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Celebrating Australia Day the drag racing way

Written by Kym Oberauer.

Australian Coat Of Arms lgeCelebrating Australia Day the drag racing way (Photo courtesy Dave Hope)

The second round of the 2012/2013 Max Cranes Drag Racing Tri-Series was held at Mildura's Sunset Strip on the Australia Day Weekend. With plenty of points up for grabs there was a good turnout of competitors keen to see who would take bragging rights and the advantage into the final round of the series.

Proceedings kicked off with a test and tune on Saturday night with a number of competitors testing their combinations and getting a handle on the track conditions. A low light of the evening saw Graham Hargrave's Camaro receive substantial damage when the car got loose and end up in the wall.

Come Sunday, everything was set for a great days racing; new shades were up to help protect the crowd from the sun, a fresh lick of paint and signage around the track plus improvements to the club rooms for VIP guests.

At the end of the tough days racing many competitors had re-set their personal bests with improving weather conditions and a sticky track.

Onto the elimination results...

Supercharged Outlaws

Supercharged Outlaws

With fewer numbers than expected in Supercharged Outlaws the bracket was run on a round-robin format with top qualifier Mick Taylor running consistent high 5.40s to progress to the final in his HQ Holden.

The same couldn't be said for the Violent Rumble Capri of John O'Reilly who had problems and was running on 7 cylinders for most of the day. "We're not sure what the problem was," said John, "so we didn't want to risk it by running in the final. We were hoping to break into the 4's this meeting but it wasn't to be."

On a solo in the final, Taylor ran the big orange HQ out the backdoor to record a 5.49 at 128MPH. "It was a shame John couldn't make the final but we had a good day and the car ran really well. I may head to Adelaide at the end of the month but I'll certainly be at Mildura for the Power Sports weekend over Easter."



8 competitors made the call for 1st round in Modified, with Alex Van Leuven top qualifying with a 5.09 from his rear-engined dragster. Current points leader Paul Utting was in second position and Josh Voigt qualified 3rd in the "Green with Envy" altered.

In the 1st round Milics took the win over a breaking-out Kuchel while Van Leuven won a double break-out race with Rob Wilson. In the 3rd pairing of the session, Paul Utting ended the day for Renae Cockerill when she ran too far over her dial-in and Thorton dispatched Voigt when the later broke-out with a 0.016 under 5.484.

With the buy-back system in place, 3 first round losers ponied up to race off for a chance to get back into the competition. Rob Wilson got the bye run back into the bracket while Voigt's better reaction time ended the day for Kuchel.

With the technicalities out of the way it was time for round 2. In the first pairing a late leave by Milics sent Van Leuven on his way to the 3rd round. Next up was a pair of 23 T Buckets, with Josh Voigt getting a small advantage off the start-line from David Thornton, and a 0.008 over 5.488 enough to push Thorton to the break-out.

Paul Utting was in the final paring, but an 0.13 light would see the current points leader exit the competition when Rob Wilson got a 4 hundredths advantage on the start line and crossed in front of Utting by 0.035; a closer 5.21 on a 5.20 from Utting not enough to catch Wilson's 5.64 on a 5.62.

In the semi-finals Alex Van Leuven got the bye while Josh Voigt had the solo when opponent Wilson had a problem. After a long day's racing, the Modified final was over in the blink of an eye when Leuven left 3 hundredths too early handing the automatic win to Josh Voigt who had used the buy-back system to come out a winner.

After taking a season off to put a new engine in the car, Josh Voigt celebrated his first victory of the season when he saw the red light come on in the other lane. "It was a big effort to get the car ready after snapping the axles before Christmas and new parts not arriving until the Thursday before event."

"The racing was fantastic event and it was good to see the crowd like I used to remember. We were hoping to get past the guys who went to Whyalla for the first round and now we have a 20 point lead in the series."

"We had a very good weekend with few issues," said runner-up Val Leuven. "Previously we've been struggling with mechanical problems and this was the beginning of our season. Every run during the day was a PB and I was cutting good lights until the cherry in the final."

Super Sedan

 Super Sedan

With the first and buy-back rounds completed there were 12 racers left to battle it out for the winner's trophy in Super Sedan.

Current point's leader Dale Tucker made an early exit after red lighting to David Todd, while Mathew Cockerill, making his racing debut in his recently acquired 2 door Ford Falcon, couldn't match the perfect light from Danny Buccella. Nigel Hartman took the easiest of wins when Mark Kuhn red lighted in "The Dog" Holden Ute.

Last season's champion Andrew Greening lost a close one to John Kapiris and Brett Mathews, who recently won the Aeroflow round at South Coast Raceway, put himself on the trailer with a red light allowing Ann Jones to move through to the quarter finals. In the final pairing of the round it was a 6 thou over 6.206 from Charlie Pitt that ended Paul Keen's day.

In the quarter finals it was a red light from Hartmann that moved Buccella into the semis with a breaking out 6.296 on a 6.30 dial-in. Ann Jones had a snooze in the second paring with Todd running 15 hundredths over his dial-in for the win while John Kapiris broke out by a huge amount against Charlie Pitt in his Monaro.

Semi final time and Charlie Pitt tested is dial-in on a solo, breaking out with a 6.17 on a 6.20. In the other semi Danny Buccella cut an 0.003 light and ran a breaking out 6.271 on a 6.28 dial-in to defeat a red lighting David Todd.

In the final Buccella cut another killer light, dumping an 0.011 on Charlie Pitt who had a big sleep on the line, the little red Fiat taking the easy win with a backing off 6.38 on a 6.26 dial-in.

For Danny Buccella this was his first win after getting behind the wheel of the Fiat about 2 years ago. "We had brilliant weather all weekend and it was a great turnout. It was fantastic to get my first win and I'm really excited to be heading to Portland soon, Adelaide the following week and then off to Coonawarra for the final round of the tri-series."

Runner-up Charlie Pitt was pretty happy with how the car performed with the new combination and considering he hadn't raced since Easter 2012. Next stop for the team will be the final round in Coonawaara.

Modified Bike

Modified Bike

There were 6 entrants for Modified Bike on the day and at the top of the qualifying ladder was Jase McFarlane with a 6.19 on his Suzuki.

Winners in the first round were Bryan Finn over David Willis, Malcolm Price over a snoozing Derryn McGregor and Jase McFarlane with an oh-so-close 6.103 on a 6.10 dial-in to end Boots Oxley's day.

With a runner-up in previous event at Whyalla, Derryn McGregor took advantage of the buy-back option to keep himself in the hunt, and joined the 3 winners from the first round to move into the semi-finals.

In the first semi, Finn on his Honda took the win over McFarlane who slowed to run 2 tenths over his dial-in, while in the second semi, the buy-back paid off for McGregor as he took the win over the breaking-out Malcolm Price, Price cutting a .004 light but dipping under his dial-in by 4 hundredths.

In the final it was another lucky run for Derryn McGregor when he was very late on the tree but took the win when Finn red lighted by 3 hundredths.

"I got knocked out in the first round but bought back in and it paid off for me," said McGregor. "I've been racing at Mildura for 7 or 8 years now and it's certainly come a long way. The club and all the members put on a great day. I want to say thanks to Paul Keen and the committee for doing a fantastic job."

As the points leader, Derryn will be heading to Coonawarra with the aim of taking home the tri-series championship.

For last year's winner Bryan Finn, the 90 points from Mildura puts him second behind McGregor. "I did a bigger burnout and staged a touch deeper in the final which could have contributed to the red light, but it's always a good day when you can go drag racing. We're off to Coonawarra next to have some fun and hopefully come away with the win."

Super Street

Super Street

17 racers remained in Super Street after the first and buy-back rounds were completed. Early casualties included Creagh Sturt who was the runner-up at the opening round in Whyalla and Brendan Lynch.

Of the championship hopefuls, Adrian Wood was still in the hunt having decided to buy-back after a first round loss, along with James Fulton and Paul Langley.

In the third round it was Paul Langley taking the win over a red lighting Jamie Tatchell, Langley running 6 thou over his 7.59 dial-in. Other round winners included Fulton over Kylie Tanner who missed the light, Peter Frost staying in front of a fast finishing Mark Jachmann, while Shane Carr ended Troy Jackmann's day with 0.059 light coupled with 7.513 on a 7.51 dial-in and Adrian Wood had the bye.

In the quarter final it was Carr's turn for the bye. James Fulton's run ended with a red light to Langley and Peter Frost followed suit, red lighting by 7 thousandths to allow Adrian Wood to cruise down the track for the win.

With 3 cars into the semis, Langley got the bye. In the other semi it was Carr versus Wood. Both racers had almost identical reaction times, Carr with the slight advantage of a 0.071 to Wood's 0.072. However, it was Wood who ran closer to his dial-in with a 7.192 on a 7.15 to take the win by 0.011 of a second.

In the final it was Adrian Wood up against Paul Langley, both racers having bought back in after first round losses. And at the end of the day Langley hibernated at the start line and gave Wood the easy win and the lead in the tri-series.

"I really enjoy eighth mile racing," said Super Street winner Adrian Wood. "We felt very welcome by the club and it's great to see the improvements at the track. We missed the presentations so I wanted to say a big thanks to all the people that put on the event so we can go racing."

For Langley, he's the first to admit that luck was on his side. "After I bought back in, 3 of my races were decided by red lights and I had the bye in the semi. It was a brilliant event; we love the tri-series, they're premier people. Mildura has certainly come a long way."

Junior Dragster

Junior Dragster

8 Junior Dragster pilots were on hand to show the seniors how it's done. Winners from the first round included Rory Morgan, Emily Sheill, Kelly and Michelle Donnelly.

Choosing to take their chances with a buy-back were Nick Burns who got the bye while Tom Burns drove around Will Morgan to make his way back into the main field.

For the second round there were 3 pairings. First out was Emily Shiell who pushed Nick Burns to a break-out. Micelle Donelly ended Rory Morgan's day with a superior reaction time while Tom Burns mad the most of his buy-back, putting Kelly Donnelly on the trailer with an 0.08 advantage off the start line.

So through to the semi finals were Emily Shiell, Tom Burns and Michelle Donnelly. With an uneven field Emily got the bye and Tom and Michelle faced off for the other finals spot. A fantastic 0.004 reaction time for Tom Burns wasn't needed as Michelle Donnelly went way red and broke out to do the double whammy.

In the final, another excellent light from Burns and a dead-on 10.85 with a 9 was overkill when Shiell slowed with an oil leak caused by a shredded belt that ripped off the drain plug. The buy-back system came into play once again with Tom Burns taking the win after a first round loss due to a dial-in mix up.

"It was my first time through the first round in 9 months and it was my first win ever, so I was just a little excited," said Tom Burns. "The car was really consistent and I'm really looking forward to racing in Mildura at Easter and then off to the Nitro Champs in Sydney at the beginning of May."

For the current Junior Dragster tri-series champion Emily Shiell, it was 1600km round trip to pick up 90 more points which puts her at the top of the table for this year's series. "The car was very consistent and I was cutting reasonable lights all day but unfortunately I had a mechanical failure in the final. We're racing at our local track in Whyalla next and then off to the tri-series final in Coonawarra."

Street Car Challenge

Street Challenge

6 competitors made the first round of eliminations in the Street Car Challenge, with Chapman in his Ford Ute cutting a 0.008 light off the foot break to take the win over Jennings, Roden advancing over a breaking out Phillips and Favotti over a too quick Oberti who ran 2 hundredths under his dial-in.

Trevor Chapman got the easiest of passages into the final with a bye while Roden in his Commodore moved through after Favotti red lighted by 2 hundredths. In the final it was a similar story for Roden, with Chapman red-lighting away his chances, which was lucky for Roden as he broke out by 7 hundredths, running a 8.826 on his 9.90 dial-in.

"I've been involved with the club since it started as bracket marshal and basically helping out," said Peter Roden. "This is my first full year of racing and I'm having a great time. I did get lucky though with a breakout and two red lights during eliminations. Things are certainly heading in the right direction and I'm looking forward to racing over Easter."

Runner-up Trevor Chapman is no stranger to competitive drag racing with his family running a top alcohol dragster in the 70s and Trevor running a Capri in Super Sedan during the early nineties. "I've made it to 3 finals recently with 2 wins and a runner-up. We really enjoy racing at the country tracks and we had a great weekend in Mildura."

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