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NZDRA Summer Nationals takes on Taupo

12 January 2016

While most people were relaxing between Christmas and New Year, drag racers from around the country had better things to do, and that was point their machines at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park.

Where’s that you say? That’d be the new name for Taupo Motorsport Park, Taupo Thunder Dragway, or whatever else you used to call it.

The event that they were headed to was the NZDRA Summer Nationals, and it was set to be one of the biggest events on the NZDRA calendar — not to mention one of the hottest.

There was a great turnout of racers, many struggling in the hot Taupo sunshine wearing their triple-layered fire suits, while crew members held umbrellas during staging.

Amongst the various on-track action, Graeme ‘Crusher’ Christesen in the Crushinator dragster had the crowd on their feet after dropping a wheel off the track. The low seven-second alcohol dragster turned hard before barrel rolling. Despite being taken away in an ambulance for a check over, he survived the incident relatively unscathed. Sadly the same can’t be said for the car, but the crew are already well into the repairs required.

Fellow Wellington local Rex Margetts was also having a bad run. After recently dropping his Falcon into the eight-second zone, the old saying of ‘they always run best before they blow up’ came true when it suffered major engine damage and coated the track with oil in the process.

Gary Cawthra’s XA Falcon managed the same thing, albeit just from an oil-filter issue, as opposed to major damage.

With this event being the first time that the full quarter mile had been coated in VHT, there were plenty of competitors who ended up with new PBs. Included in those was Tauranga’s Shane Ryland in his street-legal Torana, who ran an impressive best of 9.24 at 148.22mph, reportedly just on 10psi boost!

Track prep aside, some still struggled for traction, such as Allan Hartley in the NZ Home Loans Altered, who had a serious sideways moment mid track. Then again, he also had issues keeping the front wheels on the track, so it may be something to do with the massive motor in such a small car!

Speaking of entertaining runs, the black Willys Coupe of Mark Gapp never fails to entertain with wheels-up, sideways action. 

Also impressive was the new car-and-driver combo of Ryan Sheldon in his ’77 Camaro. He and his friends had been working hard over the winter months getting the Camaro into shape, and within just three passes the car was into the low eights. As well as this, Ryan took out best-appearing car and crew, so they were stoked with the car’s maiden outing. 

At the time of writing, a full results list was yet to be made available, but check out the gallery below for more photos of the event.