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Nitro fumes infiltrate Wairarapa

18 February 2015

While some drag-racing enthusiasts thought they’d never see a round of the IHRA National Drag Racing Series at Wairarapa’s Masterton Motorplex, they were proved wrong on the weekend of February 14–15, 2015

There may have been some awaking to the smell of flowers on Valentine’s Day, but the drag-racing loyals were delighted with the smell of nitromethane and methanol as some of the country’s fastest cars hit the strip.

Making the trip down from Auckland was the Marsh Motorsport/Mountshop team — a team that lays claim to running the fastest-ever quarter-mile pass in New Zealand. It wasn’t their ground-pounding 8000hp supercharged Top Fuel Dragster, but their comparably tame 5000hp naturally aspirated version.

The trip was well worthwhile for them too; they ran the quickest and fastest pass at the venue to date, crossing the finish line in 5.76 seconds at 249mph.

They weren’t the only team to have success in a dragster though. Wairarapa-local Dwayne Garrett’s newly debuted Top Alcohol Dragster ran a PB of 6.50 at 200.15mph, impressing the crowds as it lifted the front wheels in the process. Upper Hutt-local Bert King put on a very similar show, doing the same thing on every pass.

Speaking of getting the wheels up, Wellington’s Nathan Hartley may be a few years too young to get his road-car license, but was having a ball behind the wheel of his Jr Funny Car.

It’s not hard to see where Nathan’s love of drag racing comes from when you find out that it runs in the family with his brother, Allan, being the pilot of a supercharged Altered, which ran a new PB at the event of 7.18 seconds at 170mph. That’s some serious power in a small car!

Other locals who were there to impress were Naenae’s Josh Trybula in his Chev Impala, which ran into the eight-second zone before destroying a diff. We talked to Josh afterwards and he vowed to be back again shortly.

Despite drag racing being the home of supercharged V8s, turbo technology is catching on. This was evident from the New Plymouth-based Pirtek-sponsored team of Adam Prestney and Josh Dobson, who amazed the crowd by running a 7.41 at 190mph.

Another to set a PB was Auckland’s Michael Franklin in his wild ‘Drunk Goat’ Pontiac GTO. Utilizing the type of motor more likely to be found in a rear-engined dragster, the full-steel car weaved its way down the track to an impressive best of 8.23 seconds at over 160mph.

With the track offering great traction, thanks in part to the Meremere Dragway crew who were assisting with track preparation, it wasn’t just dedicated drag cars that were running PBs. Aaron Thomas proved this in his street-legal Ford Pop. The pint-sized car ran a best of 8.84 seconds at 152mph, taking the title of sixth quickest street car in the country.

Fellow street-car driver, and Lower Hutt-local, Ed Trybula wasn’t as keen on quick passes as he was interested in impressing the crowds, which he certainly did in his ’57 Bel Air.

At the other end of the attention-grabbing scale was Pukekohe’s Ray Petersen, whose unassuming, yet totally stock-looking, Ford Mustang was consistently running 10-second-flat passes.

It wasn’t just the V8 guys that found the track conditions great, as Palmerston North’s Paul Dowdall illustrated in his small-tyre Mazda RX-8 when he reset the Sport Mod record to an impressive 8.25 at 167.24mph. He went on to run a PB of 8.09 at 167mph, impressive stuff on a 28×9 tyre!

With more than 150 cars entered, and such impressive times run by many, everyone we spoke to has vowed to return for the next event at the Masterton Motorplex — the Super Sedan Champs and Full Comp Meeting on March 7–8. If everything sticks to this event’s trends, we’re sure that we will see even more records broken.