Perfect weather and track conditions saw a strong field of competitors from as far afield as Christchurch at last weekend’s season-opening round of the Competition Series at Meremere Dragway.
Mild breezes and warm sunshine resulted in a large number of competitors achieving personal best elapsed times over the legendary quarter-mile course. In addition, Auckland’s Jodey Irving set a new track and national record, taking the SS/AA class into the seven-second range in his 632 cubic inch, 1988 Camaro, turning a 7.88 elapsed time at 174.91 mph (282.11 kph).
The Franklin Long Roofing TOP COMP class saw Papamoa’s Cory Abbot’s turbocharged RX7 beat Russell Christofferson’s 515 inch Chevy-powered dragster with a time of 7.273 seconds at 189.9 mph (306.29 kmh). We can hear the Rotary fans yahooing from here.
VHT PRO COMP class was won by Pukekohe-based Gary Bogaart, piloting his bright orange 1975 Ford Falcon coupe to a very quick 10.056 second elapsed time, with a top speed for the quarter-mile of 135.13 mph (217.95 kmh).
A very popular class is the Segedin Auto Spares SUPER STREET, which saw a wide variety of old and late-model machinery doing battle. Ultimately, it was Paul Berridge in his classic 1973, 350 smallblock-powered Camaro taking the win at 14.071 seconds from Ruakaka man Dean Logan’s quicker Holden Torana, when the latter broke out (went quicker) than his dial-in time of 11.50.
A new class for the 2014-15 season is PRO NOSTALGIA, sponsored by NZ Hot Rod Magazine, which features ‘traditional’ drag cars from an earlier era. Popular with spectators, the first round saw racing machinery that were once commonly found on NZ’s drag strips in the 1970s and ‘80s, such as Ford Populars, Model Ts and front engine rails. Ultimately, it was the vintage 392 inch Chrysler Hemi-powered AA/D of Papakura’s Raymond Smyth beating Neville Smith in his Chevy 409-urged 27 Ford T, Smyth taking the win at 7.12 seconds at 189.73 mph (306 kph).
Outback 4x4 SUPER SEDAN, another popular class, was won by Stephen Howe, whose .017 second reaction time at the start allowed him to take his 1979 Holden Torana to victory with a 10.82 second pass at 121.17 mph (195.44 kph). Runner-up was Massey’s Doron Andersen driving his wild 1968 Plymouth Barracuda.
Fun Time Foods JUNIOR DRAGSTER featured a huge field of young competitors vying for the first-round title. The final race saw Trevor Smith, in his modified Briggs & Stratton-powered McGee take the win from Port-Waikato’s Kirby Taylor, in his Honda-engined, homebuilt machine over the eighth-mile course used for this class.
Motorcycles figure large in drag racing and there was a large field of competitors at Meremere Dragway’s opening round.
The Auckland Harley Davidson COMP BIKE final saw Mt Maunganui-based Spike Allen Suzuki GSXR 1000 take the class win over Auckland’s Greg Pratt, riding his VR/DB Harley Davidson V-Rod Destroyer in the index racing format with Spike Allen destroying the 8.50 index with an 8.093 @ 162.12mph.
Lester Pullenger from Cambridge rode his 1690cc Harley-Davidson to victory in the Auckland Harley Davidson-sponsored SCREAMING EAGLE class when his competitor, Hamilton’s Michael Johnston red-lighted at the start of the final race, riding his 2002 Softail, Pullenger taking the win at 12.527 seconds at 103.98 mph (167.71)
Scrap Palace MODIFIED BIKE class saw a match up between Morrinsville’s Tony Gray and Pukekohe’s Brett ‘Weasel’ Nicol, with Gray, riding his Suzuki Hayabusa, taking the win at 10.946 seconds at 124.96 mph (201.55 kph), when Nicol red-lighted.
Competitors, spectators and officials said they were pleased with the event and added that they’re looking forward to the Auckland Harley Davidson Spring Nationals, which will be held at Meremere Dragway on 29/30 November.
By Peter S. Cooper
Meremere Dragway PR & Media Liaison
Phone: 021 146 4568