OhOn the evening of Saturday January 7th, the world lost Sam Finch in a tragic drag racing accident at Willowbank Raceway.
Sam owned and operated West End Performance in Western Sydney for the past 25 years building it into one of the largest high performance machining and engine shops in Australia.
If you owned a motor built by Sam, you were likely to become a partner for life, such was his warm and humble nature. Upon reflection, you’d struggle to find a single person who has made such a large contribution to street machining and drag racing on such a personal and business level, having built literally thousands of high-performance engines. .
About 25 years ago, I was driving my car to Smyrnatus and the Clio in my F truck died on the Cumberland Highway in Liverpool. It was a public holiday, the highway was closed, and I lifted my bonnet and prayed for a miracle when Sam pulled over. I didn’t really know him that well at the time, but he came to lend a hand. We quickly diagnosed that the dizzy ignition module had taken a dump. Shops were closed, afternoon traffic was heavy and it was hot as hell. “Come on, man, jump,” he said. “Sure enough I’ll have one at the shop.”
So we went to the West End performance, which was 30 minutes away in Campbelltown. We poked around the shop, found one in a mountain of spares, and went back to fire up the truck. I never heard a sweeter sound (than a car horn) than that old Clive shooting life. I pulled a fistful of cash out of my wallet and tried to give it to Sam, but he didn’t want a single bite of it. He just looked at me and said, “No, one more time. ‘Nats, have fun at Arby’s.
That was Sam: an infectious personality, always giving of himself no matter what, and always ready to laugh.
They say life shouldn’t be a contest of endurance, but a contest of quality, and Sam has certainly made every day count. Whether it’s during the day with his brother Frank lining up his nitrous-fed ORSM LJ Torana on the bumper bar, hitting the gears in a top-doorslammer and picking up trophies, pulling the strings on a new engine build or Going to the farm with him. As for family, he was always full of life and was never too busy to share a piece of his time.
Sam is survived by wife Natalie, sons John and Charles and daughter Catherine. He was one of millions, and we can all take away something from the life of one of God’s greatest men. Thanks for the love, Sam, until we meet again.