Meremere Dragway, January 10, 2015 — a time and place drag-racing fans in New Zealand will remember forever

Anthony Marsh made history with the first four-second run in New Zealand on January 10. However, it hasn’t been an easy road for the Marsh family with their Mount Shop-sponsored dragster; there have been a couple of years of hard work, and no doubt a staggering amount of money, poured into achieving the country's first four.

Check out the video of it all happening below:

Their week kicked off with an impressive performance at the test and tune on the Wednesday night (January 7) running a 5.41@173mph. Looking purely at the numbers, the ET was respectable but the MPH was lacking; but that was because they shut off and pulled the chutes just after half track where the dragster was already doing close to 240mph. It was a great shake-down run and it showed us the dragster had the power and tune-up leading into the weekend.

Come Saturday the Marsh Motorsport team proved once again that they had the power alright, but in the first round they put it down too hard, going up in smoke off the line, gifting the win to Reece Fish. For the second pass the team had the car set-up right, leaving hard and breaking the finish-line beams first, running tantalizingly close to the fours with a 5.06@285mph. As the evening drew in, and the air temperature dropped, the Top Fuellers came out again and the Marsh family were finally rewarded for their umpteen hours of work when Anthony piloted their top-fuel dragster to a 4.985-second pass at 288mph.

Ironically in the fastest-ever side-by-side pass in New Zealand Anthony ran the first four but actually lost the race.

We were so close to seeing the five-second barrier broken twice in the one race thanks to better reaction times. Despite detonating his engine at three-quarter track Reece Fish actually won the race with a 5.04-second pass, crossing the finish line a mere 0.04 seconds ahead of Anthony Marsh. Reece may have won the race and the Nitro Shootout, but the man who will be remembered for breaking into the fours was Anthony Marsh!

Track preparation was excellent with the days of effort prior really paying dividends, and as the day went on the traction just got better. The low ETs and PBs, along with a few breakages, showed the track could certainly take the power. In the first round of Nitro competition Athol Williams showed us all why he was the man to beat in Fuel Bike, running a staggering 6.44@227mph. That would be scary fast in a Funny Car or Rail but on a bike that is just crazy! If the acceleration and speed don’t scare you think about the braking. That 227mph is just over 100 metres per second, and the braking area is a mere 500 metres long; with all of the braking forces on the bike all of Athol’s inertia comes onto his upper body and wrists. Putting it simply if the chutes come on too hard, Athol comes off the bike.

Check out the upcoming issue of NZV8 (Issue No. 118) for full coverage.

Kevin Shaw

Kevin Shaw loves most forms of motorsport, having had a crack at rally driving, drag racing, and four-wheel driving over the years. Over the years he has owned a diverse mix of vehicles from Range Rovers to T-buckets. While awestruck by the power vehicles in the import scene can make, he still prefers an old V8, and he currently drives a ’56 Bel Air that is an old New Zealand–new survivor, which sometimes tows a 1969 Concord caravan that is currently being restored. Also in the shed is a BB Chev-powered 1926 T roadster pickup, which is a long-term project hiding in the back of the shed. In my professional life I have spent 20 years in IT, 10 years as a self-employed builder, and my day job now is in operations / fleet management looking after 400-plus trucks around New Zealand. I've been a contributor to NZV8 since 2010.