As he looks forward to the Lawrence Quarter-Mile Drag day, Clutha Leader reporter Nick Brook looks back on ‘‘the day boy-racing changed . . .’’
Us humans are always on the lookout for more speed and power, and that’s why the 6000 years up to the 20th century left us with the uncompromising term ‘‘horsepower’’.
In the early 90s I was gelling my mullet with the crews doing laps in Datsuns, Cortinas and Mazda RXs.
A guy we knew called Darren was even ‘‘doing up’’ a Morris 1100.
I progressed through a Vauxhall Viva and Austin Avenger up to a ‘90s Honda, and that was part of the shift.
Sometime in the 1990s, the backlog in the used-car yards suddenly shifted, as deregulated private finance companies discovered young people new to the workforce wanted slicker cars.
That’s when the Skylines and Subarus supplanted the window-rattling relics we’d picked up from the trade papers or inherited from mum.
A good mate of mine had the first Mazda Familia in town, and with Ramflow carbs and a couple of Cobys, he was cock of the walk for a good six months.
The boys I rolled with played it pretty safe and looked forward to open days at Fielding’s Manfield race track — the high-octane atmosphere of rivalry and camaraderie tempered by the oversight of motorsport experts.
Sadly, my proud 2004 Probox with unmodified 1.49L Yarris plant was selected for cargo and economy, and was unlikely to cause any onlookers whiplash as they waited for it to arrive at the chequered flag.
So on Lawrence Quarter Mile Drag Day I’ll have an eye out for the domestic sprinters of my blackjeaned youth, while admiring the power-packed variety of the classic door-slammers and modern, high-tech street machines, from hot rod muscle to whip-crack Japanese performers.
‘‘Some of these things are turning over 600 horsepower,’’ Quarter Mile treasurer and multiple ‘‘fastest lady’’ title holder Sue Thompson said.
‘‘They’re doing well over 100mph when they cross the finish line.’’
The Lawrence Quarter Mile has six classes: 4-cylinder, 6-cylinder, turbo class, V8, the thunderous modified V8 and fastest overall.
The timekeeping staff operates a ‘‘hockey-stick’’ start — astopwatch device placed against the car’s tyre, activated as the driver takes off from a standing start.
‘‘There will be no shortage of burnouts on the day, but burning rubber is not what you’re after on the start-line,’’ Sue said.
‘‘It’s all about your clutch-control or accelerator touch if you’re in a manual or automatic. You want all your power flowing fast and smooth to where the rubber meets the road without wasting any. You are nervous and excited and it’s hard to remember what’s going through your mind . . and then you’ve arrived and you’re trying to analyse what you did in those few seconds that made the difference between a really fast run and one where you lost fractions of a second. It’s thrilling and addictive and a good thing you get four or five runs.’’