OzTech / FunOnWheels sponsored
Speedway


Driver : Ray O'Neill

The cars beginnings:
1976 Ford Capri, this car was prepared for the speedway, by a father and son team back in 1984\85. It was fitted with V6 Capri Engine, 4 Speed box, 4.44 MKI Cortina Diff, and 13 inch wheels. I met the original builder of the car in January, 2003. He showed me the original starting number still stamped onto the roll cage. She now has 17years of racing under her belt! And still going strong.


The Cars specifications:

Motor

70 HM block Ford 2 litre, with overhead 30/70 cam, with minimal headwork.
Extractors
Webber Carburetor

Gearbox 4 speed borgwarner
Notes  Escort Mark II Struts and brakes
Drivers side: 15 inch Ford Mondeo – 98 model rims
Passengers side: 14 inch ford Mondeo – 98 model rims

Depending on track also use 13 inch Ford Cortina rims

Harness: Kirkey 3 inch 5 point racing harness

Bar work: Made from 38mm – 3mm walls black steel pipe – full roll cage from front to rear.

Seats: Fiberglass moulded racing seats


How it all Began:
I have been a huge fan of the speedway since the age of 8years old, when I had my first experience with the speedway as a spectator. I remember thinking that one day when I was old enough that this was just something that I had to do. Finally at the age of 33yrs it happened all too quickly! I took my family to the Archerfield speedway for a night out, when an announcement was made over the loud speakers about how one can get involved in the speedway for minimum expense. I investigated further and found that I could start racing in a fully equipped car for $425 which included the storage of the car so there was no need for a car trailer.

On talking with my wife, she fully encouraged me and said “Go for it!”, so I did. Later that week I went down to Archerfield and brought a car fully ready to race – a Sigma and joined the Sigma 2000 Club. (Yes I know a sigma!, but hey you have to start somewhere!!).

There commenced my first days as a speedway racer. I started in a class called the “wobblers” and for the first few weeks was content to sit at the back of the pack and just get a feel for the whole experience. The adrenaline rush is something I can’t even begin to explain – when I have a race coming up my adrenaline starts at least a couple of days before. Once comfortable and familiar with the car, I decided to really have a go, I started going through the pack with ease, bringing home at least one trophy per race meet. After a very short two months I was kicked out of the “wobblers” as I was winning with too much ease and put up into the normal class. These racers were much more experienced then myself, so once again I was content to sit at the back of the pack and just get a feel for that class of racing. I then started progressing to getting constant second and third placings in the heats. Probably the highlight of my short but enjoyable ‘Sigma career’ was coming second in one of the Feature races!

Most drivers prefer a dry track, however I am a huge fan of a greasy wet track, that is when I am in my element, there is no better feeling then going flat out in second gear into a corner, then flicking it sideways and steering basically with your accelerator, with power on and off. With a locked diff, you have to be fully aware if you make a wrong move you are basically on an ice skating rink with very little control.

How I came across the Capri:
On the last night of the season my races had finished and I stayed to watch the last of the racing for the night. I noticed this Ford Capri doing really well and the driver had made it to third position and was looking strong, all of a sudden the Capri was tangled up in an incident and she rolled 6 times, causing extensive damage.

One month later I was looking in the trading post and noticed an Escort for sale, deciding I wanted more of a challenge then a sigma, I phoned up in regards to the Escort to be told it had been sold, however the owner mentioned that he did infact have a Ford Capri for sale for $200. I decided to go an have a look and there she was all bruised and battered – it was the same Capri I had seen roll 6 times on that last night. Something about the car just had captured my interest so I jumped in feet first, offered the fellow $80 and brought her home. All the way dreading what my wife would say and even thinking to myself what I have I just done!!!

We arrived home and I had to skull drag the Capri off the trailer. After an extensive study of the damage I had found the following: Broken struts, bent hubs, bent and buckled wheels, broken gearbox, which had actually broken in half from the impact, motor in pieces, with broken engine mounts, front passenger strut housing and side wall was actually torn like paper, it was that bad I had to weld car stands and a wind up jack together, and had to wind the whole of the one side of the engine bay firewall back into its original position – it was that bad the whole side of the car was hanging about 45 degree’s in the engine bay. The most amazing part about all of this is the impact was obviously very serious, however the driver and passenger came out of the car without a scratch owing to the incredible strength of the roll cage. This was the only part of the car without proper protection, needless to say one of the first things I did was add extra roll bars!!!

So I set to the task at hand and began the process of putting the car back together piece by piece, with the help of a good friend, we replaced the following: 6m of bar work, motor, gear box, tailshaft, struts, hubs, rotors, brakes, (total refit).

Finally 4 months later with minimal money, lots of hard work, and TLC, she was ready once again to take to the track!

It hasn’t been a good season for me, with not doing much track work and trying to slowly iron out little problems, mainly due to the Diff ratio and the revs, with it either over revving or under revving which in turn blows up motors <grin>.

I am currently racing in the 2litre Speedway Sedans. This season is almost at an end and I am going to spend the rest of the season just basically taking it easy and trying to work out the best set up for the car for next season. My goal for next season, 2003-2004: Is to be in the first six placings consistently, and to try to take out the B Grade title, not only for myself, but also for my amazing sponsers, Oztech who not only have helped me financially but more importantly they have given me immense moral support and encouragement, along side my wife and children. I hope I can do them and my family proud. The best part of all no matter what all the knockers say I have worked hard and done something that most people don’t ever get the opportunity to do and that is – I have grown from a little wide eyed 8 year old boy into someone who has actually taken the plunge and win or lose I am living my life long dream!

- Ray O’Neill.