Mark down this date: Tuesday, June 17, 2008.
At precisely 8 a.m. the new Banks Sidewinder Duramax-powered diesel dragster stopped being a great idea, a few photos, some artist conceptions, a big stack of PO’s, a bunch of invoices, about a hundred faxes and an equal number of phone calls back and forth to Greenfield, Ind., and actually became a tangible object, a real, honest-to-goodness racing car, all 31.5 feet of it. The 276 inches of that ultra-loooooong wheelbase, swathed in a sleek, all-carbon-fiber body, now sits smack dab in the middle of the Banks Power race shop in Azusa, Calif.
The real thing coming out of its seemingly block-long crate and getting its first taste of the warm California sun made it seem almost as though, with a set of tires and a few decals, the digger would be ready to race.
Just about everyone in the Banks offices on the race shop side of the street was outside to greet the new arrival, many of them noting that it had been what seemed like a long time since Gale Banks was back at his friend Mike Spitzer’s shop in central Indiana putting in his order for this very special chassis.
Of course, months of prepping this machine are required before it can do battle in the quarter-mile. Today, it’s all pointing and looking. Look at this! Oh cool! Whoa! We all knew exactly what was specified, but seeing the chassis finally here in the shop, sitting on some quickly commandeered little roll-around “wheelies,” really is cool for everyone on the extended “team.” Today is “Christmas in June” for the engineers, engine builders, and technicians who will start with this basic chassis and transform it into a full-out Banks Sidewinder competition car replete with all of the innovations and forward-thinking diesel technology that name portends.
The Banks Power performance goals for this machine have been long stated: 200 miles an hour in the quarter-mile and doing that 2 bills in the 6-second elapsed-time range. Ahead are a few miles and more than a few late nights and early mornings, but the dragster project is finally steel, rubber, carbon fiber, and Diesel 2 rather than a colorful artist’s conception on some computer.
Day One … one great day!