Wicked Westernats for Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship

The two days and nights of the 53rd annual MacTrack Westernationals saw more than 180 Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship competitors deliver pass after pass of enthralling action for a packed house at the Perth Motorplex at the weekend.

With qualifying Saturday and racing Sunday alongside Top Fuel, Top Doorslammer and Top Fuel Motorcycle, WA’s local racers joined with interstate visitors to ensure spectators were endlessly entertained across the event.

When all was said and done, it was Cooper Plummer (Junior Dragster), Cameron Lockett (Super Street), Paul Nieuwhof (Modified Bike), Kathy Regan (Super Sedan), Paul Garbellini (Modified), Jason Lippi (Top Sportsman), Kasey McClure (Supercharged Outlaws), Michael Holister (Competition Bike), Errol Quartermaine (Super Stock) and Connor McClure (Competition) who hoisted the gold NDRC Christmas trees at the end of the Sunday evening.

Claiming the runner-up honours were Luca Lamattina (Junior Dragster), Chris De Bruin (Super Street), Paul De Klerk (Modified Bike), Nicholas Puglia (Super Sedan), Neil Gannaway (Modified), Geoff Chaisty (Top Sportsman), Norbert Claite (Supercharged Outlaws), Chris Allen (Competition Bike), Steve Norman (Super Stock) and Steve Martin (Competition).

Kathy Regan (pictured above thanks to Cackling Pipes) was pleased to take out her first Gold Christmas Tree trophy with the win in Super Sedan aboard her Holden VK Commodore.

The Armadale (WA) racer faced off against Nicholas Puglia in the final, after having earlier defeated Josh Roe (round one), top qualifier Luke Guppy, and Andy Kahle. Puglia meanwhile had ensured he had a final spot with wins over Dean Whisson (round one), Glenn Sterkenburg, and Goran Kojic.

“It was pretty awesome to get the tree, this is my first one, so it just felt great,” Regan said.

“Saturday was good, and my car was really consistent, even with the terrible weather conditions, it went really well.

“Then on Sunday it was completely different conditions, but we did what we needed to do, and it went well all day.

“The final was pretty nerve wracking, but it was so good to get the win,” she said, while thanking her husband Frankie and son Reece as well as Allfast Torque Converters, SCM, Street Line Automotive and Weld East for their support.  

Paul Garbellini has made the move to the Modified ranks this year, and after taking out the Westernationals last year in Super Street, the former national championship winner was very pleased to take another victory at the weekend.

On his way to the final with his P&L Motorsports Dragster against runner-up Neil Gannaway, the Orelia (WA) racer successfully took on Andrew Frost (round one), Jeff Acton and Michael Morrison, while Gannaway had faced off against Ian Board, Darren Griffin and top qualifier, Paul Ryan.

Paul Garbellini (Cackling Pipes)

“It is great to get this win, I couldn’t believe it really. This is our first year in the car, first year in this class, it is pretty cool.

“We have had some pretty good successes so far and to come away with a win at the Westernationals I just amazing.

“We had some issues at our last meeting with the fuel system in the car, so we changed a few things and came out Thursday for the test day and it all looked like it was fixed. So, the car was back running where it should be, was easy to dial in, and the weekend ran pretty smoothly.

“To win last year in Super Street and then come back this year and win in Modified is pretty cool!” he added, while thanking his crew, WA Performance, LSX Powertrain, Allfast Torque Convertors and Australian Scrap Batteries for their support.

In Super Street, Cameron Lockett was ecstatic to celebrate what was his first win in quite some time, and his first Christmas Tree.

Lockett and his HSV GTS took the win over Chris De Bruin in the final, after having earlier emerged victorious from battles against Timbo McClure (round one), Paul Hill, Tony Antonio, and Lee Watson, while De Bruin had taken on John Szabo (round one), Jase Dobra, Paul Scown, and Mike Wubbels on his way to the finals. Steph Gullotto was the top qualifier, racing through to a round two lose against Bernie Ellerby, who was then dispatched by Wubbels in round three.

Cameron Lockett (Cackling Pipes)

“It was great to win, definitely an awesome experience,” said the Lesmurdie (WA) racer.

“I have never had a Gold Christmas Tree before, or any Christmas tree for that matter. And my last win was back in 2012. I have had a couple of runner-ups throughout that time, but never another win until now.

“The car was running a bit slow because of the warm weather, but I managed to have a bit of luck on my side as well. I was quite surprised too that my reaction times in qualifying and eliminations were pretty good too.

“I do all the work on the car myself, tuning and all the mechanical work, and I drive the car down as well and don’t even change the wheels, so it is quite rewarding to get the win when you do it all yourself,” he added, while thanking Stewart’s Pest Control and the Red Nut Racing Crew – Paul and Lisa Garbellini, Jase Dobra, Jacob Mills, Jamie Campbell, Bevan Garbellini and Phil and Peta Stewart – for their support.  

After taking the win in Modified Bike, Paul Nieuwhof was counting his lucky stars. Nieuwhof rode his Kawasaki all the way to the final against Paul De Klerk with earlier victories over Geoff Smith, Andrew Sellears and Connor Wood before a semi-final bye, with the Heathridge (WA) racer reporting luck played a key role in his success. De Klerk meanwhile had booked his ticket to the final and the runner-up honours by taking wins from Chris Morgan (round one) and Ian Read – who had dispatched top qualifier Ashton Kilvington in the opening round – before a round three bye and a semi-final win over David Partington.  

Paul Nieuwhof (Cackling Pipes)

“It was just one of those weekends,” Nieuwhof said.

“We raced Geoff Smith in the first round, and he is a pretty good racer, but we were a bit quicker on the light and only just snuck across the line in front of him.

“In round two I didn’t have that good of a light, but Andrew Sellears had a worse one and again I just got there in front of him.

“In round three I was up against Connor Woods, and he was a little too quick on the tree, if he had pulled it back just a bit he would have hammered me by half-track, and he would have had the solo, but I conveniently stole that for a free run into the final against Paul De Klerk.

“He was going pretty well but again I was quicker on the light even though it was like a .26 reaction time and nothing to be proud of. It was one of those things. Sometimes the luck is just on your side, and it is nice when it happens to you instead of being on the other end of it.

“Any day you take home a Gold tree is a good day. And getting down here is like a sanctuary away from the rest of the world,” he said, while thanking his wife Julia as well as Peter Nicholson, Gavin Forbes at Forbes and Mills Engineering, and Scruffy for their support.

Cooper Plummer’s win in Junior Dragster was an emotional one for the NDRC Western Conference title leader, marking his first ever Gold Christmas Tree win. Plummer – also the top qualifier for the weekend – took the victory over Luca Lamattina in the final after having earlier taken on Mason Hamilton (round one) and Isaac Adamos before a round three bye and a semi-final win over last year’s top qualifier, Seth Jarvis. Lamattina meanwhile had dispatched Kobe Ashelford (round one), Tahlia Martin and Beau Ferguson before a semi-final bye.

In Top Sportsman, top qualifier Jason Lippi took the win over Geoff Chaisty in his Pontiac Grand Am – a relatively new car for the Mariginiup (WA) racer. Lippi went to the final after having earlier taken wins from Sinisa Brecich (round one) and Roger Moorhouse before a semi-final bye, while Chaisty had defeated Alby Bakranich, Jonathan Valuri and John Kouw on his way to the final.

In Supercharged Outlaws, the NDRC Christmas Tree went to Kasey McClure and her Don Davis Dragster, with this marking a second consecutive Westernationals win for the Serpentine (WA) competitor, with this year’s victory coming over the same racer with who she did battle in the final last year – Norbert Claite. Kasey McClure ensured her place in the final fight for the Tree with wins over Greg James in round one and Peter Appleby in round two before a semi-final bye, while Claite had successfully taken on Sean Taylor (round one) and Brodie Zappia in the semi, enjoying a round two bye.

It was a successful weekend of racing for the McClure family, with Kasey’s brother Connor, of Whitby (WA), also tasting victory with a win in Competition Eliminator. Connor and his Holden Torana took the victory over top qualifier Steven Martin following earlier wins over Moreno Gullotto (round one), Russell Ladbrook and Rick Johns, while Martin had put Emma Robinson (round one) and Madison Brown on the trailer before a semi-final bye.

In Competition Bike, Michael Holister and his Kawasaki ZX14 took the win over top qualifier Chris Allen. Competition Bike employs a Chicago Shootout format, with both Holister and Allen securing three wins apiece to book their tickets to the final, with Brentwood (WA) racer Holister winning over Gwyn Garland, David Edge, and Owen Rose, while Allen had won battles against Jason Roberts, Garland, and Edge.

In Super Stock, top qualifier Errol Quartermaine took the win over Steve Norman. As the top qualifier, Quartermaine – from Hillman in WA – enjoyed a round one bye in his Ford BA Falcon before a semi-final win over Kim Fardella, while Norman took on Matthew Puglia in round one before a semi-final bye.

The National Drag Racing Championship now looks ahead to the Ken Scroop Memorial at Mildura’s Sunset Strip over March 9 and 10 for the Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship, before heading to Dragway at The Bend for the Riverbend Nationals, featuring Top Fuel, Top Doorslammer and Pro Stock as well as the Aeroflow National Sportsman Series across April 6 and 7. For event info and tickets, go to ndrc.tv

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