The Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Car Series, where the cars are the stars, rumbled into Fuchs South Coast Raceway, Portland and delivered a feast of nitro flopper action over the short track.
Eleven Outlaw Nitro cars made the trek to the coastal Victorian town for their second official showing as a group following the highly successful, albeit rain delayed, Sydney event. They were met by a toasty 30 plus degrees Celsius bumping the track temp up close to 130F mark, creating what would prove to be challenging conditions.
The RAAF Roulettes perform in the distance as the Harbour City Hustler reverses up, all part of a special charity weekend in Portland.
The Funny Cars would be running their three round format again, with the event win going to the car with the most victories and in case of a tie being counted back to be decided by low ET in the final round.
After the first round it became clear the conditions would be a major player in this one, throwing the event wide open to anyone who could control tyre spin on a hot track. Daniel Schultz in “SupaCharger” took the opening match up with a 4.90 against New Zealand’s Willy White in “Back To The Future” – but taking the hard way.
Justin Walshe slung himself into “Let’s Boogie” and took his first round win when Aaron Russell was shown a instant red light with no time recorded for his run. Aaron Hambridge also red lit “The Bandit” against Paul Messino’s “Dark Horse”.
Shane Olive has been given the honours of driving the famed “LA Hooker” and won against Greg Leahy in “Harbour City Hustler” with a tyre smoking 4.84 to a 5.14. Last round winner Rick Gauci continued the fine form of “Nitro Express” with a 4.75 low ET of the round victory against Anthony Begley in “Fast Company”.
New player in town Peter Leahy made his competition debut with “SuperBad” with a solo 5.21 to finish off round one.
Video footage from the first round – Dragpix.net.au
Some in between round maintenance thrashing going on.
Moving to round two, Schultz and White would again start off the racing and the result would be the same with “SupaCharger” clocking an improving 4.43.
Hambridge made amends for the red light and stomped on Messineo with a 4.73. Greg Leahy also saw his first win light of the event against Walshe 4.60 to 5.32.
Begley and Peter Leahy had a ripper race 4.53 to 4.59, Leahy the quicker and the winner and Shane Olive kept his winning ways downing Russell with a 4.51 to a 4.78.
Gauci earned the solo thanks to his low ET and powered to another event low 4.37.
Schultz was one of four drivers positioned on two wins heading into the final round and was assured a third win with a solo run, “SupaCharger” slotted a 4.40 setting the ET benchmark to win the event if Olive, Gauci or Peter Leahy could win their match ups.
White defeated Russell for bragging rights 4.55 to a 4.78, likewise Begley finished the event with a win over Walshe 4.71 to a 5.05 and Messineo had Hambridge’s measure in their final face off.
The brothers Leahy would go to head to head next, Greg smoking the tyres heavily as Peter shot ahead for his third straight win on debut, however a 4.49 ET would not surpass Schultz.
The final pairing would decide the event with both Olive and Gauci on equal wins but needing to better the 4.40 from Schultz. In what was the race of the event Olive won by a nose as Gauci started hazing the tyres.
“What a race that last one was. Neither of us had any idea who had actually won, it was that close,” recalled Olive.
Looking towards the readout board though and a 4.42 had defeated a 4.43 which would mean Daniel Schultz was your event champion.
Celebrations were in order for the “SupaCharger” team taking the victory, Shane Olive a close second with LA Hooker and Peter Leahy on debut was ecstatic to take third on the podium.
“What an awesome day!” exclaimed Peter. “A huge thanks to my guys, it was our first event with the “Superbad” Nova and to come home with third place is totally bitchin’ – and we beat my brother in the last race of the day!”
To the victor go the spoils.
“We are just excited and happy to be honest, I said I’d be home in time for breakfast Sunday after the event, I have a present for them when we get there – a winner’s trophy that’s bigger than I am!”
With back to back outstanding events in the bag, Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Car Series manager Steve Bettes concluded said he didn’t think the racing could get much better than what we saw in Sydney.
“I’m happy to say, I was wrong, once the guys got a handle on the tune-up, it was side by side passes and tyre-smoking madness,” he said.
“To see the guys like the Russler, SupaCharger and Leahys put together this combination and then racing it so well makes me proud. I can’t wait for Mildura in April.”
Not quite done with the funny car action yet, Josh Leahy and Jake Donnelly took turns in being spectacular with the Nitro Sheriff wheelstander.
Mike Busetti debuted his new A/APA GXP in the Exhibition class, the car is an ex-Top Sportsman car from the US and has run 7.0s.
Andrew Sanders and a solo in the final of Supercharged Outlaws with his turbo Centura.
Big name matchup in the Modified final, Leanne Braggs was almost perfect running 4.790 on a 4.79 with a .043RT in her altered over national champion Craig Baker.
All the drama was in Super Sedan, Phillip Busbridge was a big supporter for the charity weekend in Portland, raising $1800 for the Make A Wish Foundation to have his head shaved. After locks came off during the day Busbridge found himself in the final.
The racing gods can be cruel sometimes and his great deeds seemingly went unpaid when Busbridge lost control of his Commodore in the braking areas and collided with the wall, Busbridge was fine but the car will need some extensive front end repairs. To rub more salt into the wounds Busbridge lost on a holeshot after running 6.140 on a 6.14 dial in.
David Todd was the Super Sedan winner.
In Super Street David Bunnik won in his Torana when Rod Kerr broke out, also in a Torrie.
The Modified Bike final was over at the tree, Chris Hoskin saw red handing the win to Jamie Dohnt.
Finally in Nostalgia it was the familiar site of Steve Biggs and Damien Kemp, the two Nostalgia tragics race religiously all around the country. Biggs took the win on a holeshot.
Sportsman video highlights by Dragpix.net.au
Check out the gallery- Images by TAD Photography, Plucka & Hayley Turns.