Just like OLD TIMES

E C O O K I H S N ’ W I TH G A S A T T S U N S R A G E T S T R D I P N O S T A L G I A

Street Machine - - Vip Treatment -

NOS­TAL­GIA Drags – just the pair­ing of these words con­jures up in­spir­ing im­ages of drag rac­ing’s rich his­tory. But when these words de­note a real event – well, that’s the next level of in­spi­ra­tion en­tirely, so we just had to get along to Mil­dura’s re­cent Nos­tal­gia Drags for a look-see.

In its sec­ond year at the town’s Sun­set Strip eighth-mile drag­way, the event at­tracted a 92-strong field and a heap of pun­ters – most driv­ing half a day from Ade­laide or Mel­bourne. And thank­fully there was sunny weather, per­fect for rac­ing.

This year, the hus­band-and-wife team of Kings­ley and Lau­ren Kuchel of the Sun­raysia Drag Rac­ing As­so­ci­a­tion (SDRA) put in the hard yards both or­gan­is­ing and run­ning the event, while Kings­ley also cam­paigned his FED and one of their sons, Nathaniel, com­peted in his ju­nior drag­ster. Quite a feat.

“The SDRA does all the ground­work with en­tries, queries, and track and race prep, but we’re sup­ported by the Aus­tralian Nos­tal­gia Rac­ers, who not only pro­mote the event but sup­port it by bring­ing up most of their mem­bers to ei­ther race or watch,” Kings­ley said.

Sen­si­bly, they kept the for­mat sim­ple yet ef­fec­tive, and on­look­ers watched ETS plum­met as the track heated up.

The 15-strong Vin­tage Gasser bracket had the crowd meerkat­ing as soon as these wild rides hit the bi­tu­men pump­ing out pow­er­ful three­quar­ter-track burnouts. The gassers soon jus­ti­fied the spec­ta­tor in­ter­est by run­ning some im­pres­sive times – the quick­est a 5.58@125mph qual­i­fier from Damien Kemp’s Fun­der­bolt.

The eighth-mile track was eas­ier on the driv­e­lines than the usual quar­ter­mile dis­tance, and ar­guably of­fered a bet­ter spec­ta­cle for the pun­ters, as from the grassed mound it was easy to see who won each race. Even bet­ter, the track is be­side the pits – no two-storey mound here – al­low­ing for quick and easy ac­cess and con­tribut­ing to an all-in­clu­sive at­mos­phere. The whole day had a re­laxed vibe thanks to the wel­com­ing vol­un­teers and long-term know-how of the of­fi­cials.

On track, the wide range of brack­ets on of­fer gave any­one keen to race with an age-ap­pro­pri­ate ride the chance to do so. Aussie Mus­cle was

THE HIGH­LIGHT OF THE DAY WAS THE DUAL FULL-HEIGHT WHEELSTAND­S FROM CHAR­LIE PITT’S HK MONARO AND DY­LAN ARGENT’S CAPRI

chock­ers with 19 en­tries, while the other classes of Amer­i­can Mus­cle, Hot Rod, Ju­nior Fuel, Top Gas, Top Elim­i­na­tor and Ju­nior Drag­ster were also nicely filled out.

The high­light of the day was the dual full-height wheelstand­s from Char­lie Pitt’s HK Monaro and Dy­lan Argent’s Capri in the Top Gas bracket. This isn’t usual fare from a Monaro, so snap­per Chris and I hunted the HK down and were blown away by the pow­er­plant up front.

“It’s a 630-cube Mer­lin big-block Chev built by Dar­ren Mor­gan,” Char­lie said. “It should be good for about 3500hp, but we’ve backed it down to about 1000hp. It usu­ally does small wheelstand­s, noth­ing that big; to­day it scraped the rear beaver panel.” Crikey!

Con­tin­u­ing our wan­der through the pits, we stum­bled across the orig­i­nal Dirty Harry humpy of Harry White along­side its replica owned by Wayne Stevens – both sport­ing a trusty Holden red 202. Wayne was happy to use the go pedal too, run­ning a healthy 7.86@79mph.

Af­ter the morn­ing qualifiers, the arvo gave way to round-robin rac­ing. Later, as the sun set upon the wide hori­zon, the chill rolled in and the drag cars dwin­dled in num­bers as the fi­nals wore on. Once the bat­tles were won, driv­ers gath­ered for light-hearted pre­sen­ta­tions be­fore head­ing to the club rooms for some grub, a warm­ing fire, a live band and some bench rac­ing.

“Every­one par­tied well into the night,” Kings­ley laughed, “but Sun­day started at 8am with break­fast be­fore the track opened for the Fun­day. It is hugely pop­u­lar, es­pe­cially for the Vin­tage Gas guys, as there is no tim­ing sys­tem, just a good old-fash­ioned flag-drop start. These guys go nuts for just over four hours.

“We were as­tounded by how many peo­ple came up and thanked us for a re­ally en­joy­able week­end. Many said it had re­minded them of the good ol’ days of drag rac­ing,” Kings­ley con­tin­ued. “The crowd had grown three­fold from last year, so we’re con­fi­dent that this could be­come one of the big­gest and best nos­tal­gia week­ends of the year. Not bad for a small, re­gional track.”

And while the event was def­i­nitely nos­tal­gia-filled, it’s the over­all vibe that’s the key to its fu­ture suc­cess. Not only was it in­ci­dent-free, but it was full of fam­i­lies with a heap of camp­ing on­site, cheap spec­ta­tor en­try – 10 bucks – and a very wel­com­ing at­mos­phere. It was so good I reckon we might just bring a wor­thy racer next year.

15-STRONG THE VIN­TAGE GASSER THE BRACKET HAD MEERKAT­ING CROWD THESE AS SOON AS HIT WILD RIDES THE BI­TU­MEN

Since Si­mon Laz­zaro’s HQ took part in the 2016 Drag Chal­lenge, he’s un­plugged the ni­trous and added a 6/71 huf­fer to his 383ci Chev. Be­hind is a T350/9in combo. “I’m run­ning 7.001@98mph – it’s as quick as I’m al­lowed to go with this set-up”

Niko­las Kara­novic was the coolest 17-year-old in Mil­dura as he pi­loted his mum Karen’s ’69 Ply­mouth Bar­racuda down the track. When he wasn’t cut­ting mid-7sec passes, he and the 340ci Chrysler-pow­ered beast had tow-car du­ties for his dad Ned’s Top...

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