Dragsters: Marsh reigns in drag races
Marsh Motorsport powers to victory at Meremere Dragway
The second fastest car in the Marsh Motorsport stable powered to victory in the premier category of Kiwi drag racing at Meremere Dragway on Sunday.
Anthony Marsh (Howick) raced the team’s A/Fuel (naturally aspirated nitro) dragster to victory in a close-fought Top Alcohol final against Chris Johnston (Pukekohe) and also re-set the national class record during eliminations.
The performance confirms Marsh as New Zealand’s top performer in both exhibition Top Fuel (supercharged nitro) racing and national series Top Alcohol competition.
Anthony Marsh was in record breaking form with the Marsh Motorsport A/Fuel dragster. Picture/Colin Smith
Marsh topped a six-car Top Alcohol field in qualifying on Saturday and raced to Sunday’s final where he met the in-form Johnston.
Marsh ran 5.438sec at 267.75mph with Johnston flashing through the timing beams at 5.694sec and 255.63mph.
But the margin of victory was just 0.042sec with Marsh’s performance advantage almost being countered by Johnston’s much sharper reaction time (0.036sec against Marsh’s 0.250sec).
Reece Fish gathers a very sideways moment at the top end of the track in his Top Fuel dragster. Picture/Colin Smith
Marsh delivered his record-breaking effort with a 5.377sec solo semifinal pass at 272.45mph. Johnston achieved the fastest-ever run by a blown alcohol dragster when he raced through the finish line at 259.36mph in his semifinal win over Shane Lodge (Red Beach).
Lodge also had his turn in the spotlight in qualifying with a 5.485sec run which is the quickest ET for a blown alcohol dragster.
There were two helpings of nitro spectacle on Sunday.
The Fish Family Racing Top Fueler made two runs but ran into problems at half-track. Reece Fish’s quest to follow Marsh into the 4sec bracket will now go hold through another winter.
Athol Williams launches his Top Fuel drag bike on the fastest motorcycle run ever seen in New Zealand at 6.258secs and 237.30mph. Picture/ Colin Smith
On the first run a broken oil line sent a haze of oil onto the rear tyres and the car stepped out of line at half-track. Oil blowing from a breather had a similar effect on run two and Fish corrected a lurid sideways moment just short of the finish time at well beyond 200mph.
Athol Williams (Pokeno) produced a new quarter-mile benchmark for motorcycles in New Zealand with a stunning 6.258sec run at 237.3mph on his 1550cc nitro-burning Top Fuel bike.
Trevor Smith (Beachlands, Holden Statesman) powered deeper into the 6sec bracket and won the Top Doorslammer title against Rod Benjes (Upper Hutt, Chev Beretta). The pair proved evenly matched in qualifying before Smith raced to a 6.491sec final run and 219.65mph finish line speed.
Glen Collett (Nelson) returned to the track after a long lay-off with a new Fiat Topolino altered and won the Supercharged Outlaws title against the similar car of Aucklander Steve Milliken.
Nelson’s Glen Collett in the new Fiat Topolino. Picture/Colin Smith
Sport Compact saw a record-breaking effort from Cory Abbott (Tauranga) in the Abbott Bros Racing Mazda RX7. The turbocharged 13B machine had run a best of 7.15sec before the weekend but rolled off the trailer with a 6.973sec qualifier on Saturday and backed up those numbers with a 6.968sec and 6.999sec on Sunday. It’s the quickest performance by any twin rotor car in Australasia.
Rotorua veteran Trevor Watson added to his long list of national title successes by taking the combined Modified/Competition eliminator in his supercharged 2.1-litre Peugeot engine dragster while Tim Hawke drove his Lexus V8 turbo engined 74 Corolla to the Top Street title.
In the split-second racing and reaction time critical DYO racing of the the Super Sedan division Lee Sherwin (Pukekohe) and Mark Hudson (Hamilton) progressed through four elimination rounds to meet in the final. Sherwin claimed a narrow win in his big-block Chev-powered Ford Escort.
Another big performance came from Competition Bike winner Spike Allen (Mt Maunganui) on his Pro Street Suzuki Hayabusa turbo machine.
With the class index standing at 8.29sec, his 7.839sec semifinal run and a 7.928sec pass to beat Aucklander Ian Hilder in the final was a newAA/Altered Bike record.
Steve van Pelt made the trip from Christchurch and won the Modified Bike title on his Suzuki Hayabusa.
Action continues this weekend with the NZ Drag Racing Association Nationals at Taupo on Saturday and Sunday. The front-engine dragsters, funny cars, T-Buckets and muscle cars of the past have their annual day in the spotlight at the Bay Rodders’ Nostalgia Drags at Meremere on Easter Day, March 27.