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Runner-up and record setter in Super Comp

Written by Darren Parker.

Darrne Parker - Super StockDarren Parker - Runner-up and record setter in Super Comp (Photo courtesy Tom Dowden)

First of all I would like to wish the Just Drag Racing family a very happy new year and a safe and prosperous 2013 on the track.

As you would have read on the Just Drag Racing Website I was runner up at the Portland round of the ANDRA Sportsman Championship series last weekend to Craig Geddes. I desperately needed points after not earning any in Sydney with the broken transmission and had high hopes for the weekend of winning the meeting and resetting both the ET and MPH record. I came close with both of the records and a runner up.

Leading into the meeting there were 6 vehicles entered for Super Stock and it was understood that we would be running on our own and not being combined to run Super Comp. A closer look at the rule showed 6 vehicles needed to attempt qualifying (only 5 had turned up to qualify) and even though there were 9 vehicles entered Competition ANDRA combined the two classes to make Super Comp.

A meeting was held prior to the first round of qualifying between ANDRA and the drivers to confirm that this was the case. While not ideal it did mean the Super Stock racers were able to race and compete for championship points rather than testing or going home.

I made a prediction before the event that there would be a few records reset over the weekend. Unfortunately I was a little bit off with only two being reset. The one big variable I didn't take into account was the track and secondly how tough some indexes actually are. An example is my own B/APA record. It was set at 4.74 seconds and 146.0mph by ANDRA, however on my fastest ¼ mile pass with the old engine, (7.44 seconds 0.01sec under the national record), the 1/8th mile time was 4.75 seconds. So immediately I was behind the 8 ball. While the Portland track is good, it doesn't see the drag slick traffic over it and for a high horsepower vehicle like mine it is a little slower than the Sydney Dragways of the country.

The weather was looking good for the weekend at mid 20's, however when we arrived at the track on Friday and it was 42°c and I was worried it would be higher than forecast for the weekend. Fortunately we woke on Saturday morning to a cool southerly breeze that was quite strong through the day.

After the transmission destruction in Sydney I sent the converter back over to A-1 to be cut open and cleaned. Unfortunately it was held up in their postal system and didn't arrive back here until after Christmas. I fitted my loose converter earlier in December to run and check the transmission and decided to leave it in the car for racing. If the temperature had of stayed in the 40's it would have perfect, however being a little loose might have helped the car get down the track.

Breaking records in qualifying

Qualifying round 1 I had the left lane v's Cameron Ambesi is his blown dragster. I left the shift light settings as they were for my other converter, however with this one being so loose I short shifted the 1-2 change and then the shift light didn't go off and short shifted the 2-3 change. I spoke to Paul prior to the run about breaking in the new planetaries and he said they would be ok. I think the short shifting helped ease the load on them for the first pass and give them some sort of break in. A 4.78 @ 145.33 wasn't bad to start off with, especially shifting so short.

Qualifier 2 I ran in the right lane against NSW Comp racer Lyle Gilmore. The only change I made to this pass was to lift the shift light rpm. A small improvement to a 4.77 @ 145.98. My reaction time on this pass was an accidental 0.003! That didn't stop the commentator going on about it for a couple of minutes after the pass!

The changes I had made to the carburettor since Sydney were also looking good, making a nice improvement off the line. There is still some fine tuning to do there, but so far the 1.05 - 60' times at Portland are pretty good and as fast as the old motor went in Sydney and Perth! I can't wait to get the car back onto the ¼ mile to see what it can do!

For the third qualifier I made a change to the jets to try and improve the mixtures as I had made adjustments to the fuel bowls and air bleeds after the Nationals back in November. On the short track fine tuning the mixtures is quite difficult as the car isn't seeing much of high gear and the engine isn't revving past 9400rpm at the finish line. These changes alone picked up the ET to run and under the record 4.730 @ 146.58, under the ET record by 0.01 and over the mph record by 0.58mph.

Race day runner-up

Onto eliminations and I had qualified in third position behind Shane Baxter and Craig Geddes (who ran almost a full tenth of a second under his record). With a 13 vehicle field there was going to be a bye in the semi final and unfortunately the bye was not on my side of the tree.

Round 1 v's Lyle Gilmore. My index was 5.04 against Lyle's 4.70 and I would be leaving first on the handicap tree. I am not sure what happened to Lyle but I was looking out the window and didn't see him and got off it a little early to run a 4.86 @ 128mph.

Round 2 and I was racing fellow Victorian and VDRC member Wayne Cartledge. I decided on this pass to run flat out as I knew Wayne would be coming at me through the top end and I didn't want him to drive around me. I ran 4.763 @ 145.94 for the win.

Round 3 and semi final time against Mike Nola in his Nitrous Pontiac Firebird. Again I was leaving first and being chased on a 4.90 index to Mike's 4.34. I knew mike had been struggling to get down the track all weekend and with a good light I was well in front by half track and I threw the chutes early to run an index saving 4.806. On this pass the GXP was a little loose all the way down the track and it is only after reviewing the pass with some other racers that we determined I was the first pass down the track after the exhibition bike had done some burnouts and wondered if his tyre fluff on the track was enough to have the car wandering down the 1/8th mile?

Onto the final against Craig Geddes and what a dream run he had. Les Heintz couldn't make it to the line against Craig in Round 1 effectively giving him a bye and he had the seeded bye into the final! Fortunately Jason Maggs ran Craig flat out and under the record in their Round 2 race or I wouldn't have had a chance. How good would this race have been for the spectators on the hill? A very small 284ci V8 altered v's a 400ci V8 sedan, both running heads up off a 4.90 index! I had lane choice and took the left lane which I had been fortunate to run in all day. Craig got a 0.004 advantage off the line and was 0.012 faster to the 60' timers. By half track he was even further in front, 3.038 to my 3.071 (0.033) however the big 400" Ridgeway started to stretch its legs and by the finish line I was 4 mph faster than the little altered, but couldn't catch him. Craig's 4.750 beating my 4.758, a margin of victory of 0.012 of a second.

Next stop... Perth Motorplex

So my goals for the meeting were to set a couple of records and win the meeting. I came out pretty happy achieving two of them and not far off the third. The 90 points I earned has put me in second place in the championship 15 points behind the leader Jason Simpson. The next round of the championship is in Adelaide at the end of February; however I will not be racing there as I plan on racing at the Western Nationals in Perth (March 2nd – 3rd) and we need the cars to be in the container and on their way to Perth while the Adelaide meeting is underway.

Between now and then I have some cleaning and servicing to be done on the GXP as well as some changes to improve the package ready for the trip west. I have a good record in Perth, winning Super Sedan in 2007 and runner up last year to Colin Mortimore with a wounded transmission, (no trans-brake) so lets see if I can go one round further this time!

Have a look at this link and check out the great facility down at Portland, interviews with some racers and the finals of all the brackets run at the meeting.

I would like to thank the following people for their on going support:

  • Peter Ridgeway and Arthur Sagiaris (Custom Engines).
  • Neil Hendry at Cryogen Industries. Melbourne
  • Nick Xerakias ERC Racing Fuels. Melbourne
  • The A-Team, Paul Rogers Snr and Matt Ramsay.
  • Mark Bennett, Bennett Precision Tooling. Sydney

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