Meremere: Family race rivals to clash
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Spring Nationals this weekend at Meremere Dragway
Two family racing teams are to dispute 6-second bragging rights when the new drag racing season hits full throttle this weekend.
The Hay family Evil II roadster and the Alsop brothers Pro Mod-style Willys Coupe are contenders for competition class honours at Sunday’s Spring Nationals at Meremere Dragway.
Fierce racing rivals — and good friends off the track — the two teams are now more closely matched than ever following a supercharger and fuel system upgrade for the car campaigned by Christchurch’s Johnny and Nigel Alsop.
As well as North-South needle and a “battle of the sexes” behind the wheel it’s a quarter-mile rivalry between two crowd-pleasing Altereds, which are different concept but similar in performance.
Karen Hay set a new national record last season. Photograph/ Colin Smith.
The ’27 T roadster of Rotorua’s Lindsay Hay is driven by his daughter Karen (Tauranga) and is powered by a twin turbocharged big-block Chevrolet V8.
Johnny Alsop pilots the classic flame-liveried ’41 Willys Coupe, which has a supercharged Chevrolet small-block V8.
The Alsops brought their car north for the opening competition meet at Meremere this month to showcase its potential with a new PSI supercharger atop the 400 cubic-inch billet-block Chev.
They immediately bettered thir previous best 6.78s/198mph run.
“It’s still early days in terms of the set-up and tune but our first full pass with the new combination saw a 6.62s at 211mph, followed up by a 6.45s at 214mph — not bad considering we hadn’t run 200mph before,” says Nigel Alsop.
Karen Hay punched in her career-best numbers at the end of last summer with national class records at 6.418s and 213.54mph. Both also stand as outright New Zealand records for a female drag racer.
Those performances came after a mainly frustrating season.
“We had problem with the set-up of the car so it would launch either to the left or right but we sorted that out at the  nationals.
“Now we can wind in more boost from the start. My goal now is to run a 6.2s at about 220mph.”
Karen Hay says she’s looking forward to racing the Alsops and their latest combination.
“Often your rivals are also good friends in drag racing and it’s particularly so with the Alsops,” she said.
“We go all out to beat them but if I was going to lose to anyone I’d rather lose to them.”
The Alsop’s 6.45s run at the November 1 opening meet is another example of the performance leaps in the sport that have come since the Meremere strip was resurfaced in winter last year. Those gains included New Zealand’s first 4secs and 300mph-plus nitro runs by Anthony Marsh in the Marsh Motorsport Top Fuel dragster.
The upgrade programme continued over the past winter, when 100m of concrete barriers were installed in the braking area. The turnaround area at the top end of the track has also been widened.
The track has also bought jaws of life equipment for its safety crew.
The Auckland Harley Davidson-sponsored IHRA Spring Nationals are on this Sunday, with qualifying from 9.30am.
A test-and-tune day is scheduled on Saturday, when the track opens from 11am.