Anthony Marsh made New Zealand motorsports history when he drove his Mount Shop Marsh Motorsport Top Fuel Dragster to a first ever 4second pass at Meremere Dragway.
In the third round of the best-of-three ROCK FM Nitro Shootout against Reece Fish in his Fish Family Racing Top Fueler, Marsh took his nitromethane-burning machine to a 4.985 elapsed time at 288.27 mph (463.92 kmh), making him the first Kiwi to run the distance in NZ in under five seconds. Interestingly, Fish actually won the match race, in spite of his car’s supercharged Hemi engine blowing up just before the finish line, yet still ran 5.044 seconds at a much slower 243.68 mph (392.16 kmh). It would be the quickest and fastest side by side pass on any drag racing surface in New Zealand history – and no-one will be able to take that away from these two young men. A quick video of the three passes from The ROCK FM 2015 Nitro Shootout can be found here courtesy of anthony851.
Perfect track and hot weather conditions – too hot at times with the track temperature hitting 140°F during parts of the day – at The Rock FM-sponsored event held at Meremere Dragway saw huge crowds witnessing a number of new records set.
The supporting Nitro racers would not be outdone. Ian Wilkins on Afterburner II and Athol “The Flying Kiwi” Williams battled out for bike honours in the Shootout. Wilkins strung together two 8sec passes while Williams on his Top Fuel Drag Bike wasn’t mucking around, he went out on his first pass and laid a 6.443 @ 227.61mph (366.30kmh) breaking his own TF/DB record of 6.688 @ 202.35mph set in Taupo back in 2010. Williams boosted his position as the quickest and fastest biker in the land.
Dave Gauld broke the Fuel Altered record in his, supercharged Nitromethane-fuelled ’34 Ford coupe to a new Fuel Altered record, running a wheels up 7.56 elapsed time at 178.9 mph (288.55 kmh), beating a record set by legendary driver, Peter Lodge, all the way back in 1977. Lodge was on hand to see his record smashed.
Les Herst was plagued with a few issues and advised out early in the day but Willy White was back to his best form. White’s first pass was a shake down 7.973 to blow the cobwebs off the old girl. His second pass looked stronger but the previous Top Fuel Dragster pass shook the plug out of the tree so White chose to flag drop instead of waiting for the tree to be fixed. A decision that would have surely saved the car, driver and engine overheating. The final pass however was a throw back to what White, his crew and the Nitro Funny Car is capable of with both banks ablaze as he shot down the track from start line to the traps in what was undoubtedly his best pass ever. Unluckily for White, he left on the full stage beam lights instead of the green so no time was recorded but the indication fro the vehicle data suggests a low 5second pass. Regardless, it was a most beautiful sight to behold and we look towards the Nationals in March for Willy to hopefully make a reappearance.
The always-popular Top Doorslammer class saw Robert “Bobby” Owens in his Falcon Futura break the BB/TS record with a stellar 7.341@ 188.73mph backed up by a 7.380 in earlier qualifying to take the record from Craig Brown. The finals match-up was fought between Wayne Yearbury’s wild Studebaker Coupe against Mark Bardsley’s 1968 Camaro, with Yearbury taking the win at 7.087 seconds at 182.03 mph (292.94 kmh).
The Auckland Harley Davidson-sponsored Competition Bike class saw Whitford’s Bill Hamilton on his Suzuki Hayabusa taking victory from Greg Pratt on his Harley V-Rod Destroyer. Hamilton also reset his own AA/AB record to an 8.174 @ 166.50mph. (While both competitors red-lighted the start of the race, Pratt lost on having done so first. Hamilton’s winning time was a rapid 8.348 seconds at 164.59 mph (265.47 kmh).
Rounding up the records tally was Jodey Irving, in his fire-breathing 1988 Camaro. Irving smashed his own record for the SS/AA class, turning in a time of 7.719 seconds at 179.83 mph (289.40 kmh).
The NZ Hot Rod Magazine-sponsored Pro Nostalgia class brought out a wide range of old-style and historic drag racing machines. Ultimately, it was Putaruru’s Cameron Paterson’s Fontana-powered front engine dragster that won against the 350 Chevy-urged rear engine dragster of Glenfield-based Dave Mason. Paterson’s short wheelbase rail turned a respectable 9.727 seconds elapsed time at 134.16 mph (216.39 kmh).
An all South Island Final was the feature in Franklin Long Roofing Top Comp with Christchurch’s Johnny Alsop piloting his wild ’41 Willys coupe to win the class against fellow Cantabrian, Simon Fowke in his rare 1957 Chevy Funny Car. Alsop achieved a number of personal bests over the meeting and won his class, with a 6.855 second pass at 196.16 mph (315.68 kmh).
In VHT Pro Comp competition, Gavin Green, drove his immaculate HK Holden Monaro to victory in a heads-up match against the 1988 Chevy Corvette of Rex Duckett from Otaki. The Featherston farmer took the win at 7.998 seconds at 170.95 mph (275.73 kmh).
The final round of Super Comp saw two veteran drag racers lining up in their four cylinder dragsters. Ultimately it was Trevor Watson in his supercharged Peugeot-powered machine who took the honours against Phil Hirst in his injected Fontana speedway engine rail; Watson running 9.163 seconds against Hirst’s slower 11.168.
Breakages and other problems with his competition meant that Pukekohe’s Gary Bogaart had Meremere Dragway all to himself for the final round of the NZ Hot Rod Magazine Comp class. He took his competition Orange 1975 Ford Falcon down the famous quarter-mile course in 10.292 seconds at 133.66 mph (215.10 kmh).
In Segedin Auto Parts Super Street, veteran racer, Te Rapa’s Roger Murray, driving his Ford F-150 SVT pick up jumped the start in the final against Paul Berridge in his 1973 Camaro, his disqualification giving the win to the Chevrolet owner from Otahuhu.
Lee Sherwin, driving the historic Quarter Master Escort took home the trophy in Outback 4x4 Super Sedan, beating Steve Wall’s thundering ’66 Chevelle Malibu, the Ford clocking a 9.516 elapsed time versus Wall’s 10.221. It is the third meeting that Lee Sherwin has attended and claimed top honours, the remaining Super Sedan racers have a ways to go to claw back his lead.
Scrap Palace brings us the Modified Bike division of racing – always hotly contested, this time around it was Alan Thoresen of Hamilton riding away with the win on his Kawasaki running a 9.980 @ 140.78mph (226.56 kmh) over Jan Malcolm who went the rounds on her new Kawasaki ER6 650cc only to give it away in the final with a red light foul.
Lester Pullenger took top honours in Screamin’ Eagles when he beat the class sponsor, Ray Pratt from Auckland Harley Davidson. The Cambridge rider took his thumping 2012 Harley through the lights at 12.574 at 102.7 mph (165.65 kmh).
As always, the NZ-created Fun time Foods Junior Dragster division had a large field of competitors battling it out on the shorter, eighth-mile course. In the final, 15 year-old Kees Wijdeven took home the honours against the West-Stevens’ entry, with the Pukekohe driver running an elapsed time of 9.659 seconds against the West-Stevens machine’s 9.735 clocking.
Lastly, for those that stayed late on Saturday, they will recall the amazing and eye-popping display by the Zahorodny Jet Funny Car team. Although Steve Zahorodny and the team were there continuing their testing and tuning of the vehicle, they didn’t fail to entertain. Here is a video of that amazing night time display from The ROCK FM 2015 Nitro Shootout courtesy of Roberta Leevard.
Full Results from the meeting can be found here.
The next competition meeting at Meremere Dragway is another twilight meeting held on Saturday 31st January 2015, full details can be found on http://dragway.co.nz/events/120-MEREMERE-COMPETITION-MEETING-3.html.