A new season has dawned on Sydney Dragway with the running of the first round of the 2010/2011 Track Championship and what many believe could be a new era for the venue.
With the welcomed recent addition of Ray Treasure to the track comes a definite atmosphere of optimism that was felt throughout the pits. Many racers commented on the relaxed vibe at the event and how they enjoyed it, this is something that has not been felt for a long time at the venue. The ability to have a BBQ and kick back at the end of racing each day really contributed to this and will go a long way to bringing back the fun and social aspects of race meetings that have been lost.
One of Treasure’s primary goals was to lift the profile and status of track championship rounds, as a starter the series now has been extended to eight rounds which encompasses several Pro Series rounds and the Boxing Day Jet Car meeting, with the aim of all rounds having a feature bracket. The first round was meant to be hosting the Funny Car Gold Cup but due to many teams not licensing drivers in time the bracket was reduced to licensing passes from the nitro cars of Chris Stipanovich and Allan Dobson in Santo Rapisarda’s new ride. However a record entry of over 250 sportsman racers were in the pits primed to put on a show and what resulted was two days of the best days of pure sportsman racing experienced at the venue.
The track championship series this year will be mirroring Perth with the running of Top Comp and Super Comp brackets further evidence of Treasure’s new influence. Top Comp will be for all blown, turbo and nitrous Competition classes with Super Comp picking up the aspirated classes as well as Super Stock and Super Compact classes, hopefully with the right management these classes can grow to equal their Western counterparts.
A rain soaked venue greeted racers Saturday morning and after an appearance from the elusive jet dryer which bemused many and a lot of work from officials the track was dry and ready to race on by 12.30, with the loss of only one qualifying session.
Top Comp had 8 listed entries but only 5 showed on the day, of the racers at the track most were treating the event as a test session but in time hopefully the competition will increase. At the end of qualifying Victorian Mike Nola with his nitrous AA/AP Firebird was on top with nice 6.77 (.026) followed by fellow Mexican Eric Goudswaard 7.65 (+.167) in his CC/AA . Jeff Wilson 7.07 (0.679) who is still trying to come terms with the shake and rattle of his 57 Chev Doorslammer was next and Mark Belleri 7.14 (0.743) also was on hand as he continues to gain experience at the top level. Rob Madden withdrew from the event in his AA/APA Camaro leaving the field at four.
Belleri 6.16 (6.40) took out Goudswaard 7.47 (7.49) with a great pass in the first semi while Wilson 6.77 (6.40) red lit away any hope against Nola’s bucking Camaro 7.13 (6.75). Temperatures were dropping rapidly come final time and Belleri pedaled the “Lucky’s Toy” Camaro to a win 6.52 (6.28) when Nola had what looked like transbrake issue on the line, rolling through the beams.
Super Comp was more populated but also fell victim to some no shows with 10 cars in the show after qualifying, Rodney Rehayem 7.44 (-0.597) was in the top slot running in CC/SM with the PAC Performance 13B RX3 which has been off track for sometime receiving a freshen up, Vince Panetta was second 8.93 (-0.399) as the team really start to make some progress with their E/GA Torana. Craig Geddes made the trek north with the altered to continue to take advantage of the new E/AA class 7.67 ( -0.373) and Joe Signorelli still running10.5 inch tyres qualified in fourth 6.78 (-0.261) in AA/SC closely followed by Wayne Cartledge’s B/DA dragster 7.45 (-0.215). George Rehayem was testing after making the switch to a Haltec ECU in the BB/SC Mazda 6 7.15 (-0.200) and Daniel Schultz now running a ex Pro Stock motor in the B/AA altered continued to make gains on every pass 7.73 (-0.025). Rounding out the field was Anthony Maatouk who debuted his new CC/SM VL 8.23 (0.480), Bill Nabhan in Karl Hammoud’s brand new CC/SM RX3 coupe 8.91 (0.943) and Clint George who failed to get a run in with his B/APA Cavalier .
In the first round Signorelli 6.89 (7.05) easily dispensed of Nabhan, the Rehayem brothers met up in the next pairing but George was too quick on the lights red lighting against Rodney. Schultz 7.81 (7.76) received a get out of jail when Panetta 8.86 (9.33) took an age to leave the line with a .892 reaction, Cartledge 7.61 (7.67) easily took care of George 8.21 (7.95) but the Cavalier racer would have to be ecstatic with the car’s first powered pass down the track. Geddes 7.80 (8.05) had the easy win over Maatouk 7.84 (7.75) the Maatouk team was however celebrating with the car’s first full pull making it the quickest VL in the land and a glimpse of its future potential.
Geddes 7.66 (7.92) snuck past Cartledge 7.44 (7.64) in a cracker of a race, then Schultz improved again 7.68 (7.76) to just hold off a flying Signorelli who ran a 10.5 inch tyre PB 6.71 (6.97). Rehayem soloed through to the semi where he met Geddes, a red light for Geddes finished his day and Rehayem smashed his index 7.39 (7.90) for the final against Schultz who had a single. The final was over early when Rehayem carried the front wheels over the center line making the Schultz family very excited winners
Top Sportsman would again contest the track championship series, a class formed by the racers for sedans quicker than 8.50 seconds has proved very popular for the fans and racers alike, this round featured the Lee Bros Engineering Top Sportsman Shootout and a cool $5000 up for grabs for the win. Eighteen cars qualified with Craig Hewitt leading the way with a 7.41 in his nitrous VL Commodore, another top performer was Queensland’s Johnny Wilson who ran a 7.54 PB in his stock bodied Torana and Jeremy Callaghan potent twin turbo Torana running 7.87 at 178MPH for his first full powered run. Qualifying did see some mechanical carnage with a number or racers including Hewitt having to withdraw from eliminations.
The shootout was running on a slightly different format with racers losing the first round being able to buy back into eliminations, Jason Stares, Sam Fenech and Andrew Constantinou all took this option making ten cars competing in the first full elimination round. Fenech in the Westend Torana couldn’t take advantage of the second chance red lighting against Greg Fowler’s Beretta, but both Constantinou 7.76 (7.70) who took out the Mustang of national Super Sedan champion Paul Partridge 8.46 (8.36) and Stares 7.75 (7.72) who defeated a breaking out Steve Fowler 8.26 (8.27) marched on to the next round. The loss for Fowler would be his first in Top Sportsman, Fowler had won every meeting for the bracket since its inception last season. In round three Peter Papast was the beneficiary of an opponent’s red light for the second time in succession, this time due to Greg Fowler. Constantinou 7.76 (7.73) ended Stares’ run in the ’63 Corvette 7.71 (7.72) and Johnny Wilson soloed through in the nitrous big block Torana.
Constantinou received the bye into the final and he would be joined by Papast’s nitrous Torana 7.79 (7.70) who knocked out Wilson 7.74 (7.48). Both finalists had good fortune through the event. Constantinou in his newly imported late model Mustang reentered eliminations through the buyback round and Papast was on the receiving end of two red lighting opponents. Papast luck continued in the final collecting the big bucks when Constantinou dropped a -0.017 cherry.
Supercharged Outlaws showed up in good numbers with 21 cars in the pits, qualifying was off to a bad start with a potentially very serious incident occurring involving Lindsay Churchill’s ’57 Chev. Upon starting the car in fire up area the top of the “sauce” bottle used to prime the motor became wedged in the butterflies when the car fired, the resultant jump in revs caused the Crowerglide transmission to engage first and career the Chev out of control, swiping several tow vehicles before mounting the wall and plowing on to the grass area to the right of the track, scattering photographers. Fortunately everyone avoided injury including a much shaken Churchill, the incident is under investigation by ANDRA.
Qualifying did continue on, Dennis Gatt topped the heap with a 6.93, Luke Shepherd seemed to have a handle on the altered now clocking a 6.96, Troy Papadopoulos was impressive in qualifying with a 7.31 from the EB Falcon and is a relative newcomer to Outlaws. Travis Connor re-debuted his LC Torana, previously nitrous powered, it now has a blown 600 cuber, a half track wheelstanding, belt tossing 7.55 first pass excited everyone, but the belt issue would end his weekend. Anthony Bool completed his licensing with a nice 7.80 in his XF Falcon as did Victorian Bruno Matijasevic in a gorgeous HG Holden, Chad Taylor would have his license signed off on a 8.01 pass later on in the event in the Land Rover as did Darryl Walford who is now a hired gun for the Skips Racing Thunder Funny Car and Steve Greentree in the ex Mick King Hearse would have to wait for another day to complete licensing.
Racing was reduced to four rounds with the loss of the non qualified cars and the first round of eliminations offered no real upsets moving into round two. Papadopoulos moved into the semi 7.32 (7.28) defeating Gatt’s altered 6.99 (6.88) along with Dave McGaw who defeated Ben Gatt, John Ward made easy work of a transmission destroying Shepherd and Mike Watkins made up the last of the semi finalists after beating a slow reacting Jim Holley Funny Car. In the semis Papadopoulos 7.31 (7.30) pushed Dave McGaw’s funny car to a break out 6.67 (6.70) and likewise Watkins 7.27 (7.20) skipped through over a breaking out Ward dragster 7.30 (7.32). Papadopoulos is not unaccustomed to finals, but this was his first in Supercharged Outlaws and the final would have been a good one had not Watkins gone cherry picking with a -.006 light wasting a 7.208 (7.20) to Papadopoulos’ 7.32 (7.30).
An excellent field of 19 Modified cars made the call, Harry Fouwler’s “Thunder Chicken” blown FED led the pack with a 7.50 after qualifying in what was a very quick field with five cars in the 7 second zone. Victorians Neil Dyson in the Outcast altered and Peter Williams with his dragster made the drive north from the drag drought state for some competition, while Steve Speechley seemingly tried to drive his altered to Victoria causing substantial damage to the car when in impacted the catch netting. The field was capped off by new racer Alan Rawson with his Ford ‘27 Roadster running 12.13 with 4l Lexus power for something a bit different.
The Victorian’s faced each other in the first round that had William’s red light away the win, Dyson made it to the third round 8.74 (8.63) before falling to Kevin Bradley’s dragster 7.94 (7.90), Bradley red lit against Peter Brown’s new dragster in the semi final while Andrew Musgrave had a single through to the final in his altered. Musgrave had the reaction time jump 0.024 to Bradley’s 0.058 in the final, Musgrave increased the difference at the finish 8.14 (8.11) to Bradley 7.94 (7.85) to take the victory, Brown has to be commended on having a handle of his new car so quickly, it was the first race meeting for the 7 second dragster and a major step up from his previous little C/MD motorcycle engine powered ride.
Super Sedan was as spectacular as ever, with a number of racers trying to launch their cars into the stratosphere, making exciting watching. Brad McKie and Tony Huysmans both had bumper scrapers and despite the aerial antics Jasmine Fowler led the 45 car field after qualifying with a 8.54 in her S10 ute. With the majority of past and present national champions battling it out in Top Sportsman the Super Sedan field was anyone’s title, the only former national champ still in the field Neil Constantinou broke out in the first round against Ryan Taylor, Constantinou’s Torana is running a new combination and it won’t be long before the Torana is a threat again. Taylor progressed through five rounds of racing all the way to the final at his first competition meeting with his S10 Ute, where he met Harry Plessas who had been deadly consistent all day including a .000 and 9.15 (9.15) pass in round one. Plessas’ 9.15 (9.15) polished off Chris Papadopoulos 9.64 (9.63) to make the final which indicates how tough Super Sedan is at Sydney Dragway. Plessas running his brother’s Tom’s XY Falcon also with a brand new engine combination left with fractionally better light in the final 0.023 to Taylor’s 0.031, door handle to door handle across the finish it was Plessas nosing in front for the win 9.16 (9.14) to a 9.23 (9.18).
There were 17 Modified Bike entries, Paul Sobolewski finally worked out the gremlins on his Suzuki running an 8.53 PB to top qualify before unfortunately kicking a rod in the burnout on the next pass. The final came down to Joe Borg on his street Kawasaki ZX14 and debutant David Butler on a V-Rod Destroyer, the third debutant racer to make a final at the meeting. The final was over at the tree with Butler to eager to chase down Borg pulling a -0.063 cherry, Borg’s 10.40 (10.40) would have been tough to ridearound anyway.
Super Street was a solid 30 car field, Robert Heather’s Commodore was closest to the cut off with a 11.007 to qualify number one, closely followed by Paul Sabato with a 11.013. The bracket then became an all Sabato family affair, Paul went through to the final after track champion Stan Nikitaras red lighted in the semi, the same fate bestowed Matt Arnott’s Torana in the other semi final gifting Joe Sabato to the final. A red light also decided the all Sabato HQ Holden final, Paul pulling a -0.046 light automatically awarding Joe the win.
Former national champion Darryl Stephen topped Super Gas qualifying with a 9.904 which was equaled by Colin Griffin’s Celica going into eliminations. Stephen’s Probe kept up the consistency in round one with a 9.903 downing Roy Romeo to move into semi finals but a double breakout 9.86 to Rick Dudek’s 9.87 sent Dudek through to the final where he would meet Joe Catanzariti’s Torana. Catanzariti came into the final on the back of a 9.902 against Ben Cook, both racers in the final pushed each other hard to a double breakout, Catanzariti’s 9.87 being the lesser for the win over Dudek 9.82 who is still chasing his maiden win in the Falcon.
Despite the loss of a number of racers in Junior Dragster due to age restriction, there were still 23 of the sport’s future stars doing battle. Jesse Phillips top qualified with an 8.61 in front of a very quick field, with the top 16 cars into the 8 second zone. Phillips made it to the semi final before a red light against Jesse Panetta landed him on the trailer and Rocco Romano soloed in the other semi. A huge 0.061 to 0.127 holeshot to Panetta 8.79 (8.74) over Romano 8.62 (8.60) in the final allowed for a comfortable win.
Screaming’ Eagles provided 12 entries with Andrew McGregor heading the qualifying pack with a 11.17. Reigning track champion Scott McBurney defeated himself with a red light against Marcus Wilson, Wilson went to the semis 12.57 (12.75) being halted by Evan Murray’s Nightster 12.25 (12.30) in a double breakout and Robyn Hines was doing it for the girls 13.35 (13.15) beating James Connor 12.18 (12.10) V-Rod on a holeshot in the other semi. The final was a double breakout affair, Murray‘s 12.11 (12.30) was the lesser against Hines 13.01 (13.30) on her Sportster.
Street Fighter is an entry class for street cars to get a taste and feel of racing before stepping up to an ANDRA bracket. Kim Saunders top qualified with a 12.67 in her HQ ute while daughter Tabatha fresh out of Junior Dragster qualified second in mum’s Chev Ute with a 13.40. Tabatha’s Junior racing experience paid off as she went on to win the final 13.61 (13.60) against David Muscat’s EL Falcon 15.64 (15.47).
With no Nitro Funny Car feature, it was left up to Allan Dobson and Chris Stipanovich to provide some exhibition runs to license their rides. Stipanovich completed his license with a full powered 5.71 @ 275 MPH, Stipanovich later backed it up with a 5.72 @ 255 MPH. Now with licensing completed and a new car in the wings they will start to chase the performance. Allan Dobson debuted the ex- Prudhomme Racing Monte Carlo Funny Car now owned by Santo Rapisarda. The team attempted a number of passes but all ended in tyre smoke with low .9 short times, but looked and sounded phenomenal.
Check out video and photos from the event from Madman Productions and cacklingpipes.com, both are available for purchase.