EDI­TO­RIAL

NZ Performance Car - - Con­tents - Email: mar­cus@per­for­mance­car.co.nz In­sta­gram: mar­cus_nzpc­magazine Mar­cus Gib­son

Since as far back as the year 2000, when I was a pim­ply faced teenager, I have been mak­ing the pil­grim­age to the 4&Ro­tary Na­tion­als for a two-day blowout stretch­ing over, first, Labour week­end, and then Queen’s Birth­day week­end when it made the shift to avoid the rain. For the past 22 years, the for­mat has re­mained the same, with the show at the ASB Show­grounds on the Satur­day and then drag rac­ing on the Sun­day at Mere­mere. It has been the sta­tus quo since long be­fore I started at­tend­ing, and no one would have blinked an eye if it stayed that way. But, if, like me, you have been at­tend­ing a long time, then you will have noted the everd­win­dling turnout of pro im­ports at the drags.

It’s no se­cret that the im­port drag rac­ing fra­ter­nity in New Zealand has shrunk con­sid­er­ably, and with­out head­lin­ers push­ing the lim­its, the crowd num­bers have also headed in that di­rec­tion. It’s the big guns that put bums on seats and with only a hand­ful of lo­cal cars re­ally push­ing the lim­its these days, the Sun­day just didn’t have that elec­tric feel­ing it once did — for me, any­way.

In many ways, what has hap­pened to im­port drag rac­ing is rem­i­nis­cent of what hap­pened in tra­di­tional cir­cuit rac­ing dur­ing the early years, when up­wards of 70,000 at­tended the New Zealand Grand Prix at Ard­more. It was new, it was ex­cit­ing, and there was no short­age of guys build­ing wild cars to get in on the ac­tion.

Now, I know many of you will re­call the Na­tion­als when traf­fic lines stretched back to the Bom­bays to get into the venue. It lit­er­ally ground the state high­way to a halt that Sun­day. It was like this be­cause drag rac­ing at the high­est level is ex­tremely ex­cit­ing to watch — it’s about as un­pre­dictable as a sport can get, and it pains me that the sport didn’t be­come as big as it is in the likes of Puerto Rico. But I’m hop­ing that num­bers will re­plen­ish once ev­ery­one fin­ishes hav­ing kids, build­ing houses, and cre­at­ing busi­nesses — but more on that an­other day.

But, in the in­terim, the dwin­dling num­bers on both sides of the Armco at the Na­tion­als spoke of a wider shift to a more ac­ces­si­ble type of event for the youth: Chrome Ex­pres­sion Ses­sion, which has sold out two years run­ning. It’s the type of event where any­one can hit the track and have a ball be­hind the wheel, all while your mates are sit­ting right there with you. It’s the new yard­stick for a build, and it doesn’t re­quire the in­vest­ment that build­ing a drag car does. This way, you can have 400–500kW, a much lower specced driv­e­line, and still re­tain a WOF on that win­dow.

I’m not say­ing that the rise of this type of event has re­sulted in the de­cline of im­port drag rac­ing, but I do see why the team be­hind the Na­tion­als (and Chrome) made the de­ci­sion to cre­ate a new Na­tion­als Sun­day at Pukekohe Park Race­way.

This event will sell out, and I’m hop­ing that it will see a re­turn to glory days of the early ’90s NZPC track days at Pukekohe. It’s given the Na­tion­als a new buzz, which will see peo­ple get­ting in­volved in both days once more. And, hey, the drags aren’t dead by any means; they have just been shifted to later in the sea­son, giv­ing guys a longer time to get pre­pared, and I’m pick­ing that there will be some se­ri­ous Aussie con­tenders crossing the ditch, too. I think this move was the right one, and I’m look­ing for­ward to the new three-day for­mat and blast­ing around Pukekohe with you all.

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