The Rocket Allstar Racing Series launched into life for 2012 at Willowbank Raceway on January 21st with nearly 180 entries looking for those valuable championship points at the third round of the series en route to a national title.
La Nina may be trying to devastate the East Coast right now but Willowbank Raceway caught a break with a typical hot and sultry Queensland day and despite a brief shower which cooled conditions somewhat the event was unaffected.
The conditions weren’t ideal for the creating of horsepower and the record books were hardly troubled.
The event was originally slated to feature Nitro Funny Cars as a feature which fell through with not enough cars available, never the less Christine Steffens took the opportunity to complete her licensing.
Three consistent runs 5.89, 5.77 and finally 5.65 had Christine and husband Ricky ecstatic and Australia has its first female Nitro Funny Car pilot.
Greg Leahy levelled up the championship points in his BB/AA with Jason Maggs who did not attend with a win by winning Competition
Steven Ham fought the Funny Car into the high fives all day on the hot track but in the final could only muster a 6.32 (5.96) nowhere near enough to run down Leahy’s 7.02 (7.13).
What must have been a start line problem saw a .895 reaction from Peter Zelow in the semi again Ham, a 7.19 (7.27) from the A/DA of Zelow would of sent up a corker of a race had they left together with Ham’s 5.89 (5.97)
Number one qualifier with a 7.79 (8.05) was Craig Geddes and after a round one single did not make it to the start line in semi leaving a solo for Leahy.
A/DA driver Tony Bellert who was number two in qualifying (7.18 7.41IN) red lit in round one against Ham.
Rob Coleman continues to sort out his beautiful BB/GA Mustang.
Mark Davison was also attempting to come to terms with his step up tp AA/Altered with help of WA’s Aaron Deery but could not deliver a representative pass in the teams attempts.
Kevin Magner triumphed in the eight car Super Stock field with his A/MP Pontiac. Magner’s 8.58 (8.98) in the final made up for the tardy .140 reaction still holding off Mark Slater’s 7.88 (7.93)
Bottom qualifier Mark Slater benefited from a red lighting Mario Barbon in round one then found his B/APA 200SX in final when Omar Sedmak had major problem leaving the line in the semi.
Dave Tucker top qualified his B/G Pontiac with a 7.74 (8.19) and put away Paul Beauchamp in round one but ended his event with a -.009 cherry against Magner in the semi.
Despite pulling a round one cherry just with a -.007 light number one qualifier (8.47 8.87IN) G/GA Capri of Justin Simpson will still lead the championship.
Joe Culmone’s B/Gas Pontiac made its Super Stock competition debut but fell to Magner in round one.
The crew of Paul Beauchamp demonstrated how hot the day was wearing a cool suit.
Blair Pennington put the cleaners through the Competition Bike field, top qualifying with a 9.03 (9.55), winning the event and resetting both end of the B/SB national record, the only racer from the event to take home a record.
The other lane of the final featured Kevin Williamson’s Suzuki and even though his indexed remained unharmed a 9.32 (9.29) was not going to get it done against Pennington’s 9.10 on a already hammered 9.36 index.
Rob Cassar put in a valiant effort on his Kawasaki solidly under the index defeating Shayne Homes in round one with a 7.78 (8.03), but with a damaged index could not ride around Pennington in the semi whose index remained untouched courtesy of a round one single even with a improved 7.74.
Foul start from Mark Hancock ended his event in the semi against Williamson.
Fellow Players Racing rider Scott Keogh had gearbox drama’s on the line in round one against team mate Hancock and didn’t leave the line. Keogh qualified second with a 9.02 (9.50) on the V/CB Harley and still remains in the points lead.
Super Compact only had three entries show therefore reverting the competitors into test mode.
Nathan Peirano set his Lexus powered hot rod up as a championship threat with a win on the back of some very tight DYO racing. Peirano took care of Peter Wilson in round one, played it safe against a wounded Josh Fletcher in the second round, hit his dial in 7.58 (7.58) against Messineo in round three, and after a solo in the semi nailed his 7.56 dial in again in the final with a 7.565 rather riskily against a red light from Paul Stephen in the other lane.
Last time at Willowbank Paul Stephen was denied a shot at the final due to rain, after making the final again there would have been some redemption on his mind. But the “Double Trouble” altered had other ideas not wanting to make oil pressure before the final, with some pressure achieved after the burnout a shot at the tree pulled a -.017 cherry.
Fiona Keating was holeshot when Stephen yanked a .002 light to the dragsters .086 in the semi and her 7.589 (7.58) could not stop the altered from driving past before the stripe.
Paul Messineo’s altered has been just mental off the line as it screws up the chassis on launch, they did reach the round three with some fortune of a round one solo and a red lighting Luke Marsden, but the suffered mechanical failure against the match up with Peirano.
Luke Marsden sat on maximum points coming into the event and now can only perform a blocking role for the rest of the contenders. Undefeated since starting in Outlaws, that streak came to end at his own hand with -.009 foul start, the Funny Car is still yet to be beaten by another racer.
Darren Fry’s charge ended in round two in a all altered battle with Paul Stephen. Fry could not get the car reversed following the burnout, after a push back staged the car on its back wheels, the green was thrown before Fry could get restaged.
Young gun Josh Fletcher has really been a threat since stepping up to Outlaws, a wounded car saw Fletcher try and pull one over Peirano in the second staging and hoping for a break out, but wasn’t to be.
Les Rodgie was disqualified following his first round win due to crew touching the car while in full stage.
Rodgie’s opponent in that round was Steve Swinscoe who would of benefited but the truck would not stay fired and he was unable to stage.
Allan Ray had a hit out with his new Willy’s after wrecking the Monaro a few years ago for a best of 7.46 in qualifying but did not front for eliminations
Matthew McKnight has jumped up from Super Sedan to Outlaws with the ex Cannuli/Stevens burnout Studebaker, very low sevens proved its not a bad racer car either.
Former altered racer Peter Wilson successfully licensed a new dragster though was overcome in round one by Peirano.
Blaze Hansen picked off his first win in Modified pulling some killer reactions with his Hayabusa powered dragster taking on Kelly Corbett in the final. A red light from Peter Dayhew in round one started Hansen on his victory path, before downing equal points leader Athol Jacobsen (.010 RT), then the other points leader in Rod Scanlon (.006 RT) leaving a solo (.009 RT) into the final. Hansen utilises the maximum overhang rule with a appendage on the front of his dragster that has caused some complaints, obviously from people who don’t understand DYO racing.
In the final a .004 light this time for Hansen placed the pressure on Corbett who broke out 7.53 (7.56) to Hansen’s 9.55 (9.53).
Jordan Radford broke out to Corbett in the semi final.
Rod Scanlon has been chasing the championship competing in every round thus far, after losing to Hansen in round three he sits in equal second.
Also a Hansen victim Jacobsen holds on to a slender points lead in a very tough eliminator.
New comer Andrew Sargent made a impressive first round performance with a perfect .000 and a 8.96 (8.95) to conquer Bob Frawley in a round one upset. Sargent went on to round three before being stopped by Corbett.
Greg Wardle was Sargent’s round two casualty but damn it’s a nice looking roadster.
Marco Tolomeo took two wins from two events this season in an all NSW final and leads the national points substantially. Tolomeo defeated Earl McCallum, Adam Solomon, former champion Greg Fowler and Kevin Langridge before reaching the final against Jim Denaro.
The final was decided on the start line, a heartbraking -.004 cherry finished it early for Denaro.
Crew were pumped as Langridge pushed through each round of racing, a 9.62 (9.61) in the semi final from the Torana fell to a holeshot from Tolomeo
The other semi pitched Rick Neilsen against Denaro, with virtually identical reactions this one came down to dial ins. Both racers pushed each other to a double break out results, Neilsen’s end of the stick worse with a 10.61 (10.64) to the Cortina’s 9.93 (9.95).
The national champ was bundled out by Rick Neilsen in round two but still hangs on to second in the championship some 80 points behind Tolomeo.
Daniel Sekli rode to victory in Modified Bike putting on the trailer Simon Stevens and Gary Miller while picking up a couple of bye runs before Jason Ellem ended another final early with a red light.
Ellem now has two runner up results this season placing him with a clear championship lead.
Stephen Barrett put in a notable performance, the New South Welshman rider has only recently just licensed his Destroyer and scored a semi final result. Unluckily though a -.003 light in the semi against Ellem, Barrett would learn about tough loses here.
Alex Tukavkin’s crew were grabbing just a bit of attention.
A small 16 car Super Street field fronted and it was won by Neil Tschutura in a Commodore that is as street as it comes. Tschutura beat Curtis Grading in round one, then championship aspirant and Nationals winner Joe Zammit before Carl Grading in the semi and the Australian champ Rob Harrington in the final.
Harrington had given the VN and new coat of paint over the New Year, in spite of a being on the wrong end of a double break out final, Harrington still retains the points lead.
Carl Grading lost to Tschutura in one semi while Jason Cocking was hole shot out of the other semi by Harrington.
Joe Zammit was hoping for a better performance than a round two loss to back up his win at the Nationals, but the NSW racer has another two home rounds to come to help him secure a Australian title.
Simon Isherwood took the cash in Super Gas, a very small eight car field pitted Isherwood against Stivala in round one who pulled a -.003 cherry, Ian Neilsen in the semi who broke out. Likewise final round opponent David Gauldie pushed it to hard breaking out against Isherwoods 9.919, his slowest ET of eliminations.
Going around Darryl Stephen in the first round followed by Loughlin Boyde in the semi a 9.87 was too quick in the final for Dave Gauldie in his recently purchased ex Pro Stcoker
Michael Stivala heads the points just but at this stage there is no clear contender.
Dale Duffy conquered a large field of the sports up and comers when yet another final ended with a red light, this time from Hayley Mackay in the other lane.
Mackay threw away a 8.091 (8.09) in the final with a -.062 light.
Young ladies Melissa Piddington all the way from SA and Kiah Curling made up the semi final pairings.
Frank Oliveri brought out a pair of his Southern Transport buses for some light entertainment during the day. They proved to be a hit with the kids who got a chance to experience a drag race as passengers, 26 seconds and .08 reaction surprised a few aswell.
The RARS championship now moves to Perth Motorplex at the Western Nationals before heading back to Sydney Dragway for back to back rounds leading into the Winter Nationals.
Photos by Cackling Pipes Photography