It was an electric atmosphere on a sun drenched Saturday morning in January when the weather, the crowd and the racers would combine to make for what was arguably the best drag racing event on NZ soil since the sports heyday in the 70s and 80s. And what was all the fuss about? A little Nitro magic.
For some punters, it had been a cool 10 or so years since they’d last got whiff of the race fumes, let alone nitro fumes at Meremere. And although the 4sec pass eluded us, Reece Fish, Anthony Marsh, Willy White, Athol Williams, Ian Wilkins, the entire Top Doorslammer class and a great number of competition cars, bikes, juniors and street racers put on a show fit for mass consumption. The Top Fuel Dragsters gave us a sneak peek at what they're capable of with Anthony Marsh running 5.089 @ 272.89mph (0.09 seconds shy of that magic 4) and Reece Fish lighting the candles into the early evening air.
Part of the success of this event is thanks to the great support and assistance received from our naming rights sponsors Mount Shop and United Oils (Segedins). This, coupled with a first time ever Nitro showdown between two NZ owned Top Fuel Dragsters for Nitro King status, a Nitro Funny Car, a Top Fuel Drag Bike and Drag Bike battle meant we had a show. That was even before the ten strong Top Doorslammer class – a force unto themselves – joined the fray. Athol Williams and Ian Wilkins showed us why you need two good, fully functioning kahuna’s to ride a Drag Bike let alone a Top Fuel Drag Bike. They finished their match racing with a best of 6.900 @ 204.01mph for Athol and a 7.847 @ 167.55mph for Ian. Willy White’s best pass of the day saw him throw a blower belt but still cross the line with a 6.046 @ 166.05mph – so on the up and up.
Speaking of memorable shows, who was track side to see Wayne Yearbury run a 6.160 @ 235.89mph in the Top Doorslammer final? It has been some time since we’ve seen a full Top Doorslammer field but the stars aligned and ten fronted for qualifying. Chad Tully would bow out with a few issues leaving nine qualifiers for a class that runs an eight car only field. It was just as well Russell Lowe was having issues of his own or one would have missed out. Ross Taylor brushed the wall a few feet from the start line, Trevor Smith did a spot of drifting and used up the full width of the lane on his way to the finals, Rod Benjes thought he’d follow suit and show off his drifting skills and Bardsley bowed out in the semi-finals with an oil leak on the startline. Gary Benham was slaving away in the old ute and last but not least, Bobby Owens returning from a hiatus ran strong all day with a best of 7.597 @ 184.62. For full results of Top Doorslammer eliminations racing, click here.
The rest of our Competition classes from Top Comp, Pro Comp, Competition Bike right through to Super Sedan, Super Street and Junior Dragsters spent the day entertaining the crowd as they went through the rounds. One of the beauties of running all Competition vehicles together in brackets from quickest eight for Top Comp, then next eight for Pro Comp and so on. If not for this format, we would not have seen the likes of Aaron Davison in the Upper Hutt Glass dragster lining up a certain conspicuous and unassuming Mazda 323 Ute powered by a 13B Rota in the Top Comp final. Aaron Davison would take the win but only by a hair.
In Pro Comp, Rob Boyce would taste the bitter bite of a break out during the Finals made all the more sour by the fact that his opponent, Mark Anderson, had major issues which saw him run an 18sec pass on a 9.05 dial in. It was a one horse race, but no-one told the jockey as he left his boot right up it. And so Mark Anderson walked away with the Pro Comp title…a scenario that would be repeated later in the final for Super Sedan when Stephen Howe handed Doron Andersen the victory mike by virtue of break out while Andersen was sitting on the start line with tyre issues. Grant Little walked away with the Super Comp title and Paul Dowdall is starting to show signs of mass improvement in his RX8 coming in Runner Up and posting a best of 8.828 @ 155.52mph. Full Results from the days racing can be found here.
We won’t leave without one more mention of those Top Fuel Dragsters. We have an enviable position in this country, we’re so much closer to the track than anywhere else. But you don’t have to be that close to feel and smell and hear them and so we leave you with this video from one of the hill folk which pretty much describes it