IT IS pretty amazing that a little country town like Alice Springs – with a population of around 30,000 people – has a quarter-mile dragstrip just a few minutes from the town centre. Alice Springs Inland Dragway is right next to the airport, which is the perfect spot to put it because then people can’t whinge about the noise from the drags – you can’t hear them over the roar of the jet engines. Sure, there’s only a couple of flights a day that come in, but that’s beside the point.
While the facilities aren’t quite up to the standards of Willowbank, Sydney or Kwinana – you’ve got to walk a few hundred metres to take a leak – they’ve just been given another $1.1 million to upgrade the track to allow Top Alcohol and Doorslammers to run. By the time you read this, the whole track will have been resurfaced, and they’ll be raising the walls and adding a sand trap to the run-off area.
I was surprised to hear that the regular drag racing events don’t draw much of a crowd; maybe the fact that it’s so accessible means people take it for granted. But when Red CentreNATS came to town, it seemed the entire population of Alice Springs were at the strip. The spectator mound was standing room only, and the crowd was treated to some great drag racing action. The track prep was top-notch, too, with plenty of people lifting the fronts, and if there was an oil-down or any wet stuff on the track, they were on it right away.
There was some great racing between Serge and David Bonetti, both piloting ’32 coupes. Serge’s big block-powered three-window always edged out the fivewindow of nephew David, but then David was running a
small-block and a full exhaust. Of course, it didn’t really matter because Serge built the engine in both cars. “The big-block has been in the car for 29 years and it’s all old technology, but David’s small-block is all new stuff,” Serge said. Both cars were running in the low 10s all weekend, but each has run a best of 9.93 in the past. Putting the H-O-T back in hot rods, for sure!
If there was an award for Most Staunch Performance Overall, it would surely have gone to Peter Traumanis. Not only did he drive his HBD Commodore from Drouin, Victoria all the way to Alice – almost 2400km – he also won the dyno competition with 608hp at the wheels, as well as doing lap after lap on the strip, running in the low 11s. Those times would have been even better if he wasn’t racing on the same tyres he drove up on!
He wasn’t the only one multi-tasking at the Red CentreNATS. Nick Sideris cruised, raced and competed in the burnouts with his turbo-LS VH Commodore, and Steve MacGregor’s stunning HZ Premier cruised and raced all weekend too, even getting a little daylight under the front tyres from his Powerhouse Engines-built 383 Holden stroker. Another HZ that impressed was Matt Lampard’s LUMPER. It also saw triple-duty on the street, strip and pad, and put on a great show thanks to another LS conversion.
There was no shortage of racing, with all of Saturday afternoon put aside for qualifying, and you could easily get six or eight runs in. It got serious on Sunday, with the field split into a Competition class and a Street class.
In the Comp class it was no surprise that Tim Bryan took home the bacon
with his XW GT. Looking more like a refugee from Alan Moffat’s glory days on the Mountain (that’s him on the bottom of page 84) – with fat rubber front and rear, Minilite rims and racing numbers – it was on the money all weekend, with consistent ETs and great reaction times.
When it came to the street class, it was the mildlooking 2002 Monaro of Peter Karayannis that took home the gold. Sporting an under-bonnet blower, it was deceptively quick and cut through the field with clean launches and running right on the dial-in.
Hopefully with the upgrades to the track there will be some more room for spectators, and in the pits, as I’m pretty sure the crowd attendance records set this year will get smashed in 2016! s