Old blends with new at the Winternationals

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Whilst most of the on-track action at the resumption of the Castrol EDGE Winternationals this weekend July 15-17 will be focused on cutting edge technology, a celebration of the sport’s history will be taking place off track.

Several pieces of drag racing nostalgia will allow fans to take a step back in time. The machines that will be on display are significant both here in Australia and in many cases in the United States as well.

Leading the way – before it returns to the United States potentially for good – will be Ash Marshall’s Scorcher AA/FD. It has become available at the last minute to be displayed at the Castrol EDGE Winternationals and in a special treat, will be fired up across the weekend.

The Scorcher was the first car to do a 200mph pass in Australia at the now defunct Castlereagh drag strip. A ground up rebuild of the machine saw it return to the track in 2008 at Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, California.

Australian nostalgic drag racing enthusiasts Dennis Young and George Bukureshliev campaigned the car in the USA before shipping it to Sydney in April 2010. Following the Castrol EDGE Winternationals, this special piece of world drag racing history will be shipped back to Young’s home in Los Angeles.

It was campaigned by many in Australia, including legendary Speedway racer from the ‘sixties, Blair ‘The Lair’ Shepherd – who tried his hand at drag racing in the car.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to put this car on display and to start it up one more time in Australia,” said Bukureshliev. “The Scorcher is historically significant to Australia and we’re delighted that Willowbank Raceway is allowing us to give Australian race fans one last opportunity to see it up close. The sound of it and the Bob Keith dragster ‘cackling’ together will be one that everyone just has to see.”

The Bob Keith dragster that Willowbank Historian, Lex Swayn arranged for display at the original time of the Winternationals will be back. It got the attention of fans when it was started for the first time in decades across the June Long Weekend – and Swayn hopes to revive the glorious ‘cackle’ with the Scorcher alongside this weekend.

The car is significant in that it possesses the original body and chassis from the period it was campaigned – the 1966 Dragfest tour that kickstarted drag racing in this country. The original craftsmen that built the car got together and re-built it to what it is today.

Two pieces of Australian drag racing history will be on display with the car that propelled Victor Bray into being a household name – his original 1957 Chev Castrol GP-50 ‘Wild Bunch’ machine.

The Castrol GP-50 car was a star of the Wild Bunch category – the fore-runner to today’s Top Doorslammer – and Bray was it’s mercurial leading light, his long smoky burnouts delighting crowds all over the country. The car that Bray started his career in will also be on display.

Darren Morgan Racing will once again be giving Castrol EDGE Winternationals race-goers the opportunity to drive the world’s first ever Top Fuel Simulator. Fans have to register their details at the Castrol EDGE eXcellerator Zone behind the grandstand to have the opportunity to get their own quarter-mile smile.

The 2011 Castrol EDGE Winternationals is the 44th running of the event and has attracted racers from all over Australia, New Zealand and America – with the inclusion of current World #3 – Cory McClenathan in the ANDRA Pro Series Top Fuel field.

The event is the culmination of the 2010/2011 drag racing season for all ANDRA Pro Series and Rocket All Stars Series categories. The Castrol EDGE Winternationals is the biggest event of its type outside North America.

Action will resume with testing for all Rocket All Stars Series classes on Friday, July 15, before the resumption of ANDRA Pro Series Qualifying on Saturday. Eliminations will take place on July 17.

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