Kiwi racer Rod Harvey sets back-to-back speed records in Sydney
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Auckland builder Rod Harvey is the talk of the Sport Compact drag racing world after setting back-to-back world speed records in Sydney on Saturday.
Harvey twice clocked personal bests in his Yuasa Batteries Toyota Camry during Pro Extreme competition at Sydney Dragway’s Nitro Thunder meet.
The rain shortened event saw all of the Friday test and qualifying runs washed out.
On Saturday Harvey made a half pass shakedown run and first round he launched the Camry down the West Sydney `strip in a new career best 5.778secs and 255.82mph in the finish line speed trap.
That performance lifted Harvey one spot to the number six world ranking for Sport Compact six-cylinder cars elapsed times but he surged to number one in the speed rankings.
Increments for that first round pass included a relatively slow 1.020secs 60-foot launch time, suggesting potential for further performance gains.
Harvey delivered that in the second round of the shootout format with a 0.976secs short time serving as the foundation for a scorching 5.721secs pass at 256.89mph. As well as raising the speed record again it lifted him to the number three world ranking for elapsed times.
Since Saturday the performance has resonated around the drag racing world.
"My phone has blown up,’’ Harvey said on Sunday.
"Less than 24 hours after breaking the record our Facebook page had 65,000 visits from all around the world and the videos are headed towards 25,000 views.’’
A minor engine problem and a better-safe-than sorry approach meant Harvey decided against contesting the Pro Extreme final.
"We hurt a cam bucket. We could have fixed it but they were hot-lapping us because the meeting ran late and I decided not to rush things,’’ said Harvey.
"If it had been the final at the Winternationals we would have fixed it. But I’ve been in this situation before and I know how it can end. When you get greedy, that’s when it can bite you.
"So we decided to take our time and make sure everything is prepared for the Winternationals next month.’’
The record-breaking Camry is powered by a Toyota 2JZ-based engine tuned by Glenn Cupit. The hand-built six-cylinder runs a single turbo and Motec engine management with its power applied through a five-speed Lenco transmission and custom-built 9.5-inch diff.
Harvey and his Australia-based racing campaign sits as an outlier in the Sport Compact drag racing world where the other front running teams are based in the US, Puerto Rico and the Middle East.
The current world record of 5.660secs is held by the Puerto Rico’s Zoian Racing with a similar Toyota Camry and Toyota 2JZ combination. That January 2018 run also previously stood as the speed record at 255.34mph until Harvey raised the mark.
Harvey is looking at changes aimed at getting his car to launch even harder.
"We went 0.950secs in the 60-foot last year in Orlando so I think there’s a little bit more left in it.’’
Aucklander Barry Plumpton, the reigning NZ Top Doorslammer champion, was Harvey’s closest rival in the Pro Extreme class at Sydney.
He also had two wins with a best run of 5.967secs at 237.67mph - his third 5secs pass since taking the 15.7-litre nitrous injected `68 Camaro to Australia in March – to clinch the Pro Extreme class in an uncontested third round when Harvey withdrew.
The next Australian outing for both Harvey and Plumpton, who will be joined by fellow Kiwi racers Anthony Marsh (A/Fuel dragster) and Trevor Smith (Holden Statesman Pro Slammer) will be the 52nd annual Winternationals at Queensland’s Willowbank Raceway from June 6-9.
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