Extended ANDRA sportsman series draws to an epic close in Mildura

This article brought to you by:

The extended 2019/2020/2021 Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series has drawn to a spectacular close with the ANDRA Grand Finals event on the weekend at Mildura’s Sunset Strip.

Wet weather on Saturday could not stop the festivities, with racing shifted to Sunday to ensure season champions and event winners were celebrated at the Victorian venue.

Three rounds of qualifying were held Friday evening, with a fourth and final round to be held for each racing bracket Saturday afternoon ahead of eliminations racing to decide this season’s champions in the evening, however rain pushed the event straight into elimination now on Sunday.

At the close of qualifying, Renee Cockerill (Super Gas), Brooke Camilleri (Summit Racing Equipment Junior Dragster), Chris Whittaker (Super Street), Gavin Dohnt (Modified Bike), Adrian Dal Broi (Super Sedan), Adam Mundy (Modified), Darren Saliba (Top Sportsman), Jayden Talbot (Supercharged Outlaws), Joe Khoury (Competition Bike) and Steve Norman (Super Comp) topped the time sheets to secure the Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks Top Qualifier medallions in their respective classes.

Cockerill, Dohnt and Mundy were all in contention for the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series national title in their respective brackets and so were pleased to have their ANDRA Grand Finals campaigns off to a good start.

“The car has been going really well and is dialled-in quite well. In the last qualifier I short shifted which had the car going a bit slower but other than that the day has been really good, the atmosphere is really great and I am looking forward to tomorrow,” Cockerill said.

“(When it comes to the championship) I am a bit excited and a bit nervous all at the same time. I have been doing this for 23 or so years and I have never won a championship. The last big meeting I won was at Ravenswood back in 1999, so that was a long time ago and to even get an ANDRA Christmas Tree would be awesome.

“I am trying not to let my nerves get the best of me heading into tomorrow – you have to be confident, you can’t just sit and let things roll on. I am up there in the points, so I have to be confident.

“In the meantime, I have to thank my husband Steve – he works so hard on the car and he is the brains behind all of the work that gets the car to run the numbers, so a big thank you to him and also to my family and friends who support me as well.”

For Dohnt, a second championship in the Modified Bike title is what is at stake tomorrow, after he claimed the national title for the bracket back in 2013.

“I am pretty happy with today, we have slowed the bike down to make it rideable and over our three runs today there were only nine thousandths of a second difference between them, so I am very happy with the consistency,” Dohnt said while thanking sponsors Komatsu Forrest, LV Dohnt Forestry and PB Suspension.

“The weather has been interesting, and I think the club has done a very good job with the track considering the amount of miles done on it. We will see how it goes tomorrow but hopefully the tune-up in the bike will see our consistency stay the same and we will be able to go into racing feeling fairly confident and able to pick our dial-in with some sort of accuracy.

“As far as the championship goes, it really is anybody’s game with four riders that are right on it. It is going to be something of a roll of the dice tomorrow and we will see what happens. I want to say good luck to everyone for tomorrow’s racing.”

Mundy is hoping to back up his 2018/2019 season championship with a national title victory in the extended 19/20/21 season this weekend.

“Today has been a bit trying for us with the hot weather – I was expecting the car to run a bit faster, and we made a few changes but it didn’t make it run any faster. But the track is in very good condition and is nice and sticky, and we were getting some good 60-foot times, and of course we are happy to be the top qualifier so far,” Mundy said.

“For the championship, I am feeling a little bit nervous compared to how I was at the last Grand Finals, I guess because this time I am the one that everyone is looking to knock off. Four or five people can actually snatch it tomorrow, so I am not taking anything for granted.

“I want to thank my crew, Des Mundy and Ron Beaucaris, and also all of the track staff, volunteers, officials and ANDRA.”

Sunday’s weather was much more drag racing friendly and racing concluded with new ANDRA champions crowned.

Claiming the ultimate reward for their efforts over the season were Colin Griffin (Super Gas), Sarah Donnelly (Summit Racing Equipment Junior Dragster), Shane Walker (Modified Bike), Paul Garbellini (Super Street), Martin Mirco (Super Sedan), Adam Mundy (Modified), Christine Steffens (Supercharged Outlaws), Sam Cardinale (Top Sportsman), Levi Addison (Competition Bike), Matt Forbes (Super Stock) and Craig Geddes (Competition).

Proudly being awarded as runners-up in the title chase were Michael De Rose (Super Gas), Jake Berias (Summit Racing Equipment Junior Dragster), Bryan Finn (Modified Bike), Nikolas Karanovic (Super Street), Chris Lioulios (Super Sedan), Kenny Stewart (Modified), Justin Russell (Supercharged Outlaws), Vlado Turic (Top Sportsman), Rob Cassar (Competition Bike), Steve Norman (Super Stock) and Terry Waterman (Competition).

A number of these racers had their hands full at the presentations, with Walker, Cardinale and Forbes also claiming the ANDRA Grand Final event victories in their respective classes while Donnelly, Finn, Steffens and Norman took out the event runner-up honours for their brackets.
Joining them in the winner’s circle were fellow event victors Adrian McGrotty (Super Gas), Daniel Carranza (Summit Racing Equipment Junior Dragster), Paul Jennings (Super Street), Matthew Cockerill (Super Sedan), Craig Baker (Modified), Dale Tucker (Supercharged Outlaws) and Joe Khoury (Competition Bike); while Justin Wilson (Super Gas), Gary Vogelsang (Super Sedan), Shane Wynd (Modified), Darren Saliba (Top Sportsman) and Edge Mallis (Competition) took the event runner-up honours.

Steffens in particular needed help walking away from the presentations as she took out not only the championship trophy for Supercharged Outlaws, but also the prestigious John Storm Memorial Trophy and the Supercharged Outlaws event runner-up trophy.

Commissioned in memory of Mr John Storm, the first National Director of ANDRA, the John Storm Memorial Trophy is an annual national award made to the competitor in Group Two, Three or Four who scores the highest total overall points from all rounds of the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series, including the final event. In the 41 seasons of this accolade being awarded, Steffens is only the second woman (alongside Kelly Bettes, 2010) to claim the award.

“I am so exhausted and overwhelmed – it is just amazing to not only win the national championship but also the John Storm Memorial Trophy,” Steffens said.

“When Brett (Stevens, ANDRA CEO) brought the John Storm Memorial trophy over to me, I was just stunned. To me the John Storm Memorial is the pinnacle of sportsman racing.

“Never in my whole lifetime of racing did I ever think I would have the opportunity to take it home because it involves so much commitment, so much driving and so much travelling.

“I really couldn’t have done it without (husband and crew chief) Ricky – without his commitment and his drive, this just wouldn’t have happened, and I don’t know what I would do without him.

“I also can’t thank my crew enough either, including ‘Slim’ and Peter who were here with us this weekend – Peter has been away from home since the 25th of February helping us out, so thank you so much to him and also to his wife for letting him come away with us for so long!

“I am very chuffed to win the championship – I didn’t believe it to begin with as I originally thought I had to win the final to take it out. It is really awesome. It was strange though because when I found out I still had two rounds of racing to go and I wanted to try and take out the event win as well, so I had to switch focus right away. Unfortunately, I went to sleep on the startline so I did not have much luck in the final race, but that is okay, I guess I can’t have all the gold,” she laughed.

“To be honest this all still hasn’t sunk in. Up until today, three people could have taken (the national title) out so to be able to secure it, it means all of our hard work has paid off.

“Thank you so much to our crew including Ricky, Slim and Peter, our businesses Lockyer Engine Reconditioners and Christine Steffens Accounting, Tony Harrington for the spare ‘just in case’ gearbox following what happened at Portland, and all of our supporters.

“Thank you also to Summit Racing Equipment for supporting the series, and to Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks – we have claimed a fair few of those Top Qualifier medallions this season, so thank you to Craig for that support.”

ANDRA thanks the Sunraysia Drag Racing Association and all of its volunteers and sponsors for an outstanding race track and a well-run event.

The 19/20/21 Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series season was extended in the face of COVID-19 to not only deliver successful completion of the current competition, but also a record prize pool thanks to Summit Racing Equipment. The performance powerhouse offered 50 percent extra end of season prize money for a total prize pool of more than $100k including $10k for the prestigious John Storm Memorial, creating the biggest prize pool in Australian Drag Racing history.

For full results from the ANDRA Grand Finals, please click here.

Aeroflow Performance Parts Catalogue

Drag News Magazine