Warm weather and ideal track conditions made for fast times at the 55th Drag Racing Nationals at the Masterton Motorplex on the weekend.
At least three new national records were set, and 16 drivers posted personal bests, mainly on Sunday when the track was at its peak.
Masterton Motorplex manager Bob Wilton said the track was in ideal condition after their recently acquired machine from Australia last week removed the excess rubber from the start pad, and new rubber was laid, providing optimum traction.
Combined with temperatures in the mid-to-high 20s, that made for plenty of fast times and speeds.
Whanganui veteran Grant Rivers set a new national best in winning the Competition class, with a 6.859-second run at 201.79mph, in his “River Rat 4” 1999 Pontiac Funny Car.
Graeme Bates from Hutt Valley was also in record-breaking form, setting a new best of 7.21 seconds at 193.50mph in his Vauxhall Cresta in winning the Top Street class, and Stokes Valley’s Jacob Reece set a new record on his way to victory in the Competition Bikes on his Suzuki GSXR 1000 of 8.14 seconds at 172mph.
The lowest time and fastest speed for the meeting went to New Zealand’s quickest woman over the quarter mile.
Tamara Silk from Paraparaumu burnt up the track in 5.848 seconds at 244.76 seconds in her rear engine dragster.
That time was set in qualifying for the Top Alcohol class, and Silk had to settle for second, beaten in the final by the rear engine dragster of Auckland visitor Shane Lodge.
Adam Prestney from New Plymouth won the battle of the Pontiacs, edging out Featherton’s Gavin Green in the final of the crowd-pleasing Top Doorslammers.
Prestney cut out the quarter mile in 6.415 seconds at 222.33mph, and Green finished in 6.599 seconds at 222.72mph.
Green had qualified fastest, with Masterton’s Dwane Garrett second quickest with a personal best of 6.24 seconds at 223.51mph. However, Prestney ended the hopes of a hometown final, beating Garrett by .094 seconds in the semifinals.
Popular Christchurch visitors, “the Anthill Mob” Funny Car, driven by Clint Michington, won the Supercharged Outlaws, setting a personal best of 6.663 seconds at 203.8mph in the second round of eliminations. Michington beat Aucklander Sam Levein in his 1923 Ford T Altered in the final.
Other winners were Cory Silk in his rear-engined dragster in the Modified class, Mike Wilson in his 1969 Ford Capri in the Super Sedans, Damon Grant in his 1983 Ford Cortina in the Super Streets, Shavaun Harvey in the Junior Dragsters, Anton Foley on his 1989 Honda CBR 1000F in the Modified Bikes, and Brett Bowman in the Screaming Eagles on a 1989 FXR Harley Davidson.
Kurt Goodin from Carterton was another local in good form, hitting a personal best of 7.75 seconds at 176mph in his 1970 Chevy Nova in the Supercarged Outlaws.
One hundred and sixty-four cars lined up over the two days, more than Wilton anticipated, given the disruption caused by Cyclone Gabrielle.
The next meeting at the Masterton Motorplex is the popular ‘Mayhem’ meeting on March 18-19, featuring the Wild Bunch and Outlaw 71 cars.