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Drag Combat saw the best cars from the V8 and import worlds come together for an intense day of bracket racing
The Doorslammer Challenge showed the powerful full-bodied cars having trouble with inconsistent track and air temperatures, with only the Tully clan remaining consistent throughout the day, and managing to run a new PB of 7.80 on the way. With Wayne Yearbury red-lighting then running a 6.82, it wasn't a case of fastest man wins. Instead, the nitrous-powered Nova of Hussey found itself alone on the start line for the finals after Mike Witteveen pulled out with engine damage sustained the round before. It was a shame, since Wittz seems finally to be getting a good handle on the old Ferrari. If nothing else, his team looked the best on the day with Sinopec shirts, tent and promo girls. The 7.90 bracket was what the import crowd had come to see, though, and they weren't >
I rag combat pitted the best J imports and the best V8s
—I--- against each other, racing in a bracket format for ultimate bragging rights. The format meant it wasn't really an 'us versus them' battle, but more of an all-on-all stoush set up thanks to a coalition between NZV8 magazine. New Zealand Performance Car magazine and [email protected] promotions. With competitors sorted into their various time brackets ranging from 6.90-7.89 and 7.90-8.89 right through to 13.90-14.89, all vehicles - regardless of how fast or slow -were in with a chance of taking home the glory.
As well as bracket racing, Drag Combat included a round of the Blown Doorslammer Challenge, which saw Top Doorslammer (T/D)
cars battle it out against Top Street (T/S) on an index format. Joining the slammers was New Zealand's fastest female, Karen Hay, and her wild Altered Roadster. With the slammers facing off against each other, the seven-second bracket was a small one, and worse still for the V8 lovers, it was made up of three imports, two rotary-powered and one Nissan six-cylinder-powered. The latter is Robbie Ward's nostalgia-style FED. Despite the unconventional engine arrangement for a car of this type the V8 crowed seemed to love the car, and Robbie himself was obviously having a blast too. With new aerodynamic aids the car was running hard and straight all day, and didn't seem to struggle for traction as many other vehicles did.
disappointed. Ward's FED came up against Brent Curran's RX-2 in a best of three arrangement. What made this cooler than many other rounds, apart from the obvious speed and power, is the fact both cars feature engines built by their owners/ drivers. Curran's is a triple rotor triple turbo and Ward's a 3.0-litre six-cylinder Nissan. The obvious advantages that come with a dragster over a door car showed on the day, especially as the head wind increased. Ward's car seemed to get quicker and quicker, taking the win in two out of the three races. The final was
7.86 at 275kph to 7.48 at 280kph in Ward's favour. The 8.80 bracket didn't go as expected, with both finalists - Daniel Tye and Cory Abbot - Pulling out of the last race, it didn't really matter, since Abbot had won both of the first two finals match ups, the second a 7.59 at 274kph versus 9.95 at 166. The 9.90 bracket was big block and cubes versus small rotor and big turbo in the form of James Hone's 632ci Monaro and Steve Rossen's 136-powered RX-7. Kapiti Coast's Stu Lawton was also in contention for a while, as was Tauranga's
Steve Purcell in his turbocharged HQ ute. It • went to the import crowd in the finals though, ■ with Hone having serious issues and running an unrepresentative 16.9 to Rossen's 9.99 at 2l4kph. : The 10.90 bracket saw some familiar faces - lots of them, in fact, with a large field that included everything from Steve Wall's big block Chevelle and a bunch of imports through to John Vollebregt's late-model turbocharged Commodore. Dion Crook and : his young crew made the trip from Wellington only ; to red-light in the first round, presumably making
for a silent trip home. Elsewhere, Steve Wall lined up against Bruce Cox for one of the closest races of the day.
Two big block nine-second street cars side by side is a cool spectacle, but Steve was determined to take the glory and did so with a 10.43 to Cox's 10.59.
Wall's winning streak looked set to continue, but an oil leak on the start line saw that dream end as he was eliminated from the next round. V8 fans around the venue then had to place their bets on Doug Stewart and his Camaro, as he came up against a field of imports. It wasn't to be. The final should have been Jason Horn's 4WD Mitsubishi versus oldtimer Mike Healy in his RX-7. Instead it became Mike versus the clock when Jason was a no-show. Healy didn't take the easy option though, running a 10.49 at 216kph to claim the prize money.
The 11.90 bracket again saw some familiar faces, and a lot more familiar to the Performance Car crowd.
Those who made their way through the rounds were Michael Wilkinson in his 72 Falcon, Grant Tynan and his tough blown Torana, 'Mr Consistent' Dave Duncan in his Skyline, Mark Tunzlemann and his turbo ute and a handful of imports. Come the semis it was down to Wilkinson to take out a Mitsi Evo and Tunzlemann to beat Duncan's Skyline for places in the finals. And they both did it. it was a >
of John Broads's lone Chrysler 300C. Come final time it was a battle of Tauranga's finest - imports, that is - in the form of Bryce Kamizone's front-wheel-drive Civic versus Tony Barrington's rear-wheel-drive Skyline. The underdog FWD took the win with enough time for Kamizone to make a coffee and wait for the Skyline to arrive. With Tauranaga residents filling both spots in the finals of the 14.90 bracket, it may be time someone built a strip there. It would certainly keep James Key and his El Camino and Leslie Cunningham and his Honda Civic busy. The Civic took the win in the bracket at 14.31 to 14.65.
Regardless of which bracket drivers were in, there was plenty of seat time and a good chance to get back out on the track after a long off-season. The bracket racing format certainly surprised a few people, and the wins weren't as predictable as many had thought they would be. It's a shame there were a few delays throughout the day, some thanks to breakages, which are expected, but some that seemed to go unexplained. Still, any day at the track is a good day as far as we're concerned, even if imports seemed to win more rounds than V8-powered vehicles did. Then again, the imports didn't go anywhere near the times of Wayne Yearbury's six-second slammer, so maybe not all is lost after all.
Ford versus Holden, technology versus old school, battle for bragging rights. Well, it would have been if Wilkinson hadn't left the line 0.48 seconds early and eliminated himself, allowing Tunzlemann to take the win with an 11.10 at 203kph. David Hughes was the man to watch in the 12.90 bracket, beating everything he came up against in his '82 Camaro. Tim Hawke was the crowd favourite, though. His PT cruiser confused people as it smoked its tyres at the wrong (or right) end of the car, thus proving something far more evil than a stock PT engine lay under the hood (and most likely through the firewall). However, the twin turbo Lexus V8 he's squeezed in there didn't have enough to get Tim through, and a whole lot of wheelspin mean he lost out to Carl Dawson's tidy-looking Nissan.
Jack 'From Up The Hill' Perry made it through to the semis and it was great to see a track worker out there having some fun. His 308-powered Commodore was just another of David Hughes' victims, though. Hughes eventually found himself in a final with Brett Godfrey's '70 Falcon GT. The power of the Falcon was no match for the consistancy of the Camaro, and the latter tripped the beams just 12.37 seconds after it had started against the Falcon's 12.79. Imports filled the 13.90 bracket, with the exception
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