The 50th running of the Gulf Western Oil Winternationals has been cut short by rain on finals day, however not before Ben Bray of the Gulf Western Oil-supported Team Bray Racing set the second-best Pro Slammer qualifying time and took out second in the 400 Thunder National Pro Slammer Championship.
It wasn’t an easy road to the second-best rung on the qualifying and title ladders for the three-time champion, with the absence of team leader and six-time champ Victor Bray (Ben’s father) seeing the team need to dig deep to get the results they needed before it was too late.
“It affected all of us not having dad here on-track with us at this event which is exceptionally important to all of us here at Team Bray Racing,” Ben explained.
“All of us – dad included – would have given anything to have him here this weekend, but his health is the most important thing and that of course has to come first. Even so, the morale of the team was a little down but thankfully we had the support of our amazing sponsors and fans to help us rally.
“Without dad here, it did take me a little longer than normal to get my head around the tune-up, but he was only a phone call away and we got it together in time to make sure we were in the field for race day. At the same time, I was sure to pass on all the well wishes which flooded in across the weekend – we are all blown away by everyone’s support.”
In the first qualifier, Ben got out of the groove and almost clipped the wall but through a display of strong race, craft was able to get out of it to run a 9.25 second pass at 94.98mph.
Q2 saw the tyres shake just after the 60-foot mark, requiring the three-time champ to pedal it for a 6.324s effort at 249.49mph.
Ahead of the third and final qualifier, Bray was on the outside looking in at 11th quickest for the eight-car field, and as he lined up on the line, he was facing a bump spot of 5.95 seconds.
To the elation of the TBR crew, Ben and his Gulf Western Oil Doorlsammer would not be held back in this last chance effort – laying down a 5.759 second pass at 254.81mph to not only make it into the field, but to be the second on the time sheets at the end of the session.
“Unfortunately, as can happen in drag racing, it was then time for the weather to conspire against us with the event canceled before any elimination racing could be held,” Ben said.
As a result of his qualifying result and racing being called off, Ben finishes third in the 400 Thunder Pro Slammer National Championship for the 16/17 championship season.
“Given that we only started our concerted championship effort with the support of Gulf Western Oil earlier this year - and as such missed round one in November – to finish as runner-up for the season is something we are very happy about,” Ben said.
“We can’t wait to see what we can do across the full season coming up.”
Ben wasn’t the only one with a smile on his face in the TBR pit area across the weekend, with Rod Harvey – a close friend of the team – putting on a record-breaking display in Factory Xtreme.
“All of us at TBR would like to congratulate Rod Harvey. He is a part of the TBR family, pitting with us and leaving his car with us in between rounds when he returns home to New Zealand,” Ben explained.
“Rod made history in the Factory Xtreme division this weekend by posting the first five-second sport compact run in Australian history with a 5.909s pass at 239mph.
“That result sees him declared as the fourth quickest racer in the world and the first to run a sub-six second pass in Australasia, and we are all very proud of him for what he has achieved this weekend.”
The Gulf Western Oil-supported Team Bray Racing will be back on-track for round one of the 2017/2018 400 Thunder National Championship, to be held at Darwin’s Hidden Valley Drag Strip across the 21st and 22nd of July.
Fans wishing to follow Team Bray can also follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teambrayracing, or interact with the team on instagram (#teambrayracing).