Without exception every drag racing event you attend does include numerous behind the scenes and often unreported storylines….

Neale Armstrong

And the recent Canadian Nitro Nationals at Cayuga Dragway was no exception to that rule as race teams are quite often forced into uncharted waters.

Last weekend Neale Armstrong’s “Northern Warrior” Jet Dragster team experienced just that.   Neale was booked into the Canadian Nitro Nationals event as one of the headlining feature cars and this particular event for sure does represent the pinnacle of his racing season, at his home track (which he also helps to manage).

Neale’s team did however experience a very unexpected development – which to say the least did require some scrambling.  While the end result produced only some partial success – we salute his team’s effort.

It all started the day before the start of the Canadian Nitro Nationals when the usually very reliable “Northern Warrior” Jet Dragster was going to be fired up for a local TV crew to help promote the upcoming weekend event.  It was then that the “monkey wrench” appeared.

“When we started up the motor for the TV spot – it just decided to destroy itself,” said Neale.  “It blew all the blades right out in the staging lanes.”

“So our scramble began right then and there,” he continued. “We had to somehow find spare parts for a military jet engine – (a J-85) which needless to say is not the easiest thing to do.  But as fate would have it — we knew that a good friend of ours (Romeo) was building a jet powered boat nearby (what are the odds?).  So we made a call and he OK’d us to borrow whatever we needed off that.   We had to completely rebuilt the “hot end” of the engine and my crew chief “Slinky” Donison set off on that task.”

Paul “Slinky” Donison was a very hard working man behind the scenes during the recent Canadian Nitro Nationals event.

Neale reported that effort was literally a marathon with the clock ticking louder every minute leading up to the scheduled start of the event Friday evening.

“Slinky and his two brothers worked non-stop from Thursday and we were able to pull the car back into the track in time for Friday,” he continued.  “But we didn’t have any more time to test it so we weren’t even sure it would start back up.   The truth is we then did have more issues getting it all to run right – and that was tough — but that was certainly not from lack of effort.    All in all, I’m very fortunate to have “Slinky” as my crew chief.  He has been the best with this car since we debuted it and to be honest this is the first time we’ve ever had a major issue like that.”

“I think our team did show it’s true grit and it built some more character,” he added.  “But the timing for doing all that – just could have been better.”

Post and Photos by Bruce Biegler