’s already planning for next year.
Tot: 1.537s; Tpl: 0.086s; cc: 10; qc: 44; dbt: 0.0266s; 1; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb