The Winternationals began with both transporters leaving JRR headquarters on the Tuesday 8th June.
Grant Foster (aka Fozzy) and I drove up in one transporter and Andrew Johnstone (aka pin head) and one of our crew guys Mitch drove up in the B double.
I decided to do the road trip as I love attending this meeting and with the build up to the race always quite hectic it was good to get there early. We arrived at Willowbank Raceway on Wednesday and got busy setting up the JRR pit area and corporate hospitality areas ready for the weekend. The remainder of both mine and Martin’s crew arrived Thursday afternoon to add the final touches to the pit area for both cars.
Willowbank Raceway arranged the annual autograph signing session at Ipswich shopping mall, where my team mate Martin and I attended, I have been attending this night ever since I started driving and this year the crowd seemed to be a lot bigger which was great and full credit should be given to the Willowbank organisers for a great promotion. It was great to be on centre stage with many of the Pro Series drivers including Darren Morgan and Victor Bray a host of other drivers from across most brackets.
Friday morning started with a 7am breakfast at the track for Rotary. After meeting the great people of the Ipswich branch of Rotarians Dad & Denise were introduced and dad was congratulated on his induction into the International Hall of Fame in the USA this year. Paul Casos interviewed me, Martin and our crew chiefs Bruce and Robert.
We enjoyed a great breakfast with the Rotarians and then headed over to our pit area where my team was finishing up their breakfast.
Whilst all the preparations were being made by our crews in readiness for our first qualifying session, I was asked to do a photo shoot in my fire suit for a car magazine. Whilst there I met a young Junior Dragster racer named Caleb Oberg who told me he was fighting to win the ANDRA Championship also. After the photo shoot was finished, both Caleb and I had some photos taken together to show both ends of the ANDRA competition spectrum. I spoke with him for a while and for his young age he was very mature as a racer. I wished him luck and as it turns out Caleb went on to win the Junior Dragster Championship for 2010.
So congratulations Caleb, great job.
Qualifying run 1 on Friday;
Having run well at Sydney Dragway Nitro Champs in May, our car was set up for a nice safe run to get us into the tough field of 9 cars. On the leave, I could feel the car faltering with a cylinder not firing and aborted the run, back in the pit area it was found that a brand new control component fitted to the car for the fuel system was faulty and caused the malfunction.
Q2 on Friday;
With the car repaired and ready to go again, a conservative tune up gave us a great 4.75 second run at over 315 MPH to put us into number 2 spot right behind my team mate Martin Stamatis.
Q3 & Q4 on Saturday;
Whilst eventful we did not improve on our qualifying position, so we settled on number 2, with my team mate Martin holding number 1, top qualifier.
Sunday, Round 1
First round saw me up against one of my favourite opponents Mr Bob Shepherd. Now Bobby always gives me a lot of lip about being a young ‘whipper snapper’, so I was ready for anything, we left the start line and my car started to drop cylinders as an air line from the clutch had let go on the step of the throttle and there was no load on the motor. At about half track I can hear Bob coming and then he goes past me, next thing I know there are centre line cones flying everywhere handing me the win even though he got to the finish line first. To say he was stirring me up about having me covered was an understatement but as I pointed out to him a mature driver wouldn’t have gotten into that predicament!!
Round 2 Semi final
Phil V Phil show
Coming into this race the Championship was tight between 3 drivers including myself, Martin and Phil Lamattina.
With both cars into stage, whoever lost this race was out of the championship running. I had a hole shot lead at the start and then motored on through for the win to put us into the final round for the fourth race in a row, and closer to the championship.
Just to make the start line for the final was an effort in itself. As we pushed back to warm the car up for the run it was found that the gears in the diff of the car had broken and an urgent replacement had to be made.
With all hands on deck we switched the rear end assembly in the car and just made the call to the start line in time. It was actually that tight I was strapped into the car in our pit area whilst my crew where still bolting pieces on to the car.
Although we did manage to fire the car in the pit area we did not get time to do all the final settings as per our usual start up procedure, so we were very nervous as we rushed to the start line.
In the final round we were up against my JRR team mate Martin Stamatis who had been running strong all weekend. It came down to, if Martin wins the race he is the Champion and for me to be able to win the Championship I would have to beat Martin and run low elapsed time and top speed of the event.
We left the line and instantly my car went into tyre smoke handing Martin the win running another stellar 4 second pass to wrap up the race and the Shannon’s Insurance Top Fuel Shootout and the 2010 Australia Top Fuel Championship for the first time in his career.
I would like to congratulate Martin on winning the Winternationals and the ANDRA Top Fuel Championship, you thoroughly deserved it and to Robert Cavagnino and his crew, great job, in fact all the Jim Read Racing crew on both cars, for a 1 & 2 finish in the ANDRA Pro Series Championship this year.
I would like to acknowledge all our great sponsors especially Peter Henry from Auto One who attended the event, the great people at Valvoline, Wynn’s, MTU Detroit Diesel, McDonalds, Snap on, Hurlcon, Goodson, Crane Cams and Billview.
Thank you for all your great support throughout the season and we look forward to another great year for both teams.
Thanks Phil Read