THE racing gods decided to shine down on the competitors today for the start of Hot Rod Drag Week 2017 at Cordova International Raceway in Illinois. Great weather and a well-prepped track saw many competitors run faster than expected. The grippy surface also claimed a few victims, with some limping off with broken tailshafts, unis or transmissions.
Our seven Aussie teams all had a good crack at putting down some competitive numbers, and for the most part were pretty successful. Top Fuel pilot Richie Crampton sent the patina ’57 Chevy wagon down the Cordova strip at a best of 8.79 at 153mph. And man, does it look good on the highway!
The most impressive time slip from Down Under definitely goes to John Faraone in the Valiant Charger. John came through the lanes quite late in the day and absolutely monstered a 7.37 at 194mph! The smooth and blisteringly quick pass landed him in third place in the Unlimited class.
Harry Haig in the twin-turbo Chevelle had a bit of fun staging against heavy hitter Tom Bailey, and managed to turn a best of 9.00 at 136mph.
Then an intercooler pipe blew off and the pressure was on.Team Stevo was turning spanners frantically to get it fixed before the staging lanes closed for the day, but unfortunately missed the cut-off by seconds. Harry is hoping to dip into the 8s as soon as he can.
Two Aussies sitting nicely are Mark Arblaster and Craig Moar. Both men both ran high nines and were happy to pack up and make the 5-odd hour drive towards Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, IL. Arby ran the Val twice down the strip with a pair of 9.7s,
Craig was one and done in the big-block Buick with a 9.76 at 138mph.
Brian Jensen in the LX Torana smoked through with a 9.45 at 142mph and then packed up and got on the road early with wife Dianne.
Jamie Farmer couldn’t quite get all of his ducks in a row with his Dirty Bird XH Falcon ute, with turbo and oil woes restricting him to a low 11-second pass. The car hasn’t had much heavy-load testing, so all fingers are crossed these are teething issues and he’ll be in flying as soon as possible.
Outside the Aussie camp, there’s been some great results including Tom Bailey taking the early lead as top dog with a 6.51 at 238mph, however nipping right on his heels is Canadian Dave Schroeder in the monster 872-cube Corvette, who trapped a 6.57 at 217mph. The Ultimate class after Day One stands as Bailey, Schroeder and Faraone top three respectively, so it should be an interesting tussle.
One name missing from that field is Jeff Lutz, who found himself hung up with TV commitments for Street Outlaws and didn’t get teched in time yesterday to be an official entrant. He’s still going to hang around for the week and have some fun doing exhibition passes in his beautiful new orange ’57.
A quick check of the results lists shows tight times between the front runners in most all classes, and while it’s too early to call any bets, this year’s field looks to not only be big in numbers, but big in competition too. Stay tuned with us throughout the week as we get you daily updates, videos and more!