Kiwi drag racers prepare to take off in Sydney
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Kiwi drag racers are on record breaking pace as they prepare for a major meeting at Sydney Dragway this weekend.
Aucklanders Rod Harvey and Barry Plumpton could potentially line-up against each other — in their very different cars — at some point during this weekend’s Nitro Thunder meet. They are competing in the Pro Extreme class which is on the same Friday-Saturday programme as the penultimate round of Australia’s 400 Thunder Pro Series.
Harvey has campaigned his six-cylinder turbocharged Toyotas on Australian tracks for the last decade while Plumpton only shipped his ‘68 Chevrolet Camaro doorslammer — powered by a 15.7-litre nitrous oxide boosted V8 — across the Tasman in recent weeks.
And both have shown the Australian fans that Kiwis can fly with Harvey recently improving his own benchmark as the quickest Import racer in Australasia while Plumpton lowered the best elapsed time for any nitrous boosted car in Australia first time out at Sydney Dragway.
Harvey debuted a new Toyota Camry with his turbocharged Toyota 2JZ six-cylinder engine almost a year ago. He raced the car twice in Orlando, Florida at the end of 2018 and returned to Australian competition at the end of March for the Sydney Jamboree.
‘‘At the test and tune before the Jamboree we basically rolled the car straight out of the container from Orlando and ran a 5.818secs personal best,’’ said Harvey.
The Jamboree race day was rain delayed and affected by strong winds.
‘‘I probably underestimated the track in the first round, just wanting to go A to B, and it ran 5.93s at 248mph.’’
With the wind increasing Harvey took the Factory Extreme class win with an early shut down clocking 5.821secs at a slowing 213.74ph.
‘‘I’m really keen to get back to Sydney this weekend because the track prep is killer at the moment,’’ he said.’’
‘‘If I can put the first half of the 5.82 run together with the back half of the 5.81 test run then we should be really moving.’’
PHOTO / Colin Smith
Plumpton, the New Zealand Top Doorslammer champion, had his first Sydney race in early April and ran a 6.044secs personal best but also struggled with tyre shake on several runs.
To prepare for this weekend’s meeting Plumpton made runs at a test day last Saturday and blasted into the 5secs range for the first time. His first pass of 5.885s/240.98mph was backed up by a 5.963s/237.75mph effort.
‘‘We made a last minute decision to run at the Test and Tune so we had another chance to fine-tune a few things,’’ said Plumpton.
‘‘It’s fair to say we found an improvement. Having said that, it’s drag racing, so we could turn up this weekend and straight away shake the tyres again.
‘‘But I think when the conditions are good and set-up is right there’s still little bit more left in it yet.’’
In Australia the turbocharged and nitrous boosted cars are shut out of the Pro Slammer class (supercharged alcohol cars only) but have found a home racing in Pro Extreme.
‘‘There’s a strong following over there for Pro Extreme with the turbos, big engine nitrous cars and the fastest import cars all racing together,’’ said Plumpton.
The result is Pro Extreme has recently been added to the 52nd Winternationals programme at Queensland’s Willowbank Raceway on June 6-9.
Regarded as the biggest drag race outside of the US, the Winternationals and will see the Kiwi contingent expand further.
Trevor Smith will race in the Pro Slammer class and Harvey’s daughter Shavaun has entered in Junior Dragster while New Zealand Top Alcohol champion Anthony Marsh will make exhibition runs against Kate Harker to give the Australian fans a first taste of 270mph A/Fuel (nitro-methane injected) dragster racing.