Pristine racing conditions awaited competitors and spectators for the 2016–’17 Meremere Competition Meeting 3 held on Sunday, February 5. The sun warmed the track up, while a light breeze fed the tyre smoke and methanol fumes across to the spectators — what must surely be the best perfume not yet bottled.
While the competition side of things meant hard racing would be guaranteed, the meet also provided a solid test bed for drag-vehicle development taking place in the local scene.
The Child’s Play Racing Beretta doorslammer, campaigned by John Dillon and Rod Benjes, sported an all-new appearance, with an all-new fibreglass front clip, designed with far better aerodynamic properties in mind. However, the most noticeable change would have to be the bright-orange finish, in stark contrast to the satin black of last season. The team performed two half-track passes, and, despite a few issues, are happy with how the car is performing. After a lot of spanner work recently, the car’s tyre shake seems to be sorted, and the team are ready for action.
Meanwhile, Track Manager Gary Bogaart experienced some joy as the ‘NOS Junky’ altered managed a new PB of 8.54 seconds with a new diff combination. This machine is going to be a beast once the cobwebs are sorted and the blue bottle is turned on.
The Gubb’s Racing Team dragster continues to impress, thanks to its insane-looking twin-turbo set-up. Driven by Russell Christoffersen, its first run off the trailer was a seriously rapid PB of 6.043 at 240.64mph!
Just as impressive, if not more so, was the dedication shown by Ryan Sheldon and the Joker Camaro team. Not only did the team drive from Auckland to Nelson for round one of the NZDRA Southern Nationals, held on Saturday, February 4, but left the event a little early in order to catch the ferry back to Wellington for the drive up to Meremere.
The team qualified with a 7.93-second pass, progressing through the Top Comp class, before getting knocked out by Michael Franklin’s 540GTO. That’s a stellar way to end a weekend, especially with him having taken a national A/TS-class eighth-mile record at Nelson the day before.
Dave Morris and Jim Carroll’s tough ’68 Camaro looks as good as ever, running quite happily in the low nine-second zone, thanks to a monster 600ci big block.
Rather less tough-looking is Grant Cameron’s ’70 Holden HG, although who needs tough looks when you’ve got a 377ci-stroker small block Chev and a column-shifted TH350 to get you down the track. Grant’s HG runs easy 12s, not that you’d believe it if you were to see it on the road, with period-correct hubcaps and understated factory interior.
It’s also a moment to add Justin Weir to our NZ’s Quickest Streeters list, after he pushed his ’71 Camaro to a 9.74 at 143.41mph. The 540-powered monster is a legit nine-second streeter, previously owned by Bruce Cox, and we’re sure Justin will have no problem in dropping his PB even lower.
All up, Meremere Comp Meeting 3 was a perfect day of drag racing — not just in terms of the racing, but everything. Thanks to Meremere Dragway, the track team, and all the racers who took part. It’s gonna be a good year.