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The 2nd annual 1/8th Mile Nostalgia Drags event at Mildura’s Sunset Strip (Aug 29th 2017) will be marked down as a huge success with close to 100 old school nostalgia entrants contesting across 8 brackets, a class field of Willy’s for their Nationals and of course the popular fun day which rounded out the event.

Campers had started setting up at Sunset Strip on Thursday with the promise of some fantastic entertainment over the weekend. Entrants were greeted with a get to know you meal on Friday evening which was accompanied by the usual refreshments. Robert and Janina Kuchel were responsible for the clubhouse catering and had planned a delicious menu to feed the racers over the weekend. Some 220 odd meals were prepared on Friday evening with close to 300 prepared for the fans on Saturday night. Speaking of catering, there was also a breakfast on the Sunday morning which consisted of pancakes and all the trimmings just to make sure the racers left the facility choc-a-block.

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Saturday was race day with racing scheduled to fire up at 9.30am. Track prepper Dean James had the surface ready to go and signalled to race director Tim Reidy all was good. Time for the meeting to be handed over to the official starter in Paul Hornsby who immediately got things running.

Timing issues meant that the program fell behind somewhat with the possibility of a shortened schedule on the cards. The racers originally had two qualifiers and 3 rounds of a Chicago Shootout format scheduled in with the highest two points winners going head to head in the final of each of the 8 brackets. At one stage officials were looking at dropping one of the Chicago rounds to ensure the meeting finished on time. Tim Reidy elected to stick to the original format and after some slick organising by all concerned, the meeting was back on track and finished not that far outside the original window.

Winners on the day were:

Jason Keily over Lucas Woodburn in Top Eliminator

Jayden Talbot over Pete O’Connell in Junior Fuel

Ned Karanovic over Julian Carafa in Top Gas

Peter Raines over Peter O’Leary in Vintage Gas

Clare Dousset over Edwin Emanuelli in Hot Rod

Mike Bowden over Jason Winnen in American Muscle

Cannyn Hayes over Holly Camilleri in Junior

Peter Gourzis over Matthew Smart in Oz Muscle.

What a day it was with plenty of tyre frying action from the Vintage Gas, big horsepower plays from the Top Eliminator gang and some major lifting by the guys in Top Gas. Nice to see Summit regulars Ned Karanovic, Jayden Talbot and Jason Keily pick up wins in their respective categories.

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Great track prep by Dean James with plenty of personal bests going down throughout the day. Andrew Braithwaite picked up a PB in his FED on the way to 3 wins from 3 starts. A loose final run put paid to his finals chances. Actually, there were stories like this one all over the day which made the day so exciting.

The win by Keily in Top Eliminator (Supercharged Outlaws) was a nice shot in the arm coming into the Summit round at the same venue in a month’s time. Obviously, Tim Stewart had been in Keily’s ear as Jason said in his speech that he was coming for Tim. Jase, you were the winner, it should be him coming after you! Talbot had his last run in the FED taking over the “Forever Young ll” Supercharged Outlaw funny car from older brother Wayne who will move into the ex-Maclean funny car in Top Alcohol.

Massive tandem lift by Charlie Pitt and Dylan Argent in Top Gas being one of the day’s highlights. The bracket had a lot of Summit regulars but in the end, it was a popular win by Super Sedan runner Ned Karanovic over Top Sportsman runner Julian Carafa.

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Vintage Gas had the usual heavy hitters with Hayley leading the burnout charge. Kemp is normally the king of burnouts around the Victorian tracks but was off a touch this weekend while Hayley had laid down some killer skids. Kemp had the final word on the argument taking a win over Hayley in the last round and in the process knocked Hayley out of the final. Regular Chevy runner Peter Raines kept the V8 flag flying with a win over the six pack of Romano Puntin’s FJ driven by Peter O’Leary.

Clare Dousset had the '32 Roadster down pat and took it up to the boys throughout the day. We didn’t see Clare drop a race all day as she marched on to win the final of Hot Rod over Edwin Emanuelli in the '36 Ford Coupe. Seasoned drag racer Noel Inman in the Tall T was a late withdrawal from the event, but some fine examples of hot rodding in this class both in engineering and sheer horsepower.

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American Muscle could have quite easily been re-named American Tanks as some of the cars were just that. Winner Mike Bowden drove a '67 Ford Galaxie that looked as long as a cricket pitch. Add an Impala, the Karanovic’s Barracuda and a Dodge into the mix and you have a fine cross sample of American muscle. Paul Jennings Chevy Nova Wagon and Endre Papp’s '65 Mustang Fastback added class to the field.

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Junior was choc a block full of Summit Junior Dragster racers with Cannyn Hayes taking wins over more fancied opponents. Hayes won the final over Holly Camilleri with Brooke Camilleri not far behind the two. Nathaniel Kuchel was getting valuable experience while Tommy Turic was honing in on his recent good form in the Northern Territory. Daniel “Batdan” Carranza was debuting a pair of chutes after he crossed the line which obviously are just for looks. Just on that, Carranza has in my opinion one of the best-looking drag cars in any bracket. The next time you’re at a Summit round, go and check out the Batdan car in the junior dragster category.

And finally, we had the dancing Peter Gourzis driving a VC Valiant taking a win in OZ Muscle over Matt Smart in the 202ci powered Corolla. This was by far the biggest field with fine examples of Australian motoring scattered throughout the field. The Falcons of the Carusi brothers were definitely standouts as was Anthony Raschella’s HR ute.

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That finished the days racing and it was over to the club house where more than 300 meals were dished up to hungry racers. A band played rock-a-billy music for the next 3 hours as the racers sat back and relaxed with some of the liquid amber on offer. The night eventually finished up well into Sunday morning with race fans back on deck around 10am to sign in for passenger rides.

What a fantastic idea to have rides available for passengers. This was a casual fun day with everyone walking around with smiles on their faces which in the end typified the whole weekend. Just one big motoring party.

What a fantastic event that has grown big time from the inaugural event last year. Judging by the growth of this year’s event, I suggest race fans get in early for next year’s event as it wouldn’t surprise me if the club was forced to put a cap on entries due to the popularity.

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Well done to Lauren and Kingsley Kuchel and all the Sunraysia Drag Racing staff which I must say are mostly young crew (fantastic for the sport), Dean James for a killer racing surface, imports Tim Reidy and Paul Hornsby for their support with the meeting, Robert and Janina Kuchel for the clubhouse catering and of course the Australian Nostalgia Racers and all the support racers.

Awesome event that will just grow in popularity as the years go by. Add this to Sunraysia’s Easter Shootout and the club has 2 marquee events that are capable of supporting the club for years.

Videos from the day courtesy of SportingScribe.com

By Mark Humphreys