Entries for the first ‘Eastern Conference’ event of the new national title chase don’t close until 6.00pm on Wednesday the 16th of August, but already a growing list of both local and travelling racers have put their hands up to fight it out for valuable points at the north Queensland facility.
One such long-distance competitor is Tony Whyatt of Ipswich, who will travel some 20 hours to compete in the August 18/19 event in the Top Sportsman category in his custom grey Holden Calibra.
“When I first heard about the NDRC and the Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship I was excited for the sportsman racers to have an opportunity to compete nationally as our sport tries to move in the same direction and reunite – as racers we need to support this to ensure the strength of our sport moves forward,” said Whyatt’s, whose locally-built full-tube chassis Calibra runs a 414 small block Chev with mechanical injection, on a methanol/powerglide transmission.
“We will be trying to compete in as many of the Eastern Conference meetings as we can to support the new concept, starting with Springmount Raceway next weekend, as we try and go for the championship both in the Eastern Conference and Nationally.
“It is a big commitment for all racers competing for the championship, so to be able to win it and come out on top would be a really great achievement.”
That championship chase for the fifty-year-old National Defence Service Manager for Cargotec begins with the Springmount Raceway event next weekend.
“We are super excited to race at Springmount Raceway, as it will be our first time racing there,” Whyatt said.
“As a racer we all compete and expect to do as well as we can, so we are hoping to be the team that is holding the winner’s trophy at the end of Saturday night!
“It is always a tall ask considering the calibre of racers competing at national events, but we will be giving it our best shot to do so and make sure we have the maximum points moving forward also.”
Whyatt’s drag racing dreams are a family affair, which began more than two decades ago.
“The people, the fans, and the lifelong friendships that we have found through racing keep us coming back,” Whyatt said.
“We love the camaraderie created by racing and travelling together. The technical challenge of making the car consistent and reliable and also being able to watch the second generation of racers like my son who are just starting their racing careers is really rewarding also.
“As a family we started out in drag racing some 25 years ago – starting out, we actually finished up in ski racing and used our engine from my dad’s boat in a VK Commodore we had built in our shed at home.
“It sure was a steep learning curve as we did not know a lot about the sport then and Willowbank Raceway was our home track, being 15 minutes from home.
“We did a lost of tests and tunes to learn about car craft and started entering in major events and then the local track championship.
“We had a little success with the VK, making two consecutive Winternationals finals in Super Sedan, before finally winning one in 2003.
“Along with winning other local races and competitions, this really got us excited and hooked into the sport.
“We travelled with the VK Commodore to Sydney for the track opening event there, making the quarter-finals in Super Sedan, before selling the car to a team in Sydney and purchasing the Steve Pacman VS Commodore Wedlwell-built car from Aaron Lynch.
“That was a good move for us, as it was a full tubular, purpose-built car, which we went on to have some good success in, winning two track championships and other meets.
“We then decided to run the JP Eight Mile series, travelling around to the country regions, winning three of those series in Super Sedan and also coming runner-up once.
“It was a great series as we got to travel with other teams and meet new racers. By this time, our middle son wanted to go drag racing as well, so we decided to let him race the VS Commodore while we purchased a good friend and customer’s Holden Calibra – this is the car we currently run in Top Sportsman, with a best ET to date of 7.59 at 184.43 miles per hour.
“As we get ready to take on the NDRC, I have to say a big thank you to my mum, dad, wife and kids for their continual support.
“I also want to thank the Pine Mountain crew who travel with us and to Pine Mountain Performance, Piabla Smash Repair and Neil and the team at Precise Automatics for all of their support.”
The August 18/19 event at Springmount Raceway is the first Eastern Conference event of the newly established Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship, which is part of the National Drag Racing Championship (NDRC).
Friday August 18 will host a three-hour test ‘n’ tune from 6.00pm to 9.00pm, before Saturday August 19 hosts a non-stop program of qualifying and racing action. Gates open at 9.00am, with on-track action from 10.30am. As part of Saturday’s action, the Nitro Wheel Standers ‘Pit Party’ will be held at 3.00pm, with the Aeroflow Wheelstanders to be on-track at 4.30pm, 6.30pm and 8.30pm. Entries and tickets are on-sale now, with competitor entries closing on August 16.
For event information, visit www.springmountraceway.com
Photos: Tony Whyatt (Cackling Pipes Photography)