NZ Performance Car - - Contents - Mar­cus Gibson

Were you aware that at the same time Red Bull Drift Shifters was tak­ing over down­town Auck­land in De­cem­ber last year, that at the bot­tom of the North Is­land Master­ton Mo­tor­plex was host­ing Im­port Insanity? This is an event it ran on the old track, many years be­fore. The new Master­ton fa­cil­ity is awe­some, the strip is great, and the fa­cil­ity is shap­ing up to be world class. There’s a limited num­ber of fix­tures on the books each sea­son, and the re­born Im­port Insanity was sup­posed to be the big im­port event — there was even a $5000 prize purse and, I might add, this was the only im­port event to of­fer one. But de­spite that, sadly it was poorly at­tended by im­port rac­ers from all classes, Pro Im­port to Street.

The lower North Is­land has been scream­ing for a de­cent track for decades, but now it’s here only a small num­ber turn up to race. The MMP board and we here at NZPC want to hear why. I can un­der­stand it was early(ish) in the sea­son, a few of the big-name cars just weren’t ready, and oth­ers were out with en­gine fail­ures and crash dam­age, but that still leaves a big por­tion of driv­ers from the pro ranks who didn’t make it.

Per­haps this is an alarm bell for a wider is­sue, that im­port drag rac­ing’s pop­u­lar­ity is shrink­ing. Has the likes of drift­ing re­ally done that much dam­age to the im­port drag-rac­ing scene, or is it sim­ply too ex­pen­sive to haul your drag car half way across the coun­try to race, or worse yet, build that im­port drag car you al­ways dreamed of?

What was once the back­bone of the im­port scene here in New Zealand has been steadily re­duc­ing. I would love to think that im­port drag rac­ing is still big enough to have stand­alone events other than the big one, the V 4&Ro­tary Na­tion­als, which is al­ways well at­tended, but per­haps this is no longer the case and the Pro Im­port cars will just run in V8-dom­i­nated classes like Su­per Sedan, which suit their cars, so they can run a na­tional cham­pi­onship, and against full fields of rac­ers at each event. I hope that this is not the case and we can have at least one ma­jor im­port-only event at each of the ma­jor tracks in New Zealand per sea­son.

Per­haps an im­port triple crown with a de­cent prize purse could en­tice rac­ers to ven­ture a lit­tle fur­ther afield, or pull off the cov­ers and get back on the track. I know that run­ning a Pro Im­port–level car is not a cheap ex­er­cise, but then again nei­ther is run­ning a top-level car in any sport, drift­ing in­cluded. Yet at a street­car level drag rac­ing is a cheap form of mo­tor­sport, and a very chal­leng­ing one at that.

What is needed to give the im­port drag scene a boost? I’m very keen to hear your thoughts on the mat­ter, so we don’t just end up with one event a year to look for­ward to. As al­ways, drop me an email with your take on it, and let’s keep im­port drag rac­ing alive and kick­ing here in NZ!

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