After coming oh-so-close at Saturday’s South Coast 660, Matt Forbes is hoping he can take a victory this weekend at the Festival State Nationals and in doing so, become the first in Australia to claim national event wins in five different racing brackets.
The event at Dragway at The Bend will be held across Saturday and Sunday (13-14 January), hosting the Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship as well as 11,000hp Nitro Funny Cars, Top Doorslammers and Top Fuel Motorcycles in an epic two-day show at the new Tailem Bend facility.
Four-time Australian champion Matt Forbes has already laid claim to national event wins in four different racing brackets: Super Gas, Modified, Top Sportsman and Super Stock. Now, he wants to add a victory in Competition Eliminator to that list – which will see him as the first in Australia to achieve the feat.
He has come exceptionally close at the two most recent national events, both held at South Coast Raceway, going all the way to the final at both December’s South Coast Nationals and the weekend’s South Coast 660 while top qualifying at the same time. But so far, he hasn’t been able to break through for the win.
“It was a terrific weekend at the South Coast 660 – since we have had the Altered we have struggled with the set up and to show the potential it has, but at the South Coast Nationals in December we were able to top qualify and come home runner-up to Adrian Vella, so we knew we were headed in the right direction,” Forbes explained.
“We went home and pulled it all apart and upgraded a heap of parts and came back for the South Coast 660, and from the very first qualifier it was just perfect. That gave us the confidence to wind it up just a little and it just responded superbly.
“We were hoping for a really tight run in the final – Steve Norman and I go way back; we have fought it out for a Super Stock championship and have had some really amazing races. If we had been able to turn it green, it would have been an exceptionally fierce race, but unfortunately I went a little hard on the startline and I turned it red by 13 thousandths of a second!
“Even so, we couldn’t be happier – we are absolutely wrapped to be making this progress and heading in the right direction. Congratulations to Steve and his team on the win – he is a fantastic competitor who will always give us a hard and fair race. It just makes us hungrier for next time, and it is still a successful weekend for us – to have two events of top qualifying and runners-up shows we are closing in on it (winning in a fifth category).”
With Dragway at the Bend’s Festival State Nationals this weekend, Forbes doesn’t have to wait long to have another crack at his big goal.
“We are really looking forward to Dragway at The Bend this weekend. We always want to win of course, but as long as we have fun and come home with a race car in one piece, we are happy,” he said.
“The guys who I follow in the USA have won in five or six categories, and I think it is just incredible, it is people like JEG, Peter Biondo, David Rampy, Dan Fletcher, Brad Plourd and Justin Lamb, and so on that really inspire me.
“To do it would be really special to us, and it was so close in Portland, so who knows, it could happen this weekend at Dragway at The Bend, or maybe at Portland or Mildura or it may never happen.
“We are throwing everything at it. We need the stars to align on the day, but we are heading in the right direction now and we can start to lean on it and see what it is really capable of, so that is very exciting.
“It would be really cool if I can do it before my 50th birthday on February 10 – I have two shots at doing that between The Bend and Portland, so here’s hoping! But I know every competitor is super tough, so it won’t be easy.”
While Forbes has been racing for a long time, he says if anything, his excitement for drag racing is only growing.
“I might be about to turn 50, but I can tell you, I am just as excited now as when I was 18. I couldn’t be more excited and enthusiastic about it all at the moment,” Forbes said.
“We will be racing at Dragway at The Bend and then back for Portland in February and then Mildura and The Bend again, we have a lot of racing coming up and it is just great.
“We are very happy with how everything is going, super positive, and extremely pumped! We can’t wait to come back this weekend and do it all over again.”
Forbes was also quick to single out the South Coast Raceway crew for their efforts at the weekend’s South Coast 660 – which was rescheduled from a two-day event to a one-day Saturday event with a Friday night qualifier to avoid a wet weather forecast for the Sunday.
“They (South Coast Raceway) were really smart to bring the event forward to run on Saturday only and we got it finished just in time – just 20 minutes after the final, it was pouring down rain!” Forbes said.
“They did a fantastic job, the track was excellent, and I couldn’t fault anything about the weekend.
“Thanks also to the NDRC, Aeroflow, all the ANDRA guys at the track (especially the guys looking after Group 2 cars with weight, fuel and data checks) and of course my Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks team – they didn’t put a foot wrong all weekend.
“Thank you also to all of our supporters and sponsors: Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks, Paul Rogers Performance Transmissions, VP Race Fuels, Vinyl Wraps and Graphics and Eureka Engineered Products.”
The Festival State Nationals at Dragway at The Bend will feature Nitro Funny Cars, Top Doorslammer, Top Fuel Motorcycle, and the Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship Series across January 13-14. For event information and tickets, visit ndrc.tv