The Kenda Tires Radial 660 Drag Radial Series has pushed on during the pandemic with the running of Radial Riot at Willowbank Raceway. Entrant numbers picked up despite interstate cars still unable to cross the border, and even though accidents and stoppages pushed the event past a 1am finish, the event again delivered classic wheels up drag radial action.
Rain caused havoc during the pre-event test days, but race day was fortunately not affected after the spate of recent rain outs at Willowbank. There was a rough start to qualifying with Clint Hepburn breaking traction in the opening pair of Outlaw Radial that saw his twin turbo Gemini have heavy impact with the wall, before narrowly missing Ben Bray’s Corvette in the other lane, fortunately Hepburn emerged okay.
Wade Wagstaff signalled his intentions early with a record 3.757 in Q1 from his blown Chevy to lead the Outlaw Radial field into the racing rounds by a bunch. Only Terry Seng in Kyle Hopf’s turbo Camaro joined Wagstaff in the three-second zone with a 3.966 during qualifying.
All racing in the Kenda Drag Radial Series involves a three round Chicago Shootout format that decides a final pairing. Wagstaff repeated his qualifying ET in round one to defeat Andrew Milford’s Torana, with Bray, Seng and Steven Smith also grabbing wins to kick off their campaigns. An accidental chute deployment after the burnout hurt Wagstaff’s finals chances in round two and gave Smith his second win, along with Bray and Seng also grabbing back to back wins with identical 4.148 ETs.
The pairings fell favourable for Wagstaff in the final racing round, Seng defeated Smith 3.94/203MPH to 4.42/198 MPH to guarantee one spot in the final, and Wagstaff’s would be able to seal his own fate taking on Bray. Despite a leaving plenty on the tree, the blown 57 drove around Bray at the stripe and into the final with a 3.76/201MPH to a 4.04/201MPH.
After a very long clean up from an exploding transmission, finals rolled around at 1am and hitting the tune would be difficult. Seng left with a great .023 pro tree reaction to Wagstaff’s .094, but both cars slipped up on the radial shoes and had to pedal to the stripe, Wagstaff recovered the best for a 4.56 to cover the Camaro’s 5.02, taking the event win.
In other classes, Outlaw 275 saw Simon ‘Candles’ O’Carroll reach the final undefeated in his flame throwing nitrous Torana against one of the coolest drag cars anywhere, Guy Hall’s blown Mercedes. Hall made the final on a bit of luck when bad luck bestowed opponent Tim Cross in the previous round who scraped the wall with his Cortina on what would of been a winning run.
The Merc didn’t play the game in the final becoming crossed up off the line as O’Carroll’s candles streaked away into the night with a 4.46 for the victory.
Michael Arnold rolled into the final with three wins in Outlaw 235 with his Holden ute, he would have a rematch with Joey Bridge’s Mustang. Bridge was defeated by Arnold in the final round of racing, but sitting on two wins along with ‘triple charged’ Juan Kudnig, his 5.07 ET snuck him into the final ahead of Kudnig’s 5.19.
Both cars built the boost on the line in the final, and launched with similar lights, but Bridge zinged the tyres before the sixty as Arnold laid down a solid 4.82 for the win light.
OG275 saw a strong field of street legal 275 tyre racers. Ben Vlekken’s wagon is a hard charger in the class, and started the day with a big wheelstand in qualifying, before unwittingly topping the highlight reel when a rear end failure saw the wagon spectacularly stand up on its nose as the rear wheel departed before tagging the wall.
Brett Armstrong gorgeous nitrous Nova and Steve Farrelly’s VL Calais made certain of their final spots in OG275 with both racers perfect in wins during the three racing rounds. Farrelly was a day and night late on the tree and despite a quicker 5.06 ET could not haul back Armstrong’s winning 5.09.
Moving onto two wheels and the Outlaw Radial bike final delivered Shaun Sobol against Ken Collin with both racers the only ones in the field not to experience a loss in the previous rounds. Sobol left first with a .084 to .100 reaction advantage and would not be run down, extending his lead at the stripe for a 4.80 to 4.95 win.
Into the head ups index classes, and first up is the 5.50 indexed Radial Renegade, with the final was fought out between Aris Kontoleon’s beautiful late model Camaro and Jason Chizzotti’s blown HQ. Kontoleon left his Camaro plenty to do at the green on the short track with the HQ out with a half tenth advantage. But he had the power driving around Chizzotti on the stripe 5.56 to a 5.69.
Radial Ruckus is on a 5.80 index and Steve Carkeet wheelstood his way into the final with his little Gemini on the back of three round wins, he would throw-down against Sean Helson’s big Falcon, and both racers capable of going under the hard index. Carkeet came out of the hole with reaction time and another huge wheelstand, but took a little too much on the top end breaking out with a 5.76, handing the win to Helson’s 5.86.
The 6.40 Radial Rumble index was pushed to the thousandth in the final by Michael Harper’s big ’56 Chev with a 6.405 but left too much on the tree and Luke Hauser’s little V6 Corolla held on for a 6.450 win.
Finally in Radial Rebels 7.00 in the index and Filip Petrovic in his big Falcon drove around a holeshot from Ian Weber’s little LC Torana to take the victory in the final race of the night or early morning, 7.08 to 7.28.
Kenda Tires 660 Drag Radial Series will return in 2022, and with borders open, be starting back at Sydney Dragway in the New Year.
Relive the event here via the live stream replay plus some action highlights.
Gallery courtesy of Drag Photos.