The Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Car series returned to Sydney Dragway after a two year hiatus, backed by a big bucks sportsman shootout.
In front of a respectable crowd, Rick Gauci again dominated in the Nitro Express Chevy to claim the win with a track record 5.42 at 268mph in the final round of racing, clinching victory over Dan Donnelly in Avenger and Paul Messineo in Dark Horse.
A pit party got the crowd amped before the main show with plenty of autograph signing and pit shenanigans for families.
Shane Olive, in Red Devil, opened racing proceedings with a 5.69 to 5.73 win over Anthony Begley in LA Hooker. Avenger took the first of its three wins with low ET of the round 5.59 against Josh Leahy in Dark Horse's 5.69. Nitro Express held off Morice McMillin narrowly 5.583 to 5.88. Greg Leahy's Stormtrooper blasted the Terminator 5.68 to 5.89, and Dark Horse wrapped up the round with a 5.80 win over a pedalling Emma Begley in Let's Boogie with a 6.06.
Dark Horse dropped a consistent 5.67 on Red Devil's 5.73. Let's Boogie decided it wanted to do a tyre smoke dance on the start line for Emma and she was easily "terminated" by Walshe with a 5.62. McMillin's One Bad Kiwi took out the other Begley with LA Hooker's 5.64 coming up short against the Kiwi's 5.57. The Bandit won out in the Leahy family dual 5.58 to 5.67 against Storm Trooper and the round finished with an unlucky 5.54 from Avenger being trumped by a 5.51 from Nitro Express in one of the quickest side by side Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Car passes ever.
Emma had a chance to avenge her loss to Dad at the last event to open the final round. Despite a holeshot to Let's Boogie, the LA Hooker had the tune up to drive around for a 5.62 to 5.71 win. Red Devil caused all hell for Olive and would not hook up out of the hole, letting Storm Trooper escape with just a 6.46 win. The Terminator clipped the timing reflectors in a messy run against Bandit, before Avenger fired the quickest lap of the event to date with a 5.50 win over One Bad Kiwi's 5.75, ensuring he would sit somewhere on the podium. The final pairing between Nitro Express and Dark Horse would decide the event, a .081 to .114 reaction advantage to Gauci was only extended by the time both cars hit the stripe. Nitro Express had a killer 5.42 and blew away Dark Horse's 5.61, allowing Avenger's quicker final round ET to sneak into second spot.
All in all it was another classic display of consistent and crowd pleasing nitro action that the series in renown for.
The big buck sportsman race was dubbed "Australia's Best Sportsman" and all racers were divided up into two eliminators split by ET, with the winner of the two brackets racing off for the title and purse.
Qualifying was open for three hours with a maximum of three runs allowed for each individual competitor. During that time, Paul Linnett rode out a crazy wheelstand in his altered after the wheelie bar failed. There was immediate concern for Linnett following the chassis crushing landing and he was transported to hospital. Following the event it was reported Linnett has suffered several cracked vertebrae but was back home to begin recovery, and we wish him the best and hope he is back on track soon.
Once the brackets were decided and racers seeded, eliminations begun and the upsets started in the early rounds with track champions on the trailer already. By the end of eliminations a pair of dragsters lined up for the quicker ET bracket final. Local Brendon Luke was in a recently purchased ride and Simon Barlow, all the way up from South Australia, was in his potent six second machine. Luke dumped a .003 light on Barlow at the green and at the stripe stopped the timers with a 7.906 on a 7.89, earning the holeshot win to Barlow's 6.706 on a 6.70.
In the other ET bracket it was a pair of utes, featuring Joe Kabboura's veteran XY and Thomas Leake's Hilux. Kabboura chopped the tree down with a .005 to Leake's .049 and held on with all his experience to card a 9.080 on a 9.04 as Leake broke out trying to make up the difference.
Luke and Kabboura would now face each other for the prize purse. The change in wait rattled Luke on the tree where he cut a .073 - his worst light of the day - to Kabboura's .029. The XY hit the finish line first with a 9.104 at 9.06 to close out the win against the dragster's 7.945 on a 7.89 and lay claim to the title.
Pro Extreme Doorslammer also featured with blower versus turbo versus nitrous V8 match ups, and a sprinkling of high revving imports making up a 12 car field.
One shot qualifying saw Paul Mouhayet on point with a 5.66 but he did not front for eliminations with the Moits Pro Slammer. Close behind was Greg Tsakiridis is the former Moits twin turbo Mustang with a 5.69 PB and a flying 271mph. Emilio Spinozzi carded a 5.87 followed by Michelle Davies' 5.96 in their Pro Slammers. Stunning everyone was Barry Plumpton who hauled his nitrous doorslammer across the ditch and dropped a 6.04 at 238mph from his 969ci Camaro - the quickest and fastest nitrous pass in the country by a long way.
Tyre shake dogged Plumpton, going down to Davies' 5.95 in a classic Pro Mod match up. Tsakiridis again hit 271mph backed by a 5.75 ET to defeat Michael Haimandos's twin turbo small block Mustang's 6.47. George Rehayem notched a win against Joseph Murina's blown Corvette with a 6.44. Spinozzi and Brett Gillespie in the revamped '34 Chev had singles.
Plumpton cruised through the second round with a tyre shaking 6.21 for low ET of the round against Loues Consentino's 2JZ RX7. Wins went also to Murina's Corvette, Tsakiridis, who burnt a cylinder and Rehayem with a strong 6.37 in the PAC Performance rotary.
In a depleted third and final round robin round, Plumpton couldn't hook up cleanly again but still took the win over Murina, and Davies had a solo for a 5.95. Rehayem and Haimandos had a screamer of a race with the PAC Mazda snatching its third straight round win with a 6.401 to Haimandos' 6.404 - the quickest SBF pass in Australia - but the event win going to the rotary.
Rounding out the show was the 200mph Extreme Bikes. Leonard Azzopardi topped qualifying with a 7.11 at 211mph closely followed by Alex Borg's 7.19 at 200mph.
The pair virtually repeated their numbers in round wins over Rowan Lind and Darren Foley respectively, and again in round two. In the final round Lind soloed to a 7.62 at 185 and the two Azzopardi team bikes threw down. Borg had a huge jump, but it was not needed when the Azzopardi bike struck trouble and Borg rode away to a 7.32 186mph event win.