Davies Craig: Mike Drewer, Speed Week and a Salt Lakes VW

25/05/2018 09:00AM

When someone works in a field that they enjoy immensely, it becomes something that isn’t a job. It becomes a lifestyle. And it can offer up opportunities to continue a heavy involvement once retirement comes knocking.

Mike Drewer, a respected motorsport PR person based in Adelaide, is a shining example of this. We previously reported on Mike’s foray into motorsport outside of PR here: https://daviescraig.com.au/blog/davies-craig-assists-in-cooling-the-vw-beast

And Mike isn’t one for standing still. Well known for his work with the Formula 1 GP when it was Adelaide based, the popular Clipsal 500 event, the Finke Desert Race, and the Supercars event in Darwin, Mike has recently been at the Lake Gairdner Speed Week event where he piloted his Subaru powered 1964 Beetle.

Salt lake driving can be tricky at best, dangerous as well, with the best surface for travelling at high speed also being the best surface for something to go wrong.

A hard, completely dry, flat surface is what salt lakes racers look for, however the salt itself is an unforgiving surface with very little grip that can take a car in a completely different direction to the one the steering wheel is asking for.

Mike himself said: “It's very, very hard but it has virtually zero grip.” Although a terminal top speed is the ultimate goal, getting there takes practice and preparation. It’s not a simple matter of arriving with a car and tramping on the accelerator. This will result in nothing but wheelspin and a salt bath for anyone standing behind the car.

Aerodynamics, tyre pressures, and the correct weight and balance are critical areas of achieving a set top speed. There’s also, engine cooling, of which Davies Craig is a big part of Mike’s quest.

The VW is fitted with a Subaru WRX engine and as such always needs good air and coolant flow. With a goal of reaching over 320km/h at this year’s event, Mike reports that some fine tuning is further needed. Although the desired speeds weren’t reached, Mike did manage runs of over 250km/h in the one way time trials.

The VW itself has been substantially modified. Apart from the estimated 350 horsepower engine, there’s a Davies Craig electric booster pump for getting fluid to the engine’s intercooler. On board are Davies Craig Thermatic fans which are mounted near the car’s radiator.

“Temperatures at Lake Gairdner are very high, so it was very important that we could efficiently keep the engine temperature within the correct range, especially given that we mounted the radiator in a horizontal position under the VW’s front bonnet. Two Davies Craig thermatic fans were particularly effective in providing air flow that exits either side of the car in the front suspension area”

“We faced another challenge with the fluid to air intercooler (charge cooler) mounted inside the car and drawing cool fluid via a large ice filled cold box mounted where the passenger seat used to be. The Davies Craig Electric Booster Pump was perfect for the job with dyno runs proving just how much more horsepower could be achieved with reduced inlet temperatures”.  

“It was a great ‘first time out’ in the VW Subaru and we were awarded the Rookie of the Year Trophy at the 2018 DLRA Speed Week which was very pleasing”.

The car is now in the process of being further modified and improved for its next attempt at Lake Gairdner, known as the “Big White Duno”!       

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