2014/15 IHRA New Zealand Nationals

Meremere Dragway, 15 March, 2015

The 2015 IHRA New Zealand Nationals held at Meremere Dragway in Meremere was threatened by cyclone Pam, but with great work by the dragway crew and no oildowns the meeting was wrapped up in record time before any rain appeared.

Rod Benjes set two PB's and won the Nationals

Rod Benjes set two PB's and won the Nationals [Photo by: Ralph Smith]

Nine competitors attempted to qualify for the eight spots in the P & I Pascoe Top Doorslammer bracket. Russell Lowe and Gary Benham lead out the first round of qualifying. Lowe bounced his way down the track for an 8.047 in the Toy Shed 69 Camaro and Benham recorded an 8.77 in his 51 Holden ute. Nigel Dixon took the round one lead with a 7.265 at 191.1 pass in the Pedens Collision Repairs 67 Camaro, while Barry Plumpton went nowhere fast when he smoked the tyres at the launch in the Focus Construction Group Monte Carlo. Trevor Smith then recorded a 7.310 at 178 after he was forced to lift once during his solo pass in the B & T Earthmoving 75 Holden Statesman.

The second session was lead out by Nigel Dixon and Cess Miller in his 59 Impala. Nigel recorded a 7.322 at 194.35 which was a PB speed for him. Cess ran an 8.155 at 165. Mark Bardsley in the Rislone 68 camaro and Ross Taylor in his 57 Chev were the next pairing. Mark recorded 7.040 at 207.24 and Ross a 7.345 at 205.72. Trevor Smith and Gary Benham then appeared. Trevor then took the lead with the brackets first six, a 6.626 at 216.51 which was another PB speed. Gary recorded his first ever seven with a 7.675 at 169.30, which were both PB's for him. Rod Benjes in the DB Racecars 92 Beretta and Barry Plumpton were the last pairing. Barry again struggled with an 8.9 to be in ninth position, while Rod recorded two PB's with a 6.513 at 218.83 to displace Smith in the lead. Miller was in the bump spot with his 8.155.

The third session saw Miller and Lowe out first. Lowe's Camaro again refused to behave and got very close to the wall, which resulted in a 12 second pass. Miller set 2 PB's with an 8.003 at 170.69. Smith improved upon his ET with a 6.550 at 216.41 to remain in second while Dixon set two PB's with his 7.168 at 194.55. Bardsley and Benham were the third pairing. Mark took the lead with a 6.441 at 223.10, which were two more PB's. Gary recorded a 7.755 at 149.90. The sessions last matchup saw Plumpton experince severe shake on the way to an 8.034 pass at 187.52 while Taylor moved into fourth with a 6.672 at 219.86. Plumpton was on the bump with his 8.034 and Lowes 8.047 saw him in ninth.

Rod Benjes had minor piston damage and was busy pulling the engine apart when the fourth session was called up. Trevor Smith recorded a PB of 6.509 to move into second at an identical 216.41 mph. Rusell Lowe again headed toward the wall and a 10 second pass was the result. The next pairing was Cess Miller and Nigel Dixon. Dixon was in the right hand lane and had opened his left hand door to let the smoke out after his burnout. Miller was a bit behind Dixon in starting his burnout in the left hand lane. At he end of his burnout, the 59 Impala snapped right, which Cess tried to correct. The end result was Cess's tailight hitting Nigels left hand door. Neither car was seriously damaged, but a bit of work was required before they went down the track again. Barry Plumpton closed the final qualifying session with a disappointing 8.8 pass. He was safely in the field with his earlier 8.034 and Lowe was out with his 8.047.

The crash crew were on the scene before the smoke cleared after the Miller Dixon incident

The crash crew were on the scene before the smoke cleared after the Miller Dixon incident [Photo by: Ryan William-Lee Lucas]

1Mark Bardsley68 Camaro526 BAEManukau6.441223.10
2Trevor Smith75 Statesman511 TFXPukekohe6.509216.51
3Rod Benjes96 Beretta526 TFXWellington6.513218.83
4Ross Taylor57 Chev Sport Coup511 TFXPukekohe6.672219.86
5Nigel Dixon68 Camaro500 CICambridge7.168194.55
6Gary Benham51 Holden Ute509 ChevWaitara7.675169.30
7Cess Miller64 Falcon509 ChevTe Awamutu8.003170.69
8Barry Plumpton05 Monte Carlo823 ChevMassey8.034187.52
9Russell Lowe69 Camaro509 ChevRotorua8.047136.36

Rod Benjes and Gary Benham opened the first round of competition. Gary's 7.857 was no match for Rod's 6.640 at 211.49. Trevor Smith then unleased another 6.5, a 6.589 at 216.41 to eliminate Cess Millers 8.021. Ross Taylor had to back off when his 57 Chev got close to the wall, but he recovered to record a 7.029 at 211.13 to beat Nigel Dixons 7.136. Mark Bardsley's 6.523, at a PB speed of 223.58, easily took care of Barry Plumpton's Monte Carlo, which wheelstood and then went sideways, forcing Barry to abort the run.

Benjes and Smith lead out round two. Trevors car cut out at the end of his burnout and Rod was shut down. While the Beretta was refueled, Taylor and Bardsley came out. Mark backed off when his Camaro headed toward the wall and Ross used his best pass of the weekend, a 6.506 at 221.09 to advance to the final. Benjes then came back with a 6.654 at 213.16 solo to seal the other finals spot.

The race between Ross taylor and Rod Benjes was a great final. Ross got the start with a 0.127 reaction time, compared to Rod's 0.136. At half track Rod had a 0.076 lead, but Taylor then started to reel him in. Ross's 6.651 at 215.17 mph just failed to catch Rod's 6.638 at 207.53 by 0.0043 seconds. It was Rod's first Nationals win and a fitting result for him, his partner John Dillon, and their teams hard work.