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The first event of what is a new direction for the now named 400 Thunder Aeroflow Drag Racing Series was East Coast Thunder at Sydney Dragway. With the debut of Top Fuel Funny Car as the nitro headliners in championship form, a solid crowd rolled into Sydney Dragway to see what they had to offer.

You can read up on East Coast Thunder qualifying, including full results sheet here:

Full results sheet for racing are available here:

All the professional classes were running the three round All Run Format at this event, after two rounds of seeded racing, the third round will feature and A Final for the event win, based off result and ET points from the previous two rounds. Other racers will still be competing for further championship points in the third round.

With five nitro coupes on the premises, the two Aeroflow/Rocket Industries team cars led the way with Morice McMillin dipping into the fours on a 4.933 over debutant Brandon Gosbell’s 5.43.

After opening ceremonies, racing roared into life with the two Nitro Funny Car debutants, Gosbell and Justin Walshe. The power went away by half track for Walshe but Gosbell rocketed to a 4.892 at 328.38MPH – a run that would hold up for low ET of the event. Drama ensued in the next pairing when an Anthony Begley crewman bumped the throttle linkage while putting down the body after the burnout. The Dodge funny car lurched forward on the throttle blip, knocking down a crew member, who sustained minor injuries with a broken nose and couple of scraped shins. The starter wisely shut Begley off, concerned his mindset would not be in the game after the incident, and opponent McMillin ripped off a 4.96 at 325MPH. Chris Stipanovich closed out the round on a solo, clicking the run at half track.

McMillin and Walshe delivered the run of the event in round two with a 4.998 to 4.997 respectively, the holeshot win going to the McMillin Camry, and the first side by side four second Nitro Funny Car race in Australia. Begley’s woes continued with the Bailey Bros. funny car refusing to go out of reverse, Gosbell meanwhile blasted off to a 5.46. Stipanovich did not make the call for this round.

The B Final was a little ugly, Begley reached to half track before pushing head gaskets out, in the other lane, Walshe was looking good until just past the half track mark, then the Charger’s pipes went wet and he coasted to a 5.87.

The A Final was between the team mates, McMillin left nothing on the tree with a fantastic .031 reaction, but still could not stop Gosbell from driving around at the stripe with a 4.904 to 5.042 to claim a maiden win at his maiden nitro event.

“Honestly, I can’t believe it, this is a dream come true,” Gosbell beamed at the end of the run. “It was shaking the tyres down low, the clutch hooked up and I couldn’t see anything, I am just cranking on the steering wheel, hanging on for dear life. I saw Morice come past me at the finish line, and I didn’t know who won, it must of been bad arse to watch.”

Gary Phillips was on point after qualifying in Pro Alcohol with a 5.43, and a first round 5.46 win against John Cannuli set him in good stead for the rest of the event. Phillips again faced Cannuli in round two, however this time the Phillips funny car went into violent shake, but that was nothing compared to the opposing lane where Cannuli banged the engine and launched the Camaro funny car body into orbit. JC was unhurt, and we believed still recorded the win under IHRA rules, as he crossed the finish line first even sans-body.

Meanwhile Jake Donnelly in his Camaro funny car picked up strong wins against Cameron Ambesi and Chris Hargrave with a 5.49 and 5.47 respectively, to see himself through to the event final. And the much talked about and debated covered front engine dragster of Russell Mills was doing its thing, going quicker on every pass. Mills opened his win account against Hargrave in round one with a 5.49, then upset points leader Steven Reed -on a holeshot mind you – 5.51 to a 5.47 to set up a dream debut for the Funster 2.0.

Reed narrowly missed low ET of the event in the third round with a 5.465, he was due to face Phillips, but the Monte Carlo funny car was shut down with no oil pressure after the burnout – later it was found to just be a faulty gauge. And the Reed team will still hold point in the championship.

In the final, Donnelly had the slight advantage on the green, but the funny car rattled hard, and the run was over as the Mills’ black bullet shot away to a 5.48 PB and that dream debut for the new car was complete.

Top qualifier with a 5.65 in Pro Slammer was Paul Cannuli, but the Mustang was not sighted on race day. A serious accident involving Michelle Davies marred the first round of racing, when her Mustang shook hard while racing Emilio Spinozzi, turned hard left, and made heavy impact with the wall. Davies was hospitalised with a significant list of injuries, and will unfortunately face a lengthy recovery period. We wish her all the best in her recuperation to get back on track.

Geoff Gradden, Steve Ham and Craig Burns were all winners out of round one, though no one set outstanding times.

Gradden turned up the wick in the Sigra Saratoga in round two with a 5.79 win over a red lighting Burns. The Sam Fenech driven Chevrolet Racing Camaro had been struggling with the team trying to cure tyre shake. While still technically the same chassis from when the Monaro body adorned the car, it has undergone significant updates. The much lighter new body now gives the team options to shift weight around, and it has just been a matter of finding the sweet spot with the set up, the team was confident it will be fast once sorted.

Their prediction was right come round two, the run was void of shake, and the Camaro’s first full pass dropped a 5.70 at a booming 261.78MPH – over the Pro Slammer speed record – and what was better for the team, Fenech defeated Ham’s 5.66 with the holeshot.

Not to be outdone, Spinozzi stepped up to the line, also in machinery that had undergone a complete rebuild and equalled Fenech’s speed with the Chevelle on a 5.78 pass against Craig Hewitt.

The win slipped Spinozzi into the final against quiet achiever Geoff Gradden, and someone would be winning their first Pro Slammer event. Spinozzi grabbed the lead at tree and wasn’t headed, Gradden had to pedal, as the Chevelle stopped the clocks with a 5.75 for the first-ever win for the team. Championship-wise Ham still has a nice points buffer over Fenech.

The unseasonal cold weather for November was a dream come true for Pro Stock, after all the sixes landed in qualifying ,headed by Tyronne Tremayne’s record setting 6.87, records were further expected to be belted.

Brian Pursell nailed Bruce Leake – who ran his first six second pass in qualifying – with a 6.98 to 7.05. Tyronne Tremayne who had to sit out the last event at the Winternationals due to injury soloed to a 6.93. Chris Soldatos shot out a 6.94 over Scott Porters 6.98. Mario Polito nabbed a not so pretty transmission breaking win against Rob Dekert, and Aaron Tremayne went low for the round with a 6.91 against a timed out Bill Perdikaris.

Upsets were plentiful in round two, Aaron Tremayne jumped through the beams against Dekert and Tyrone went -.009 red against Leake. Soldatos would uncoil a 6.92 to reach the final against the Pursell GXP, who picked up his second round win against Polito.

Conditions were phenomenal for the final round. In the early match ups, Porter went a 6.90 personal best against Dekert’s 6.96. Aaron Tremayne dropped the record to jaw-dropping 6.859, then in the event final, Soldatos equalled that run with his own 6.859 defeating Pursell’s 7.36. With Pursell collecting solid points, he find himself just 26 points arrear of points leader Aaron Tremayne.

The question in Pro Bike after qualifying would be who could challenge Luke Crowley after his 7.05 top qualifying pass. In round one Wooster knocked out a 7.34 to defeat Daniel Rabnott, while Scott White rode out a 7.36, however his Suzuki was -.093 on the wrong side of the green, landing the win in Tony Frost’s lap. Crowley was fortunate he was on a solo when his rear slick deflated going into stage.

Crowley hammered out a 7.02 in round two, with wins also going to Rabnott and White, to set up the final against the Territorian White. The final was dramatic, Crowley red lit, gifting the win to White, until his Suzuki crossed the centreline reverting the event win back to Crowley.

Top Bike ended up with only two racers making appearances, Chris Matheson aboard the awesome Nitro Voodoo and Steve Badcock with his nitrous sniffing Suzuki. It was a mismatch in performances, with most the attention on Matheson and whether he could run five seconds. Matho gave it a few good shots in the superb conditions with a 6.08 and 6.06 that still kept the crowd entertained.

Wrapping up the professional classes with 400 Thunder Pro Mod, the 5.85 index was in play for mix of blown and turbo machines. Zoran Gajic carried on from his 5.88 top qualifying run to carve through the field to reach the final against another twin turbo Mustang in Collin Willshire.

In a side by side final, Willshire blew past the finish line with a too quick 5.78, not that it seem to bother the crew who looked like they had just lotto, so we assume it was a new PB for what is a relatively new car. The win did go to GAS Racing’s Gajic’s with a nice 5.88, and he now has a commanding lead in the championship.

Into the sportsman classes, and first up a strong Super Comp field saw Ralph Perri take his animal of an A/Altered to victory lane against big John Kuiper’s D/G Commodore. Honourable mention also goes to Daniel Camilleri who carded his first six second pass with his RB powered DD/GA Pontiac, a barrier he has been chasing for a long time.

Craig Edwards rolled on from his top qualifying effort in Performance Bike, the turbo with a Suzuki Hayabusa attached scorched to a 6.96 in the final on a AA/CB 7.42 index. Opponent Jon Mengel ruled himself out of the final contest picking a cherry off the tree.

It was spectacular Supercharged Outlaws final when Alf Sciacca Jr backfired his Lamborghini in a ball of flame at the hit, opponent Norm McCormack made hard work of what should of been an easy win, with his FED snaking all over the lane, barely keeping it within the track limits.

Top Sportsman guns featured in their final, Daniel Morris dumped a 7.971 on a 7.97 in the final, only to leave with a .081 reaction compared to opponent Steve Fowler’s .015 light. Fowler accepted the gift and the Gold Christmas Tree trophy with a 6.822 on a 6.81 – his third straight 400 Thunder event win.

A pair of dragsters fought out the Modified final, and it was a killer race, with the reaction times again deciding fate. Simon Barlow’s slight .041 to .047 holeshot against Rocco Romano was the difference, as a 6.709 on a 6.70 at the stripe got the win against a 7.17 on a 7.177.

A couple of locals battled out the Super Sedan final. Habitual finalist Sean Maher checked off another event with his little HB Torana against Pat Firriolo’s One Tonner, when the tonner’s 10.087 on a 10.08 was void with a red light.

It was a State of Origin final battle in Modified Bike, local and former 400 Thunder champion Sean Ricketts was riding off against Branden Lacey, the Queenslander having just put together his beautiful Hayabusa. It was another final decided by a red light, unfortunately for Lacey, he was culprit this time.

In Super Street, finalists Richard Matosevic and David McGlinn have done a seemingly combined million laps of Sydney Dragway. With little separating the pair at the tree, driving would decide the winner at the stripe. In the Holden versus Ford duel, McGlinn was fractionally too quick in the end with his Monaro, breaking out and against the XY Ute of Matosevic.

Junior Dragster wraps up our sportsman results, Liezel Gouws made the trip down from Queensland certainly worthwhile as she ran away with Golden Christmas Tree on a tidy holeshot, defeating Bailey Tandek with a 7.972 (7.92) to a 8.243 (8.20).

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