For the 1st time in Australian drag racing history ANDRA Championship points will be up for grabs over the 1/8th mile, when round 2 of the Aeroflow Sportsman Series hits Fuchs South Coast Raceway on January 5th and 6th.
This historic event will also mark the 1st time Championship racing has taken place in Victoria in over 10 years, with 157 sportsman racers from around Australia are making their way to Portland to chase Championship points and sample the hospitality of one of the best regional tracks in the country.
A full program of ANDRA sportsman racing will be on offer including cars and bikes from groups 2, 3 and 4.
Club secretary Scott Cleary said "we're both excited and nervous at the prospect of holding such a big event. We've done a lot or work to prepare for this meeting including new concrete on the finish line, new hot mix in the braking area and equipment to handle group 2 vehicles."
Let's see what we can look forward to over the weekend...
Kicking off group 2 is Competition. With 9 entries comprising blown, naturally aspirated, turbocharged and nitrous cars, this will be the first time index racing has taken place over the eighth mile for Championship points.
Included in the mix are 8 Victorians and 1 lone New South Welshman in the form of Lyle Gilmore, equal 4th position in the National Championship in his CC/AA. "I've heard great things about the track and we'll be there ready to race", said Lyle. "We hope to run around a 4.50 on the 4.70 index. We had a few issues at the Nationals but it's all sorted now."
Representing the naturally aspirated brigade will be Wayne Cartledge in his B/DA, currently sitting 2nd in the ANDRA Championship on 80 points and Craig Geddes in his E/AA, 10 points behind Wayne and 3rd in the Championship overall.
"We're heading down to South Coast Raceway to chase the points," said Craig, "with the intention of setting the national record over the eighth mile. There are some very fast cars in the bracket so it's going to be tough, but we've made the decision to travel to Perth for their next Championship round so we'll be after every single point".
Talking of tough cars, Jason Maggs will be steering the Maggs Racing BB/AP Corvette with the full intention of beating up on the index. "We had an issue with the diff housing at the Nationals which we've replaced and we're ready to go. We'll be going down there to have a good time and enjoy ourselves. Having fun means going rounds."
6 bikes will front the starter on Friday morning to qualify in Competition Bike with current Championship points leader Corey Scholes the man to catch on his potent DD/CB. "Our aim for the weekend is to come away with 120 points; top qualify, win the event and break the records."
Making the trip all the way from WA is Paul Harrison who is currently sitting 3rd in the Championship on 60 points. "We've been racing modified bike in WA for the last 5 years and we made the switch to comp bike this season. Our aim is to chase the Championship so we took the opportunity to come to Portland, hopefully collect some points and make a holiday of it", said Paul.
After a few mechanical woes at the Nationals, Ballistic Drag Racing's Rob Cassar joked he's "hoping to get down the track and stop at the other end. Seriously though, we should run on or under the new record if the track is there. "
Heading the field of 6 super-stockers is Daniel Camilleri with a semi-final finish at the Nationals in November 2012. With his turbocharged 6 cylinder Nissan powered VL, Daniel is "hopeful of getting the win and running right on the record. If we go well, semis or finals, we will certainly do Adelaide and then Perth perhaps."
Another racer looking forward to the weekend is Darren Parker is his B/APA Pontiac GXP. "After a piss poor effort at the Nationals our goal is to top qualify, win and reset both ends of the record. A new transmission is in the car and we've made lots of changes. We're chasing the Championship and it starts this weekend."
If you're into blown muscle then Supercharged Outlaws is for you. Of the 14 entrants, 4 are in the top 10 chasing the National Championship, with Darryl Walford from NSW in 4th position, John Brunner also from NSW in 5th and Victorian Jack Danaher in 7th.
With a runner-up is last year's Championship, Jack Danaher is keen to go 1 better this year. "We've stepped the tune up since our last trip to Portland," said Jack. "We got to the quarters at the Nationals where I ended up in the sand so we'll be looking to bag a few more points to set us up for the next round."
Making his way down from NSW is John Brunner in his immaculate HK Monaro to see if he can add to his 40 points in the Championship. 'We did well at the Nationals so we decided to come down to Portland. We've heard so many good things about the track and the club so the team is really looking forward to the weekend," Said John.
John will also be returning to South Coast Raceway in February to run with the doorslammers at the Slamfest.
With 14 entries in Modified, this is going to be one tough bracket with good lights and tight dial-ins required to go rounds.
Current Nationals Champion Craig Baker from Victoria will be looking to add to his 100 points and move further ahead of the pack. "It's a long Championship year, "said Craig. "There are plenty of opportunities to score points so we're looking to build on our current position and then head to Adelaide at the end of February. We're taking it a little more seriously this year and can't wait for racing to get underway this weekend."
Most likely the quickest car in the field will be the 565 Chev powered altered of Leanne Braggs. "We love coming to race at Portland and we'll be looking to run in the 4.60s or thereabouts. Having a round of the Championship in Portland is great for Victorian drag racing," said Leanne.
No stranger to success at South Coast Raceway, Leanne won the local Modified Championship and was the runner-up in both the car and club Championship for the 2011/2012 season.
By far the biggest field is Super Sedan. With 48 entrants it's going to take a combination of skill and some luck to take home the winner's trophy is this ultra competitive bracket.
With 100 points up for grabs for the winner it's no wonder that a number of intestate heavy hitters are making their way south to give the locals a run for their money.
One such racer is Jim Denaro in his Windsor powered Ford Cortina. "We've been keen to come down for a while now," said Jim. "If things go well this weekend we may chase the points and improve on our current 4th position in the Championship. Last year we finished in 6th position."
Known for his good lights and consistent times, Jim finished 3rd in the 2012 NSW Super Sedan Championship and will be one to watch race day.
Also on his way down from NSW is Tamworth racer Mark Harding in the ex Benny Gatt Capri built in 1978. "We've never been to Portland before. We hear it's a nice town and we're really excited to be racing at South Coast Raceway," said Mark.
"We won the Nationals back in 2010 and finished 5th in the Super Sedan Championship last season and 4th the year before that. Our aim is to try and get to all the rounds this year except for Perth."
If you're into American muscle then look out for South Australia's Anthony Rachella in his 68 Camaro. With 25 years of drag racing Anthony certainly has the experience to go rounds. "We're sitting equal 5th at the moment in the Championship and we're chasing points. We'll certainly be running at the Adelaide round in February and if we get some sponsorship on-board, travelling to other rounds will definitely be on the cards," said Anthony.
The second biggest field this weekend will be Super Street with 23 entrants, with a number of local and interstate racers vying for the number 1 finish.
One such racer is Carl Taylor from NSW who is currently in the number 1 position after a victory at the Australian Nationals. Carl also won the Nitro Champs last year and was 4th in the national Championship and 2nd in the NSW Championship.
"Consistency will be key," said Carl. "I'd like to take away some reasonable points if I can but the competition will be tough."
What's even more amazing about Carl's achievements is he will drive his 62 Chev Belair from NSW to Portland, race low 7s over the eighth mile and then drive home again. Now that's a "super street" car!
For Kylie Tanner, returning to race at South Coast Raceway "will be like a second honey moon. Gary and I have been married 3 years now and we spent the weekend racing in Portland just after our wedding."
"It's really exciting that Championship points are now up for grabs in regional Australia. We've had a fair bit of experience at South Coast Raceway but if we can get past the dreaded 1st round we'll be happy".
Second in last year's National Championship and wins at the Nationals in 2009 and Nitro Champs in 2010, Kylie certainly knows her way to the winner's circle.
Local Victorian racer Gavin Dohnt will be one to watch in the field of 18 modified bikes. As a regular winner at South Coast Raceway having won the club bike Championship in the 2008/2009 season, Gavin starts the weekend on 100 points with his win at the Nationals in November 2012.
Gavin's plan is simple – "to go as many rounds as possible and build on our points lead."
Another local racer who's in the hunt is Tony Frost from Warrnambool. Currently equal 4th in the points Tony said "it was great to get to the quarters in Sydney at the Nationals. If we can do well this weekend we will chase the series and our aim is to do at least 4 to 5 rounds this year. The bike is consistent after a 3 year layoff and now it's up to the rider."
14 stars of the future will take to the eighth mile in Junior Dragster this weekend to do battle for the points. With competitors from QLD, NSW, Vic, Tas and SA, individual and state bragging rights will be on the line.
Looking at the current points standing, 4 of the top 5 place holders will be in Portland to chase the Championship with David Roberts in 1st position, Toby Austin in 2nd, Hayley Mackay in 3rd and Jake Cartledge in 5th.
Flying in from QLD, this will be Hayley Mackay's first visit to Victoria. It's also her last year in Junior Dragster with the hope of moving into Supercharged Outlaws in the future.
"I'm really excited about going somewhere new and chasing the points in my final year," said Hayley. "I was 3rd in the Championship a few seasons ago and we'll be travelling this year to see if we can win a National Championship."
With a small but quality field of 6 competitors in Super Gas, it's going to take quick reactions on the pro tree and a handle on the conditions to run the 6.30 fixed index.
Matt Forbes from Ballarat will be hoping to run well this weekend and build on the 20 points he scored at the Nationals. "We're definitely chasing the points this weekend and we hope to do 7 rounds in the Championship. We would love to go to the Winters but will be in the USA at that time. Local knowledge could be a real factor with qualifying on Saturday and racing on Sunday," said Matt.
Sitting on 40 points in the Championship is Colin Griffin in his Toyota Celica. "It's fantastic to have the 1st Championship round over the eight mile at South Coast Raceway," said Colin. "My wife Anne (crew chief) and I are really looking forward to the weekends racing. We've raced at Portland a few times this season and we've made significant changes to the car to run on the 6.30 index as compared to what we run on the 9.90 quarter mile index."