A large crowd turned up for day one of the two-day NZDRA Central Nationals, hosted by Masterton Motorplex (MMP) over the weekend of December 5–6. 

Plenty of long, smokey burnouts by most of the Super Sedan field helped to keep the crowd entertained, and the well-prepped track offered plenty of traction for those looking to run new PBs. Despite this, there were a few cars that couldn’t make it down cleanly, such as John Neilan’s Top Alcohol dragster which destroyed blower belts and a burst panel.

The slight breeze was a welcome addition to the usual stinking hot Wairarapa air, dropping the temps a tad. Mix this with continuous racing and minimal oil-downs, and the crowd had little to complain about. 

All up, around 130 cars were entered. A large number were Super Sedan and Super Street competitors from around the North Island, although there was a lower number of Group One cars than some would have liked. 

Current NZDRA champion, Tom Short, was back behind the wheel of his electric-powered ’72 Datsun, which always amazes the crowd. The car has shed around 200kg over the winter months, thanks to some new lithium polymer batteries. These have helped to drop his times from 14.3 seconds at 87mph, to 12.59 seconds at 97mph. His goal is to crack 100mph, a goal which very few electric vehicles surpass over the quarter.

Long-time motorsport fan, Bryan Finch from Napier, purchased this ’36 Ford ex–race-car three years ago, and has had it on the track for two seasons now. The car runs a 585ci big block Chev with TH400 trans and nine-inch diff. Driven by friend Steve McKay, the car has run 10.09 at 135mph, although it sounds like there’s more to come.

Ross Richards’ 400ci small block Ford–powered ’23 Model T altered had a narrow escape, after going across the line with a jammed accelerator. A gust of wind caught his parachute, turning the car the right, towards the dirt embankment. Luckily, the car stayed on all four wheels, sustaining only minor damage.

Wairarapa local Dwayne Garrett debuted his new blown Hemi engine combo, and after a few half-track runs, went through the traps with a new PB of 6.36 seconds at a low 190.76mph. Sadly on one run, the chutes deployed during the burnout, ending his run before it had even begun. Luckily, the MMP crew managed to point it out to him before he backed over them. 

Mark Gapp was the top qualifier in Supercharged Outlaw class, with a 7.76 at 168.83mph showing that he’s now on top of the ex–Dean Cadman big block Chev–powered Willys Coupe. The car is always a favourite with the crowd. 

It was great to see Gerald Smith back out in his ‘Sudden Impact’ altered. He managed to run an 8.02 at 170.80mph, amidst rumours of a change to nitro being on the cards for next season. 

Sadly, after a great day of qualifying, the weather changed dramatically overnight, and heavy rain forced the second day to be cancelled. The next NZDRA National Series round takes place at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park [Taupo Motorsport Park] over December 27–28.