New Zealand’s current drag-racing season is shaping up to be one of the best yet, with a number of new records and personal bests recorded at round three of the Meremere Dragway competition series, held on January 31. Track temperatures didn’t soar to the heights experienced at the previous Nitro Shootout meeting and despite forecasters best efforts to declare rain, the wet stuff stayed away for the full eight-hour duration of the meeting.

Auckland’s Shane Lodge set himself a new personal best (PB) during qualifying with a blistering 5.706 at 242.93mph pass in his Top Alcohol Dragster. A few short hours later he would record the quickest-ever New Zealand Top Alcohol Dragster pass. His time over the quarter-mile course was a very quick 5.611 seconds at 244.56mph (393.58kmh).

Another record breaker was Huntly’s Jarrod Mahon, who piloted his monster 618ci big block, Chev-powered Camaro to an elapsed time of 8.170 seconds in SS/A class, beating the current 8.440 record set in 2009 by Jodey Irving. Irving retains the mph record at 162.31mph and still holds the SS/AA record at 7.719 seconds at 180.07 mph, which he has reset twice this season.

Cooler track conditions were conducive for quick and fast times, and Tauranga’s Karen Hay, New Zealand’s quickest and fastest woman, certainly took advantage of it setting herself a personal best as well as setting a new AA/A record with a 6.595 second pass at 213.54mph. Karen’s team has spent the better part of the season coming to grips with the new set-up, but perseverance has certainly paid off.

Always a crowd favourite, the Top Doorslammer division produced a personal best run for Aucklander Trevor Smith in his supercharged 1975 Holden Statesman who ran well into the sixes with a personal best of 6.729 seconds at 213.30 mph. Waikato’s Nigel Dixon was chasing a PB and needed a low 7.20 run to get it, but settled for a very strong 7.306 at 189.12 mph.

In the Top Comp rounds, Robbie Ward’s quick reaction time saw his R.I.P.S. Racing R32 Nissan Skyline emerge victorious in the Franklin Longrun Roofing Top Comp class over New Plymouth’s Richard McCarthy in his supercharged BB/A roadster. Ward crossed the finish line in 7.625 seconds against McCarthy’s quicker 7.249.

The VHT-sponsored Pro Comp final was a case of déjà vu with veteran racers Phil Hirst and Trevor Watson lining up for another final together as they did at the Nitro Shootout. This time it was Phil Hirst that emerged victorious with a 9.429 at 134.58mph against Watson’s 9.104 at 143.25mph.

Competition Bike saw Clevedon-resident Bill Hamilton on his Hayabusa Pro Street bike continue his winning streak, beating class-sponsor Ray Pratt from Auckland Harley Davidson, while Super Sedan saw new faces hit the winner’s podium when Pukekohe’s Matt Kriletich collected the honours beating out Escort-driver Gregg Holmes in the final.

The finals of Segedins Auto Parts Super Street class had Tauranga’s James Key lined up against Silverdale-based Sheryl Brokenshire. Key’s immaculate Chevy El Camino ute beat the Corvette of Brokenshire with a time of 13.11 seconds versus 13.923.

There was another huge field of entries in Funtime Foods Junior Dragsters, but ultimately it was Alvea Lawson from Woodhill who took top honours, ahead of New Plymouth’s Chad Wenzlick. Lawson won the match with a 8.592 eighth-mile elapsed time when Wenzlick broke out of his 9.90 second dial-in with a 9.408.

It was an all-Buell final in the Auckland Harley Davidson-sponsored Screaming Eagle class, with Waiuku’s Jim Wells taking the win with an 11.846 ET over Pukekohe’s Geoff Bond’s quicker 11.125 seconds in the handicap-start event.

The Scrap Palace Modified Bike Final featured the Ducati 916 of Jacob Reece lined up against Brett Nicol, who was riding his Kawasaki ZX10 R. Drag-racing fans will remember Reece from his recent days running a junior dragster bike in the junior dragster division. Pukekohe-based Nicol handed the win to Reece when he red-lighted on the start. The Tokoroa rider’s winning time was 12.081 versus Nicol’s 10.751, proving how valuable the experience and lessons learned racing in the junior dragster division were.

The next meeting at Meremere Dragway is the exciting, new Dash for Cash on Saturday, February 7, 2015.