Fast fortnight of personal bests for Kiwi drag racers
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Three New Zealand drag racers have posted personal best quarter-mile performances at overseas events in the last fortnight.
Aucklander Rod Harvey’s campaign at the October 26-28 World Sport Compact Challenge at Orlando Speedworld, Florida was headlined by a 5.854secs/251.72mph qualifying pass that ranked him second among 24 international Extreme Pro teams — the event’s premier class.
Harvey’s time in his new Yuasa Batteries Toyota Camry is quicker than his best in the Toyota Celica he used to campaign and renewed his number six position in the world rankings for the quickest “Import” race cars.
But in an upset result, Harvey was eliminated in the first round against the number 15 qualifier and didn’t continue in the contest. Before heading home Harvey made another test run at 5.858secs and stepped up the top end speed to 254.52mph.
Harvey’s team is returning to Orlando for the Sport Compact World Finals over the weekend of December 1-2, looking to unlock further increments of performance from the new car which has competed at just two events and has already bettered the Celica’s best performances.
On October 27, Queensland’s Willowbank Raceway hosted the latest round of the Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Car Series.
Sydney-based New Zealander Morice McMillin was on form driving the One Bad Kiwi Pontiac TransAm scoring first and second round wins and clocking a new career best of 5.623s/258.81mph.
Last weekend Beachlands racer Trevor Smith made his third Australian outing with his Holden Statesman Doorslammer — updated with a supercharged Hemi engine — at Sydney International Dragway’s East Coast Thunder.
Smith played a leading role in a weekend of upsets in round two of Australia’s 400 Thunder pro series. He qualified 14th in a 14-car Pro ’Slammer field and met top qualifier and multiple Australian champ John Zappia in the first round.
Auckland drag racer Rod Harvey clocked a career best 5.854s pass in his new Toyota Camry at Orlando Speedword in Florida. Photos / Colin Smith, Dragphotos.com.au
When Zappia’s Holden Monaro lost fire in stage, Smith raced to an uncontested win. Having beaten the top qualifier, Smith completed a second round bye run at 6.326secs and his progress was halted in the semi-final when he lost to the new Camaro of Sam Fenech.
But Smith produced a strong semi-final pass, rounding out his weekend with a 6.197secs personal best ET at 227.96mph.
Since repowering the Statesman and racing the car in Australia with the assistance of Team Bray Racing, Smith has improved his previous best ET and MPH efforts.
The domestic drag racing season began at Meremere Dragway on Sunday October 28.
Top Doorslammer racer Barry Plumpton (Auckland) delivered the first 6secs pass at a Kiwi track this season at 6.962secs. He spent the day testing with taller rear tyres and with new transmission and diff ratios in his nitrous-boosted Camaro and some 0.98secs 60-foot times suggested potential in the new combination.
Tauranga’s Karen Hay made some familiarisation runs in the RC Industries twin turbo rear-engine dragster under the eye of car owner Russell Christoffersen. Hay is New Zealand’s quickest female drag racer with a 6.340secs career best and the big block Chev twin turbo dragster has the potential to advance her record into the fives.
Masterton Motorplex opens its drag racing season with a November 10-11 Test and Tune while Meremere Dragway has a November 17 Test and Tune ahead of its second competition meet the following day.
The highlight of the local 2018-19 drag racing season is shaping up to be a new four-round points series for Group 1 categories (Top Alcohol and Top Doorslammer) that will be promoted under the Kiwi Thunder title. The series combines last year’s successful Wellington Invasion meet at Meremere and the reciprocal Auckland Invasion weekend at Masterton with the IHRA Nationals and NZRDA Nationals weekends in March.
2019 Kiwi Thunder Group One National Series
Saturday January 12: Meremere Dragway (Wellington Invasion)
Sat-Sun February 16-17: Masterton Motorplex (Auckland Invasion)
Sat-Sun March 9-10: Meremere Dragway (IHRA Nationals)
Sat-Sun March 23-24: Masterton Motorplex (NZDRA Nationals)