Racing in a Winters wonderland

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Day one of the Winternationals provided a smooth start to Australia’s biggest drag racing event with the sportsman categories getting under way.

Competition saw 15 cars qualify with Phil Otto taking his 400ci Ford altered to a 7.37 on a 7.76 B/AA index to take the early lead. At .38 under it was a reasonable lap but one that will probably not last for the remainder of qualifying in number one spot. Local AA/A driver Justin Walshe hit a 6.15 with the supercharged BAE 475, another car with plenty of potential to improve. Well travelled West Australian Wayne Keys slotted into third with a 6.14 on the 6.75 AA/AP index. Well known Victoria index racer Craig Geddes gave the E/AA class a shot with a 7.77 on a 8.05 index.

Super Stock was regarded as the category of the day with 19 competitors vying to get into the 16 car field. Jim Ioannidis took his C/MSA Commodore to a stunning 10.05 on the 10.83 index to be .78 under while Michael Hunt was well and truly in the, err, hunt with a 9.10 on his 9.84 A/MSA index. Everyone down to number six spot was underneath the record including Kevin Magner’s Pontiac with an 8.50 (9.21 A/MP), Westernationals champ Michael Frossos on a 7.50 (8.06 B/APA), Queenslander Peter Clark’s 8.14 (8.68 C/GA) and reigning national champ Nino Cavallo’s 8.10 in the gorgeous Avenger (8.62 C/APA). Every car in the field bar one was sub index.

Competition Bike was led by Blair Pennington who took his Suzuki B/SB to a 9.17 on the 9.56 index. It was a pair of D/SBs moving themselves into the other podium spots for qualifying with Kawasaki rider Peter Everett taking second with a 10.23 on the 10.60 index and Shayne Holmes going a 10.31 in the Suzuki camp. It was good to see a full 16 bike field after the Nitro Champs did not have Competition Bike run, with low entries.

A small eight car group ran in Super Compact, another field that did not get to participate in the last round of the Rocket Allstars Racing Series.

Matt Lisle put his AA/OM Mazda RX7 into top spot with a .24 under 8.25. Collin Willshire’s Datsun 1200 CC/SC put in a .08 under 7.62 while Dib Taouil was the only other sub index racer with a .03 under 8.46 from his AA/OM Mazda RX7.

Supercharged Outlaws saw a huge 34 cars make plenty of noise and smoke for the Thursday audience. Rockhampton driver Russell Mackay put his 63 Corvette into top spot with a 6.51 pass, while Paul Ward, making the trek all the way from Tasmania, hit a 6.63 time for second in his dragster. Bryan Marsden’s dragster sat in third with a 6.68. Championship leader Christine Steffens struggled with an 11.18 best from the day.

Michelle Osborn proved the femme fatale in Modified with a 7.23 run in her A/MA, Nathan Higgins went 7.59 in his GTO Coupe to lead Super Sedan, Jason Ellem put his Hayabusa into number one in Modified Bike with an 8.93 and Katie Cunningham paced Junior Dragster with an 8.604.

Drag News Australia will bring you more information from the track today.

Photos by (Grant Stephens, Paul Drady & Hayley Turns)

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