It might not look like it in these pictures, but, when these shots were taken, the Banks Top Diesel Dragster was only a few hours away from going into the trailer for its first trip to the test track.

There are just at 150 individual circuits, channeling all manner of information, commands, and critical data around in this sleek machine.  Every single one of them must be run through a battery of tests, not only to check the connection (can you say “continuity”?), but to check correctness of the thousand of lines of computer code that they’re transmitting every second.

Weeks of work, long hours, weekends, and late nights have all culminated in this final flurry of arms and elbows all working together, and in very close quarters (this is a long old machine, but 90% of the operating stuff (engine, clutch, gearbox, rear end).  Small details (but every one critical to the operation) are dealt with one at a time, in haste, but with no sense of panic.

These guys, including the driver, are all pros.  There’s no horse-play, no banter, every sentence is about the task with most being incomplete … no modifiers needed the words are all code, all shorthand … “7/16ths … shorty phillips … tie wrap gun.”  There’s not even need (nor time) for the niceties like “Please” and “Thank you” here, that’s understood.

At about 11 (that’s PM not AM) the machine finally is tied down (and ballooned up*) and in the trailer.  The test track is “only” four hours away so the drive is scheduled for right then.  Head for the motel, check-in try to get some sleep and out to the track at … SEVEN in the morning?  …But that’s racing.

Today, while the team tests in an undisclosed location, the place where the dragster always resides in the shop has been morphed into a photo studio were hundreds of new Banks products have been having their pictures taken by a set of pros who painstakingly place every piece of equipment on the white backdrop (getting 12 tie-wraps arrayed just right is almost an art form) and proceed to give intakes, exhausts, and tuners the star treatment.

Test information feeds back to the shop slowly.  Everyone here is interested, everyone there is busy with the task at hand, that of operating a completely new, untested, untried racing vehicle that (on paper) is capable of accelerating from zero to 200+ miles per hour in seven or less seconds.  Quiet phones can mean one of two things:  the tests are going along so well that there’s no time to “phone home” (and let the troops know what’s going on) or the tests have yet to yield the desired results and that the team is real busy chasing the answers and … You know the rest.

*there are two round, black airbags that slip under the Sidewinder’s long, lithe chassis that are inflated to push up on frame sort of like a gigantic arch support and keep it from “working” (bouncing up and down) on its journey to and from the racetrack.  The idea is to only “use” all the flex in the frame when the car is racing, rather than when its just riding around in the transporter.  Think about (don’t do it, its illegal) a person riding in a car that has no passenger seat.   They’d be hanging on, fighting the forces of turning, stopping, and accelerating all the time, and just plain worn out after only a few miles like that.  Race cars work in a very violent world, but for very short periods of time.  We treat them like babies the rest of the time.


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