The 48th NZDRA Drag Racing Nationals took place at Taupo’s Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park on the weekend of March 19 and 20 — or at least they were scheduled to. With intermittent weather and a few big oil downs forcing delays on the Saturday, and persistent rain on the Sunday, sadly the event didn’t go as planned.
Saturday morning didn’t dawn very nicely thanks to constant drizzle, forcing racing to be delayed until around 11am. This gave the 100 or so competitors plenty of time to get ready for some action.
The cold track made things interesting, with many racers struggling to get down the track cleanly — those who did managed some impressive times.
Super Sedan was once again a big class with 20 vehicles entered. Number-one qualifier was Brett Whittingham in his big block nitrous-injected Camaro with a PB of 8.36 at 163.81mph.
Supercharged Outlaws had seven entries with John Shepherd in the number-one spot with a 7.48 at 181.74mph.
It’s been a tough season for Gary Cawthra’s Procharged Falcon, and after struggling to get the car down the line, then having an oil down, Gary’s decided it’s time to ditch the current injection set-up that’s been giving him nothing but grief all season.
The Modified class had six entered, with Wellington’s Neil Morgan the number-one qualifier at 7.86 at 166.81mph.
Out of the six Super Stock entrants, it was Gavin Green’s Holden thatwent down the track quickest in qualifying, with an 8.09, followed by Ryan Sheldon with an 8.149.
Just two entries fronted for Top Alcohol: John Neilan and Dwane Garrett. Neilan’s off-the-pace 7.10 at 230mph being far more representative than Garrett’s 18.47 at 44.12 after he bogged on the line.
Top Doorslammer also had just two entrants make a pass, with Mark Thomas in the Ford Customline managing an impressive 6.89, while Barry Plumpton ran 7.36.
Sadly despite all hands on deck, and a quick mission to Tauranga to get parts, Mike Reid wasn’t able to get the Ex–Chris Tynan ’55 Chev down the track at all.
Despite the weather, there were plenty of tough street cars out strutting their stuff, such as Glenn Brewer’s nine-second–capable mega-cube HQ ute, and Tony Witinara’s equally as tough low-10-second Prem. Look out for a full feature on this car in an upcoming issue of NZV8.
Speaking of tough street cars, both Ray Peterson and Mike Bari had their nine-second machines out on track as well — neither managing to better their PBs though.
With the rain setting in for good at 5.30pm, the qualifying day was cut short and sadly Sunday morning didn’t dawn much better. Around 11am, the call was made to pull the pin on what could have been one of the biggest days of racing at Taupo for some time.
Now the only chance that the lower North Island racers have to run any numbers before the season end is at the upcoming Masterton Motorplex Top Alcohol Challenge on April 9 and 10.