Queenslander is top of tree in Australian Drag Racing
The Christmas tree start lights at Queensland's Willowbank Raceway may have faded since the completion of the 38th iTEL Community Telco Drag Racing Nationals last weekend, but for Brisbane based driver Brett Stevens the event has provided a guiding light towards his goal of capturing two Australian championships in the professional brackets.
Stevens came away from the first event on the Australian drag racing calendar as the most successful of the 347 competitors.
The dual competitor totally dominated the Top Bike bracket and was pipped in the final of Top Doorslammer by Sydney's Steve Stanic.
"It was a great performance over the entire weekend with the car, especially with the poor quality of air and temperature during the iTEL Nationals," said Stevens.
"I was pretty much asleep at the lights and that's what cost me in the final.
"But on the bike we had three, six second passes and twice we topped 200 miles per hour so it was really a top weekend overall."
Stevens will now aim for a repeat performance in two weeks at Perth's Kwinana Beach Raceway and he's understandably confident of securing further success in Western Australia.
"My ultimate goal is to win both championships and to do that I have to remain confident towards each round.
"All the talk in the lead up to the iTEL Nationals was that the track was going to be too green but I found the entire deal to be a 100% improvement with the surface a lot flatter and smoother.
"The bike will be as fast if not faster because Perth has a similar surface to Willowbank.
"We broke a few things with the car but we're well and truly on top of that and looking forward to going one better in Perth."
If the iTEL Nationals are any indication, the Top Doorslammer title will be one to be savoured by the eventual championship winner this season.
Some intense racing saw reigning champ Ben Bray bundled out in the semi-finals while his father Victor qualified in the top eight but was defeated in the first round.
"Victor is the forefather of Top Doorslammer, the King of the castle and full credit for what he's been able to do for the sport.
"But we've got to challenge the dominance of the Bray's if we want to capture the title and it's not just me gunning for it.
"It's a feather in the cap for Australians that some of us are ranking in the top five or six in the World and that'll make competition this season more intense."
Another variable that reinforces one of the biggest seasons ever in Australian drag racing is the opening of the Western Sydney International Dragway early next year.
"That's certainly created a lot of interest and the sport is really starting to bubble so hopefully we can get Calder and Adelaide back on board and relive the glory days of the mid 90's.
Stevens will once again grace his home strip during the April Tin Tops, however a massive Top Fuel and Top Alcohol program has been set for January 3, 2004 at Willowbank Raceway.
This event will mark the second round of the Australian Championship in the top two professional brackets and Raceway General Manager Harry Rowsell expects the huge New Year's drag race party to have great appeal for families.
"It's holiday time and we've been able to pack a huge program into a day/night schedule to ensure mum dad and kids will be entertained throughout," said Rowsell.
"Willowbank Raceway is in the privileged position that we completed Queensland's 2003 motorsport calandar during the iTEL Nationals and will now showcase drag racing's elite to kickstart a new and exciting year for the sport.
"For those people who have yet to experience drag racing we have made this event an attractive, affordable offering as part of the school holidays program and once again children 13 and under will be admitted free of charge."
Upcoming event: January 3, 2004 -- Featuring Top Fuel and Top Doorslammer
Other racing includes: Supercharged Outlaws, SuperComp, Competition Bike, Modified, Super Sedan, Super Street, Modified Bike, Junior Dragster, Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson
General Admission $30
Pit Admission $38
General Admission $16
Pit Admission $24
Children 13 and under are free
Qualifying from 9am, racing from 4pm
Internet sites -- www.willowbank-raceway.com.au