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Through the traps: dropping numbers at the IHRA Nationals 2018

16 March 2018



On the competition calendar of New Zealand drag racing, the annual IHRA Nationals meeting at Meremere Dragway would have to rate as among the consistently largest and most important. And while there is no science of data analytics behind this, we’d argue that it’s the drag event at which the most PBs seem to be smashed. It’s the quarter-mile playground of the big dogs, but the competition side of things covers it all, from the Junior Dragster class right up to the all-business Top Alcohol class. 

Almost straight off the bat, it was made clear that this was going to be a weekend laden with records, as one of the country’s most impressive drag vehicles lay down some numbers. In Top Doorslammer class, Barry Plumpton’s new Camaro pumped out a 6.16s at 235.23mph, making it New Zealand’s quickest Top Doorslammer competitor, and this was achieved through a 959-cube mill and a tonne of nitrous. 

Top Doorslammer enjoyed a fair bit of success, at least as far as new PBs went, with ‘Squig’ Miles bringing the STA Parts–sponsored XP Falcon to a 6.94s at 192.22mph. As far as Top Doorslammer competitors go, it’s one of the more interesting one, having begun its life as a four-door family, until the quest for speed transformed it into the wild machine you see here. It’s powered by an unusual motor, too —  a 511ci Sainty Billet Three Valve unit topped with a 14-71 Littlefield high-helix blower, and there’s a whole lot more performance potential in it, with Squig getting on top of the thing before pushing it too hard. 

A little further down the list in the numbers game, Ces Miller’s immaculate ’59 Chev ’slammer also pulled one out of the bag, with the supercharged small block getting a quick 7.90s at 166.87mph timeslip into Ces’s hand. 

New Zealand’s quickest small block raised the bar a little higher, too, as the Alsop Racing lads celebrated Johnny Alsop’s 5.89-second and 227.57mph qualifying run. 

But, as far as personal bests were concerned, it was Bert King racing in Top Alcohol who’d take the cake — a 5.84s at 243.06mph is absolutely moving, and certainly counts for a lot when you’re racing at that level. 

Of course, it would be rude to overlook the Marsh boys who had the A/Fuel dragster out in a show of force. A 5.52s at 257.48mph was by far and away the quickest and fastest pass of the weekend, but the lads were unfortunately unable to do too much else due to a catastrophic engine failure, pulling out of competition. 

Then there was a raft of other personal bests — Craig Griffith’s dragster running a 6.72s at 198.35mph, Steve Milliken running his Topolino Altered to a 7.30s at 181.06mph, and Stu Henley-Minchington’s 8.17s at 159.99mph. 

Drag racing veteran Gavin Oram also made a comeback, to much acclaim, and marking the competition debut of his new and improved Plymouth Arrow. The tiny hatchback has been around for many years, and some will remember it in its old nitrous-assisted guise many moons ago. It’s now meaner than ever, with a twin-turbo Reece Fish–built 377ci small block tuned by C&M Performance. 

A certified loose unit, Gavin definitely gave the crowds a fair share of excitement on Sunday, when his wheelie bars gave way under an enormous wheelstand, showing everyone just what a weapon he has on his hands. The 8.29s at 171.79mph he managed over the weekend is just an indicator of what’s to come from this thing. 

The Abbott boys also have to be congratulated for a stellar performance over the weekend, running the back-halved Mazda RX-7 to a 6.82s at 196mph, and all from a two-rotor 13B. 

Similarly, Charlie Bates and the Mazda B8’s team pulled a 6.50s at 210mph out of the 20B triple-rotor rail — a seriously overdeveloped piece of kit that is showing just what it is capable of. 

While we’re at it, we may as well give a special mention to Chad Tully and the Tully Motorsport team, for the wicked-looking Holden Torana that’s sure to ruffle a few feathers. The low-slung four-door really looks the part, but it’s the turbocharged Ford Barra straight six that’s gonna upset the Holden lovers. A pretty fresh build, Chad managed a 9.14s at 144.03mph, which we’re sure is only scratching the surface of what this car is capable of. 

We’ll have a full event report in the next issue of NZV8, with a full rundown of the import PBs in the next issue of NZ Performance Car. For now, though, you can sit back and enjoy the photo gallery below courtesy of Lance Farrow.