Last Willowbank Track Record from 1985 falls

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Among the many performance marks smashed during the running of Willowbank’s 51st Gulf Western Oil Winternationals was the raceway’s oldest track record.

Thirty-nine track records were broken at the June 7-10 event, including the B/Modified Altered marks of 9.95sec and 133.53mph (214.88km/h) which were set as minimums for the opening meeting of Willowbank Raceway in September, 1985. When Willowbank officials were preparing to open the track 33 years ago, the elapsed time records from Surfers Paradise International Raceway were adopted as minimums, along with the national speed records.

At that time, the Surfers and national records for B/Modified Altered were held by Brisbane’s Monty Brown and it has taken more than three decades for a racer to put his name to those marks. Rhett Cooper-Fowler, of Biggera Waters, who competed in Modified eliminator at the Winternationals, ran the best time and speed of 8.606sec and 147.44mph (237.28km/h) in his six-cylinder Altered to smash the old record by 1.3sec and 13.91mph (22.39km/h).

The 39 track records include, for the first time, marks for the Supercharged Outlaws and Top Sportsman categories. Twenty-two national records were also set at the event, the fifth highest number since the Winternationals was first held at Willowbank in 1988.

Other outstanding performances from the Gulf Western Oil Winternationals include:

– Logan City’s Kelly Bettes becoming Australia’s first female Professional category champion and the fourth woman in the world to win a Top Fuel championship. Bettes is also the first female to have won three Australian drag racing championships. She won Junior Dragster in 1998 and Modified in 2010.

– In winning the meeting, Perth’s Damien Harris set the quickest time and fastest speed outside of North America at 3.777sec and 326.48mph (525.42km/h). In doing so, Harris took the national and track records and became the first person to break into the 3.7sec zone outside of North America.

– Australian drag racing’s quickest time before the Winternationals of 3.832sec was surpassed seven times during the event and the previous top speed of 319.14mph (513.61km/h) was bettered nine times.

The 16 three-second passes recorded by Top Fuel cars was a record for an Australian event and the 13 passes exceeding 500km/h also set a new performance mark.

The Pro Slammer field was the quickest in history, with a time of 5.804sec for the last place. The category also recorded the highest number of five-second passes for an Australian event at 33.

During qualifying for the Factory Xtreme bracket, Collin Willshire’s Mitsubishi Eclipse set a world record for the fastest four-cylinder vehicle with a speed of 226.35mph (364.28km/h) at 6.349sec, which was the second-quickest time for the category in world.

– Media release courtesy Willowbank Raceway.

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