Masterton Motorplex’s popular Auckland Invasion took place over February 11 and 12, and saw an influx of racers, usually found at Meremere Dragway, take over the Masterton strip.
With the venue getting a name for itself as hot and sticky, more drivers than ever before made the trip to check it out.
With event promoters advertising a $5000 cash prize for the first Top Doorslammer five-second pass, some punters were expecting a big turnout for the class, but this was not to be. Instead there were just two entrants — Murray Smith with his ’55 Chev and Mark Thomas in his Ford Customline. Unsurprisingly, Thomas qualified number one with a 6.57 at 197.92mph, ahead of Smith who ran a 7.65 at 187.44mph. That was the last the crowds saw of Thomas though, as he never came back out.
There were 146 vehicles entered, and a number of new PBs were set. There were also a few cars back on track that had been missing for a few seasons. The most notable of the returns was Paul Davison in his Top Alcohol Dragster. The now-longer and Hemi-powered car rewarded the Upper Hutt Glass team with a 7.03-second pass at 201.13mph, the first 200 for the team.
Equally as happy was Wairarapa local Steve Carlsen, who seems to have run a new PB at every event recently, this time around he ran an 8.367 at 160.69mph, securing himself a spot on NZV8’s Top 100 Drag Racers list in the process.
Fellow Wairarapa local Zach Sayer has been making progress all season in his RB-powered Nissan Cefiro, and it’s now knocking on the door of a nine-second pass. What most people don’t see is that Zach’s doing it all with hand controls, and is usually in a wheelchair! He’s now keen to wind the boost up a bit more and see if he can run a nine at the next meet.
Perhaps the most talked about event at the track was the massive wheelstands by Whanganui’s Dean Scott in his street-legal HQ Holden. The wheelstand on the Saturday saw him come down pretty hard, damaging the trans pan. A quick trip to town for another one and he was back on track. The next run was a bit calmer, but still with plenty of air under the front wheels.
On Sunday, people expected him to have learnt his lesson, but instead he went larger still! The car left like a rocket ship heading to the moon, getting higher and higher, and coming down and destroying the bell housing and bending the chassis, too. When asked what he’d changed to for it to be launching like that, he mentioned that the stall converter had been tightened up, along with fitting some new slicks. All going to plan it’ll be fixed and fitted with wheelie bars before the NZDRA Nationals in mid March.
Neil Morgan in his ‘Animal’ altered was also leaving a lot harder than usual, with the car carrying the front nice and straight — although with a best on the weekend of 7.83 at 171mph he was off pace from his PB.
Tauranga’s Glen Oldfield was another victim of the sticky track surface, suffering a broken axle in his ’65 Chev Nova. With a 565ci Scott Schiroff big block and four-speed Lenco, the car has run into the mid eights previously.
Newcomer to the track Jordan Robertson from Wellington made a great impression in his supercharged 350-powered 235-inch rear engine dragster powered by a 350 chev with a 671 supercharger stuck on top, running an 8.44 at 164mph.
Dwane Garrett was another victim, this time from the chute prematurely deploying. Thankfully his backup girl moved fast enough to stop him from backing up over it. It wasn’t all bad for the team, as Dwane also managed a new PB of 6.23 at 224.91mph.
Here are four youngsters with a bright future in local drag racing. Vanessa Lilly (who drives Gerald Smith’s Altered to high seven-second passes), Tamara Silk (who dropped her PB in her rear-engined dragster over the weekend into the 8.4s), Bronson Dunne (crew chief / mechanic extraordinaire for various top-level cars both here and abroad), and the fastest man in the country, Anthony Marsh.
Dutchie Wijdeven was back again and took the win in Super Sedan — a much better result than last year when he suffered engine damage.
Russell Lorimer invaded the track from out of town, but came from Christchurch — not Auckland — to compete his 598ci Mustang. Running in Super Sedan he managed an 8.84 at 154.52mph.
Jim Wildermoth used to run a twin-turbo matte-black Mitsubishi Lancer. Over the off season he ditched that heavy steel body in favour of a widened Fiat Topolino body. The combo, which utalizes the original chassis, now runs a Procharged 327ci engine combo.
Brad Langford is king of the long smoky burnouts in his ‘Blue Thunder’ pickup. The car always runs straight, and a 7.73 at 178.54 saw him take the number-one qualifying spot in Super Sedan.
Speaking of long burnouts, the Mount Shop / Marsh Motorsport team returned again after having success at the same meeting last year. The efforts were rewarded with the win in Top Alcohol, with a best pass of 5.44 at 268.80.
Runner-up Chris Johnston managed a best of 5.60 at at 254.68.
Winner of Supercharged Outlaws was Auckland’s Steve Milliken in his Altered, with a 7.69 at 171.23mph, ahead of Motueka’s Craig Griffiths’ 7.01 at 184.82.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for the Marsh team, as on the first run, after the burnout, the car wouldn’t engage reverse. The issue turned out to be a stripped driveshaft coupler. Thankfully, the team got it sorted for the next run, but dropped a cylinder not far after the start line. Even with that, they managed a 5.4-second pass.
The hard-luck award of the weekend belonged to Whanganui’s Aaron Jackson after his nitrous-fed nine-second street-legal Torana threw a rod through the block near the finish line — ending not only his event, but his season in spectacular fashion.