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The first Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series event of the new season enjoyed a successful opening day at the Hidden Valley Drag Strip on Friday (14 July), with the qualifying and racing action set to continue today (Saturday 15 July).

At the close of Friday’s action, Cooper Plummer (Summit Racing Equipment Junior Dragster), Geoff Sonnet (Modified Bike), Tony Antonino (Super Street), Tony Miskelly (Super Sedan), Ashley Johnson (Modified), Dean Cleary (Top Sportsman), Shaun Kerkman (Supercharged Outlaws) and Leith Darrach (Competition Bike) were each leading the race for a Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks Top Qualifier Medallion for their respective brackets.

Each bracket has one more session of qualifying to run today from 5.00pm ahead of the beginning of eliminations racing from 6.30pm, with the finals scheduled to start from 10.00pm.

For South Australian racer Tony Antonino, today’s results have been a pleasant surprise as he competes at the Hidden Valley Drag Strip for the first time and with a completely new combination in his Valiant S Series.

“This is my first time in Darwin and I am very impressed with the facility,” Antonino said.

“Aside from the heat and humidity that we are not used to,” he laughed, “it was a brilliant and sensational day.

“The track staff were on the ball and were ready with information as we needed it. The track prep was really good, and it was a well organised event – I definitely think the first day was a success.

“I am feeling a little more confident now (heading into Saturday) as I have come from Adelaide with a completely different engine combo after hurting my engine in Mildura about four weeks ago, so that was untested until Friday’s qualifying.

“So, I am feeling a little relieved that the car is performing as we thought it would and I think we might even be able to go out Saturday and better that ET.

“Thank you to Robert and Frank Bergamin from Bergamin Brothers Racing – they got my car back on the road within three weeks of hurting the engine. Without their devotion to the sport, I wouldn’t have been here.

“I also must say thank you to Bill Hondros of Triple X Bobcats, for taking the time and coming up with me.”

In Supercharged Outlaws, Shaun Kerkman’s 2022 Top End Nationals is off to a much better start than his last visit to the Hidden Valley Drag Strip with his Pontiac Firebird.

“I had a go here last year for the first time, but we destroyed the engine on the first run in qualifying, so you could say this is our first time running here,” said Kerkman, who hails from Mawson Lakes in South Australia.

“The track is awesome, it definitely has got a lot of grip, and the car is performing – we are feeling pretty confident heading into Saturday.

“I would like to say thank you to my wife Chrystal and Mrs K Cosmetic Injectables for the funds to race. Thanks also to Burson Auto Parts, , ULX110 Oil, NGK, Craig Lee and his brother Ryan Lee, and Goron Pazeski, for their support.”

The Top End Nationals racing concludes Saturday, the 15th of July, from 5.00pm. For full event information including entry lists and event schedules, go to

Credit: Ed Forman/HighRPM

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