Thursday, December 10, 2009

RIP Bob St Lawrence, WA drag-racing legend.

Wow, some families get along together. This is a story about family and being community minded. Though this isn't a permaculture story it is a story of how a group of like-minded people can make great things happen in a short amount of time.
In the last few weeks we have met some new people. They are members of the local drag-racing fraternity. Many of them drive or have driven or worked on some very fast cars over many years in the Perth racing scene. The binding factor among these people was their friendship with an old man called Bob St Lawrence, a drag-racing innovator and legend in Perth. He was dying of prostate cancer and wanted to see his engine that he had hand built be put together into its chassis and watch it go down the track at Kwinana one last time. So what did everyone do? Well, they spent many sleepless nights, donated parts and fuel and food and put together Bob's machine. Normally this takes months and thousands of dollars, so it was incredible to see it happen in a few short weeks, powered by love and respect and generosity.
My man used to work on engines, had in fact met a few of the guys already in engine workshops, and so he helped out on a few days getting the dragster together. Bob was even there helping out, despite the fact he was so sick and none of us knew if he'd make the end of the week. His "eye" was still in to see the minute measurements involved in getting the engine parts to work best and he was telling the guys what to do to get the best out of his dragster.
I didn't do much at all, admittedly. I found out who Bob was after I found out a uni friend was his daughter. She'd spoken of him before, as he's been sick a long time, but I never realised that the car he was spending all his money on was a drag car.
It was an honour to see how hard they all worked, hearing of the long hours and late nights they all put in to fulfilling Bob's dying wish. It was a huge effort on many people's parts, from people who had been involved with Bob and his dragsters over the years, many of them inspired and educated by Bob's incredible intelligence about engines and how to make them go really fast.
The car did indeed get put together in time for the drag racing meet on the weekend. It was tested and licensed on the Wednesday prior to race day, driven by local Top Fuel driver Martin Stamatis, who also went on to win the weekend's round of the championship. After Friday nights qualifying the Saint Train was run down the track in front of Bob, still propped up in his wheel chair. Everybody cheered to see this legend of Western Australian motorsport happy that his home made self-designed engine had made one more high-speed trip down the track.
The prospect of seeing his dragster go down the track one more time certainly had given him something to live for. Two days after we all got together to celebrate his life and the fulfillment of his dying wish, Bob finally succumbed to the disease that took him away much too young.
He didn't give up on his dreams ... there's something in that for all of us.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Someone's been building a little home for their babies out of the spinach leaves.
I picked some spinach before to make pie later and among the little beasites I rescued from the rinsing bowl were a brown lacewing (one of my favourite little beneficial beasties), a cute little yellow spider (he got put back out with the aphids) and these leaves that show a leaf-cutter bee (Megachile spp) has been workig hard to make a nest for the next lot of youngsters. Native bees are quite happy to hang out in your garden if you provide the right habitat for them. Grow blue, violet or purple flowers for them as these can be more easily seen by insects, and provide homes by drilling holes (about 4-6 mm) in wood for them to nest in. Free pollination and increased biodiversity are the result.
Leafcutter bees at work.