Nitro Thunder National Records

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IHRA Australia would like to thank all competitors who competed at the Gulf Western Oils Nitro Thunder event held at Sydney Dragway on the 5th and 6th of May 2017.

In what turned out to be one of the hottest contested events run in Australia, Personal Best performances were achieved throughout the whole of qualifying in ALL classes, with the trend continuing into Eliminations.

National Records were set in Modified Eliminator with both the A/MA and A/MD records being re-written. Congratulations to Chris Manks / Michael Stower in there 6 second Altered, and Simon Barlow from South Australia re-setting both the ET and MPH records in there Modified Rear Engine Dragster.

Group 2 saw some records tumble over the weekend as well. Clint George B/APA, John Kuiper C/G and Peter Puznik B/AB (Peter Puznik the first 7 second all motor No Bar pass in the country) and congratulations to Leonard Azzopardi for the first 200 MPH – No Bar motorcycle pass in the country.

Pro Categories saw Brad Lemberg destroy one of the oldest records left in a Pro Category, with John Zappia again setting new standards with a new world record.

IHRA Australia would also like to congratulate Sydney Dragway and its entire staff on the running of a successful 400 Thunder National Championship round.





Day One of Nitro Thunder Delivers in Sydney

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Photo by Grant Stephens / Cackling Pipes


The Gulf Western Oil Nitro Thunder delivered a spectacular opening day, providing some of the most memorable runs in Sydney Dragway History.

Racers were delivered an almost brand new racing surface, manicured and prepared over the last week by the Sydney Dragway Track Crew. Although some racers had question marks as to how best attack the new surface, any reservations were soon forgotten with personal best performances being delivered by over 20 racers over the course of Day 1.

In Top Fuel, 5 cars elected to run in the first of the test sessions on offer. The major highlight was delivered in the very first run, with reigning 400 Thunder Champion Damien Harris laying down a 4.58 at over 512 kph, the quickest time seen at Sydney Dragway in several years. Along side him, American Dom Lagana raced to an early shut-off 4.83.

The hits kept coming however with Wayne Newby and Terry Sainty running a side by side 4 second pass, the 4.96 for Sainty being a just reward for many years of persistence with the home-grown combination.

US based Aussie Richie Crampton made his first run on Australian soil in a nitro fuelled car, with a planned halftrack shutoff providing very encouraging incremental numbers for the Lamattina Top Fuel pilot.

Only 4 Pro Alcohol cars attempted runs in the evening , with championship contender Wayne Price the quickest with a 5.77.

The season debut of reigning champ John Zapppia in Pro Slammer proved once again that he is regarded as the king of the category, with an impressive 5.71 pacing the field. Gulf Western Oil Team driver Victor Bray was hot on his heels with a 6.02 and the surprise packet of the day, Sam Fenech in third.

Top Bike saw only one representative run with Championship Leader Chris Matheson recording a early shut off 6.62 at a slowing 283 kph. The most spectacular event of the day belonged to Adam Layton with a massive engine detonation at ¼ track. Layton was uninjured in the incident.

Pro Stock was a surprisingly difficult proposition, with teams walking the fine line between hitting the perfect setup or not, with only Aaron Tremayne in the new Mega Bulk Fuels backed entry and

Jason Hedges the only cars to get down in a competitive time with a 6.98 and 7.09 respectively.

Pro Bike saw Brad Lemberg lay down a great run of 7.21 to sit comfortably atop the field with reigning Champion Glenn Wooster from Warrnambool in Victoria not too far behind with 7.36 in second,.

Day 2 of the Gulf Western Oil Nitro Thunder will be without a one of the fastest days of racing on record at Sydney Dragway. The penultimate round of the 400 Thunder Series features every professional category and a full compliment of the 400 Thunder Sportsman Series categories in support.

Tickets are available at or at the gate.

For Media Enquiries, please contact Rusty Gregory, Partnerships and Media Manager for Sydney Dragway, on 0438 706 727.


Nitro Thunder Event Preview

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Nitro Thunder Event Preview

The Gulf Western Oil Nitro Thunder will hit Sydney Dragway with a storm of horsepower to assault the senses on the 5th and 6th of May.

In Top Fuel, a titanic battle for the championship between contenders Wayne Newby and Darren Morgan will continue. They have one additional hurdle to overcome at this event however, with US based Aussie superstar Richie Crampton returning home to drive for the Lamattina Team for the first time.

Pro Alcohol finds the reigning 400 Thunder Series champ, Gary Phillips, holding a slender 29 point lead over Queenslander Steve Ham who has been one of the quickest cars in the championship this season. Victorian Wayne Price is looking to bounce back after a tough last round which saw him lose the number two position in the points.

Pro Slammer promises to be one of the most entertaining categories with a strong entry list featuring popular racers Victor and Ben Bray, the Championship leader Mark Belleri and reigning champion, Western Australia’s John Zappia, who will be making his season debut.

The insane Top Bikes will again take to the Sydney Dragway track, reaching speeds of over 350 kph on two wheels. The hunt for the first 5 second run on two wheels is alive and well, with the championship leader Chris Matheson the front runner for the honour. He has Harley Davidson rider Chris Porter only 29 points behind him in the championship chase, so any slip up could be costly.

The most successful racer of his generation, Aaron Tremayne, is in command of the Pro Stock Championship with a massive 154 point advantage over Brian Pursell. All eyes though will be on the retiring Lee Bektash, who is looking to bow out of the sport with a victory in his final race in Sydney.

Pro Bike is shaping up to be one of the most hotly contested categories, with current Champion Glenn Wooster hoping to make up ground on current championship leader Brad Lemberg. Throw in a couple of previous champions in the form of Maurice Allen and Locky Ireland, and it becomes clear that Pro Bike is wide open at the Nitro Thunder.

In addition to the on track activities, the Gulf Westen Oil Nitro Thunder has plenty off track entertainment as well. Kicking off with the Sydney Dragway Tradie Hour between 3 & 4 pm on Friday 5th May, including discounted drinks and sausages on a roll, the AEG Powertools All Star Autograph Session at 11.30am on Saturday 6th May and the AEG Powertools Hour of Power, kicking off at 1pm Saturday.

With a full roster of the 400 Thunder Sportsman Series in attendance as well, championships will be defined at the Gulf Western Oil Nitro Thunder, the penultimate round of the 400 Thunder Series for 2016-17.


MORGAN ready to impress as Championship reaches climax

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For Immediate Release: 1/5/17

For most racers, racing a top fuel dragster seems like an impossible dream. Winning a Top Fuel Championship is the impossible dream.

Yet for Darren Morgan, who next season will celebrate 10 years of Darren Morgan Racing in Top Fuel, the dream has become a reality.

He has won 4 Top Fuel titles previously, but the family man from Mildura in rural Victoria has an insatiable appetite for success. He is 37 points adrift of 400 Thunder Championship leader Wayne Newby heading into this weekend’s Gulf Western Oil Nitro Thunder, but if he has proved anything over the last decade it is that he should never be counted out of contention.

“We want to put on a great show for the fans that are coming out to see us, and take Drag Racing back to where it deserves to be in this country”, said Morgan. “The championship is kind of out of our hands at this stage, but if we go out and try to win every round then we start to put the pressure back onto the other guys in the hunt”.

Ever since rolling out a new car for the start of the 400 Thunder Top Fuel series back in , the AEG Power tools driver has had a smile on his face. The reason? The new car was responding to every change that the team were making – which makes for a very happy team owner and driver.

His crew chief, Ben Patterson, is one of the main reasons behind the success of the team. He remains a quiet achiever in modern Top Fuel racing and with a wealth of experience far beyond his years, Patterson has taken to his role with a combination of attention to detail and passion that is hard to match.

“The new car has been a pleasure to work on , it took us a while to get a handle on it but once we figured out what it needed, it really started coming to life”, Patterson said. “No two top fuel cars are the same no matter how hard you try to make them similar, and now that we know what it wants then we can start getting after it this weekend”.

Keep your eye on the AEG Power Tools teams this weekend because there is plenty of fight left in this championship calibre team.

Darren Morgan will be racing as part of the Top Fuel Category in the 400 Thunder Series at the Gulf Western Oil Nitro Thunder on 5th & 6th May 2017.

Tickets are available at or at the gate.

For Media Enquiries, please contact Rusty Gregory, Partnerships and Media Manager for Sydney Dragway, on 0438 706 727.


Ambesi ready for big show

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For Immediate Release : 3/5/16

Victorian racer Cameron Ambesi is not about doing things by halves – and his arrival in the 400 Thunder Series is more proof of his passion for professionalism in his racing endeavours.

The 43 year old has jumped into the deep end with a brand-new, US built Spitzer dragster which he hopes will be able to take him to the pointy end of the Pro Alcohol category at the Gulf Western Oil Nitro Thunder, at Sydney Dragway on 5th & 6th May 2017.

When asked why he has gone down the less popular dragster route as opposed to the funny cars which seem to dominate the landscape in Pro Alcohol currently, his answer was simple: “I’m a dragster guy. I always have been and I think I always will be”.

After starting off as a crew member on a friends Super Sedan car, Ambesi decided that his first race car would be a quick one – a supercharged alcohol fuelled dragster that he campaigned in Competition Eliminator.

After several seasons competing in the tough Sportsman category, the Wandong, Vic, resident decided to take the plunge into what has fast become one of the most popular 400 Thunder Series categories.

“Our goal for this weekend is to get some seat time, and find out what racing in the 400 Thunder Series is all about. The format of racing is a bit different to eliminations but we get to make a lot more runs and that is fantastic”.

“I can’t do this without my sponsors and would like to thank KLR Garages, C & A Towing, Bundoora Auto Centre, Caroline Springs Auto Body and Dragway engineering for their assistance in getting this car on track”.

Cameron Ambesi will be racing as part of the 400 Thunder Series at the Gulf Western Oil Nitro Thunder on 5th & 6th May 2017.

Tickets are available at or at the gate.

For Media Enquiries, please contact Rusty Gregory, Partnerships and Media Manager for Sydney Dragway, on 0438 706 727.


SANTO’S THUNDER – APRIL 14th Willowbank Raceway Meeting Report

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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.

Top Fuel

newby-14thapril2017The 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.



Fuel Motorcycle

porter-14thapril2017Going 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.



Pro Alky

sting14thapril2017This 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

tremayne14thapril2017Pro 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.

Super Stock

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.



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Friday 14th April 2017:-santos-thunder-banner

The Santo’s Super Thunder presented by Uplift Cranes and Titan Cranes is an Easter spectacular with the quickest and fastest racers in the country set to headline an action-packed show, this show wouldn’t be complete without the countries  finest sportsman racers battling it out for the elusive Gold Xmas Tree.

The 400 Thunder Professional Series will be leading the way down the Raceway at more than 400km/h with Top Fuel, Top Bike, Pro Alcohol and Pro Stock, you can expect thrilling action and high emotions as these racers look to make the most of their track time to claim victory this Easter.




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The numbers are trending upward in the Land Down Under. IRG Sports + Entertainment announces that the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) Australia has achieved a milestone of issuing more than 2,000 competitor licenses in just seven months.

As a proud partner and sanctioning body of the 400 Thunder Australian Professional Drag Racing Series and the 400 Thunder Australian Sportsman Championship Series, IHRA Australia has experienced tremendous growth over the past several months.

“By every measure of how you achieve success in business, our movement into IHRA Australia has been an outstanding success under the guidance of IHRA President Mike Dunn and Maurice Allen, Managing Director for IHRA Australia,” said Chris Lencheski, vice chairman and CEO of IRGSE, parent company of IHRA Australia. “If you’re achieving more than 2,000 memberships in less than seven months, you’re doing something right.”

Maurice Allen, Managing Director for IHRA Australia, added, “It’s a terrific milestone in such a short period of time. It demonstrates a common-sense approach to the licensing structure which was required. What is most pleasing are the 2-3 year licenses with the competitors which shows their support for IHRA Australia and a fresh, new start. It’s also a chance to thank our stewards and tech experts in their support of the racers.”

IHRA Australia races at multiple sports venues including Willowbank Raceway, which hosts the City of Ipswich Winternationals, the second largest drag racing event in the world. Other venues include Springmount Raceway and Wide Bay Motor Complex in Queensland, and Sydney Dragway in New South Wales.

“To have that kind of membership and that kind of support, it’s huge for IHRA moving forward,” Dunn said. “Since it is the International Hot Rod Association, we have a strong international presence and Australia is key to those plans.”



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Ever wanted to work in motorsport? Now is your opportunity!

IHRA Australia is looking for the right people to enhance our existing race-day team.
The people we’re looking for will be trained as IHRA Stewards to ensure the safe and
fair running of our events.

You will need to bring the following skills with you:
• Technically-minded
• Attention to Detail
• Able to think on your feet
• Excellent interpersonal and customer service skills
• Good problem-solving skills
• Equally comfortable working in a team environment or on your own
• The ability to be firm but fair in your dealings with racers
• Reasonable grasp of our racing classes
• Good basic understanding of drag racing

A reasonable level of fitness is also needed as you will be on your feet for reasonably
long periods while you perform your duties.

Positions are available nationwide.

Former racers, crew members and stewards are especially welcome to apply. For
insurance purposes, we can only accept applications from those 18 or over.

Interested? Email your resume and contact details to Maurice Allen at