Fuchs Nitro Thunder presented by Crow Cams will not only be an important event as the first ANDRA Drag Racing Series round held in Melbourne since 2001, but it falls at a crucial time for the national championships of Top Fuel, Top Bike and Pro Stock Motorcycle.
In Top Fuel, Darren Morgan and Phil Lamattina are now the only two drivers who can win the championship. Morgan has a 42 point lead over Lamattina and while he can’t mathematically wrap up the championship at this event, he could take a lead that would make him near unbeatable at the season ending Australia Nationals at Sydney Dragway.
Both racers have made it to five finals across the season so far but Morgan has three wins compared to Lamattina’s two.
The two other racers in the field could prove to be thorns in the side for the favourites though. Steve Read is coming off a double win at the Santo’s Cranes Super 3 Extreme race at Willowbank in March and has had the most consistent car in the field. He is the only driver with previous experience at Calder Park and is confident that his team can quickly come to grips with the unknown surface.
At the opposite end of the spectrum experience wise is John Lamattina who will be making his competition debut. With sponsorship partner Fuchs on the side of the car, Lamattina has made some strong licencing runs in Sydney and is expected to be just as much a threat to the trophy as brother Phil.
Top Bike sees Chris Porter coming into the event with a 121 point lead over second placed Graeme Morell. If he can leave with a points lead of more than 118 it will mathematically give him his first national championship.
Missing the last round of the championship in Darwin has cost Morell, who will be getting to race in front of his home state fans for the first time in Top Bike. South Australian Dennis Grant has the potential to run into the fives over the 1000 feet distance if he can get all things right with his nitro-fuelled Harley while local rider Rob Cassar will be aiming his potent nitrous-assisted Kawasaki at its first win.
Pro Stock Motorcycle features perhaps the single most interesting championship chase. Queensland’s Luke Crowley and Victorian Maurice Allen looked like being the only two teams in contention at this point of the season but after taking his first event win in Adelaide, Scott White has suddenly put himself into the running.
Crowley leads Allen by 21 points and White by 86 points. Crowley has had the performance advantage all season but with White fast on the improve and Allen looking for success back in Melbourne he faces a tough task to maintain the lead.
Adding to the professional racing on display will be some 150 team sportsman teams competing across eight different categories including Super Comp, Supercharged Outlaws, Modified, Super Sedan, Modified Bike, Super Street, Junior Dragster and Super Gas.
It will be the first time Calder Park has seen ANDRA championship drag racing since 2001. Calder Park held many records in its day including as the site of the first four second pass in Top Fuel in Australia. The Australian Nationals were held at the venue from 1992 through to 2001.
Fuchs Nitro Thunder presented by Crow Cams on Saturday, October 19 sees qualifying from 9am with racing from 5pm. Spectator gates open at 8.30am and general admission is $35 for adults.
photo credit: Fred Dwyer