Drag Racing: Kiwi Thunder power surge
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The inaugural summer of Kiwi Thunder drag racing competition sent a power surge through the top-level of the quarter-mile sport.
Kiwi Thunder has been a Meremere Dragway and Masterton Motorplex points series over four rounds for the ‘‘Group 1’’ Top Alcohol and Top Doorslammer categories and it produced new performance benchmarks in both classes.
Top Doorslammer teams continued to raise anticipation for the first 5secs Doorslammer pass at a Kiwi dragstrip.
At Masterton in the first round of NZDRA Nationals eliminations, Hamilton racer Nigel Dixon posted the sport’s best ET (elapsed time) at 6.103secs and also the fastest-ever terminal speed at 241.03mph (387.9km/h) in his supercharged BF Falcon.
In the very next round of racing class rookie Gavin Green (Featherston) leapt to the top of the rankings with his ‘‘Angry Bird’’ ‘68 Pontiac Firebird achieving the sport’s first 6.0secs run.
Green’s semi-final timeslip was 6.076s/234.45mph and Dixon ran him close with a 6.160s/230.00mph effort in the other lane. The race smashed the previous best for a side-by-side Doorslammer race in New Zealand — set only a fortnight earlier at Meremere’s third round.
Green’s charge into the 6.0s range suggests a historic 5secs pass at a New Zealand track is likely next summer. Along with Dixon, Auckland Camaro racers Barry Plumpton and Mark Bardsley are queued in the 6.1secs range and Trevor Smith has run a 6.140secs best in Australia earlier this year and is likely to have his car back on New Zealand tracks next summer.
‘‘It’s easy to say it’s not far away,’’ says Green.
‘‘But you’ll need to have all your ducks in a row — the right tune-up and the right track prep with good air and track temperature.
‘‘I’d hope it’s us that does it but the exciting thing for the sport right now is there is at least four teams who could do it.’’
Green raced with success in the Top Street category before stepping into the Doorslammer ranks this summer with the Pontiac that’s powered by an 8.6-litre supercharged TFX Hemi engine. The Wairarapa racer says he’s taken a measured
approach and has exceeded all of his rookie season goals.
‘‘Our plan was to treat every meeting as a test and tune to learn the car by making changes in small increments,’’ he says.
‘‘There is a lot of technology in these cars now that control how can you make power and apply the power.
‘‘I’d have been happy if we’d finished the season running in the low-to-mid sixes. I never expected to be where we are already.’’
Green says the car will now get a winter refresh ahead of the 2019-20 season.
‘‘We aren’t going to make changes to the combination we are running,’’ he says.
Drag racing is not just about new benchmarks and the Kiwi Thunder Top Doorslammer points race went to Barry Plumpton. For the final round Plumpton returned to racing his Chevrolet Monte Carlo having shipped his nitrous-boosted `68 Camaro across the Tasman for an Australian campaign.
Plumpton held a clear points lead after three events and while the Monte Carlo doesn’t match the performance of the Camaro or his supercharged rivals it delivers consistent runs. Plumpton won the Masterton final with a 7.220s pass with Green clocking 7.614s.
In Top Alcohol Anthony Marsh (Auckland) wrapped up the Kiwi Thunder points title and finished the season by shaving another 16 one-thousandths off his best in the Marsh Motorsport A/Fuel dragster. Marsh clocked a new 5.327s personal best and bumped up the finish line speed (measured over the last 66-feet of the quarter-mile) to 276.01mph (444km/h) during Masterton’s NZDRA Nationals meet.