First in the fives: Camaro monster claims a Kiwi racing record
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A record has been set in New Zealand that we have been waiting 23 years for: 5.925sec. That isn’t a 0-100km/h time, 0-200km/h or even 0-300km/h time. It’s the time drag racer Barry Plumpton took to go from standstill to 382km/h as he set New Zealand’s first five-second quarter-mile drag racing time — the first time a Top Doorslammer has run a time under 6sec in the country.
For the past five seasons, multiple teams have knocked on the door of the looming quarter-milestone in New Zealand drag racing. And last Saturday, Massey racer Plumpton thumped his way into 5sec history at the wheel of his 15.7-litre V8 nitrous oxide-injected 68 Chevrolet Camaro.
He lit up the Meremere Dragway scoreboards with 5.925sec elapsed time to close out a 23-year era during which the quickest Kiwi Doorslammers have clocked 6sec passes.
Plumpton has campaigned his Jerry Bickel Race Cars Camaro for the past two seasons, racing to a best of 6.125sec on a New Zealand track and a 5.885sec Sydney run during an Australian campaign earlier this year. “The track was good and we made a clean run and I was able to drive it all the way to the finish,” Plumpton said of Saturday’s benchmark run.
The Camaro clicked off a 0.971sec 60-foot time, reached the eighth-mile in 3.898sec and clocked 237.42mph (382km/h) through the finish line speed trap.
“The hardest thing with these cars is managing the power and getting the right set-up,” Plumpton said. “For two seasons we’ve been fine-tuning the chassis set-up, changing the gear ratios, the engine tune, the shocks and even the tyres. We went to larger diameter tyres to improve the miles per hour.”
Plumpton’s car was built for eighth-mile Pro Nitrous racing in the US and has been developed for quarter-mile racing. The massive Pat Musi 959 cubic-inch nitrous motor develops between 2500-3000 horsepower depending on the tune-up.
“People think drag racing is just about the horsepower,” said Plumpton. “Sure you need horsepower but it’s really about controlling that horsepower.
“A nitrous car has to launch really hard to achieve the ET [elapsed time]. It’s not like a turbo car you can drive out of the hole and then make it up with top speed at the finish. We were able to run a stellar 60-foot time and that was the foundation for the 5sec run.”
Plumpton continued his campaign on Sunday with a trio of 6.1sec runs but says there are no plans to reset his racing goals.
“We’ve had some success in the points series in the last few years but I’d rather run a personal best than win a race. The good thing for the sport is I’m sure we’ll see some great racing this season.
“There are other good teams and cars that can do it and it’ll be great to see the first pair of cars that run fives side-by-side.”
While Plumpton’s run stands as the quickest ET for a Doorslammer. the fastest speed honours remain with Hamilton racer Nigel Dixon who blasted his supercharged BA Falcon through the Masterton Motorplex speed traps at 241.03mph (385.6km/h) last season.
The summer drag racing action intensifies with the first Group 1 (Top Alcohol and Top Doorslammer) event of the season at Meremere on January 11.