Photos courtesy dragphotos.com.au.
Aussie pride will be on the line this weekend at Willowbank Raceway's FUCHS Winternationals (Friday 7 to Monday 10 June) – the largest drag racing event held outside of the US.
The event will host no less than three drivers who will travel from the United States, including Top Fuel star Tommy Johnson Jr who will line up against Australia's Phil Lamattina and five other home-grown heroes in the nitro-fuelled flame-throwing bracket.
Lamattina is currently fighting for the 2012/2013 Top Fuel title lead, and said while the experience and performance of his US challenger was respected, once the helmet goes on it is all about chasing the win.
"Tommy is certainly a very experienced driver, there isn't much that will phase him, but it is his first time at Willowbank Raceway so that is the one advantage we will have," said Lamattina.
"When it comes down to it once those lights go down, it doesn't matter who you are up against, we will be doing everything we can to chase the win.
"With our sponsor FUCHS as the naming rights sponsor of the FUCHS Winternationals this event is that little bit extra special for us, and of course it is very important for us in terms of the championship as well.
"A win this weekend for us would be very helpful in what is a tight battle with Darren Morgan – he has gotten away from us a bit but we just have to step it up and take the battle to him, which is what we will be doing this weekend."
The last time a US racer was at Willowbank Raceway the wheels literally came off his challenge, with racer Larry Dixon and his Rapisarda International Autosport Top Fueler spinning down the drag strip on Easter Friday. Dixon was quick to show his potential however, returning later that evening for a pass that had the fans on their feet before setting a new Australian ET record the very next day.
This weekend, the very same dragster will be on track for Willowbank Raceway's FUCHS Winternationals, this time with Johnson Jr in the drivers' seat.
"The Aussie racers will certainly be looking to make their mark this weekend against the American challenger, there is no question about that," said Bettes.
"The fans love a bit of rivalry at the best of times, and with Dixon's action-packed appearance at Easter still fresh in their minds I am sure they will be looking forward intently to seeing how the Aussie v USA challenge plays out this time around.
"Thanks to the reputation and international appeal of this event, they will also have no less than three brackets in which to see this type of battle unfold as well -– with Johnson Jr in Top Fuel joined on track by Seattle's Brandon Huhtala in Pro Stock and Australian-born (Queensland) California resident Rhett Lougheed in Pro Stock Motorcycle."
On the eve of Willowbank Raceway's 2013 FUCHS Winternationals – the largest championship drag race held outside of the US (June 7-10) – Aussie Top Fuel hero Phil Lamattina has today shown visiting US star Tommy Johnson Jr the ropes courtesy of a three-seater Fastrack Drag Racing Experience dragster.
The FUCHS Winternationals, held across the Queen's Birthday long weekend (including the Monday public holiday) on 7-10 June, is the largest championship drag racing event held outside of the United States.
Tickets are available at the gate and start from just $20.00, with students and concession card holders with ID gaining discounts, and children aged 13 and under gain free entry. For full information including ticket prices and scheduling information, please visit www.willwobankraceway.com.au.