Nitro-burning funny cars to light up Meremere Dragway this weekend
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UPDATE: Due to Saturday rain forecast the Meremere Dragway Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Car event is postponed till Sunday Feb 23. Revised schedule, Pit party 11.30am, Funny Cars on track at 1pm, 3pm and 5pm. Qualifying for Meremere Competition Series from 9am.
The car and driver line-ups and racing format has been confirmed for the Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Car Series New Zealand tour which starts at Meremere Dragway on Saturday.
The eight 400km/h nitro-burning funny cars will be in action at Meremere along with the Nitro Sheriff wheelstander and the driver roster includes some of Australia’s most experienced quarter-mile racers along with new talent and is headlined by both father-daughter and brother-sister combinations.
The funny cars will run three rounds of all-run format competition at the Meremere meet on Saturday and at Masterton Motorplex on March 22.
Developed in 2013 by Australian drag racing legend Graeme Cowin, the Aeroflow series has raced throughout Australia at quarter and eighth-mile venues. All of the cars have nostalgia-style funny car bodies and are capable of running mid-5secs passes reaching over 400km/h through the finish line timing beams.
Perth-based Anthony Begley drives the LA Hooker Plymouth Arrow while his daughter Emma continues her fledgling career in the nitro ranks racing in the Let’s Boogie Ford Mustang.
Other front running cars are the Nitro Express ‘57 Chev piloted by Rick Gauci, the One Bad Kiwi Pontiac Transam driven by former New Zealand Top Alcohol champ Morice McMillin and the Terminator Chevrolet Camaro with Justin Walshe behind the wheel.
The Dark Horse Ford Mustang is driven by Paul Messineo and Brandon Gosbell will be making his Aeroflow series debut driving the King Kong Pontiac Transam. While no stranger to 200mph-plus drag racing, Gosbell’s previous racing has been on Extreme Bike and Pro Street motorcycles.
Josh Leahy is piloting the Bandit Pontiac Firebird and his sister Chelsea is assigned driving duties in the police-themed Nitro Sheriff wheelstander attempting quarter-mile runs on the back wheels at about 160km/h.
The nitro funny cars are scheduled to appear on track at 4.30pm, 6.30pm and a twilight final round at 8.30pm that promises a spectacular display of header flames as darkness approaches.
Aeroflow series manager Morice McMillin says there is plenty of afternoon entertainment before the funny cars hit the track including a Pit Party that runs from 3pm-4pm before the cars fire up.
‘‘The Pit Party is a very important part of the event as well. It gives the fans a chance to meet the drivers and get up close to the cars,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ve developed the series into the 20/20 cricket version of drag racing and it’s more than just a drag race for drag racing enthusiasts. It’s an event for the whole family and the Pit Party includes an MC, music, a bouncy castle, face painting, colouring competitions and heaps of giveaways.
‘‘It gives the drivers a chance to engage with the fans before the business of racing starts. It’s right before the first round so half an hour after the Pit Party finishes the kids and families see the cars on track.’’
Action begins earlier with qualifying for round four of the Meremere Dragway Competition Series at 11am and elimination rounds between the funny car schedule.
Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Car Series
Nitro Express (‘57 Chev Coupe) – Rick Gauci
Lets Boogie (Ford Mustang) – Emma Begley
Bandit (Pontiac Transam) – Josh Leahy
One Bad Kiwi (Pontiac Transam) – Morice McMillin
King Kong (Pontiac Transam) – Brandon Gosbell
LA Hooker (Plymouth Arrow) – Anthony Begley
Dark Horse (Ford Mustang) – Paul Messineo
Terminator (Chevrolet Camaro) – Justin Walshe
Nitro Sheriff (Wheelstander) — Chelsea Leahy