NZ's fastest drag racing team heads over the ditch to put on 440km/h display
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New Zealand’s fastest drag racing team has shipped its 440km/h dragster across the Tasman to spearhead the strongest-ever Kiwi assault on Australia’s biggest drag race meeting.
The Marsh Motorsport A/Fuel dragster campaigned by the Auckland father and son team of Tony and Anthony Marsh will give Australian fans their first chance to see a naturally aspirated, nitromethane-fueled dragster in action by making exhibition runs during the Winternationals at Queensland’s Willowbank Raceway.
With Anthony behind the wheel, the team posted a personal best 5.327s/276.01mph pass at Masterton in March and the goal for Willowbank is a 5.2secs pass that would rank them among the elite A/Fuel teams anywhere in the world.
But that target has required some lengthy negotiations with Australia’s drag racing rule makers, even though the nitro car won’t be competing against the supercharged alcohol dragsters and funny cars for Winternationals honours.
Tony Marsh says he’s spent a frustrating week negotiating the specification under which the car can run in Australia.
‘‘Back in January they asked us to come over, run our car and help them form some rules because they are looking at including restricted A/Fuel cars, running in the mid-5.4secs, against their alcohol dragsters and funny cars.
‘‘Marsh Motorsport and our sponsor The Mount Shop are paying for the trip. The deal was we could run the car to New Zealand rules at this weekend’s Winter Warm Up and then to their proposed rules with a lower nitro percentage at the Winternationals.
‘‘Our container had been at the race track for more than week before we learned we had to run with their restrictions at the Warm Up as well. We were almost ready to give up and ship the car back home again.’’
Now there’s a one-day opportunity to run the car in NZ-legal specification at a Test and Tune this Friday.
‘‘All we want is a chance to run the car to New Zealand rules before we start helping them create some rules over there,’’ Marsh said.
‘‘It’s always been my goal to run 280mph with this car. If everything goes well on Friday, I’m going to put a tune-up into it and Anthony’s going to send it.’’
In spite of the restricted nitro mix for their car, the Marsh Motorsport squad is keen to line-up at the Queensland event.
‘‘The Winternationals are massive, they get nearly 40,000 fans on Saturday and Sunday and the place is packed,’’ said Tony Marsh.
The fast-growing Pro Extreme category is where New Zealand has the strongest Winternationals representation with three teams in action.
Auckland’s Rod Harvey will be chasing further performance gains with his Yuasa Batteries Toyota Camry after setting a new world speed record at 256.89mph for a six-cylinder Sport Compact racer in Sydney earlier this month.
Reigning Kiwi Thunder Doorslammer champion Barry Plumpton (Massey) recently blasted his 15.7-litre nitrous oxide-boosted ‘68 Camaro into the 5.8secs range at Sydney Dragway and will be making his Willowbank debut. He is already the quickest and fastest nitrous racer in Australasia.
And after two weather-interrupted attempts to race in Australia, the Abbott Brothers from Papamoa are campaigning their turbo 13B powered Mazda RX-7 in the Pro Extreme class.
Cory Abbott made strong qualifying passes at the Brisbane Jamboree event last year before the event was washed out and the team also missed the Sydney Jamboree due to another rainout. The RX-7 has run a 6.829secs best in New Zealand and come within a fraction of breaking through 200mph.
Beachlands racer Trevor Smith will complete an Australian campaign he began at the 2018 Winternationals in his Holden Statesman Doorslammer. Smith will line-up in a 14-car Winternationals Pro Slammer field and will then ship his car home for the 2019-20 New Zealand season.
And Harvey’s daughter Shavaun, the champion in the 2018-19 IHRA New Zealand points series, will compete in a Junior Dragster field that has attracted more than 40 entries.
The 52nd Gulf Western Oil Winternationals is the biggest drag racing event outside of the US with the latest entry list showing 496 cars.
The Kiwi teams will prepare for the event by making test runs at the Winter Warm-Up over June 1-2. The four-day Winternationals are raced June 6-9 headlined by an eight-car Top Fuel dragster field.