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!