Global Info-Links Australian Nationals
Amongst Best Ever
By Rob Oberg
Photo by Jeremy Reimann/Carl Witt
Brett Stevens' Jack Daniel Top Doorslammer made it to the semifinals at Willowbank.
Photo by Jeremy Reimann/Carl Witt
Despite being granted the event on relatively short notice, Willowbank Raceway's running of the 2002 Global Info-Links Australian Drag Racing Nationals has been hailed as one of the best in the event's 36 year history. Near perfect weather, record breaking performances and incident free racing provided an extremely smoothing running show for the huge crowd of 20,048 that flocked in to witness the event.
"It really was an exceptional event," said raceway spokesman Rob Oberg. "Every aspect just seemed to meld together to provide something out of the ordinary, particularly on the Saturday for all the final elimination racing. We had no accidents at all, no stoppages of any significance and our biggest problem was running ahead of schedule. We'd be happy to put up with that problem at every event. The racing put on by the competitors was also outstanding with numerous national and track records set along with a new world record for the quickest side by side sedan race in history. The entertainment program put in place to compliment the on track action was very well received and we're confident the fans left the event more than happy with the show they saw."
This was the first time the Australian Nationals had been held at Willowbank since 1991 after being located in Melbourne for the last ten years. In October the Australian National Drag Racing Association accepted an offer by Willowbank to host the event after negotiations with the Victorian promoter ran into difficulties. Following the event the C.E.O. of ANDRA, Tony Thornton, was more than pleased with the move to Queensland.
He stated "Race day at the 2002 Global Info-Links Australian Nationals was one of the best days of drag racing I've seen for some time. The eliminations went off like clockwork and I'm sure the large crowd, and the racers who traveled from all over the country to take part, were as impressed as I was.
The "event of the event" was certainly Ben Bray's performance in Top Doorslammer, winning the semi final and the final with better reaction times. The Willowbank team can be very pleased with the surface they delivered in the face of the warm weather conditions and more than a few oil spills.
Off the track, a wide range of entertainment between the racing sessions kept the crowd occupied for the whole event. Last year brought a few challenges to Australian drag racing, but the 2002 GIL Australian Nationals proved the sport and the industry surrounding it have plenty to be positive about."
Marketing assistance provided to Willowbank Raceway by the Queensland Events Corporation's new Regional Development Program was a significant factor in securing Australia's oldest championship drag racing event for the state.
Chairman Queensland Events Corporation, Mr. Des Power, said this brings a new era in events across Queensland. "Previously our concentration has been on major events predominantly concentrated in the south-east corner. We are now able to broaden our base and bring into play a slate of diverse and interesting events that will have significant impact on the State's tourism economy. Ironically this is the second motor sport event that has been secured from Victoria - the first being the Sandown 500, now known as the VIP Petfoods Queensland 500, and one of the feature races on the Australian motor sport calendar," he said.
Ipswich Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Neil Harding backed that view stating, "This event attracted over three hundred competing teams and thousands of spectators from all over Australia to Ipswich generating a significant impact on the local economy. In the Ipswich area this time of year is traditionally a quiet period for retailers and the hospitality industry so the boost provided by drag racing is most welcome. A lot of the visitors also seem to be staying a day or two each side of the event which is even better. It's also great to see Ipswich businesses such as Global Info-Links, iTEL and Hogs Breath Café support the event through sponsorships. I'm sure they'll reap the benefits."
The next major event at Willowbank Raceway is the Australian Tin Top Titles on March 29th and 30th, which is Good Friday, Easter Saturday. This event will feature rounds of the Australian Championship series for the extremely popular Hogs Breath Café Top Doorslammer and Travelaire Tours Pro Stock categories.
The largest drag racing event in Australia is the Konica Winternationals held at Willowbank Raceway each Queen's Birthday weekend in June.
Quality Racing Highlights Global Info-Links Australian Nationals
Mild weather and record performances attracted more than 20,000 people to the 2002 global info-links Australian Nationals at Willowbank Raceway from January 16 to 19.
Highlights included a new world drag racing record for sedans, 15 national records, 22 track records, and the stunning victory by Australian Top Doorslammer Champion Victor Bray's son Ben. The disappointment of Victor Bray's failure to qualify for the Top Doorslammer field turned to triumph when Ben took the family's second car to victory.
It was the first time Bray senior had failed to qualify for a field. The six-times Australian champion and 25-year veteran in the sport only last year claimed his first Nationals win trophy, yet Ben, 17, won the title at Willowbank Raceway on January 19 at his second event as a professional driver.
With the exception of Junior Dragster eliminator, Ben Bray is the youngest racer to have won the Nationals since its inception in 1965.
After qualifying seventh with a time of 6.48 seconds in the Hog's Breath Café eliminator, the Brisbane-based teenager drove his Castrol 57 Customline to come-from-behind wins over the Lifestyle Corvette of Kym Petterwood, the Jack Daniel's Studebaker of Brett Stevens and the Lucas Oils car of Gary Phillips. Phillips made up for the defeat by claiming a win against the national record-setting 5.66 second dragster of Paul Shackleton in the Tasman Aviation Enterprises Top Alcohol final.
While Phillips struggled with the Whipple-equipped dragster, Mackay's Shackleton was the class act of the eliminator, running 5.68, 5.71, and 5.66 before red-lighting in the final.
Top Fuel champion Steve Read claimed his second consecutive Nationals title in the Santo's Cranes Fueler. Running three consecutive four-second passes, Read top qualified at 4.98, improved to a 4.94 in the final qualifying session and ran 4.90 to defeat American Terry Haddock in the first round of Lifestyle Australia racing. A 5.01 just missed a fourth four-second clocking, but was enough to claim the win against the Gregory's Publications dragster of Jim Read, which went into a huge power wheelstand in the final.
Top Doorslammer standout Peter Kapiris, of Melbourne, claimed a second world record during qualifying. Kapiris already holds the world record for a methanol-powered sedan at 6.07 seconds and he and Brisbane's Brett Stevens claimed a new standard for the quickest side-by-side quarter-mile pass for the category.
Kapiris's Studebaker clocked 6.16 seconds alongside the Studebaker of Stevens, which ran 6.25 seconds. Stevens also took his new Jack Daniel's Harley to a runner-up against Craig McPhee in Morgan and Wacker Top Bike. Kapiris's 6.161 led the sport's quickest Top Doorslammer field, which was bumped by Robin Judd's 6.496. Petterwood logged a 6.20 to jump to second qualifying position.
Travelaire Tours Pro Stock winner Peter Ridgeway, of Melbourne, defeated John Barbagallo, of Ayr in north Queensland, to claim his second consecutive Nationals title. Ridgeway's Oldsmobile also set a new Pro Stock national record of 7.51 seconds, the quickest time in the eliminator's history. During qualifying, Barbagallo recorded the bracket's fastest speed of 183.15 mph. Ridgeway's 7.519 led a tough field which saw Barbagallo and Dennis Whiting join him in the 7.5sec zone. Whiting (7.534) and Ridgeway (7.568) logged the quickest Pro Stock side-by-side pass in the semis, then Ridgeway (7.526) and Barbagallo (7.567) broke the mark again in the final.
Despite a power wheelstand which lasted until half track, Jay Upton managed to wind the throttle on his Puma Triumph Top Bike enough times to hurtle through the finish line beams at 6.83/199. Upton was unable to repeat his six-second performance during eliminations.
Sam Scerri took Trevor Birrell's Suzuki to the head of the sport's quickest Pro Stock Motorcycle field with a 7.645. Maurice Allen (8.054) anchored the Dragster Australia field. Jason Lee defeated Scerri in the final.
Other eliminator results were:
iTEL Supercharged Outlaws, Steve Swinscoe d. Luke Shepherd.
Advanced Sheet Metal Competition, Anthony Selva d. Wayne Keys, who set the AA/AP record at 6.40;
Heavy Duty Carpets Super Stock, Ian Brown d. John Parisi;
Morgan & Wacker Comp Bike, Daniel Peatey soloed when Kieron Horey was unable to appear for the final (Horey set the A/SB national records at 8.87/163.82);
Queensland Events Corporation Modified, Dave Ferricks d. Leigh Butler;
Ultimate Insurance Services Super Sedan, Max Carpenter d. Peter Koolbanis (Archie Kajewski's rotary Mazda set the SS/BB national records with new standards for the class of 7.88/170.07. He top qualified with a 7.92/171.95.);
Brett Whale's Motorcycle World Modified Bike, Andrew Le Dilly. Chris Porter (Damian Martini established new national records with the AA/MB class quickest marks of
Cragar Performance Super Street, Juan Kudnig drove his street car to a win over the Cortina of Geoff McNiff;
Paul Beauchamp Automotive Super Gas, Dale O'Dwyer d. Michael Jennings;
Queensland Diesel Spares Junior Dragster, Kelly Bettes d. Tim Morton;
Fifteen national records were backed up during the event but the final total will have to be verified by ANDRA. Under the new ANDRA system, teams wishing to claim national records are required to report to stewards for verification of the new mark.
Twenty-two track records were set during the event, the first Nationals to be held at Willowbank since 1991.
Lion Roars In Holden Drag Race Challenge
At last weekend's Global Info Links Australian Drag Racing Nationals, AFL footballer, Clark Keating, added the Holden Drag Race Challenge to his trophy collection which includes the Brisbane Lions 2001 premiership medal. Keating came out on top of a classy field of sports media, political and corporate personalities to claim the winners trophy over iTEL / Global Info-Links Chairman Brian Ramsey. Driving V8 Holden, SS Utilities' Keating used better start line reactions to defeat Ramsey in the final, 14.942 at 150.97 kph to 14.938 seconds at 151.43 kph.
Keating had earlier defeated Lions team mate and Brownlow Medallist Jason Ackermanis and Ipswich Olympian Heath Ramsey to earn his place in the final. Prior to facing Keating in the final, Ramsey scored wins ahead of Queensland Minister for State Development Tom Barton and Ipswich City Councilor Denise Hanly.
Other personalities to take part in the Holden Drag Race Challenge were Triple M breakfast show host Greg (Fat Cat) Ritchie and Wade Llewellyn of Ros Llewellyn Motors who have provided the Holden cars for the series. Jason Ackermanis recorded the quickest elapsed time of the series at 14.44 seconds whilst Councilor Denise Hanley was the queen of speed going the fastest at 154.28 kph.
For further media information contact:
Oberg Motorsports Marketing
(07) 3812 3170
Photo courtesy of:
Jeremy Reimann/Carl Witt