Yet another Nitro Funny Car track record, rookies beating out the veterans in Top Doorslammer, wheelstanding Top Fuel Motorcycle side-by-side duels and an enthralling interstate v locals Pro Alcohol battle: day two of the Goldenstates for the National Drag Racing Championship had it all.
After trading new elapsed time track records with his team-mate Brandon Gosbell during qualifying on Friday, Morice McMillin just got better and better in his Aeroflow Performance Nitro Funny Car, saving the best till last, smashing out an incredible 4.737 second pass at 492.66kph to shave another half a tenth to reset the record for a third time to the delight of the crowd.
McMillin’s solo in the A-Final after Justin Walshe’s Harts Paint Supplies entry was pushed back was the latest in a string of impressive performances, including a round one winning 5.079/445.15 pass in the blistering heat, and a round two solo where he laid down a 4.852 second pass at 473.11kph to secure his A-Final berth.
“I am absolutely gutted for Justin. You always want to win, but it is much better when it is a side-by-side Nitro Funny Car pass,” McMillin said.
“The dad of one of our guys passed away, so Jamie, this is you brother,” he said with high emotion in the bottom end of the track, raising the trophy to the sky for his crewman Jamie’s father, Lep Robertson.
McMillin’s team-mate Brandon Gosbell took the B-Final victory in the Rocket Industries entry over local hero Anthony Begley, who laid down a crowd-pleasing pass with Chemical Warfare after struggling with issues all weekend. Begley’s meeting started with his oil tank being busted by a broken blower belt on Friday and continued with a split fuel line and a throttle stop issue in the opening two rounds of racing Saturday.
The side-by-side 5.122/382.25kph v 5.426/400.11kph pass had fans enthralled and Begs smiling. Top Qualifier and Friday record-setter Gosbell had had a difficult start to his race day with a shut down in round one due to fluid under the car. He went on to redeem himself with a side by side victory over Walshe in round two before the win in the B-Final.
In the C Final the NT’s Adam Murrihy enjoyed a stout run to close out his evening at the track, but unfortunately it would end with him in the sand after scraping the right hand wall at the end of an absolutely stomping pass. Murrihy was able to exit the car unaided, completely unhurt. Earlier he had run a strong 5.737 in the opening around to finish ahead of a pedalling Walshe. However, Murrihy was disqualified after clipping a timing block and then missed round two when he was unable to fire up.
In Top Doorslammer, following the history-making A-Final on Friday when rookies Lisa Gregorini and Ronnie Palumbo contested their Dragway at The Bend re-run with Palumbo taking the victory, another rookie lifted the NDRC Gold Christmas Tree trophy at the Plex.
Russell Taylor, in only his second competitive event, took the holeshot victory over the veteran, John Zappia, with a 5.81 at 407.33kph to Zappia’s 5.79/398.81kph effort. Zappia as always was a model of consistency, running five-sevens all weekend, but continued to struggle with his reaction times with his new combination.
“To come up against John and to take home a win and a tree, my first Christmas Tree ever – this is definitely a good moment,” Russell Taylor said.
“I have a lot of people I need to thank: Leanne Taylor, Al Carr, Stu Rowland, Adam Davis, Steve Ham and Josh Ward, as well as Royal Precision Lubricants, Ead Industries, Staunchbull and WA Nitrous.”
The Top Doorslammer B-Final victory went to Daniel Gregorini (5.831/404.92kph) win over Bend winner Palumbo, who had to get off it after his ACDelco Slammer started to move towards the left hand wall.
Jay Dee Dack – another rookie – also impressed, with the Speedway racer winning the C Final on debut in the in the Dack Attack Motorsport Mustang with his first five second pass (5.950 to Lisa’s 5.983). He had also laid down a perfect light in round one.
On two wheels, the Top Fuel Motorcycle A-Final delivered one of the standout passes of the night. Winner Wayne McGuinness (6.469/333.59kph) and runner-up Benny Stevens (6.626/330.23kph) carried their front wheels with full candles all the way down the track in an impressive display – one of many provided by these two racers across the evening.
“It was an awesome final,” McGuinness said.
“For me and Benny, that is our standard kind of run, we have been doing that for a while. I think people have forgotten how many times we have been up against each other, and how many times he has lost as well,” he laughed.
“It was a fun day; it is always good running with Benny, and I think it is good for the sport. It is always cool having a couple of Harleys wheelstanding all the way to the end.
“We have been having some issues the last year and a half so have been trying for a while. We spun a cam shaft bushing and Clyde from Bravo Resources spent half the day machining a new one – we only made it for racing by about an hour. So, a big thank you to him, and to all the crew, together we managed to run good times even with the hot weather, so the old girl is back!”
The B Final victory was a tale of perseverance with winner Greg Durack fighting ongoing clutch issues while runner-up Jay Upton raced through persistent auto electrical issues to put on a show. In the C Final, Kevin Gummow and Ricky Wood also delivered an entertaining finals pass, side-by-side before Wood rode around Gummow at the last moment.
In Pro Alcohol, New South Welshman Russell Mills took it to the local line up with a strong performance start to finish in his head-turning dragster. The win at the Plex means he has won two from two, after also winning at Sydney season opener.
Mills was again a model of consistency, laying down 5.656/418.74kph (round one), 5.586/419.22kph (round two) and 5.581/407.51kph (A-Final) passes across Saturday. The 71 year old will now hot foot it back to Sydney in time to contest the NDRC’s Top Fuel Xmas Showdown next Saturday (December 2).
Mills faced Craig Glassby in the A-Final, who had only just decided to come out to play in Pro Alcohol two weeks earlier and in round two delivered a huge 5.57 run which was unfortunately undone by a red light against Paul Carey.
Nigel Johnson won a great B-Final race over Sam Treasure (5.675/403.61kph to 6.225/387.12kph), who was making his group one debut, while a side-by-side fives C Final went to a bouncy Daniel Costello (5.890) over Carey (5.940), who threw a red light.
“It was a good weekend with lots of good runs, we are just working away at it,” Mills said.
“We have been trying hard, whittling away at things, and it has gone well, other than one really hairy ride on Friday when I got a bit out of line, but we straightened things out.
“The track here is fantastic, I am so glad that I came over, not just for winning, but just to race and enjoy the hospitality over here. Thank you to everyone for all of their help and for being so welcoming.
“We are on target now to get back to Sydney and hopefully everything is looking okay when we get back on the East Coast for next weekend. Here is hoping we might be able to try for three from three.”
The National Drag Racing Championship now heads to Sydney Dragway for the Top Fuel Xmas Showdown on Saturday December 2, with this one-day drag racing spectacular to host Top Fuel, Pro Alcohol and FuelTech Pro Mod, as well as the Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship (Eastern Conference).
Sportsman racers will also compete on the same weekend at Portland’s South Coast Raceway across December 2 and 3, with points from that event counting towards the Western Conference.
For more information, go to ndrc.tv.