SHOWING dedication to his hobby is Tasmanian farmer Paul Hamilton. He cruised his XA Fairmont to Drag Challenge from the little town of Yolla on the NW coast of Tassie. "It's a bad time of year to be away from the farm," he says as he twirled a wheel-brace changing the wheels of his GT look-a-like ready for scrutineering. "But if I don't do it now, I probably never will." That's a great attitude and one shared by several other first-timers to Drag Challenge!
Paul has owned his big blunt Fairmont for 23 years; it's his ex daily driver. "I took it off the road to play with it years ago," he explains. "To be honest, I was a bit naughty and got pinged for drink driving so the car was off the road anyway!"
Gradually the car became more and more serious, with the addition of some big tubs under the rear and a proper ANDRA spec cage in it. Up front – and backing-up the boast of that cheeky EAT 454 set of number plates - is a stretched 600-cuber built on a Eliminator block with JE pistons on Oliver rods. Heads are Ford Motorsport ("There would be more in this combo with a fresh set of heads," says Paul) and fuelling is E85 from a SV1 carby for around 900 cranky horses. Paul revs it to 7500rpm.
The trans is a Powerglide with a Gear Vendors overdrive to help make street driving with the deep 4.8 gears more bearable. Yep, with the driveline in this thing, it's right on the edge of being streetable. That's not much of a problem as due to Paul's general lack of time with the task of farming and distance from the track, the big Fairmont (Paul reckons it weighs in at two tonne!) only sees the strip four or five times each year. "Yes, it's hefty!" he admits. "But I'm not too serious about it - it's just a bit of fun."
After running strong – 9.3 at 149mph - on the first day of Drag Challenge Paul has had to withdraw his dark green 600-cube XA Fairmont from Drag Challenge.
“One of the roller lifters on number one [cylinder] is starting to not roll!” said Paul on Tuesday morning, before uttering the immortal words from Mad Max: “We’re out of the game!” and laughing.
Disappointed? Yes. But he’s not sooking about it. “Mate it’s just one of those things,” he told us while spinning the spanners at a mate’s place near Heathcote Park Raceway where the Drag Challenge road show is for its second day.
“I could run the gauntlet and continue, but I need to drive this thing home.”
Will he be back? “You bet I will!” he replied enthusiastically. “As long as there’s space on the entry list. I might go twin turbo to take some stress off the valve-train as it’s got quite a cam in it.
“But today, I’m gunna stick around to watch and enjoy myself after I bush-fix this!”