Less than two weeks out from the Gulf Western Oil Winternationals, 19 times Australian champion Gary Phillips is preparing both of his 3500+ horsepower Lucas Oils vehicles to tackle oversubscribed fields in both Pro Alcohol and Pro Slammer.
“It’s just great to see so many cars turn up for this historic event,” he said. “There are 16 cars entered for Pro Alcohol and I’m anticipating a bump spot in the high 5.40s to low 5.50s. There are also 17 Pro Slammers fighting for a spot in the eight car field and I don’t doubt there will be a record bump spot in that field as well - probably with an elapsed time around the 5.88 mark.”
As the Winternationals' most successful racer, with 13 wins to his credit, Phillips reflected on some of those achievements, dating back to his first win at Surfers Paradise in 1978.
“I’ve been very fortunate to win the Winternationals 13 times and it doesn’t matter what class I’ve run in, they’ve all meant a lot. It is without a doubt, the biggest race of our whole year and everyone strives to win the coveted Winternationals Gold Christmas tree trophy.”
Phillips has won the Winternationals at both tracks where the event has been held (five times at Surfers Paradise International Raceway and eight times at Willowbank Raceway). He has taken home the trophy once in Modified Eliminator (1978), six times in Competition Eliminator (1982, 83, 84, 85, 88 and 1990), as well as six times in the Top & Pro Alcohol classes (1995, 98, 2000, 03, 04 and most recently in 2016).
“The 1988 Winternationals probably stands out the most, as it was the first year it was held at its new permanent home at Willowbank. To have event wins in three different classes is great, but I’m really hoping I can add Pro Slammer and another Pro Alcohol one to that list this year, especially since there is only ever one 50th anniversary event.
“This event really caps off a big season for us, where we are celebrating 20 years of partnership with Lucas Oil Products. Right now, we’re in the fight of our lives trying to win championships in both Pro Alcohol and Pro Slammer and hopefully we can pull this off for our supporters and crew. Just to qualify in both of these brackets will be intense, and the fans are going to get a spectacular show.”
Have you seen the latest Drag News Magazine? Order it here.