All photos courtesy Tom Dowden and Dragpix.
It's been few weeks now and the smoke has cleared and dust settled on the 1st ever eighth mile ANDRA Championship event in Australian drag racing history.
To say the weekend was a success would be downplaying the positive impact the event had on the racers and drag racing in general.
ANDRA CEO Mal Bulley was on hand for the event and was full of praise for South Coast Raceway." It was a great atmosphere all weekend and a fantastic initial experience on taking the Aeroflow Sportsman Championship to Regional Victoria. The club did an exceptional job, special congratulations must go to the Cleary family, event staff, volunteers and ANDRA staff who made this possible."
I [Kym] personally spoke with the finalists from each bracket last week and the message was the same; we had a great time, the event was fantastic and we'll be back again.
Were there some teething problems? Sure. Was the schedule tight? Yep... the event finished right on the Sunday 4pm curfew. An oil-down or incident would have put the pressure on. But with some luck and good management the event proceeded smoothly.
To see Championship drag racing back in Victoria after such a long time was a real shot in the arm for locals. The outcome being that those who picked up points will be looking to travel and bolster the numbers at interstate events as well.
While the number of Victorians in the fields was excellent, it was the effort of the interstate teams to attend the event that put the cherry on the cake. Of the 9 brackets, interstate racers featured in 4 finals, taking the win in 3; Luke Marsden in Supercharged Outlaws, Brett Mathew in Super Sedan and Erin Koukides in Junior Dragster.
By late Sunday afternoon there were a lot of smiling and relieved faces. As a proposal that was put forward to ANDRA a few years ago to the trophy presentation late Sunday afternoon, it's a credit to the active members of the club at South Coast Raceway who made the event possible.
Look out for a round of the ANDRA Championship this time next year at South Coast Raceway.
And now on to the racing:
- Super Comp
- Comp Bike
- Supercharged Outlaws
- Super Sedan
- Super Street
- Modified Bike
- Junior Dragster
- Super Gas
The original intention was to run both Super Stock and Competition as separate brackets. Come Saturday morning it was clear that Super Stock would be one short so the decision was made to combine the brackets into Super Comp.
By the end of qualifying it was obvious that these guys weren't mucking around and protecting indexes wasn't part of the game plan.
3 racers went under their respective records in qualifying. Top of the table was Craig Geddes in his E/AA, .094 under the 4.80 minimum record. Close behind was Shane Baxter with 0.041 under 4.359 on the CC/AA minimum of 4.40. Number 3 on the ladder was Darren Parker who dipped .01 under the 4.74 minimum for B/APA.
A number or racers struggled with tyre shake as they got to grips with the track conditions, with Mike Nola and Jason Maggs rattling the tyres hard enough to make my teeth ache watching from the stands.
12 racers faced the 1st round of Super Comp. Top qualifier Craig Geddes got an easy run into the second round when Lez Heintz couldn't stage. Darren Parker, Mike Nola, Jason Maggs, Mario Barbon and Wayne Cartledge all progressed to the next round. The surprise of the 1st session was .006 red from the number 2 qualifier Shane Baxter.
2nd round kicked off with a snooze from Mario Barbon in his C/G VL and the easy win for Mike Nola running a 4.59 on his 4.34 AA/AP index. Next paring up was Craig Geddes and Jason Maggs' BB/APA Corvette. This was shaping up to be a tough race if Jason could get the Corvette to stick. With almost identical reactions times, it was the little altered of Geddes which took the win, damaging his index along the way.
The final paring for the round was the GXP of Darren Parker in B/APA trim up against the B/DA of Wayne Cartledge. With the advantage off the start line, Parker took the win but gave his index a little tickle, bringing it down from a 4.95 to a 4.90 for the next round.
As top qualifier in an un-even remaining field, Craig Geddes got the bye into the final, simply accepting the green light for the win. In the second semi-final, Mike Nola had a snooze in his nitrous Pontiac to see Parker cross the finish line for the win.
In the final it was an all Victorian affair, with the E/AA of Geddes and B/APA GXP to run heads up on a 4.90 index. Both cars left almost side-by-side, Craig Geddes with a .004 advantage at the lights. At the stripe it was one for the open wheelers, a 0.012 margin of victory to the altered with a 4.75 to a 4.758 getting the job done.
For Craig Geddes everything went to plan. "We decided to run flat out every race and take as many points as we could. We set the 1st part of the national record in qualifying and the 2nd part in the second round against Jason Maggs. Now we're off to Adelaide at the end of February and then Perth a week later. Traction was as good as anywhere in the country, the car was faultless and the facility just fantastic."
With 90 points in the bank for the Super Stock Championship, Darren Parker is suitably pleased after a less than successful Nationals in November 2012."We set both ends of the national record for the eighth mile and everything is spot on. I'm really looking forward to seeing what the GXP will do over the quarter mile at the Westernationals."
6 qualifiers were cut to 5 when Rob Cassar couldn't front for 1st round after suffering engine damage on Saturday. Qualifying finished with Corey Scholes at the pointy end with a 5.378 on the DD/CB index of 5.64 and Paul Harrison from WA 0.084 under the V/CB index of 5.98.
Paul Harrison took the 1st round win over the B/CB of Lionel Linn, getting a significant advantage off the start line and overcoming a slow 60 foot time to move into the next round. Howard Laing-Smith gave Jason Salmon an easy ride into the semis with a big red light while Corey Scholes got the bye and accepted the green.
In the 1st semi, Corey Scholes suffered turbo troubles allowing the DD/CB of Jason Salmon to progress to the final. In the 2nd semi, Paul Harrison tested the traction and got off the throttle to cruise through with a 7.17 on the V/CB index of 5.98.
The final was lost at the start line when the clutch in the Harley Night Rod dragged Harrison through the beams, handing the win to a very happy Jason Salmon.
"We had a pretty smooth weekend overall. The weather was good and the bike ran really well," said Jason. "This is my 4th meeting riding Mick Donahue's bike. It certainly makes the power so there's no reason why we shouldn't be competitive." Next stop for the team is Adelaide to chase those Championship points.
For Paul Harrison it was a journey well worth the effort, putting the WA based rider 2nd in the Comp Bike Championship. "South Coast Raceway put on a great weekend and we had a fantastic time. We'll leave the bike in Adelaide to compete at the next round of the Championship and then back home for the Westernationals in WA."
After qualifying it was Mike Evans ahead of the pack with a 4.302 from his Camaro, with Jack Danaher 0.007 behind in second and David McGraw 3rd with a 4.322 in his Mustang funny car.
From a field of 14 qualifiers, 12 made race day to face the 1st round of competition. Notable early exits included Darryl Walford, Jack Danaher and John Brunner who all had points in the Championship.
Winners from the 1st round included Luke Marsden, Michael Vidau, Doina Day, Grant Fraser, Tim McCarthy and Paul Stephen.
In the 2nd round Paul Stephen had the bye having put the second placed qualifier on the trailer and Doina Day was to Face Mike Evans who couldn't front for the round.
In the two pairings for the round it was a holeshot victory to Luke Marsden in his funny car, where he dropped an 0.018 light on Michael Vidau. Grant Fraser ended Tim McCarthy's day with 0.051 over 4.831, McCarthy slowing to be 4 tenths over his dial-in.
The semi finals looked like this; Doina Day and Grant Fraser in a pair of dragsters and Luke Marsden's funny car up against the altered of Paul Stephen. In the 1st semi Grant Fraser red lighted giving the win to Doina and Paul Stephen lost drive in his altered leaving Luke Marsden to run a solo 4.413 on a 4.39 dial-in.
Like other rounds before, the final would be won and lost at the start line. This time it was Doina's turn to snooze, giving Luke over a 10th of a second advantage at the start line with the funny car blasting down the eighth mile to record 4.453 at a backing off 155.23 mph on a 4.39 dial-in.
With a win in the final Luke Marsden sits in the number 1 position in the Supercharged Outlaws Championship. "We're extremely happy with the result. We sat down at the beginning of the season and looked at the calendar and pencilled in Portland. We had an absolutely awesome weekend, travelling down to the track and doing all the touristy stuff. Adelaide is next for us and then on to Perth."
"Even though I had a bit of a sleep in the final, we're now sitting in equal 3rd position in the Championship," said Doina. "The weather was perfect, the racing was perfect and the club was perfect. The field was great and there were a lot of contenders. Now we're off to Adelaide to see if we can add to our points tally."
12 dragsters and altereds made the journey to South Coast Raceway to compete in the Modified bracket.
At the end of qualifying Aaron Russell was at the top of the table, recording a stout 4.688 at 145.47mph. Next was Leanne Braggs in her spider themed altered with a 4.729 followed by South Australian Simon Barlow with a 4.895.
At the conclusion of the 1st round, reigning Nationals Champion Craig Baker was out on the back of a red light handing the win to Simon Barlow. Craig still retains the lead in the Modified Championship as the only racer to pick up points at the Nationals and compete at this event.
Racers to go through to the second round were Leanne Braggs over a slowing Jak Kane, Jenny Petrie over top qualifier Aaron Russel who had a snooze at the lights, Jasmine Day who dropped a number on Graham Hullah, Jess Turner who red lighted second to Martin Pearson and current Australian Champion Kenny Stewart over a red lighting Stewart Johnson.
In round 2 it was the ladies out numbering the blokes 4 to 2. The 1st pairing saw Jasmine Day red light away her chances giving Leanne Braggs the easy victory. Next up was Jenny Petrie in her Fiat Topolino and Kenny Stewart in his 400 Chev powered dragster. There was nothing in it at the start line with Jenny cutting a 0.038 light to Kenny's 0.032. At the top end Kenny crossed the line 1st with a 5.022 on a 4.99 dial-in to Jennie's 5.358 on a 5.32 dial-in; margin of victory of .012.
The bad luck award on the day would have to go to Jess Turner who ran dead on her dial-in of a 5.20. However, she red lighted by the smallest margin possible, a -0.001, allowing Simon Barlow to cruise into the semi finals.
With an uneven field, Kenny Stewart took the bye into the final while Leanne Braggs and Simon Barlow battled it out for the other spot. This time it was Simon's turn to put on the red light, leaving -.003 too soon.
So in the final it was 2 Victorians who have matched up in a number of finals previously. Leanne Braggs had a small start line advantage, cutting a 0.038 to Kenny's 0.041. It was tight at the top end but Leanne ran a little too far over her dial-in, recording a 4.776 on a 4.72, to see Kenny Stewart cross 1st with a 5.07 on a 5.04.
"Every race we I had I was looking over at the other lane and we were right there together," said Kenny. "We didn't know who won most of the time."
"We didn't make the Nationals last year as we were on holidays in the USA which wasn't intentional. But with this win we're going to try and defend the Championship and concentrate on the east coast. Congratulations to the club once again for a great event, they always make you feel so welcome."
"To make any final is a great effort," said Leanne. "We had a wonderful weekend; the weather was perfect and the facilities were perfect. We're now equal 3rd in the points and looking forward to Adelaide next month."
As usual, Super Sedan was the largest bracket on the weekend with over 40 competitors making qualifying shots.
At the end of qualifying it was Graham Hargrave in his IROC Camaro with top qualifier bragging rights, stopping the clocks with a 5.026 at 139mph. Keith Hards was second in his Chevy Impala with a 5.215 and 3rd was the Chevy Lumina of Stuart McBain with a 5.239.
As one of the 1st brackets up Sunday morning breakouts were the name of the game until word travelled down the stagging lanes to pump up those dial-ins.
At the conclusion of round 1, notable exits included Frank Oliveri and Jim Kahler who'd both made the trip all the way down from Queensland.
By the time we reached the 3rd round the field was cut down to 11 racers with 6 Victorians, 3 South Australians and 2 New South Welshmen. Roc Puccini got the easy win over Andrew Chew who red lighted. Scott Rouhan accounted for Joe Carbone with a superior reaction time, Winternationals runner-up Rick Smith red lighted away his chances against Julian Carafa, while Trent Dohnt put Mark Harding on the trailer with a start line advantage.
In the race of the round, Brett Mathew from South Australia ended the weekend of Jim Denaro with a 6.797 on a 6.79 with a slight start line advantage; margin of victory 0.02. Stewart McBain had the bye and ran a dead on 5.23 at 130.82mph.
6 racers paired up to contest round 4. 1st up was Julian Carafa in his Willys Coupe up against the Pontiac GTO of Roc Puccini. As the lights came down it was all Roc Puccini, who grabbed almost a 10th advantage off the start line and took the win. Next up it was McBain v Mathew. Mathew bombed McBain with a 3 hundredths package, getting the start line advantage and running .004 over his dial-in to take the win. In the final paring of the round, Scott Rouhan received a "get out of jail" card in his LJ Torana, with a big red light from Trent Dohnt negating Rouhan's huge snooze on the line.
So for the semi finals, Roc Puccini had the bye and ran it out the back door to record a 5.62 on a 5.55 dial-in. In the other semi, another snooze from Scott Rouhan was no match for the 0.056 light and 6.885 on a 6.79 dial-in from Brett Mathew.
In an all South Aussie final, Brett would leave 1st on a 6.82 dial-in and Roc would do the chasing with a 5.55 dial-in. Off the start line, Brett had a significant advantage with an 0.075 light to a tyre turning 0.166 from the GTO putting Roc hard up against the left hand wall and out of the groove. While Roc stayed in it, the lack of traction was no match for Brett who took the win, backing off to a 6.859 at 95.82mh.
"I've been racing for 3 or 4 years now," said Brett, "mostly local stuff at Mildura, Whyalla and now Adelaide. It's the 1st time to Portland and it's probably the best venue I've been to."
Unlike many competitors Brett doesn't use a weather station or delay box. "I just sort of wing it and get a feel for the weather. Next stop is Adelaide, Sydney and then Alice Spring for the Desert Nationals."
"The car got really loose in the final," said Roc."But apart from that we had a pretty lucky run with 3 red lights in the first 3 rounds. The car performed pretty well considering we had a new converter and changed the 4-link around. After this weekend I'm thinking of chasing the points and we're definitely going to Alice Springs."
Super Street started Sunday morning with some controversy with 4 racers running under the 7.00 Super Street eighth mile cut off from Saturday's qualifying sesions. After a meeting between the racers and officials these 4 racers were excluded from competition.
With that settled, the top qualifiers were; in 1st position Dave Bunnik with a 7.03, 2nd was Chris King with a 7.036 and Craig Warren was 3rd with a 7.042.
Like Super Sedan, 1st round on Sunday morning started with a string of breakouts and by the end a number of fancied racers were going home early, including Carl "Chevy" Taylor and Craig Warren from NSW.
Heading into round two there were 10 racers vying for a spot in the 3rd round. Graeme "The Bricklayer" Cooper got the automatic win when Steve Curyer red lighted and Scott Riley broke out to hand the win to Casterton resident Dave Bunnik. Next up it was Luke Neumann's time to shine, pushing Rod Kerr to a breakout and Daniel Stubbs had no answer for Mark Phillips' much better light.
Match up of the round would go to Kylie Tanner in her LJ Torana and race secretary Scott Cleary in his VL Commodore. At the tree, Cleary left with a 0.016 light to Tanner's 0.039 and backed up his advantage with a 0.009 over 7.119 to beat a .008 over 7.468 from Kylie.
Dave Bunnik got the bye in the 3rd round and Graeme Cooper red lighted by 0.002 to send Mark Phillips through to the next round. In the final pairing it was Scott Cleary's 0.037 light that ended Luke Neumann's day.
Semi finals and this time Scott Cleary had the bye into the final while Dave Bunnik used a 0.074 light with a 7.062 on a 7.00 dial-in to dispatch Mark Phillips, a breaking out 7.654 on a 7.67 dial-in.
So in the final we have two South Coast Raceway regulars, Scott Cleary with a 7.11 dial-in and 7.00 for Dave Bunnik. In the end however, it was reaction times that decided the winner, with Cleary getting a huge advantage off the start line with a 0.063 to a 0.245, the sky blue VL backing off at the top end to take the win with a 7.147.
"Firstly I want to say a big thank you to my beautiful wife who looks after the kids so I can go racing," said Scott. "I'm very happy with how everything went and the feedback has been amazing. As race secretary it can be difficult to compete at events. I missed the 1st qualifier and had to sprint from the pits to make the call for round 2. I didn't check the tyres or anything and went 7.11 on a 7.11."
"My dad is trying to convince me into going to Adelaide but this year is probably out for me; but you can never say never."
Dave Bunnik hardly misses a meeting at South Coast Raceway and was the track champion a few years back. "I had a pretty lucky run - had cars breaking out and had a bye run amongst it. I won by .002 in one race and then had a bit of a snooze in the final. Congratulations to South Coast Raceway on running a great meeting; they put a hell a lot of effort in to make sure we have a good time."
15 entrants made up the Modified Bike field and it was Victorian locals Allan, Frost and Hosken who took the 3 top qualifying positions; Mathew Allan with a 5.476, Tony Frost with a 5.56 and a 5.565 for Chris Hosken.
Winners from round 1 included Gavin Dohnt, Ben James, Tony Frost, Vic/Tas Divisional Director Phil Parker, Chris Hosken, Shane Walker and Jamie Dohnt. As top qualifier, Mathew Allan got the bye.
Phil Parker kicked off round 2 going .008 from perfect on the tree to force Shane Walker to a breakout, running a 6.051 on a 6.09 dial-in. Next up was Ben James from Queensland against Chris Hosken on his Suzuki GSX. A 10th of a second advantage on the tree and a 6.237 on a 6.20 was enough for James to cover a slowing Hosken.
Battle of the snoozes would see Tony Frost end Jamie Dohnt's run while Mathew Allan finished off Gavin Dohnt with a 0.075 light and a 5.508 on a 5.48 dial-in.
In the semis we had 3 Victorians and a lone Queenslander. It wasn't to be Ben James day when an 0.168 light was no match for Allan's 0.054 initiated 5.545 on a 5.48 dial-in. In the second semi, a big red from the big bloke on the big Harley saw Phil Parker lose out to Tony Frost, who ran it out the back door to produce a 5.582 on a 5.55 dial-in.
The final saw the two quickest bikes from qualifying run for the money and the points. A 0.008 reaction time for Frosty easily covered Allan's 0.067 light, with the Kawasaki of Frost crossing the finish line first with a 5.672 on a 5.55 dial-in, compared to Allan's 5.592 on a 5.48 dial-in.
With 100 points from the final win, Tony Frost is now on equal points with Gavin Dohnt. "I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and it was great to compete on home turf in front of local supporters. The bike ran really well and we're off to Adelaide to see how we go."
"Portland is our home track," said Mathew. "Everything is run really well and it's well worth the journey. Frosty had a quicker light than me and I was about a half a bike length behind. Next up for us will be the Slamfest in February."
With 4 of the top 5 place holders in the Championship entered for this event, the competition was always going to be tight. After 3 rounds of qualifying it was Erin Koukides in the number 1 position with a 7.995, followed by Hayley Mackay with a 8.007 and Toby Austin on a 8.036.
In a tough 1st round match up Hayley Mackay broke out by 0.014 against Jake Cartledge. Other 1st round winners included Championship hopefuls Brock Hodgson, Toby Austin and David Roberts.
First paring up in the 2nd round was Brock Hodgson and David Roberts. Roberts, Nationals winner and points leader at the time dropped a 0.003 light on Brock and the Queenslander simply couldn't make up the ground.
Next up was Luke Cartledge and Erin Koukides. This time the reactions were almost identical with Erin's 0.03 over 8.02 producing the winning package compared to Luke's 0.073 over 8.473. The final pairing saw Toby Austin take the easy win over Naomi Lightowler with a significant start line advantage. Jake Cartledge completed the round with the bye.
In the 1st semi final, Erin Koukides would do the chasing, dialling in with an 8.00 to David Roberts' 8.38. David left 1st with a 0.09 reaction time, closely followed by Erin with a 0.056. At the top end Erin drove around David to record the win, an 8.073 to David's 8.484.
In the 2nd semi, Jake Cartledge got the jump on Toby Austin by 0.007 at the tree, with Toby taking too much finish line, backing off and still breaking out by 0.052 on an 8.10 to Jake's slowing 9.183 on a 9.00.
For the final, Erin kept her dial-in consistent with an 8.0 while Jake dialled up to a 9.10. Both drivers cut similar lights, a 0.154 to Jake and a 0.156 to Erin. For Jake however, the race was over before he got to the 60 foot timers when the clutch cried enough. Erin charged down the track to record an 8.118 on her 8.0 dial-in and take the win.
Erin began racing back in 2011 and was struggling to go rounds. Not anymore. "It was the best win I've ever had," said a very happy Erin."I wasn't feeling that confident but I was trying my hardest and staying positive."
"I didn't know I'd won until mum came down and she was smiling and cheering. It was a great meeting, I ran my quickest times and the atmosphere was fantastic; it was cool, really cool."
For Jake Cartledge everything went to plan except for the final. "The clutch blew up and that was the end of that. We had a great time as a team and I'm equal 3rd in the Australian Championship now. Going rounds was great fun and we may be off to Adelaide and then Sydney for the Nitro Champs."
Running on a fixed index of 6.30 over the eighth mile, Super Gas is the only pro tree bracket in Australian Sportsman drag racing.
With 1 competitor short on Saturday morning, Kym Oberauer made the move from Super Sedan to make up the necessary numbers to be awarded points.
After qualifying was completed Matt Forbes was in the number one position with a 6.309, 2nd was Darryl Stephen with a 6.32 and a 6.342 put Kym Oberauer in 3rd.
Come race day, the 1st pairing out was Kym Oberauer in his Holden Camira up against the Toyota Celica of Colin Griffin. At the flash of the ambers, Colin had the advantage with a 0.014 light to Kym's 0.045. However, a dead on 6.300 from the Kym pushed Colin to breakout by a mere 0.01.
Next paring out was Darryl Stephen and Anthony Panetta, both regular competitors at Sydney Dragway. Anthony's Holden Calibra was out 1st but had too much time in the box and allowed Darryl Stephen to drive around him in the Ford Probe, a 0.050 reaction time and 6.327 too good for Anthony's 0.034 light and a 6.352. The final paring saw Matt Forbes in his 27T Roadster take the win when Mathew Hogan's trans-brake failed, causing him to roll the beams. In the end Matt ran a 6.291.
Semi final time and Matt Forbes had the bye into the final courtesy of his top qualifier position. In the 2nd semi, Kym Oberauer would face off against Darryl Stephen. At the hit, Kym had the advantage with a 0.027 light to Darryl's 0.082. A 6.318 from the Camira put Kym into the final over the 6.346 from the Probe.
Finals time and it was two Victorians vying for the points. With a flash of the ambers it was all over with Matt Forbes red lighting by 0.002 to hand the win to Oberauer who legged it down track to record a breaking out 6.297 on the 6.30 fixed index.
"Not too bad for a ring-in," laughed Kym, "but it was more arse than class. I've run Super Gas before and the car is set up for it but I struggled early on. A few years in Super Sedan has helped me relax and think clearer about what I need to do."
"We had a great weekend, the team and I can't thank South Coast Raceway enough for their efforts. We'll head to Adelaide now and see if we can put a few more points on the board."
Matt top qualified in a small but quality field in trying and windy conditions. "The car ran like clockwork and it was great to be in the final against a good friend and my old car. Hats off to ANDRA and South Coast Raceway and it was great to have an all Sportsman event. "
"We thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and hospitality and look forward to the event next year. In the mean time we're off to Adelaide to see if we can't build on our equal 2nd position in the Championship."