The action came thick and fast at South Coast Raceway for Round 7 of the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series.
Several first time winners climbed to the top of the podium while an older legendary face of ANDRA Drag Racing won his first National event in 18 years.
First time winners included Wayne Talbot (Timic Hot Rod Supplies Supercharged Outlaws), Paul Russo (Advanced Engine Reconditioning Top Sportsman), Gordon Crawford (Modified Bike), Chris Tatchell (Super Street) and Natalie Bishop (Summit Racing Equipment Junior Dragster).
Those lucky enough to pick up another National event win included Craig Geddes (Bullet Cylinder Heads Super Comp), Simon Barlow (Victorian Drag Racers Club Modified), Colin Griffin (Super Gas) and for the first time since the 1998 Nationals the ‘Bricklayer’ Graeme Cooper (Quickfuel Technology Super Sedan).
In Supercharged Outlaws Wayne Talbot overcame a few bumpy rides after spinning the tyres earlier in the weekend but when it came to the final he recorded a perfect .000 reaction time to Adam Murrihy’s .122 RT.
He needed every bit of that advantage to beat Murrihy on a holeshot with a 4.347 elapsed time on a 4.14 dial in to the quicker but losing 4.313 and 4.14 dial in.
“Thanks South Coast Raceway,” said Talbot.
“Thanks Graham Hussey, Jayden Talbot for welding the car between rounds – he had to weld it twice – thanks everyone we finally did it! It’s only taken us 17 years as a team, thank you very much!”
Talbot defeated Ryan Van Dyk in Round 1 and cruised to a solo semi final win to set up his winning finale. Talbot also received the Perfect Light Award as the first competitor to achieve a .000 reaction time during eliminations.
Craig Geddes is now four from five finals this season after he went all the way in Super Comp for the second time in a row in Portland and his second Series win in a row following a victory at Calder Park in December.
His final opponent Jim Ioannidis set a new eighth-mile B/MSA ET record with his 5.843 in qualifying but he spun the tyres in the final and could only watch as Geddes claimed another Christmas Tree with a 4.787 ET on a 4.71 index.
“To be in five finals in a row is amazing but to win four is a great feeling,” said Geddes.
“We’re going pretty well and we’re glad to have (the trophies) and we’re going to continue to get as many as we can that’s for sure.”
Geddes eliminated a trio of Super Stockers to notch another one for the Competition Eliminator crew with earlier round wins over Daniel Camilleri and Kim Fardella before defeating Ioannidis in the final.
Gordon Crawford proved that good things come to those who wait with his first ANDRA Christmas Tree in his 10-year career at the age of 65 in Modified Bike.
Crawford had the reaction time advantage and held firm to defeat Gavin Dohnt in the final with a 6.341 ET on a 6.32 dial in from a 5.909 ET on a 5.89 dial in.
“It’s been 10 years and the first time I’ve won (any event) outside of WA,” said Crawford.
“Always the bridesmaid and never the bride, it’s a nice feeling and congratulations to Gavin on that run too.
“We really enjoyed it here in Portland, it’s been absolutely fantastic, it’s a great venue and the people have been really terrific. I really enjoyed the whole weekend’s racing.”
Crawford had to overcome Ron Adams, David Yanko, Mario Baker and Danny Rickard just to get to the final.
Another first time winner, Paul Russo, took the honours in Top Sportsman defeating the in form Jason Stares who was racing in his third final in a row.
Russo had a near perfect .003 reaction at the tree giving him the edge on a 4.912 ET and 4.87 dial in to a 4.733 on the 4.71 dial in.
“It’s taken a year and a half to get there but we finally got there, we’re stoked,” said Russo.
“We raced Jason Stares a couple of weeks ago and lost so it’s good to finally get one back on him, thanks Jase.
“And I’d just like to thank all my crew, Portland – it’s a beautiful spot to race, beautiful weekend – and ANDRA, Summit and everybody who was involved.”
Russo knocked out Jason Arbery in Round 1 followed by Paul Partridge and Darren Saliba on his way to the final.
‘The Bricklayer’ Graeme Cooper ended his 18 year drought picking up the win in Super Sedan over Joe Bresciano.
Cooper had the reaction advantage to lead the way and win with a 6.652 ET on a 6.64 dial in from a 5.884 second pass on a 5.84.
“It’s been a long slog trying but the competition is just so good these days that this is a real achievement,” said Cooper.
“Everyone that raced to today was terrific. I’d like to thank Ricky Glass and Martin for giving us a hand today.
“I’d like to thank Paul Rogers Transmissions, Neil David Tax Agents, Rare Spares and there’s one particular bloke I’d like to thank and his name is Dave Butcher from Frankston Engine Centre. If it wasn’t for him a couple of years ago we would have been out a long time ago and he’s made a real difference to us. Thanks Dave.”
Robert Kardum was the first to fall at the hands of Cooper followed by Danny Bucella, Neil Davis and current three-time Champ John Kapiris.
Simon Barlow wrapped up his second victory of the season in Modified with victory over Queenslander Katie Cunningham in the final. Barlow went through in Round 1 on a solo then defeated Shane Wynd in the semi finals. He then produced a 4.693 second pass on a 4.67 dial in as Cunningham ran quicker than her 4.73 dial in with a 4.721 ET to break out.
In Super Street Chris Tatchell went home a happy man winning his first Christmas Tree trophy over Paul Garbellini who travelled all the way from WA. Garbellini had raced a week ago in Perth then drove his race car to Portland, almost securing the ultimate reward for his epic road trip.
Tatchell was too good however as his .004 reaction time all but won it at the start line propelling him to a 7.711 ET on a 7.62 dial in from a near perfect package of 7.088 ET on a 7.08 dial in. Tatchell earlier defeated Chris Logan, Anton Krajina and Dean Cleary before a solo semi final.
Natalie Bishop, runner up to her brother in Mildura last month, won her first National event with victory over Jake Berias in the Summit Racing Equipment Junior Dragster final. Bishop recorded an 8.035 ET on an 8.01 dial in from an 8.704 and 8.65 dial in. Earlier wins over Brodie Zappia, Garth Spooner and Kelly Donnelly paved the way for Bishop’s maiden Christmas Tree.
And finally in Super Gas Colin Griffin wrapped up his second win of the season despite a break out over a red lighting Warren Bull in the final. Griffin recorded a 6.295 ET in the fixed 6.30 (over the eighth-mile) index class but Bull fouled by .154 seconds. Griffin negotiated earlier wins against Michael DeRose and Matt Forbes either side of a solo quarterfinal pass.
ANDRA would like to thank South Coast Raceway owner John Cleary and the South Coast Drag Racing Association volunteers, officials and safety crews for an outstanding weekend of ANDRA Drag Racing.
The next round of the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series takes place January 23-24 as part of the Australian Nationals at Calder Park Raceway in Melbourne.