History in the making at Willowbank Raceway
The traditional Test 'n' Tune before this Saturday's huge New Year program at Queenslands Willowbank Raceway will take on greater significance, when reigning Australian Top Fuel champion and drag racing legend Jim Read stands aside to allow his son Phillip to take the controls for the first time this Wednesday night.
Thirty-three year old Phillip has witnessed the numerous highs his father has enjoyed during a career that has spanned more than 38 years, but as the elder Read points out the time is right for a changing of the guard.
"We're coming up to Queensland early to do a couple of short launches and see how the track is and thought this would be the ideal opportunity for Phillip to see if he has what it takes in his quest to secure a licence," said Read.
"He's been helping out with the crew since he was a baby and as he's got older it's been very much hands on, so he thoroughly deserves this."
The January 3 National Open will double as the second round of the Australian Championships in the Top Fuel and Top Alcohol brackets.
Read has been looking forward to the chance to re-establish himself as the front-runner in Top Fuel, after coming away empty handed from the first round at Willowbank Raceway during the iTEL Community Telco Nationals earlier this year.
"It's paramount that everything falls into place for us because there were a lot of points on offer last time 'round and to come away from the event the way we did was extremely disappointing.
"But if we put in a couple of good runs and hope things don't go so well for the front-runners it'll certainly put our Championship campaign back on track.
"There wasn't much data that we were able to use from that first meeting but we'll put it all in place after Wednesday and look forward to Saturday."
The most pleasing aspects for Willowbank Raceway officials as they approach this Saturday's event are the rave reviews and positive feedback received from drivers since the track underwent a recent $1.1 million facelift.
"Under difficult weather conditions during the iTEL Nationals the track staff did extremely well and there's certainly no complaints from our end," added Read.
"The traction was quite good and I'm sure if it's not hot or slippery on Saturday many of the drivers will be confident of securing even better times than they achieved in November."
January 3, 2004 -- Featuring Top Fuel and Top Alcohol
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