Masterton Motorplex played host to the NZ Super Sedan Nationals over the weekend of March 7–8. With prize money of $3000 going to the winner, and $2000 to the runner-up, more than a few race cars had the cobwebs dusted off for this meeting.

Knowing that there were 30 cars entering the challenge from as far away as Riverton, at the bottom of the South Island, you could see how seriously this event was taken. The weather forecast didn’t look good for Saturday, but before liquid sunshine appeared at 3pm, all drivers had got two qualifying runs in, ranging from 7.9 to 11.9 seconds.

Brendon Shearing travelled all the way from Riverton for this meet, with his street-legal 1971 Holden Monaro HQ. Running a 509ci big block Chev, topped with a 14-71 supercharger, he qualified with 9.28s at 147mph.

The winner of the meet, Brent Whittington, didn’t have to travel quite so far, coming from Palmerston North. His wheel-standing and nitrous-snorting Camaro ran a best of 9.14s at 150mph.

Runner-up was Aaron Thomas in his Ford Pop, who qualified with an 8.99s at 152mph — damn quick for such a small car, especially one that’s also street-legal. He wasn’t the quickest qualifier of the day though — that honour would go to Rex Duckett in his 1988 Corvette, running a scorching 7.97s pass at 173mph.

The nature of the meeting meant that quick vehicles were a given throughout the ranks. Paul Boden’s ’55 Chev never fails to impress, running in the high nine-second zone, and kicked off with massive, wheel-standing launches.

The quick vehicles weren’t limited to American muscle, either. Kriss Robb brought his Mazda RX-7 all the way from Christchurch to use the meeting as a test for the upcoming IHRA Nationals at Meremere Dragway. Running a turbocharged, 13B, rotary engine and serious Liberty gearbox, his preparation extended to bringing a spare motor with him — just in case.

Adam Thompson was another driver who made the long haul up from Christchurch. His 1962 Ford Anglia is powered by a Hilborn-injected 383ci small block Chev, and runs high nine-second passes in the 130mph zone.

Masterton’s Karl Haustein turned up with a new ride, in the form of his recently purchased 1982 Camaro. The small block-powered car is running in Super Street this season, and though he is still getting to grips with it, the car leaves hard every time. Speaking of hard launches, Sue Gray seems to have gotten a handle on the Mad Cow Maverick, with long, smoky burnouts, and super-hard launches. Her team even took out the award for Best Appearing Crew as an extra bonus.  

Rapid vehicles from across the ocean were even in attendance, thanks to drivers like Steve Carlson, and Nigel and Kurt Goodin. Steve recently imported his 1964 Falcon from Las Vegas, and is finally getting the car sorted, running a 9.5s at 138mph.

Nigel and Kurt Goodin are also slowly getting to grips with their imported 1970 Chevy Nova. Powered by a carburetted 582ci big block Chev, its best ET back in Georgia was a 5.6-second pass down the eighth mile.  

Of course, where there is drag racing, there will be damage — it’s a fact of life. This time around, Stephen Welsh’s blown Holden ute took a beating. The bent driveshaft is the least of his problems, as the transmission was also destroyed — that makes two from two meetings now.

Overall, the weekend was a good one for drag-racing action in its own right. If what went down at Masterton is a taste of what’s going to hit Meremere for the IHRA Nationals over the weekend of March 14–15, then it’s going to be big!