Aeroflow round four in Adelaide – event preview

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The Aeroflow Sportsman Drag Racing Championship’s fourth round of the season takes place this weekend at Adelaide International Raceway – and all the hitters are ready to rumble.

Darren Parker will make his first appearance at Adelaide International Raceway since the 1999 Springnationals in Super Comp – a merger of Competition and Super Stock that takes place where there is low entry numbers.

Back then Parker competed in Super Street but in 2014 he’ll be behind the wheel of his Pontiac GXP looking to kick start his Super Stock Aeroflow Sportsman Drag Racing Championship title defence.

Parker said he is expecting some fierce competition.

“Craig Geddes and Wayne Cartledge are fast wherever they compete in their dragsters and Daniel Camilleri ran 0.2 seconds under the DD/GA record at Calder Park two weeks ago,” he said. “Any one of the ten drivers is in with a shot.”

“Super Stock is a tough class and when you add the Competition Eliminator guys to form Super Comp at the smaller meetings I would say it is going to be even harder (to repeat as champion).”

“Like all forms of drag racing, to win in Group 2 I’ll need good reaction times combined with smart qualifying and racing. I need to win each round without hurting the index (or record) if possible.”

Parker recently reached the semi-finals of the inaugural John Taverna Classic at Calder Park Raceway. From a .012 reaction time the Pontiac shook the tyres and got loose at half-track allowing Shane Baxter to get the win.

“Shane was also loose in the other lane and drove around me for the win,” he said. “After seeing his driving job from the other lane, he deserved to win.”

Parker thanked Peter Ridgeway and Arthur Sagiaris of Custom Engines, Paul Rogers Performance Transmissions, Mark Hinchelwood at MotorSport Connections and Speedflow Hose Fittings for their ongoing support as he gets to grips with a new converter and rear shocks during the short turnaround between local and national events.

“I have some new systems on the GXP that I was getting my head around at Calder and I’ll continue working on them through qualifying in Adelaide.

“Similar to my preparations for Calder last weekend it is going to be about tuning the car to get it down the track and once we get into eliminations, anything can happen.”

The Supercharged Outlaws field will be boosted by the return of several heavy hitters to the Aeroflow Sportsman Drag Racing Championship this weekend at Adelaide International Raceway.

Donald Friend will continue his campaign by crossing the Nullarbor on the back of a quarter final appearance at the Westernationals while Matt Watts, Doina Day, Ryan Van Dyk and Darryl Walford are among those joining a strong local contingent.

darylwalford-2014editedWalford has just recently returned from the US looking at Nitro Funny Cars in an effort to join the Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Car show next year but in Adelaide he is looking to make up for lost time in Group 3 after forgoing the Western swing.

“Unfortunately costs have restricted travel to the West and I hope we can catch up with some points in the next few rounds,” he said.

“We missed a couple of rounds last year and I need to be more focused as the car is reliable and fast now. It’s going to be tough like any round in Outlaws and I’m hoping we won’t have the temperatures (in Adelaide) like we did last year.

“Last season as it was my first time travelling the country and I’d Like to thank Aeroflow, all the tracks and staff, great job everyone. Also this couldn’t have happened without Dave ‘Skips’ Saunders at Skips Fire and all our minor sponsors, the crew and family.”

Meanwhile Queenslander Ryan Van Dyk, son of Pro Stock legend Hans, said he has not even touched the his dragster since Round 1 at Fuchs Southcoast Raceway in Portland having taken time away to work in the Pilbara Flat but he said he is excited to get back on track.

“The only preparations have been the driver hitting the gym and growing a moustache,” he said laughing. “The car ran like a dream in Portland going eight hundredths and three mph better than it has ever gone to the eighth mile.

“I’m really excited about racing in Adelaide especially after the washout in Portland and deciding not to run the Perth rounds. I was itching to get back in the car, then I went out to Kwinana for a look at the Westernats and now I’m chomping at the bit.

“Also to be racing for the first time at AIR where Dad had a lot of success in Pro Stock and Super Stock over the years is quite exciting as well.”

Van Dyk is expecting some good numbers in Adelaide and hopes he can break the five second barrier over the 1000 feet surface.

“I think Adelaide has always been a place to run good numbers with the good atmospheric conditions and from what I can gather the track preparation has been getting better and better since racing has returned to AIR so I am hoping to break into the 5 second range over 1000 feet,” he said.

“The field in Supercharged Outlaws is sure to be tough with heavy hitters matching up with some tough local cars and it should make for some pretty darn good racing I reckon.”

craigbakerdragnewsAs the national Modified champion Craig Baker is doing pretty well. But when it comes to Adelaide International Raceway, lady luck seems to find someone else’s pit.

In recent times AIR hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Baker but he is hoping his luck will turn in Round 4 of the Aeroflow Sportsman Drag Racing Championship this weekend.

“Adelaide seems to be a track that we struggle with and never had a lot of luck,” he said. “With the two championship rounds in Adelaide last year we red lit the first one in February the week before heading to the Westernationals, then damaged the engine first round at the Springnationals and were back on the trailer.”

“I’m really hoping we can turn that luck around. Along with a host of other tough racers, there’ll be five out of the top six in last year’s championship with the same goal.”

Baker was disappointed about the missed opportunity in the washed out Round 1 in Portland back in January and after not travelling for the Western swing, he is anxious to get back to his title defence.

“I think that the car is right on song and running as consistent as ever. Our main preparation comes in the form of more runs down the track and we were lucky enough to make to make it to the finals at Portland’s Outlaw Nitro Funny Car event in February and then again last weekend at the Inaugural John Taverna Classic at Calder Park.

“To me, going rounds and getting the car consistently down the track is great for confidence and the best preparation you can get.

“Even though we try to throw everything into each race, our number one priority is to enjoy what we do. Most of the time it’s just myself, my wife Audrey, and our two boys going to the track and running the car as best we can.

“We’re fortunate that Modified is full of other great families and we look forward to any chance of catching up with that extended family; and racing is just a bonus.”

That extended family will be on show this weekend as Baker is joined by his son Josh who is competing in the Junior Dragster ranks for the first time this season.

“Josh just loves the whole thing – he’s had no choice really,” said Baker. “Ever since he was born he has been at the track whenever possible. He understands the sport and the fundamentals of drag racing.

“Now he has his own car it has been a dream come true for him. We try to give him as much control of running the car as possible. From between round maintenance to choosing his own dial in, it’s all up to him. Even though he beats himself up when he doesn’t cut a good light, we’re trying to teach him not to be so hard on himself and to enjoy the opportunity.”

Since Round 1 of the Aeroflow Sportsman Drag Racing Championship at Fuchs South Coast Raceway was washed out in January, the teams racing in Group 4’s Super Gas have had a long wait to get their 2014 campaign fully underway.

This weekend at Adelaide International Raceway they finally get their chance to chase the points again with a high quality field including current Aussie number one Matt Forbes leading the charge.

mattforbes-mar2014editedForbes said his preparations have been going well as the team has completed its maintenance over the break making a few minor updates to a car that is much the same as last year.

“To win just one championship takes so much time, effort, skill and perseverance so to repeat would be an amazing feat,” he said.

“We are definitely at the top of our game with our current roadster and I have a new updated 1957 Corvette roadster leaving the USA next week which is going to be a great car for us. We aim to be around for a long time and to be able to mix it with the best.

“In Super Gas there are just so many great racers, they are very professional and are all capable of putting down winning passes at any time. To win a championship is challenging enough, to keep it will be even tougher.”

Forbes acknowledges the field in Adelaide will be missing some heavy hitters from Queensland and NSW but that doesn’t mean the challenge gets any easier.

“We are coming off the back of a strong win at Calder Park (in the John Taverna Classic) last week and are feeling really good about our performances right now however I’m sure there are plenty of racers trying to send us home early as well.

“There are many people involved in a championship campaign and I really must thank them as it would not be possible to compete at the levels we do without their help and support.

“Lucas Oil Products are just amazing, K&N filters, Hoosier tyres and Fasttime Design race transmissions all support our efforts. My family and crew are 100% committed to our racing activities which is essential as the commitment required does increase year after year as racers strive to be their best.

“We will be at Adelaide giving it our all for our sponsors and aim to put on a great show for the spectators.”

Images courtesy Joe Maday, Darren Bingham and Darryl Walford.


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