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Darren Parker - Top qualifier, winner and record breaker...

Written by Darren Parker.

Darren Parker 2013 Nitro Champs

WOW what a race meeting and a dream come true! After competing for 2 years in Super Stock and making it to three finals I finally went all the way and had a win!

As you may remember from my Western Nationals update I was very happy with the car and only the track and weather conditions held me back from getting through the semi finals. I reset the national ET and speed records in the terrible conditions as well.

With a full two months at home between rounds, the GXP was either being worked on every day or I was looking the data and ways to improve something on the car. While we're not competing in Pro Stock, Super Stock is incredibly competitive and I am always looking for areas to improve. As usual the engine and transmission were serviced and after two full meetings since the transmission was repaired it still looked like new inside.

Unfortunately Paul wasn't able to come away to Sydney for the Nitro Champs as he was off fishing in the Northern Territory. After a leisurely drive up on the Thursday before the event we got unpacked at the track and headed into one of the many local leagues club for dinner. Dinner wasn't too bad and the kids had a chance to run around on the play equipment to burn off some energy after being in the car for 10 hours.

With 16 cars entered at the Nitro Champs the meeting was going to be competitive. There are some very fast cars in the field and some unknowns with guys returning after a layoff and the beautiful new GTO of Fred Soliemen.

Onto Friday qualifying and it was agreed that I would start off with a 1000' pass to see where we sat in the field and against the 7.44sec class record. The weather was sensational in comparison to Perth with Density Altitudes around 1100' and correction factors in the 1.01 region! With a relatively slow 1.06 - 60' and me getting off the gas at 1000' the GXP rolled through the beams for a 7.46 @ 160mph (taking around 25mph off). I was quite happy with that as it was in Sydney last year that the transmission broke on the second qualifying pass, however the most exciting news was that I was the provisional top qualifier!

Onto Q2 and another planned 1000' run. The reason behind doing 1000' runs is to try and preserve our national record as one leg of the record can be set in qualifying. This is the reason why you see the faster Group 2 vehicles getting off the gas early and with the new engine in the GXP I am now doing the same. Almost like a bracket car getting off at the 1000' marker and rolling across the line it went 7.47 and I fell to second position in qualifiing behind Fred Soliemen as he stepped up and went 0.50sec under his index and right on the record.

The third and final qualifying session was held in the dark and as expected the air got even better! Being so close to the number 1 qualifying position and after an in depth discussion between the crew and Peter Ridgeway we decided to go to 1100' and see what it does. I was hoping for a 7.43 or somewhere around that so you can imagine my surprise when the timers came up with a 7.39 @ 170mph, still taking 15mph off the expected speed! WOW! That is a full 0.05 seconds under the national record and put me back into the Number 1 qualifying position even after Jason Simpson stepped up in his G/Gas Capri. On this run the GXP was still a bit soft to 60', but after that it ran PB's at all increments.

For the first time ever I was Super Stock Top Qualifier and during the opening ceremonies on Sunday before Group 1 eliminations started I was presented the Top Qualifiers medallion along with all the Top Qualifiers from all the brackets.

For some reason qualifying at the Nitro Champs was very tough on the cars and a couple of big names damaged their engines enough to not be able to front for eliminations. This meant their was an 11 car field and with the odd number of entrants, a bye for me in the first round.

Being a bye run I took it to half track and rolled through the beams for a 7.84 @ 125mph. Can you believe that getting off the gas at half track and it still ran under the 7.94 index! I should have thrown the chutes!

Round 2 was against the Culmone C/AP Firebird driven by his Nephew. I knew I needed to cut a decent light and make sure I was in front of him at the finish line. Fortunately I only took 0.05sec off my index while he took a bit more off his after the first round. Chutes out early and on the brakes for a 7.55 win.

Round 3 semi final against another Victorian racer Daniel Camilleri. We had both taken some index getting through two rounds of racing and I know his VL Turbo can be fast. Unfortunately on this pass his car turned right off the line and he ended up scraping the right side wall and losing the race. My crew were straight on the radio to let me know that Daniel had gone into the wall so I rolled off the throttle and cruised through the finish line again. Hopefully there was no damage to the chassis underneath and Daniel can get the body tidied up for the next meeting.

Darren Parker 2013 Nitro Champs FinalDarren Parker - Taking the win over Enzo Demizio in the Super Stock final

Onto the final and was up against Enzo Demizio from South Australia. Enzo had a pretty easy run through eliminations only having to race in the first round as his second round opponent didn't make the call and he had a scheduled bye run in the semi final. Enzo had only run 7.4's through qualifying and eliminations so I was confident I could stay in front of him on the track. All was going well down the track and you can imagine my surprise when I looked across at 1000' and he was gaining on me! I needed to stay in front to win the race, but not go too fast and really hurt the record. I was good half car in front and threw the chutes and hit the brakes before the finish line taking the victory by 0.018seconds and running 7.389 @ 181mph to his 7.22sec run. On the brakes early took off around 4~5mph and he was closing fast at 187mph.

Darren Parker 2013 Nitro ChampsMatt was on the radio straight after I crossed the line to let me know that I had won the race and run not only under the record, but also under the qualifying time from Friday night. This now means I broke my own B/APA record and it now sits at 7.389 and the index will be 7.88 seconds. Top Qualifier, Winner and record breaker earns me 115 points in the championship and I current sit in front of Daniel Camilleri in 2nd position by 85 points. With a handful of rounds left in the championship it will be very exciting at the Nationals in November with potentially 4 or 5 racers in the running for the championship!

The car is back in the garage and this weekend I will start pulling it down for maintenance. As usual I was making notes through the weekend and during the drive back to Melbourne on areas I need to improve and the list is getting longer each day!

For those readers who are on Facebook and are interested in following me in the instant world of social networking please head over there and search for Darren Parker the 'athlete' and 'like' my Facebook Page. This will keep you up to date with activities in the garage and at the race track and you will get run by run results as well as pictures and updates on the car between meetings.

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
  • Nick Xerakias (ERC Fuel)
  • The A-Team crew, Paul Rogers Snr and Matt Ramsay
  • Mark Bennett, Bennett Precision Tooling

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