Read, Fry emerge victorious as Dixon takes wild ride

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Queenslanders pressed their home turf advantage at the Santo’s Cranes Super 3 Extreme Drag Race at Willowbank Raceway on Good Friday night with Steve Read and Darren Fry taking ANDRA Drag Racing Series wins as US visitor Larry Dixon got a wild introduction to drag racing in Australia.

Read’s consistency in Top Fuel was unsurpassed on his way to the final round victory over national champion Darren Morgan.

Read top qualified with a 4.90 second pass, defeated points leader Phil Lamattina in the elimination round with a 4.95 and then knocked out Morgan with a 4.80.

It was a long time between drinks at Read’s home track, with the English expatriate’s last victory coming at Willowbank Raceway in 2002.

“We came here very confident, especially when you get conditions like they were today. It was humid and the track was super sticky,” he said.

“We did a lot of preparation in the workshop and that made it easier on the track. It was a question of making the car go down the track as smoothly as possible.”

The 8000 horsepower, nitro-fuelled powerplant in Read’s dragster came back from each pass in near perfect condition, with Read explaining a small clutch problem was the only issue.

“The clutch didn’t lock up totally in the elimination round so we need to have a look at that but otherwise the engine is completely fine, we were even able to reuse our sparkplugs,” he said.

Much of the headlines before the event were for US visitor Larry Dixon, competing for Rapisarda Racing. That didn’t change following the qualifying shootout where the three times world champion had a rear axle breakage, resulting in a wheel coming off and the dragster performing a 360 degree spin along the track.

In something of a Good Friday miracle, Dixon was able to straighten the car up and bring it to a safe stop without coming into contact with safety barriers or opponent Damien Harris.

Dixon was still in high spirits even after the wild moment.

“What do you guys think of them crazy American drivers?” he joked with the crowd in his interview post-race. “It’s actually really hard to do a spin and not hit a wall.

“There’s forces from above that try to protect everybody involved and I think the Lord took care of me on that run right there.”

The Rapisarda team thrashed to repair the car, needing to replace much of the rear end equipment. While they missed the elimination round, they were able to make another check out pass later in the night, with Dixon recording a 4.68 second pass to set himself up well for Saturday’s seventh round of the ANDRA Top Fuel championship.

From experienced veterans to a complete rookie – Darren Fry defeated RickGauci’s Aeroflow Ford Mustang in the final of Top Alcohol, using a 5.67 second run.

Fry only licensed in the Chev Monte Carlo-bodied Funny Car during the week and the win was beyond his wildest hopes and dreams.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling, it all comes down to the great pit crew,” he said. “I never expected to go this far in the first meeting.”

When asked if he could repeat in today’s next championship round, Fry was reserved.

“I can’t get ahead of myself, I would like to repeat it but I think there will be a few other people stepping up their game,” he said.

The Santo’s Cranes Super 3 Extreme Drag Race continues with the Top Fuel qualifying shootout from 5pm Saturday.

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