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Racers rev up for new season

Masterton Motorplex International Drag Strip chairman Bob Wilton. PHOTO/FILE

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Bob Wilton has had to be patient to get engines roaring again down at the drag strip on Manaia Rd this racing season, but things are finally heating up for this weekend’s meet – Test and Tune.

“People are really chuffed we are back on, but many of us have been champing at the bit,” chairman of Masterton Motorplex International Drag Strip Wilton said.

ABOVE AND BELOW: The late Michelle Davison, a founding member of the Masterton Motorplex International Drag Strip. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

But the upcoming event comes with some sadness as the organisers lost one of the club’s founding members, Michelle Davison, to cancer last week. She was 52 years old.

“Michelle was with me from day one when she was voted in as secretary and I will miss her and her racing.”

Her husband Paul was a familiar face at the Masterton track as he raced her car when she became unwell with a brain tumour.

She raced a Class A ‘Top Alcohol Car’.

Wilton said he was “definitely excited” to be finally under way after having to cancel the March event scheduled just days after Wairarapa went into covid-19 lockdown.

As the region was between Alert Levels 2 and 4 for a few months, no large events could be held.

Masterton Motorplex events draw more than 100 people so could not be held until Wairarapa was at Alert Level 1.

An event scheduled for September 6 was cancelled when Wairarapa was directed to go to Level 2 because of the Auckland community outbreak.

Wilton said the past few months had been tough because the organisation had bills to pay, including a mortgage.

Making use of time, during the covid-19 lockdowns, the team worked to increase the height of the track’s barriers in the right-hand lane.

“We are surviving but it has been hard,” he said.

“The police test vehicles at the track and hold some driver training at our site. We’ve had the fire service and some corporates using the place so that has helped us.”

Masterton District Council has since granted the motorplex an extra meet to make up for the one they had to cancel.

They can hold five events a year, but this year would hold six.

This weekend’s Tune and Test event was for people to test out the cars they had been working on over winter and for drivers to organise their licences for racing on the track.

Wilton said the Test and Tune event was a good couple of days for the public to come and enjoy the cars.

“There are no winners or losers this time and no pressure but a great couple of days because all sorts of cars come,” Wilton said.

The national series starts November 7 and 8 with the ‘Outlaws 71’.

The National Drag Racing Competition is early December.

Only two tracks in New Zealand can hold events with the fastest cars that can reach over 200kmh: Meremere in Auckland, and Masterton.

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