The Auckland Invasion took place at Masterton Motorplex over the weekend of February 13–14. A total of 143 drivers entered including, as you’d expect, a number of racers who usually call Meremere Dragway home. Add to this a handful of drivers from the South Island, and all the local heroes, and you had the ingredients for one of the biggest and best events at Masterton Motorplex to date.
As usual, the Wairarapa sunshine was scorching, and the temperatures in the low 30s helped to make what was a very well-prepped track even better. This made for some exciting wheels-up launches by many racers, and even a couple of backup girls to lose their shoes!
So good was the track that the Marsh Motorsport / Mountshop A / Fuel Dragster (naturally aspirated, nitro-fuelled engine) set a new track record of 5.526 at 261.20mph.
There were five entries in Top Doorslammer. Auckland’s Trevor Smith, with his Holden Statesman, qualified number one with a 6.61 at 205mph.
The second qualifier in Top Doorslammer, Barry Plumpton in his nitrous-fed mountain motor-powered Chev Monte Carlo, also ran a new PB of 6.5 after qualifying with a 6.75 at 199mph.
Third qualifier was Michael Henry in his Camaro, with a 9.13 at 151.20mph.
Top Alcohol had four entries. The number one qualifier was Chris Johnston with a new PB of 5.56 at 253.56
Second was Shane Lodge, running 5.61 at 249.88mph, and third was Anthony Marsh with a 5.70 at 260.58.
The fourth qualifier was Wellington local Bert King, with 6.18 at 216.76, followed by Wairarapa’s Dwane Garret at 6.25 at 200.52mph.
The biggest sleeper of the event had to be the ’65 Chev Biscayne of John Key from Tauranga. The car is powered by a 582ci big block Chev backed by a Jericho four-speed and nine-inch Strange rear end.
John’s only had it out a few times, and while there’s still a few things to be sorted, it ran an impressive best of 10.9 at 127mph. That smoke under the car is not from a burnout, but from an engine backfire.
Ewan Mark driving his ‘Puff’n’Stuff’ T-Bucket managed low nine-second passes at over 140mph all weekend long. The car is not allowed to go faster than 150mph due to not running a parachute. Ewan has owned the car since the ’80s and it was well-known back in the Thunder Park days — at one stage it was the fastest street-driven T-bucket in the world.
Brent Whittingham's nitrous-injected big block Camaro launched with wheels in the air every run. He ran a best of 8.46 at 160mph and would have been a major contender if there were a longest-burnout competition.
John Sheppard was number-one qualifier and the winner in Supercharged Outlaws, running a personal best of 7.47 at 177.21mph.
Aaron Thomas’s twin-turbo Ford Pop had a transmission line depart on launch, spraying trans fluid the full length of the strip, requiring all hands on deck to clean up the mess.
Delays aside, the event will go down in history as one of the best at the venue yet, and the one that showed that the traction at the facility is every bit as good as that found at Meremere. A huge congratulations goes out to all involved for making it happen, and to all the drivers who took part.