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Motorplex Dragstalgia gets hearts racing

Masterton Motorplex was packed for its Dragstalgia event this weekend, with locals and visitors to the region stoked to witness the spectacular show dedicated to vintage gassers.

The two-day event got off to a slow start, with attendees and organisers closely watching the forecast and wondering if the drizzle on Saturday morning would put the brakes on the entire weekend.

Speaking to the Times-Age from inside the control box yesterday, Masterton Motorplex manager Bob Wilton said that once the track had a light dry on Saturday, everything was rearing to go.

“Since the weather was so good this morning we started an hour earlier,” Wilton said.

“It’s the biggest meeting of the season so far.”

Sizing up a “record crowd” of over 1000, Wilton said people had travelled from all across New Zealand to compete in and watch the races.

“These cars are running at between 300 and 450 kilometres an hour for over 400 metres,” Wilton said.

“Some of the cars are from back in the 1930s, they have old bodies with purpose-built chassis and engines.”

This is what led to naming the event ‘Dragstalgia’, noted Wilton, pointing to the old-school cars with big motors.

Masterton Motorplex is one of two purpose-built racing facilities in New Zealand [the other is in Auckland].

Wilton said this weekend the Masterton venue had a class of cars racing that are only allowed to race at these spots.

“It’s not a cheap sport to organise – these events are how we make our improvements,” Wilton said.

“We’ve just spent $100,000 on more equipment, and we’re in the process of talking to the council about more bathrooms, so we’re here to stay.”

Last year eight speakers were stolen from the motorplex, and Wilton said their replacements were going to be reinforced on power poles so “people can’t come back and pinch them again”.

Wilton said he is expecting the motorplex’s Mayhem event in March to be just as popular, if not more so.

Behind the wheel of a 1995 Honda Accord, set with a supercharged fuel-injected small block chev V8 engine, was Balclutha racer Tania Binnema, who was at Masterton Motorplex over the weekend.

Binnema had been racing for over a decade when her husband suggested she level up, and she said she’s currently driving observation passes to get a license to race the car.

“It’s tuned to my abilities at the moment, and I’ve just improved so much, I’m really happy with where I am at the moment.”

Stoked with the weekend’s results, Binnema said she had even achieved a personal best during her time on the track, whizzing through with an 8.9-second quarter mile at 151kmh.

She said that was thanks to deep support from family and friends, and also Wilton, who rents the motorplex track out for testing days.

“Those testing days have been a godsend,” Binnema said.

“I can go and do my passes without any pressures or anybody else around, and just do what I need to do.”

Recently inspired by seeing an all-female team in action at a drag racing event in Sydney, Binnema said she’s working with teammates Emily Luxford and Mel Whiting to be the first all-girl team in New Zealand.

“There are a lot of girl racers in NZ, but no teams,” Binnema said.

“It’s not an all-male domain, there’s plenty of girls out here giving it a go.”

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Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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