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Motorplex braces for an invasion

Chris Johnston … aims to hit five-second barrier in the Top Alcohol class. PHOTO/STEVE VIRTUE


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Masterton Motorplex manager Bob Wilton breathed a sigh of relief that the covid-19 level alert has been moved to level one, allowing this weekend’s national championship drag race meeting to go ahead.

Importantly, the change frees up the drivers north of the Bombay Hills to travel to Masterton, with the two-day meeting promoted as the ‘Auckland Invasion’.

The meeting is one of the Motorplex’s major events, and regularly attracts crowds of 3000-5000, so any cancellation would have been a financial blow for the club.

Wilton said that he hadn’t heard much from the Auckland drivers, but top drivers, such as Chris Johnston and Tony Marsh had confirmed they would arrive in Masterton Friday afternoon.

Johnston, from Pukekohe, is the fastest man in New Zealand, with his top alcohol rail breaking into the five-second barrier.

Marsh is well known for his deeds in the top fuel class but has developed a Ford Pinto since his top fuel rail was written off by his son Anthony last year.

“He ran a 7.1 sec in Auckland, so it’s on the pace already,” said Wilton.

“I’m not sure if he’ll race it in the Supercharged Outlaws or Wild Bunch, but he’s put a huge motor in it, very similar to what’s in a rail, and he’s just got to down-tune it so he can get it down the track.”

The Anthill Mob Funny Car has broken 200mph for the quarter-mile. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Johnston can expect strong competition from Bill and Clinton Minchington in the Anthill Mob Funny Car, a 2002 carbon fibre-bodied Chevrolet Camaro running on alcohol that has passed 200mph for the quarter-mile, and Alexandra’s Bryan Norman, in New Zealand’s fastest front engine dragster, with a best time of 6.16 seconds.

Tamara Silk, from Paraparaumu, and Masterton’s Dwane Garrett, who took the honours at the Motorplex’s December meet, are other likely competitors in the top alcohol class.

Wilton expected more than 150 cars and motorcycles across the classes for the last points scoring meeting before next month’s national finals at Meremere, south of Auckland.

He said the final track preparation was to have been completed yesterday and predicted good times with air temperature in the high 20s.

“To a certain degree, the heat is good for fast times, as long as it doesn’t get too hot because then it makes the track slippery.”

One thing the Motorplex won’t be short of is the traction treatment compound, which is applied to the start area to give the cars the best traction.

The club has an abundance after a delay in the arrival of the product from the United States.

“It left America three months late because of covid and strikes over there, so I had to buy another eight drums of it out of Australia,” Wilton said.

“In the end, the Australian stuff arrived just after our last meeting, and then the American stuff arrived three days later.

“We now have enough for the next two years and have more than anyone else in Australasia, something like 22 drums at a cost of $40,000.”

Today’s racing will get under way at 10am with tomorrow’s competition to start at 9am.

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