World’s End Nostalgia Drags ends summer at full throttle
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As the country turned the clocks back an hour at the weekend, the sport of drag racing used the last day of summertime to go full-throttle with its time machine.
From behind the tyre smoke at Saturday’s World’s End Nostalgia Drags — an annual event organised by the Tauranga-based Bay Rodders at Meremere Dragway – multiple eras appeared on the start line.
The Nostalgia Drags are in part a hard core drag racing contest where fractions of a second count and also a quarter-mile moving car show for classics and one-off creations.
The racing is a diverse as 90-year-old "four-bangers’’ covering the quarter-mile in a sedate 20secs to the ferocity of nitro funny car and altered exhibition passes.Each year the Nostalgia Drags has a theme and for 2018 the Bay Rodders brought a quartet of Australian Gassers across for a Beach Hop outing and the nostalgia racing at Meremere.
The `55 Chev of Australian racer Ash Hayley was the quickest car in the trans-Tasman Gasser Challenge. Photo / Colin Smith
A Kiwi team was selected for a three-round, 12-race trans-Tasman shootout which saw the Australians enjoy a performance edge as Ash Hayley (`55 Chev) and Damien Kemp (`64 Ford Fairlane) raced into the low-9secs bracket.
Hayley raced with consistency as well as pace from his Haywire supercharged `55 Chev and his unbeaten run through three rounds of crowd pleasing old school Gasser action anchored the 24-22 points win for the Australians.
A highlight of the racing included a huge 56-car entry in the pre-72 American Muscle Car category racing to a Super Street DYO format that demands quick reaction times and driving consistency.
Tauranga's James Key won the Pre-72 Muscle Car category in his `66 Chevrolet El Camino. Photo / Colin Smith
The winner was Tauranga’s James Key in his `66 Chevrolet El Camino who beat the `67 Ford Galaxie of Wayne Flord in the final. Rotorua’s Russell Lowe won the 38-car pre-48 Hot Rod contest driving his 1938 Chev Coupe.
Competition cars included two classes for front-engine dragsters (supercharged and normally aspirated). The Blown FED final saw Palmerston North’s John Shepherd deliver a sequence of low-7secs passes in his blown-Hemi Backdraft dragster.
John Shepherd ran a 7.025s/198.7mph to win the Supercharged Front-engine dragster challenge in his Backdraft blown-Hemi dragster. Photo / Colin Smith
A strong 7.025s run at 197.8mph defeated Hamilton’s Grant Briffault in the final.Whangarei’s Ross Brown clocked 8.414s on an 8.40secs dial-in to race past Ana Paterson’s Fontana four-cylinder dragster to win the naturally aspirated class.
A strong field of competition cars was split into two eliminators. In the quickest class Palmerston North’s Mark Gapp driving his supercharged `41 Willys Coupe was the winner as Bobby Owens (Te Awamutu) clobbered the wall with his supercharged 427 T-Bucket in the final.
Side-by-side burn-outs for Gasser racers Dave Middlemiss (`54 Chevrolet) and Aussie opponent Ash Hayley (`55 Chev). Photo / Colin Smith
There was also drama in the Comp 2 final with Napier’s Stephen McKay having his `36 Dodge Coupe just far enough ahead to be at a safe distance when Phil Webber spun his `38 Chev Coupe and cleaned out the half-track timing blocks.
Tauranga’s Karen Hay achieved the quickest and fastest pass of the day with her 6.793s/219.0mph pass driving her Evil II `27 T Roadster.