Drag Racing Nationals weekend sees records topple
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The 2017 IHRA Nationals produced multiple record-breaking performances - most notably from the five-and six-second cars competing in the fastest categories of the sport in this country.
With three teams on national record pace the Top Doorslammer class burst into life at the Nationals.
Qualifying on Saturday produced the fastest "door car" pass seen in New Zealand when Hamilton's Nigel Dixon stopped the clocks at 6.197secs/237.59mph in his BF Falcon.
But that run won't earn record status as Dixon didn't get close to those numbers again (another run within 1 per cent is needed to "back-up" a record) and he was sidelined from the eliminations following a first round win that ended with a fuel-line problem.
After a 12-month upgrade and light-weighting effort on his 75 Holden Statesman, Beachlands racer Trevor Smith returned with impressive 6.330s and 6.354s runs on Saturday to rank him No. 2 qualifier behind Dixon. Those runs reset the four-season old national record of 6.413s held by Pukekohe's Ross Taylor.
Smith then went quicker on Sunday with a first round 6.261s and a semi-final 6.284s to lower the record again. But the bright yellow Holden went through the finish line with engine oil spraying across the windscreen and Smith was unable to front for the final.
Upper Hutt's Rod Benjes (Chevrolet Beretta, bellow) was No. 3 qualifier at 6.542s and stepped up to run a personal best 6.330s in his first-round match-up against Waiuku's Craig Brown (55 Chev) and then a losing 6.443s to his semi-final against Smith.
But drag racing is also about consistency, and it was Auckland's Barry Plumpton who drove to the Top Doorslammer title in his nitrous-injected Chevrolet Monte Carlo with a solo run in the final when Smith had advised he was out of the contest.
The outcome of the weekend leaves Smith with the elapsed time national record at 6.261s, but the mph mark remains 2014's 229.51mph pass by Wayne Yearbury.
With Dixon's new Falcon and the upgraded cars of Smith and Benjes all showing 5secs potential, the crowd-pleasing Doorslammers will be back into the drag racing spotlight next summer.
Top Alcohol also produced record quarter-mile runs and all four teams entered at the weekend went away with something to celebrate.
Christchurch's Alsop Racing powered into the 5secs bracket with a trio of 5.9s passes by Johnny Alsop (bellow). That makes their T Roadster the fastest Altered on a Kiwi drag strip and the fastest small-block Chev powered car - in any chassis configuration - with a record at 5.920s and 234.7mph.
Pukekohe's Chris Johnston produced three qualifying runs that nudged up his mph national record for a blown alcohol dragster to 259.66mph. Then in his first round match-up he gained the ET record as well with a 5.509s effort to better Shane Lodge's two-year-old benchmark and simultaneously bumped the top end record to 261.57mph.
Anthony Marsh (Auckland) claimed the Top Alcohol honours in his nitro A/Fuel Dragster. His best ET of the meet was 5.383s in the first round and a record 273.8mph top end in the final.
Johnston's car pulled a mid-track wheel stand in the final and moved left out of the racing groove and he clocked 6.177secs.
Also joining the Top Alcohol 5secs club on Saturday was Hamilton's Grant Briffault with a personal best at 5.989s in his rear-engine dragster.
Bettering her own record in the BBi Altered class was Tauranga's Karen Hay, powering into the 6.3secs range for the first time in the Evil II twin turbo roadster and recording a class record at 6.340s and improving her own mark as NZ's quickest female racer.
First time 6secs passes were achieved by Nelson's Glen Collett in his Fiat Topolino altered, Clinton Minchington (Christchurch, above) in his Dodge funny car and the front-engine Hemi dragster of Papakura's Raymond Smyth.
The intensity of racing and variety of machinery in action in the DYO classes was showcased in the Super Sedan final.
Putaruru's Jeremy Hewson in a 13B rotary engine Toyota Starlet topped a 20-car field to take the win from Cambridge racer Ivan Julian in his 38 Chev Coupe. Julian red-lighted in the final and although Hewson raced just under his 8.95s dial-in it was the least serious of the two fouls and he secured the Super Sedan title.