Dwane Garrett set a personal best of 5.8 seconds. PHOTOS/FILE
Wairarapa drivers were flying at the third round of the national drag racing championships at the Masterton Motorplex over the weekend.
Dubbed the Auckland Invasion, the meeting attracted 215 cars, up from 188 at the same meeting last year, and the drivers didn’t disappoint the big crowd, with some outstanding racing.
Masterton’s Dwane Garrett won the previous round at the Motorplex in December, but this time had to settle for second despite setting a new personal best in the top alcohol class.
Garrett’s time of 5.8 seconds for the quarter-mile knocked 0.10 seconds off his previous best, but that wasn’t enough to get past multiple national champion Chris Johnston from Pukekohe, who took the top honours.
That may be the last time the local crowd get to see Johnston in action.
Masterton Motorplex general manager Bob Wilton said that the veteran racer announced his retirement at the weekend’s meeting and that next month’s national championship decider at Meremere would be his last.
Featherston’s Gavin Green was also in top form, setting a new national record for the Doorslammer class in his Pontiac Firebird.
Green completed a 6.073 second run on Sunday morning, which would have been a new record, but he was unable to complete a backup performance within one per cent of that time for the record to stand, so his time of 6.211 seconds is the new national best.
However, even getting the car to the start line on Sunday was a mission for Green, after an engine failure on the first day.
“We melted a piston on Saturday, so we had to replace the piston, and the boys worked until 10pm. It was a great effort,” said Green.
Green finished second in the class, losing out to Taranaki’s Jeff Dobson in the final.
There was also drama in the Wild Bunch class, with the transmission exploding and bursting into flames in Josh Trybula’s 1933 Willys on the start line.
Bob George didn’t even get to the track after the trailer carrying his super sedan bursting into flames north of Masterton on Friday afternoon, destroying both the car and trailer.
Wilton said the drag racing community are already getting behind George, with a Give-a-Little page set up to help him get up and racing again.
Wilton was thrilled with how the meeting went, with the hot weather ensuring big crowds for the two days of racing.
“There were a few oil downs on Saturday, which slowed everything down, but both days we finished around 6.30-7pm.
“The good thing about it though is when we did have stoppages, the crowd could look up and see all the planes practising for next weekend for Wings Over Wairarapa, and that sort of filled the gap.”
The next meeting at the Motorplex is a full competition meeting on March 20-21, featuring the Outlaw Masters Final.