THE second annual Dubvegas Torana Cruz had a bit more spice than the first. Last year a cavalcade of street-going Torries made the 200km trip from Bathurst to Dubbo for the weekend, did a Cars & Coffee, and visited the zoo. This year they skipped the zoo and went racing instead.
After gathering at Mount Panorama on Friday, 4 May, around 40 Toranas spent the afternoon plastering passing punters’ faces across the insides of car windows all the way to Dubbo.
Early Saturday morning, a handful cruised another 60 kays out to Bodangora Airstrip at Wellington for a day of grassroots racing over an eighth-mile of unprepped runway.
Hosted by the Dubbo City Car Club as part of its calendar of events at the airstrip, the drags were open to all makes and models, with a special class dedicated to the visiting Toranas.
Spectators who stumped up the $10 entry were also treated to the sight and sound of the full-chassis EH of Bruce Barnett and the Fuel Altered dragster of Mervyn Speechley. There was also one motorbike.
Most of the competitors were fun-seeking joyriders that race here regularly. It’s both a tight and egoless community, where the locals do all they can to help one another out, and greet any newcomer with open arms. The volunteer staff and ANDRA personnel ran the show with little fuss, and everyone got plenty of racing done.
There were three qualifying rounds in the morning, followed by four rounds of DYO bracket racing in the afternoon, with three finals races for the various classes.
Among the quicker sedan-bodied cars were the Toranas of Bodangora regulars Rob ‘Mushy’ Gardner, Mick Francis and Warren Marshall; the tough HQ ute of Alex Budd; and Scott Barber’s Capri. The Capri ran quickest of the lot, with a 6.89 down the eighth.
The Dubvegas Cruz crew had never drag-raced before, but none of them took a backward step – except for Louise Triplett, who accidentally had her SL/R 5000 in reverse gear on one run! The only breakage amongst them happened to Ben Clifford from Coffs, whose 308-powered LX hatch snapped a throttle cable on its final run, but Ben managed to get it patched up enough for the drive back to Dubbo.
Torana means ‘to fly’, and these ones sure gave it a good shake on the Bodangora runway.
1. The Bodangora Airstrip has hosted race meetings for the past 25 years, but won’t be in use for too many more, as the Dubbo City Car Club has successfully lobbied the government for a purpose-built race track. It is hoping to secure funding to start building it this year.
2. The Dubvegas Torana Cruz is organised by Dubbo couple Craig and Louise Triplett and proceeds go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation (makeawish.org.au). It’s on again next year, 3-6 May 2019.
3. Members of the Central West Car Club, Craig and Louise shared racing duties behind the wheel of their schmick 308-powered SL/R 5000 streeter.
4. P-plater Kaitlyn Francis brought her 307-powered HZ One Tonner from Cowra and carted home some silverware in it. With a 10.10 dial-in time, she ran a 10.11 and won Closest To Dial-in, and was also runner-up in the Grade B final.
5. Kait’s father, Mick Francis, notched up a best time of 7.41 in his angry Chev-powered UC Torana.
6. Parkes legend Andre Johnson is a 69-year-old self-confessed “geriatric teenager”. His nasty HJ Tonner was put together from donated bits, and don’t it look like it? Aside from the wheels and tyres, Andre reckons the most costly part was the gaskets! His quickest run for the day was a 9.88.
7. Peter Attard from St Clair was not a Dubvegas Cruzer, but he brought his matte rat LC Torana up for some fun anyway. Powered by a Holden six with triples, with an Aussie four-speed, Pete says the contraption owes him less than $3000. After running a best of 9.72, he put the car on the trailer to head home, but had to take it off again after finding out he’d made the Torana final. He then promptly red-lit, handing the win to Rick Yates in his neat street-driven pink LJ.
8. Dubbo local Rob ‘Mushy’ Gardner has only missed one meeting at Bodangora in 14 years – that was Easter weekend this year, when the motor was out of his yellow LJ after some bearings objected to the caning he was giving it on the burnout pad at Bathurst Autofest. Back in the saddle after a thrash to have the fixed-up 6/71-blown 355-stroker reinstalled and dyno-tuned, Mushy ran a best of 7.21, but then red-lit in the Grade A final against Warren Marshall from Gooloogong in his 202-powered LJ.
9. Ben Clifford had brought his LX hatch all the way from Coffs Harbour to be part of the Dubvegas weekend. A first-time drag racer, Ben was loving everything about the airstrip drags, except the dust gathering on his lovely duco! The refreshed 308-cube motor was performing well, and he ran an 8.85 PB, but broke a throttle cable on his final run and limped over the finish line in the 11s.
10. Bowie Boucher from Bathurst showed up to Bodangora with doubts about what the combo in his Tonner was going to do. The rugged HJ recently received a 355-cube alloy VN-headed V8 after the old 308 shat itself at the airstrip. The day started slowly with a 10.34 and the engine running rich, but by the end Bowie had ironed out his carby bugs and collected a new PB of 9.09.
11. Bruce Barnett ran solo passes in his 1000-plus horsepower full-chassis pink EH. With way too much power for the unprepped tar, the car powerskidded to mid-eight timeslips.
12. Another visitor from Coffs was Alan Chase in a mean-looking 6/71-blown 350 Chev-powered LX hatch, which he said was part of his wife’s investment portfolio. Al was the quickest of the visiting Dubvegas Toranas, running consistent eights, with a best of 8.24.