Friday November 21, 2003 - The forecast of a record breaking 38th iTEL Community Telco Drag Racing Nationals is ringing true, with the day one crowd at Willowbank Raceway surpassing all expectations.
Riding on the success of a brilliant pre-purchase ticketing deal that attracted more than 1000 sales for the three day event, drag racing fans took advantage of perfect Friday weather to sample the first event on the 2003/04 Australian drag racing calendar.
A thrilling 11 hour track session started in earnest with support categories warming the newly laid surface and setting the scene for what would be some eye-catching performances during the main night time qualifying program.
Backing up from a blistering 313 mph pass during an exhibition run in Perth a fortnight ago, John Cowin once again pushed his dragster to the limit in the Top Fuel bracket to record the quickest time of 4.896 seconds at a speed of 295.47 mph.
It turned out to be a Friday night feast of fuel injected successes as reigning Australian Championship titleholder Jim Read went close to breaking the five second mark recording 5.070 seconds (287.35mph) while Terry Sainty secured a credible 5.623 (253.52mph) over the quarter mile.
In Top Alcohol, number one qualifier Wayne Newby was definitely in the groove with his time of 5.76 seconds (241.80mph) to finish ahead of home state Australian champion Gary Phillips who came home with a 6.30 second pass (237mph).
The Top Doorslammer bracket featured another of Queensland's Australian Champions and while Ben Bray (6.254 seconds at 235.40mph) wowed the crowd, he ultimately had to settle for second when beaten home by fellow Queenslander, Burpengary's Andrew Searle who notched a 6.218 second pass at 224.10mph.
Jay Upton (6.699 at 180.22mph) showed why he's considered the fastest man on two wheels by claiming the top qualifying position in Top Bike ahead of Brett Stevens (6.303 seconds), while a similar story in Pro Stock with Peter Ridgeway blitzing the strip with a 7.47 second pass at 184.96mph to finish ahead of Denis Whiting (7.57 seconds).
Pro Stock Bike rounded off a successful first day of qualifying in the group one category during the iTEL Nationals with Jason Lee's Suzuki (7.81 seconds at 170.39mph) beating home Daniel Peatey (7.82 at 169.75mph)
The times and speeds recorded during qualifying today have officials even more confident that National and World drag racing records will be eclipsed over the next two days.
For a full run down of today's results visit www.willowbank-raceway.com.au