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2015/16 IHRA Series. Round 5
2016 IHRA New Zealand Nationals

Meremere Dragway, 12 & 13 March, 2016. Results Points after Round 5

The 2016 IHRA New Zealand Nationals held at Meremere Dragway had great support with nine competitors fronting from the South Island.

Top Alcohol

Franklin Long Run Roofing Top Alcohol was all about the battle between the dragsters of Shane Lodge, Chris Johnston and Anthony Marsh, with three funny cars not getting a look in this year. Shane Lodge and Chris Johnston opened the first qualifying session. Johnston recorded a 5.739 at 256.41 in the Vernon & Vazey dragster, while Lodge was not far behind with a 5.844 at 251.86. Simon Fowke headed toward the wall in his 57 Chev funny car and backed off for an 8.5 second pass and Anthony Marsh smoked the tyres in the Mount Shop A/FD dragster to close the first session.

The second session saw Lodge and Johston fail to make representative passes, while Marsh recorded a 5.468 at 265.17 in the Mount Shop dragster to take the top position. Simon Fowke improved with a 7.081 pass in his funny car. In the third session, Johnston was the only driver to improve with a 5.636 at a slower 236.88. The fourth session saw Marsh go up in smoke and Lodge moved into second position with a 5.485 at 253.80. Frank Bogaart made his first appearance for the meeting, in his funny car, and an 8.0 put him in sixth position. The final qualifying order was Marsh, Lodge and Johnston and then the three funny cars in the sevens or eights.

Anthony Marsh torqueing his way to the Top Alcohol Nationals and Championship titles.
Photo by Ralph Smith

Shane Lodge and Simon Fowke lead out the first round of eliminations. Fowke recorded his best pass of the weekend, with a 6.716 at 211.59, but it was never going to threaten Lodge who used a 5.875 at 236.05 to take the win. Darren Hayes and Chris Johnston were up next. Hayes crossed the centre line, but Johnston was long gone with a 5.631 at an over the record 256.60 mph. Frank Bogaart was up against Anthony Marsh. Bogaart's 7.37 was his best of the weekend, but again the funny cars were on the loosing side of the ledger as Marsh went over the A/FD speed record with a 5.412 at 271.24 for the win.

The second round saw Marsh on a solo pass. He didn't take it easy on the Marsh Motorsport equipment however as he went quicker and faster with a 5.377 at 272.45. The second semifinal was between Lodge and Johnston. Johnston again went over the speed record with a 5.538 at 259.36 to defeat Lodge who blew a burst panel and coasted to a 15 second pass.

The final was thus set to be contested by the quickest A/FD and the fastest TA/D dragsters in N.Z. Johnston cut a great 0.036 light to take the lead from Marsh's slower 0.250, but Anthony recorded a superior 5.438 at 267.75 to take the win from Johston's 5.694 at 255.63. The margin of victory was 42 milliseconds. It was Anthony's second Nationals win. His first Nationals win was with an A/D in Competition Eliminator in 2009. The win also secured the IHRA National Series Top Alcohol championship for Marsh, followed by Chris Johnston in second.

Top Doorslammer

Five competitors were present for the P & I Pascoe Top Doorslammer bracket. Two Holdens lead out the first session of Top Doorslammer qualifying. Gary Benham in his 1951 Ute and Trevor Smith in the Earthmover 1975 Statesman. Both had to abort their first runs down the track. Next up was Cess Miller in his 1959 Chevrolet Impala and Barry Plumpton in the Focus Construction Group Monte Carlo. Miller struggled down the track for a 9.5 and Plumpton had his chutes come out.

Miller and Benham came out first for the second session. Miller was pushed back with a minor problem and Benham had an 8.414 at 162.16. Smith was out next alongside Rod Benjes in the Childs Play 1992 Chevrolet Beretta. Smith took the top spot with a 6.573 at 218.94 and Benjes had a troubled 9.9. Miller had quickly rectified his problem and came out alongside Plumpton. Plumpton recorded a 6.999 at 192.33 to move into second and Miller again struggled to a 9.096 at 143.61.

The third session saw the positions get shaken up. Benjes recorded a PB of 6.475 at 220.91, with some minor front guard damage caused by shake, to move to the top position. Smith had a door come off on the way to an improving 6.500 at 220.80. Miller was the only car to come out for the fourth session and he improved his time with an 8.127 at 162.31.

Barry Plumpton advised out with a problem, leaving four cars for the eliminations. Trevor Smith had repaired his door and opened the first round alongside Cess Miller. Miller recorded another 8.1 and was no match for Smiths 6.985 at 185.10. Gary Benham had gearbox problems and could not front up for his race against Rod Benjes. Rod and his crew had repaired his body work damage and was lucky to be on a solo as he got slightly out of shape and aborted the run for a 9.7 pass at 86 mph.

The final was between the two top qualifiers, Rod Benjes and Trevor Smith. Trevor recorded his best run of the weekend with a 6.491 at 219.65 for the win when Rod again got out of shape and hit the wall, fortunately with what appeared to be only body damage. It was Trevor's first Nationals win and is a match for his son's, Trevor Junior's win in Junior Dragster in 2014. Due to his early season results, Barry Plumpton secured the IHRA National Series Top Doorslammer championship, with Trevor Smith coming second.

Trevor Smith survived loosing his door on the way to winning Top Doorslammer.
Photo by Ralph Smith

Exhibition

The highlight of the meeting, for many, was Athol Williams on the Stud Welding Top Fuel bike. Saturday saw Athol record his best ever 60 foot time with a 1.03 and then have the blower belt break. His previous best 60 foot time was a 1.08. He came out again on the Sunday. His first pass resulted in the quickest bike pass in New Zealand, a 6.258 at 237.30 mph. That was with one cylinder having a miss!!!!!! His last pass was a 6.627 at 194, with three cylinders missing. He believes that he now knows the cause of it, so look out for Athol Williams next season.

Reece Fish had his Top Fuel dragster on hand to chase his elusive four second pass. His first run was a pedaling mid 5 second pass. The second run saw Reece having to pedal the car again and then get sideways, cleaning up the finish line timing beams for another mid 5. It looked, sounded and felt spectacular as usual. Steve Zahorodney had his jet powered funny car on hand. The fire show is getting better each meeting and Steves best pass was a 6.611 at 223.43.

Other highlights included Cory Abbott recording the first legal Pro Import 6 second pass, with a 6.973 at 195.99. He maintained his performance in eliminations with 7.005, 6.968 and 6.998 passes to take out his second Sport Compact Nationals win. The win saw Abbott take out the IHRA National Series Sport Compact championship.

Bill & Clinton Minchington won the Supercharged Outlaws Championship title. Photo by Ralph Smith

Glenn Collett debuted his new altered and took out the Supercharged Outlaws bracket.
Photo by Ralph Smith

Todd Spiers looks away after redlighting in the Modified Bike final. Steve van Pelt, in the far lane, won the Modified Bike Nationals and Championship titles. Photo by Ralph Smith

Karen Raggett upped the fastest altered speed to 221.60 mph, which is also the fastest womans speed in N.Z. She had a small fire in the first round of eliminations and hurt her calf muscle jumping out of the car. Photo by Ralph Smith

Record Breakers
Driver Class ET Speed
Chris Johnston T/AD   256.60
Karen Hay BB/AI 6.446 217.04
Heath & Jarod Mahon A/MS 7.858 181.54
Cory Abbott P/I 6.968  
Charlie Bates RRR/D 6.760 202.27
Ian Hilder A1/DB 7.778  
Spike Allen AA2/AB 7.928  
Steve Van Pelt A/MB   148.43