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Elapsed times tumbled and speeds edged higher at Meremere Dragway on Saturday as the Wellington Invasion meeting produced the best performances of the drag racing summer so far.
Straight out of the trailer a qualifying pass at 5.436secs and 268.44mph by Auckland’s Anthony Marsh raised the outright benchmark for the 2017-18 summer of drag racing. Marsh didn’t run that quickly again in his A/Fuel injected nitromethane dragster but he emerged the winner from a three-round Top Alcohol eliminator.
Pedalling to recover from mid-track wheel spin saw him narrowly sneak past Wellington’s Bert King in the semi-final and Marsh ran solo in the final after Pukekohe’s Chris Johnston was forced to withdraw having damaged a valve lifter on his semi-final run.
Chris Johnston raced to a new personal best. Photo / Colin Smith
It was fortunate for Marsh that his opposition was out of the contest as the dragster blew a fuel line right at the launch and crawled away in a cloud of spraying fuel. It had potentially been a close contest as Johnston had delivered a new personal best ET of 5.494secs in his blown big-block Chevrolet powered dragster in qualifying.
Wellington-based King was smiling as well with a triple hit of 5secs passes for his big-block Chev dragster that was being force-fed by newly installed PSI supercharger set-up. After Saturday’s racing King’s personal best now sits at 5.958secs accompanied by a big step in top-end speed to 240.7mph.
The best Top Doorslammer run of the day was saved for the final round where some Kiwi quarter-mile history was made as a nitrous-injected car faced a turbo ‘slammer in the final.
Rod Benjes (Chev Beretta) in the near lane and Jeff Dobson in his turbocharged Pontiac Grand-Am. Photo / Colin Smith
The Doorslammers had experienced some dramas getting down a hot strip – with track temperatures up around 58degC at the hottest point of the day.
Wellington’s Rod Benjes (Chev Beretta) had grazed the wall on his second qualifier while Beachlands racer Trevor Smith (Holden Statesman) and Hamilton’s Nigel Dixon (Ford Falcon BF) both has some big sideways moments to deal with.
New Plymouth’s Jeff Dobson in his new turbocharged Pontiac Grand-Am made a consistent run into the final which saw him punch in new personal bests at 6.845secs and 203.89mph on separate runs but in the final his car wouldn’t shift gear at half track.
Barry Plumpton's new `69 Camaro. Photo / Colin Smith
Doorslammer honours went to Auckland’s Barry Plumpton in his `69 Camaro. The 959-cubic inch (15.7-litre) nitrous-injected monster ran 6.211s in the final for the best Doorslammer pass of the day.
The performance is just 0.002s shy of Plumpton’s previous best (also the best Doorslammer run of this season) at Masterton in December and some relatively slow early increments on the run were balanced by a big increase in top-end speed to 227.6mph.
‘‘I don’t mind admitting I made a few driving errors today but we are pleased about how the car is performing,’’ said Plumpton.
Last weekend’s Meremere meeting will be followed by a reciprocal fixture billed as the ‘‘Auckland Invasion’’ meeting at Masterton Motorplex on February 17-18. That meeting could see the best performance of the summer as Anthony Marsh plans to campaign the Marsh Motorsport Top Fuel dragster at the Wairarapa ‘strip, the first outing for the car in nearly two years.