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The ground will be shaking

“When one of these cars leaves the line, it will feel and sound like thunder, and the vibration runs straight through you.”

That’s what Masterton Motorplex general manager Bob Wilton said petrolheads can expect when Michael Franklin fires up his nitro-powered funny car for six runs down the international drag strip next weekend as part of the final round of the National Drag Racing Championships.

The 1957 Chev funny car has a best time of 5.71 seconds at 260.7mph, and Wilton hopes Franklin will push that time and speed over the slick Motorplex quarter-mile.

Franklin plans to do three runs each Saturday and Sunday, and Wilton reckons fans are in for a thrill.

“We’ve never had a nitro car like this. We were meant to a few years ago, but it got rained out,” Wilton said.

“We have had nitro cars here with Tony Marsh, but those were nitro dragsters. This car is out of Australia. Nothing like it has been seen here before.”

Franklin purchased the stunning black Chev from Graeme Cowin, who travelled around Australia putting on drag racing shows and was selling off some of his old-school nitro cars.

Wilton added that Franklin went to Australia and learnt how to drive the car because drivers must have a special license and then brought it to New Zealand and ran it in Auckland at a couple of meetings.

The Chev is powered by a 413 cubic inch AJ Hemi and 6–71 supercharger and runs on 93 per cent nitro, which Wilton said is a high percentage to run in a drag car.

An indication of how serious Franklin is taking the meeting is that he is flying in noted Kiwi tuner Morice Mcmillin from Australia to tune the car for each of its six runs. The car will also be stripped down and rebuilt over Saturday night.

“They are expensive to run, and the maintenance on them is tremendous,” Wilton said.

“When Tony Marsh brought his top fuel nitro car, he put on a reconditioned set of heads, a reconditioned blower and a new set of tyres for every run.”

Franklin will do the solo runs at 11am, 1pm and 3pm Saturday and Sunday.

Although the appearance of the 1957 Chev funny car will be the undoubted highlight, fans can expect to witness some close racing from the country’s top drivers with one final push before the national championship trophies are dished out.


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Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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