If there is an international driver in motorsport who has been to Australia more than Billings, Montana-based Chuck Haynes, we’d like to find them.
The 66 year old jet dragster racer has been visiting Perth and the rest of ‘down under’ for the past 24 years and he estimates he has made 50 trips between his home country and Australia, the latest of which comes this week ahead of the Night of Fire on December 30 at Perth Motorplex, a drag racing spectacular featuring jet dragsters, freestyle motocross and a monster fireworks show.
“There were years when we would come over two times, sometimes just Perth and sometimes running the east coast and coming back,” he said.
“I sure hope there is something I haven’t seen of Perth yet, it is a beautiful city and we always have a great time in Fremantle – I love the chilli mussels.”
All of Haynes’ racing has been in Australia for the last five years since he left his jet dragster operation here in the capable hands of the Miocevich family. He doesn’t miss the touring so much in the States, though he said he gets sentimental for running around his local areas.
“I did drive a couple of cars for a friend of mine but it wasn’t very often and it was up in Canada,” Haynes said. “After an accident with my ‘Gravity Storm’ car I was pretty down and out about everything and the idea of just going and running the cars in Australia appealed to me at the time.
“But I am finding myself getting the hunger back.”
The last time Haynes visited Australia, most of the headlines were consumed by team mate Daniel Miocevich’s 440kmh crash in the ‘Aftershock’ jet dragster. While the footage was spectacular, Miocevich emerged unharmed and Haynes said the team has been able to put the incident down to a small but significant change.
“There were possibilities on several factors causing the crash, but we have come to the conclusion that it was caused by a change to a wider tyre on the rear of the car. That tyre was a half an inch down in diameter and that was enough to change the angle of the tail pipe and the centre of gravity. We think that little change, combined with the car running its fastest ever speed, created a light condition at the back of the car and there was nothing Daniel could have done to stop it.”
Haynes isn’t the type to be shaken by these incidents, it’s all part and parcel of racing some of the wildest vehicles on the planet. His experience gives him a deft hand at the wheel and he is looking forward to some more years of racing ahead.
“I just passed my physical exam for my licence renewal so until health reasons stop me I want to keep doing this,” he said.
“We’re going to try and make the Night of Fire special, I always think I’m going to be back at the Motorplex again but you never know.”
The Night of Fire at Perth Motorplex features not just the flame-throwing jet dragsters, but also the Summer Slam with WA’s best Top Doorslammers, Nitro Bikes and the fourth round of the WA Drag Racing Championship including Top Comp, Comp Bike, Supercharged Outlaws, Top Sportsman, APSA Pro Radial, Modified, Super Sedan, Modified Bike and Super Street. Over 150 teams are expected in total for the event.
Qualifying begins from 10am with the feature program from 6pm.