Group One Report
Perfect atmospheric and track conditions greeted the record number of entries in this one-day event, at the 400 Thunder Santo’s Thunder, held on Good Friday at Willowbank Raceway and brought to you by Uplift Cranes and Titans Cranes. Many inspiring moments that made the large crowd very appreciative but unfortunately a few very unpredictable moments made the meeting much more drawn out than wanted.
All Group One Racers provided some stand out moments, with Pro Alky in particular, where every run saw the leader change.
The march in Top Fuel was led by the very consistent team members of the Rapisarda International Top Fuel Team. All of the Top Fuel teams put on an outstanding show and privateer Darren Morgan who is one man that can always put the Santo’s team on its edge. Despite the early setback of Newby in the Sighting Runs, it was ultimately his day taking home the trophy against Darren Morgan in the final, Morgan had the holeshot and it was full flames to nearly the finish line where Morgan started to low and Newby drove around him with a 4.750 @ 271.88. American Dom Lagana took a little while to settle into the ride but in the final run of the bracket really seemed to have a handle on it and his race with Damien Harris proved to be the Top Fuel run of the night. With Lagana losing by .07 at the stripe.
Going into the event Chris Matheson had a major advantage in the points for the national championship, could anyone amass enough points both this round and the next round in Sydney to put him in a position where he would have to fight for the Title. It has got to be said that every racer in this field did everything they could to reign him in but it was not to be, there were Centre line crossings, blocks flying, but in the end it was Chris Matheson who took home the runner up trophy and added another set of points to his already bulging bank as he took on Chris Porter in the final, Matheson was on a great pass until he took out the timing blocks handing the win straight to Porter. Damien Muscat and Steve Badcock fought it out in the B Final and Muscat too it deep for the win.
This was the Bracket highlight of the day, the runs were amazing, the lead changed continuously and these guys provided some major entertainment to the large number of spectators. John Cannuli and Gary Phillips met in the B final for the first time since the Winternationals, the tension in the air was palpable the burnouts proved that both of these racers were serious and gunning for the win, In a very unusual way to lose Gary Phillips left a red light on the tree handing Cannuli the win, Cannuli laid down a 5.89 and to Phillips a 5.76.
The A Final saw Steven Reed meet up with the only dragster in the field of Jon Sting, this was going to be a battle royale, both left hard but Reed experienced tyre shake, slowing down to give the win to Jon Sting. This race provided a few ????? as no timing was recorded due to the end blocks been shifted but later a decision was made that Sting was definitely in the front and the win was his.
Pro Alky provided us with the pass of the night when Steven Ham and John Cannuli raced, making it the quickest Alcohol Funny Car pass in Australia. Ham was on a wild ride and ran a 5.46 @ 263.67 with John Cannuli running 5.48 @ 252.47.
Pro Stock rounded out the Group One brackets appearing at this event, Aaron Tremayne entered this event with the most points and left the event in the same way. The bracket was full of legends of the sport with Lee Bektash on his final tour of Australian Drag Racing before retiring, and Shane Tucker returning from the United States to drive for Jason Hedges Deco Glaze, it was the bracket that promised and delivered.
Brian Pursell from Mackay ran a personal best for the day and will look at giving the big guns something to worry about in the future.
It was an ever changing scenario throughout the field but in what surprised nobody was that a Tremayne would be in the final with Aaron Tremayne taking on Lee Bektash, in another surprise that Lee Bektash left the red light on the tree proving if you don’t red light now and then you’re not trying hard enough, Bektash ran a 7.09 @ 194.88 for the loss and to Aaron Tremayne a 7.00 @ 194.94. I believe that this year’s championship is now Aaron Tremayne he is in an unbeatable position.
The Penultimate event for this year’s points chase will be held at the Gulf Western Oil Nitro Thunder at Eastern Sydney Dragway May 5th and 6th to be followed by the ultimate drag racing event in the Southern Hemispheres Calendar
“The 50th Staging of the Winternationals” at Willowbank Raceway.
Group TWO, THREE, FOUR Report
It was a massive day for the sportsman racers at the Santos Super Thunder Good Friday at Willowbank Raceway with the action for the bucks down racers starting at 8am and not finishing until the last final was run and done at 1.20am the next morning.
Competition Eliminator was owned by local Tony Bellert in his A/DA from start to finish top qualifying with a 6.98 191.65 to be .362 under his index. During eliminations in the small field He went past a broken Roxanne Thomas in her FF/DA and a bye in the semis leaving his index untouched for the final. His opponent was number 3 qualifier Caan Childs A/DA also having his index untouched in the final going past a broken Mike Inwood B/AA in the first round and a red lighting Mike Inwood B/AA in the semis basically making it an all heads up A/DA affair for the final. But of course Tony Bellert wasn’t to be headed and continued his dominance with a 7.00 190.81 over a slowing down 10.47 86.99 for Caan Childs.
Top of the pops after qualifying in Super Stock was Archie Kajewski in his Mazda 6 this time running on a 8.15 index in RRR/OM monstering it with a 1.38 under 6.77 198.93 but unfortunately not able to make it to the first round of racing. The first of the two finalists was a high stepping Jai Schluter’s H/MP screaming small block stick shifted Falcon running a pair of solos to get in the final. His opponent was Wade Moran’s A/APA Monte Carlo going to a 7.22 on a 7.46 index with a holeshot win over Omar Sedmak’s A/APA GXP falling asleep at the tree new PB 7.07 then disposing of a slowing Sam Kiprios DD/GA Starlet on a slowing 9.25 with a winning 7.35. In the final Moran’s index had dropped to a 7.34 and Schluter’s was untouched with a 9.55 index. And it was Wade Moran’s victory for the taking with a 7.08 194.32 with a .031 leave over a 9.31 144.55 leaving with a .108 at the tree.
Competition Bike after three qualifying rounds was owned by a pair of B/AB with Peter Puznik .47 under the 8.57 index with a 8.10 163.95 and Reegan Ward .41 under with a 8.16 161.42. The road to the final was through 3 rounds of eliminations with Ward making it to the final defeating Paul Pires, a red lighting Peter Everett and a solo in the semi running a best of 8.26 to make it to the final round. In the other lane was Daryn Schuster’s D/AB beating Anthony Duncan, Blair Penington and Peter Puznik running a best of a 8.64 on a 8.89 index during eliminations. Ward ran a 8.29 on an 8.41 index which was to no avail leaving a -.024 red on the tree giving Schuster the win with a 8.68 on a 8.76 index the easy win.
Supercharged Outlaws had a small but quality field with the first three runners in the 6’s with Bill Fletcher on top with a 6.74 closely followed by Darren Bazarnik with a 6.81 and Les Rodgie on a 6.92. But none of these runners would meet up in the final round with Josh Fletcher going past his Father Bill in the first round and Les Rodgie in the semi. In the other lane was Alf Sciacca travelling up from Sydney in his Lamborghini with a solo in the first round and taking down a red lighting Peter Stirling in the final. The final was owned by Josh Fletcher with a final round 7.378 on a 7.37 DI with a .083 leave over a 7.33 on a 7.10 DI with a late leaving .339 at the start line.
Top Sportsman had a few heavy hitters in the class and was going to be a tough bracket to take home the winner’s trophy. On top after qualifying was one of the toughest with Steve Fowler in his GXP being the only six second running going to a 6.92 and taking it all the way to the final round beating Sarah Langridge, a solo in round 2 and in the semis. In the other lane was number nine qualifier and local stalwart Daniel Morris taking the hard road to the final taking down Neale Constantinou, Dan Donnelly and Dave Gauldie who ran for the first time in the 7’s during the day setting up a classic Qld vs NSW final. Morris ended up taking home the silverware with a .013 leaving 8.53 on a 8.39 DI with an uncharacteristic .152 leave for Fowler who went onto a well off 7.08 on a 6.90 DI
Modified Eliminator only had nine cars reach eliminations after a few unfortunate breakages with Kellie Kidd on top after three rounds of qualifying. Unfortunately, she was knocked out in the first round by finalist Andrew Sargent who ran a 8.043 on a 8.04 DI with a .025 leave which was going to always beat no matter who was in the other lane whom went onto defeat Stephen Sadler to go into the final. His opponent would be Andrew Pinkstone who went past Chelsea Leahy and Stephan Gouws to get there. Pinkstone took home the final with a 7.827 on a 7.70 with Sargent not able to make it to the staging lanes in time to make it a paired pass automatically handing the win to the “Pinkys Toy”
Super Sedan was always going to be tough with Patrick Barron on top in his Beretta after qualifying with a 8.60. The finalists were Paul Doeblien who went past Allan Woods, a solo in round 2 then beating Denis Ryan and veteran Dave Foreman in the semis and well-travelled John Kapiris up again from Sth Australia defeating Olivia McDonald, number one qualifier Patrick Barron, Kevin Langridge and a bye into the final. In the final Kapiris proved why he is one of the toughest in the bracket with a .012 leave and a 9.691 0n a 9.69 DI to take the win as Doeblien was no slouch either with a .030 leave and a 8.70 on a 8.64 DI which was still a pretty good package but not on this day.
Super Street is the true grass roots of sportsman racing with now electronic aids and all coming down to natural ability to go rounds. After qualifying it was Ray Ross in his Valiant on top with a 10.29 but was knocked out in the quarter finals. Meeting in that final would be Neil Tschutura who went past Michael Cross, Carl Grading, Shaun Smith and a bye in the semis to meet up with David Olsen who put away Ben Markham, current track champion Lucas Holz, a bye in the quarters and Shaun Doeblien in the semis. And Neil Tschutura took home all the bacon with a great 10.93 on a 10.90 DI over a breaking out 12.142 on a 12.15 for Olsen.
Modified Bike was owned in qualifying by Craig Edwards who put out a solid 7.84 169.64 to lead the pack by a country mile but was taken down in the second round of eliminations. The final pairing would be a pair of locals with Ace Edwards who rode past Nathan Parker, Alvin Dirksz, Chris Collin and Manuel Hliounkis to meet up with local track champion Tammy Goldthorpe who won a against Brian Alvisio, Ian Peever, Jason Hammelswang and Ethan Wright to get there. And Tammy continued her winning ways at Willowbank taking the win with a .010 leave and a 9.134 on a 9.08 DI over a breaking out 8.769 on a 8.79 DI.
Jack Hazzard from NSW finished on top of the qualifying sheets for Junior Dragster with an 8.01 pass and he continued on that form taking it all the way to the final with a bye in the first round and victories over Cody Leahy, Madison McClennan and Shelby Leahy to reach the final. In the other lane would be 2nd generation racer Jett Willshire who won over Joshua Langridge, Rhys Beauchamp, Oscar Isherwood and a bye into the final round. Hats off to both these youngsters who faced off a 1.15am in the morning with Hazzard taking home the winner’s trophy back down south over the border with a 8.13 on a 8.10 DI over Willshire who left with a -.041 red on the tree handing Hazzard an easy win.
Pro Radial was also on the menu at Santos Super Thunder running heads up over the 1/8th mile. After qualifying there was six cars dipping into the 4’s with James Horan on a 4.64, Scott Hipwell close behind on a 4.67, Simon Kryger 4.79, Brett Benz 4.86, Tim Cross 4.98 and Stuart Henry with a 4.99. After three rounds of Chicago Shootout style racing the finalists would be Andrew Lange and Brett Benz with the blown Torana of Lange winning with a 5.23 132.14 over a 5.35 140 from the turbo Calais.