2014/15 IHRA Series. Round 5
New Zealand Nationals

Meremere Dragway, 15 March, 2015. Results Points after Round 5

The 2015 IHRA New Zealand Nationals held at Meremere Dragway in Meremere was threatened by cyclone Pam, but with great work by the dragway crew and no oildowns the meeting was wrapped up in record time before any rain appeared.

Top Alcohol

Burgerfuel Top Alcohol was all about the battle between the dragsters of Shane Lodge and Chris Johnston. Johnston was the only competitor to make a pass in the first qualifying session. He did it emphatically by recording the first New Zealand Top Alcohol pass over 250 mph in the Vernon & Vazey dragster with a 5.791 at 250.37. The second session saw Simon Fowke make a 7.9 second pass in his funny car. The third session saw Johnston out again to record a 5.685 at a still faster 251.81. Lodge came out for his first pass and recorded a 6.316 while Fowke improved to a 7.415. The fourth session was lead out by Shane Lodge and he took the top spot with a 5.516 at a still faster 252.95. That was the first New Zealand Top Alcohol 5.5 second pass. Fowke improved again slightly with a 7.381. Grant Briffault had not made it down the track in his dragster powered by his self built engine.

The first round of eliminations saw Johnston on a solo when Fowke did not appear. He recorded another PB at 5.632 and responded to Lodges 252 with a 254.90 mph, which backed up his qualifying 251.81 for a new national record. Lodge recorded another 5.5 with a 5.537 at 249.63 to easily defeat Briffault's 8 second pass. The 5.537 backed up Shane's earlier 5.516 for a new national record.

The final was thus set to be contested by the quickest Top Alcohol car in N.Z and the fastest Top Alcohol car in N.Z. Shane Lodge won the startline battle with a great 0.044, while Chris recorded a 0.131. Unfortunately Shane's dragster then went into a power stand, which he had to back out of and he recorded a 7.4 while Chris Johnston was long gone with a 5.653 at 250.23. It was Chris's ninth Nationals win.

Top Doorslammer

Nine competitors attempted to qualify for the eight spots in the P & I Pascoe Top Doorslammer bracket. Rod Benjes in the DB Racecars Beretta recorded two PB's with a 6.513 at 218.83 to lead qualifying after the first two qualifying sessions. Mark Bardsley took the top spot in the third session with a 6.441 at 223.10, which were two more PB's for the Rislone Camaro. Rod Benjes had minor piston damage and was busy pulling the engine apart when the fourth session was called up. Trevor Smith recorded a PB of 6.509, in his Holden Statesman, to move into second at 216.41 mph. The fourth session also saw the pairing of Cess Miller, in his 59 Impala, and Nigel Dixon, in the Pedens Collision Repairs 68 Camaro. Dixon was in the right hand lane and had opened his left hand door to let the smoke out after his burnout. Miller was a bit behind Dixon in starting his burnout in the left hand lane. At the end of his burnout, the Impala snapped right, which Cess tried to correct. The end result was Cess's tailight hitting Nigels left hand door. Neither car was seriously damaged, but a bit of work was required before they went down the track again.

Rod Benjes and Gary Benham opened the first round of competition. Gary's 7.857 was no match for Rod's 6.640 at 211.49. Trevor Smith then unleased another 6.5, a 6.589 at 216.41 to eliminate Cess Millers 8.021. Ross Taylor had to back off when his 57 Chev got close to the wall, but he recovered to record a 7.029 at 211.13 to beat Nigel Dixons 7.136. Mark Bardsley's 6.523, at a PB speed of 223.58, easily took care of Barry Plumpton's Monte Carlo, which wheelstood and then went sideways, forcing Barry to abort the run.

Benjes and Smith lead out round two. Trevors car cut out at the end of his burnout and Rod was shut down. While the Beretta was refueled, Taylor and Bardsley came out. Mark backed off when his Camaro headed toward the wall and Ross used his best pass of the weekend, a 6.506 at 221.09 to advance to the final. Benjes then came back with a 6.654 at 213.16 solo to seal the other finals spot.

The race between Ross taylor and Rod Benjes was a great final. Ross got the start with a 0.127 reaction time, compared to Rod's 0.136. At half track Rod had a 0.076 lead, but Taylor then started to reel him in. Ross's 6.651 at 215.17 mph just failed to catch Rod's 6.638 at 207.53 by 0.0043 seconds. It was Rod's first Nationals win and a fitting result for him, his partner John Dillon, and their teams hard work.


The nitro cars and bikes were having their second outing of the season. Following the first 4 being recorded on January 10, at The Nitro Shootout, the race was on to record the first 300 mph pass in New Zealand. The first pairing of Reece Fish in the Prepared Produce dragster and Anthony Marsh in the Marsh Motorsport dragster saw history made when Marsh recorded a 4.872 at 307.72 mph. Fish recorded a 5.045 at 260.16.

The next pairing saw both cars experience bad tyre shake. Anthony won that race with a fireballing 6.8 to Reece's 7.1. The next race saw Marsh wrap up the match racing, 3 from 3, with a 5.5 to 7.9 defeat of Fish. Not content with his performance Reece received permission to come out for another pass after the prizegiving was completed. The run was looking good to half track, which he reached in 3.274 seconds. That was ahead of the 3.332 that Anthony recorded on his 4.872 307.72 pass. But the run went downhill from there and he slowed to 236 mph to record an oh so close to a four second pass with a 5.012 ET.

Athol Williams made some solo passes on his Top Fuel Bike, with a best of 6.582 at 217.88 mph. Other highlights included Robbie Ward recording the Worlds quickest Nissan GTR pass with a 7.327 second pass out of competition, Karen Hay recording a 6.418 on the way to winning Competition Eliminator, Bobby Owens running quicker than the BB/TS record with a 7.341, Aaron Lelean recording two 6.9s in his FED and the huge number of PB's and records set.

Record Breakers
Driver Class ET Speed
Chris Johnston T/AD 5.516  
Shane Lodge T/AD   251.8
Karen Hay AA/A 6.418  
Heath & Jarod Mahon A/MS 7.968 176.24
Gary Bogart EE/MS 8.688 159.04
Ben Cox S/M 8.173  
Jody Irving SS/AA 7.349 188.31
Ian Wilkins AA/DB   182.35
Ian Hilder A/DB 7.810  
Bill Hamilton AA/AB 8.14  
Tony Gray C/MB 14.212 99.94