Drag Racing: Thunder road at Meremere
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The new Kiwi Thunder national drag racing series accelerates into its second half this weekend when Meremere Dragway hosts the Auckland Harley Davidson IHRA New Zealand Nationals.
Kiwi Thunder showcases New Zealand’s fastest motorsport with a four-round series for the Group 1 Top Alcohol and Top Doorslammer categories.
It has already delivered close quarter-mile competition with the first Meremere and Masterton meets held in January and February providing no repeat winners.
Hamilton's Nigel Dixon (BA Falcon) was the second event winner in the Kiwi Thunder Top Doorslammer series. Picture/ Colin Smith.
The best record in the Kiwi Thunder series belongs to Christchurch racer Johnny Alsop campaigning his supercharged small-block Top Alcohol Altered. Alsop is the only driver to make two final round appearances, which has earned him the points lead.
Alsop was runner-up to Auckland’s Anthony Marsh at the opening round and had won a close all-South Island final at Masterton against the front-engine dragster of Alexandra’s Bryan Norman.
The Top Alcohol competition gained momentum at Masterton with a 10-car field in attendance, including the debut of Paraparaumu racer Tamara Silk in the ex-Bert King dragster and the return of former national champion Chris Johnston (Bucklands Beach) with a new Noonan engine combination powering his supercharged dragster.
The single run highlight of the Masterton meet was the quickest and fastest Top Alcohol pass clocked in New Zealand when Anthony Marsh clicked the timing beams on a 5.349secs/274.11mph run at the wheel of the Marsh Motorsport A/Fuel (nitro-injected) dragster.
The Masterton round of Top Doorslammer brought a reversal of first-round fortunes.
First-round winner Rod Benjes (Upper Hutt) had issues with his Chevrolet Beretta at Masterton and it was Hamilton’s Nigel Dixon — who was an early casualty with engine problems at the opening event — raced through to the final in his BA Falcon, taking a win over the twin turbocharged Pontiac Grand-Am of New Plymouth racer Adam Prestney.
Dixon’s final round 6.258secs effort was his best of the 2018-19 season.
Another Doorslammer driver to run a personal best during last month’s Masterton meet was Gavin Green (Featherston) with a 6.305secs run in the 68 Pontiac Firebird he debuted earlier this season.
Along with Kiwi Thunder competition this weekend’s meeting offers IHRA season points in all other classes and the single event glory of racing for the national honours.
All categories have three rounds of qualifying starting from 2pm on Saturday with Group 1 sessions scheduled at 3pm and 5.30pm before the track’s new lighting will be in use for an 8pm third round.
Eliminations begin at 10am on Sunday.