Desert Nationals produces the goods in Alice Springs

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When you’re racing over 660 feet, there is no room for error. The half-track distance is set up for close tight racing from the hit of the throttle to the finish line; it’s all over in a blink of an eye.

The Desert Nationals presented by Supercheap Auto and Shannons Insurance served up new records, first time winners, breakouts, red lights, upsets and great side-by-side racing in perfect conditions at Alice Springs Inland Dragway.

With an ANDRA Silver Christmas Tree and vital bonus points in the Aeroflow Sportsman Drag Racing Championship up for grabs, a host of competitors either left the line too early or broke out beyond their dial in to eliminate themselves.

Those seeing red included Supercharged Outlaws top qualifier Dan Hodgins, Outlaws contender Doina Day, Super Comp’s Steven Norman and Modified Bike Championship hopefuls Edgell Mallis and Joe Khoury.


In stark contrast both Jake Chaisty and Wayne Keys set new 660 feet national records for H/MSA and AA/AP respectively on their way to meeting in the Super Comp final. 

The West Aussies reached the semi finals on solo passes before Chaisty sent Craig Geddes packing after a staging duel with a record setting 5.997on a 6.34 index while Wayne Keys eliminated Mark Probst with a record of his own recording a 4.003 on a 4.34 index.

The stage was set for an epic final and both drivers delivered as Keys reeled Chaisty in to win by a 0.018 second margin of victory with a winning 3.994 second pass on a 4.17 index from a 5.976 on a 6.16 index.

Both drivers pushed their respective National AA/AP and H/MSA elapsed time records even further in the process while resetting the mile per hour marks; Chaisty at 114.80 mph and Keys at 188.28 mph.

However it was Keys who stood alone holding the Desert Nationals title aloft.

“It’s fantastic,” he said. “After the Darwin disappointment last week, to come here, make a few changes and make the car work, I always knew the track was here, we just had to come back.

“To go through to the final and to rip past Jake at the finish, it felt like he was standing still when I went by but it was excellent.”


Supercharged Outlaws came down to a duel between Mark Kuhn and Matt Watts after Australian Champion Luke Marsden, Chris Van’t Hof, Doina Day, Rodney Hansen and top qualifier Dan Hodgins all bowed out in the first two rounds. 

Queenslander Watts took the win light in a close final with a 4.646 on a 4.63 dial in from Kuhn’s 4.880 on a 4.69 for a 0.167 second victory.

“It feels absolutely great,” said Watts. “We had a lot of dramas to start with. We stripped a thread in the spark plug and only had 20 minutes to repair it so coming from there to winning the event it’s pretty fantastic.

“The track was great. A big congrats to the guys who prepped it. I can’t thank the volunteers enough; the day was great, weather was fantastic. Everything went well today.”


Australian Super Sedan Champion John Kapiris picked up a bag full of points in his title defence taking advantage of the 50 per cent travel bonus and surging past his rvials by defeating Darren Saliba who shut down at the line and Vlado Turic before a bye run in the semi final. 

Fortune smiled on Kapiris yet again as a red light for David Yanko handed the Aussie number 1 the win but he still drove his HQ Holden out the back door with a 6.472 on a 6.48 dial in.

“Last year I had it in the bag but I broke out by a thousandth of a second, all I had to do was hit the brakes, I was about a car and a half in front,” he said. “This year everything fell in place.

“It feels really good, I get a nice trophy, add one to the collection and I’m over 100 points in front.”


Breakouts and red lights also dominated proceedings throughout Modified Bike with current points leader Joe Khoury leaving the line too early in round three while Edgell Mallis was already on the trailer after his own red light in round one. 

Todd Johnson and Bryan Finn were left to battle it out in the final but a red light just 0.050 seconds too soon by Johnson ended the race before it started as Finn got the win and his first ever ANDRA Silver Christmas Tree trophy on his first visit to Alice Springs with a 7.349 on a 7.32 dial in.

“I couldn’t be happier,” he said. “I’ve only seen the Christmas Trees on TV. To come here for the first time, my first meeting with an ANDRA licence, I’ve only had divisional day licences until now but to come here and do this is just fantastic.

“I’m just so happy and I’m going to be smiling for days!”


Super Street also saw its fair share of drivers pushing beyond their dial in including a double break out in a second round victory for Joe Jurkovic over Roeland Ainsworth on his way to the final. 

Jurkovic wouldn’t be so fortunate in the final with a secondr break out by 0.006 seconds allowing Kylie Tanner to take her second Desert Nationals title in a row proving the first was no fluke with a 7.616 on a 7.60 dial in after earlier wins over Rod Kerr and Sean Baney.

“First round is always nervous, second round you chill out a little bit,” said Tanner. “For the finals it’s just a bag of nerves.

“Two years in a row, my fifth time up here and my fourth trophy so take that to all the critics.”


In the Junior Dragster ranks breakouts littered an intriguing opening round but when it was all said and done, it was two familiar names in the final once again as Australian Champion Brayden Naylor took on Toby Austin.

Naylor defeated Lachlan Cole in a double break out in addition to wins over Brodie Zappia and Katrina Bowman on route to the final and a break out for Austin by 0.057 seconds allowed Naylor to take the Desert Nationals title with an 8.105 on an 8.10 dial in.

“It’s good to come over here, get some runs in the car and it’s good to have a win as well. We’ve came all the way from Perth and I had a runner up in Darwin last week but it’s better to get a win though.” 

After a successful two days in the Red Centre, the Aeroflow Sportsman Drag Racing Championship moves onto Mildura for Round 9 on September 13-14, 2014.

Photos by Dave Murray


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