Running the strip at the 2019 V 4&Rotary Nationals Drag Day

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While this great nation of ours may have wholeheartedly embraced the metric system of measurement long, long ago, there are still a few remnants of the imperial era remaining, and you’ll find damn near all of them deeply ingrained in the age-old sport of drag racing. It’s a sport that has been around since the dawn of time, and it has always measured tyre sizes wholly in inches, power to the nearest horse, torque in foot-pounds, speed in miles per hour, and regarded the only distance that actually means two-tenths of anything as the quarter-mile. Running the strip has long stood as the ultimate test of truly quick cars, and, to this day, it remains the place where benchmarks are set for those looking to claim the glory of being the best.

For the past 24 years, the 4&Rotary Nationals drags has been holding it down for the quarter-mile-loving import scene — from the days of raucous rotangs and all-wheel-drive terrors from the triple triangle, to the reign of the GT-R and 2JZ-powered anything. So, while the sport itself may have gone through fluctuations of popularity over the years, with some choosing to attack corners with full grip and others choosing to do the same with next to none, the event has been cemented as a calendar staple start to the year for longer than most of you have held a license.

Held at Meremere Dragway on Sunday, 3 March, the 2019 4&Rotary Nationals Drag Day saw near on 150 cars flood through the gate with multiple single-digit passes being thrown down on the VHT-laden track. The fastest pass of the event went to Nick Reiri in the 13BT-powered tube-frame Mitsubishi Evo VII, who threw down a 7.65 at 170mph [274kph] while chasing boost issues in fourth and fifth gear — Nick tells us that the current 41psi feed package should have it down into the low sevens once boost in the higher gears is sorted out, and it will eventually see the six-second bracket when the wick is turned up even higher.

In case you missed seeing all that radness, we’ve taken a closer look at eight of the most lethal cars from the day here.

1975 Mazda 808
Name: Robbie Longley
Location: Matakana
Personal best: 10.6 seconds at 129mph (208kph)
Power train: Green Brothers Racing 20B peripheral-port, 2000cc, three-rotor; six-speed TTi sequential Quartermaster twin-plate clutch, Hilux 5.8:1 LSD, billet axles
Tyres: (F) 3.6/24-15 M&H Racemaster, (R) 235/60-14 M&H slick
Power: 343kW

How long have you been drag racing?
One year.

What do you enjoy about the drags?
The burnout and the launch — yeah, definitely the launch, bringing it up to revs and banging through the gears.

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1970 Commer PB
Name: Tim Hawke
Location: Auckland
Personal best: 10.8@121mph (195kph)
Power train: Toyota 1UZ-FE, 3968cc, V8; forged low-compression pistons, forged rods, Garrett GT35 turbo, two-speed Powerglide automatic, high-stall converter, Hilux LSD
Tyres: 255/50-16 Hoosier DOT drag radial
Power: 410kW on 13psi

How long have you been drag racing?
Forty-five years! It took 40 until I won a Nationals, and then I did it three years back to back.

What do you enjoy about the drags?
The fun factor — it’s a simple sport, you don’t need to bring many tools; just park up, watch people blow shit up, and enjoy.

1992 Nissan Skyline GT-R
Name: Dave Duncan
Location: Otaki
Personal best: 10.8@136mph (219kph)
Power train: RB26DET, 2568cc, straight-six; forged pistons, forged rods, T04Z turbo, HKS intake kit, five-speed, four-wheel-drive manual, OS Giken gear set, billet centre plate, HKS triple-plate clutch, OEM rear LSD
Tyres: 255/45R17 Nankang
Power: 450kW

How long have you been drag racing?
Over 30 years; I’ve been racing this car since 1999.

What do you enjoy about the drags?
Beating the young fellas — I turned 60 the other day!

Mitsubishi Evo VIII (tube frame)
Name: Nick Reiri
Location: Masterton
Personal best: 7.65@170mph (274kph) (41psi with boosting issues)
Power train: Stu Lawton–built 13B semi-peripheral-port, Cosmo block, S4 turbo rotors, Precision Engineering short crank, SCR methanol seals, Garrett GT55 91mm turbo, 12 2200cc injectors, MoTec M800, Lenco CS3 air-shifted five-speed gearbox, nine-inch Strange alloy head, custom housing, 40-spline Mark Williams gun-drilled axles
Tyres: 4.5x22 front runner, 32x14x15 Mickey Thompson slick
Power: 633kW at 8000rpm on 35psi (745kW capable)

How long have you been drag racing?
A long time, since I was 16 years old, really — racing all sorts of shitboxes.

What do you enjoy about the drags?
Beating the V8s, to be honest! The atmosphere and, because it’s one of the original motor racing sports, it’s been happening forever; the most extreme sport you can push a car in.

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1999 Ford 23T altered
Name: Roy Bingley
Location: Auckland
Personal best: Yet to complete a full pass; 1.15-second 60-foot
Power train: Holden (Nissan) RB30ET, 3000cc, straight-six; forged pistons, forged rods, Kelford Cams camshaft, BorgWarner AirWerks S400SX3, two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission, Strange alloy Ford LSD
Tyres: (F) 22x2.5 Hoosier Front Runner, (R) 33x160x15 Goodyear Eagle
Power: Yet to be dynoed

How long have you been drag racing?
Woah, I would have started back in 1990 — maybe earlier. I’ve been away for 15 years and just come back. This car has only done five passes.

What do you enjoy about the drags?
It’s the buzz. I’ve done circuit racing, I’ve done off-road racing, go karting — drag racing is the only one where you get out of the car shaking like a leaf. It’s so fast and it isn’t just driving in a straight line.

1989 Honda Civic EF
Name: Haroon Memon
Location: Auckland
Personal best: 11.7@126mph (203kph)
Power train: Honda B16A, 1600cc, straight-four; sleeved block, forged pistons, forged rods, Turbonetics T67 turbo, five-speed manual, Top Fuel straight-cut gear set
Tyres: 26x9.5 Hoosier Quicktime Pro
Power: 354kW on 20psi

How long have you been drag racing?
I’ve owned the car 10 years now; this is the fifth pass it’s done at the drags.

What do you enjoy about the drags?
Simple: the adrenaline rush, the speed!

1996 Mazda RX-7 FD
Name: Max Flower
Location: Auckland
Personal best: 11.1
Power train: 26B bridgeport, 2600cc, four-rotor; BorgWarner S400SX, twin Turbosmart 65mm wastegates, five-speed Green Brothers Racing TKO-600, Tilton triple-plate
Tyres: 315/30R18 Advan A048
Power: 450kW on 7psi (run-in tune)

How long have you been drag racing?
This is the first time on the new set-up.

What do you enjoy about the drags?
The speed — the car’s perfect now; doesn’t blow axles or diffs … just run it.

2003 Mitsubishi Evo VIII
Name: Ifraz Beggz
Location: Auckland
Personal best: 10.2 seconds at 133mph (214kph)
Power train: Mitsubishi 4G63, 1998cc, straight-four; GSC 2.2-litre stroker kit, Garrett GT3582R, TO4Z 1.00 rear housing, billet compressor wheel, factory gearbox, OEM RS rear LSD
Tyres: 235/40R18 Westlake semi-slick
Power: 511kW on 30psi

How long have you been drag racing?
Five years total.

What do you enjoy about the drags?
The people, working as a team. If someone breaks something, we run over and help out. That one-man-army shit is all good, but being in a team knowing you have that support is different. It makes it more fun and you can go harder.

Jaden Martin

Growing up inhaling paint fumes and bog dust at his old man's panel shop, Jaden is a qualified word bender that has obtained a 'brofessional' diploma in car building from years of trial and error. He's currently trying to finish his creation of Australian-based debauchery crammed with Japanese- and Euro-inspired goodness. You'll find him writing for NZ Performance Car and producing content online.

Instagram — @jaden_nzpcmagazine

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