Two young dragster racers emerged as the driving force at the event which showcases an era of drag racing from well before they were born.
Sunday's Bay Rodders' Nostalgia Drags at Fram Autolite Dragway saw 24-year-old Brad Taylor (Tauranga) race against teenager Cameron Patterson (Putaruru) in the final of the Front Engine Dragster Challenge.
In only his third appearance in the dragster, Taylor rattled off consistent runs in the Gravel Clothing-sponsored car which runs a standard 454 big block Chevrolet V8 engine on loan from Taylor's boss, fellow Tauranga drag racer Ian Metz.
Taylor is racing a car built in the early 1970s and raced out of Whakatane as the Lankshear Special.
Its most recent appearance on track is believed to have been in 1997 before Taylor made his debut in the car by reaching the Modified finals of a Tokoroa meeting in February this year.
Second time out, the combination ran 10.3secs first time off the trailer at Meremere and remains in contention with a semifinal spot at the rain-interrupted IHRA Nationals which resume on April 21.
And at the Nostalgia Drags a string of 9.7s and 9.8s passes saw Taylor win through to the final against the four-cylinder car campaigned by Patterson.
Taylor said there was no pressure on him in the final.
"I didn't care if I came second. We're just trying to make drag racing fun and for the nostalgia aspect to be as realistic as possible," Taylor said.
"That's why I have the open face helmet, goggles and respirator like they used to wear in these cars."
In its current specification, running 9.7s and exiting the quarter-mile at 136mph, the dragster is proving an ideal learning car for Taylor.
"On Saturday night the track was cold and slippery and I really had to drive the car. On Sunday it ran nice and straight again.
"This year it is about getting some seat time before I jump into something more powerful. My boss Ian Metz has been a huge help, not just with the loan of the motor, and he was one of the first people to congratulate me.
"I'm building an injected 454 on methanol for next season and the car should be able to run low eights," said Taylor.
Patterson is only 18 but is the much more experienced drag racer of the two finalists. He has campaigned the 2.7-litre four-cylinder Fontana-powered car - the engine originally came from a speedway midget - for three seasons.
The lightweight 400-horsepower combination generally runs 9.7s and 9.8s passes but stepped up on Sunday with a best ever 9.477s effort in qualifying.
Patterson said the only Nostalgia Drags
Standard big block Chev power and driving consistency saw the Front Engine dragster challenge honours claimed by Tauranga racer Brad Taylor.
The parachute and braking area bumps pick up Dave Mason's front engine dragster.
explanation for the performance gain is a new battery giving a bit more spark to the MSD ignition system.
Patterson has raced through the ranks of junior drag racing starting at age 6 in the five-horsepower cars and ending up ranked number two in the national points series driving a Yamaha 250cc racer before stepping up to fullscale racing three seasons ago. "Dad used to work at the dragstrip and I grew up around drag racing with my older brother and sister racing before me," said Patterson.
He said a problem which occasionally occurred with the car left him unable to challenge Taylor in the final.
"We run methanol and it loaded up with fuel, bogged down at the start and then cleared itself. I was slow to 60-feet and then it cleared and went again but we had lost a second."
The Nostalgia Drags saw 160 cars in action on Sunday with extremes of performance as diverse as sedate 20s "four-banger" hotrods to "Blown 8" shootout cars running 160mph in eighth-mile competition.
The crowd-pleasing Freight Train twin engine dragster of Auckland's Mark Vincent took out the eighth-mile Blown 8 contest and Reporoa's Brian Hayes took out a close-fought Competition eliminator in his '23 T Bucket.
Other Nostalgia Drags winners included the supercharged '31 Ford A Coupe of Hamilton's Glenn Keen in the Flat Head Challenge and Rotorua's Jimmy Murdoch, who claimed the Four Banger challenge driving his '28 Model A roadster.
Six rounds of street car racing were needed to decide both the Pre-49 Hot Rod and Pre-72 American categories. Rotorua's Wayne McRae won the Hot Rod class in his '23 T Bucket and Paul Brown in a 1968 Dodge Dart won the pre-72 contest.
Class winners - Fraser Cove Automotive Nostalgia Drags 2013
Pre-49 Hot Rod: Wayne McRae (Rotorua) '23 T Bucket
Pre-72 American: Shaun Brown (Henderson) '68 Dodge Dart
Competition Class 1 (under 10secs): Brian Hayes (Reporoa) '23 T Bucket
Competition Class 2 (over 10secs): Bruce Cox (Albany) '71 Camaro
Four Banger Challenge: Jimmy Murdoch (Rotorua) '28 Ford Model A
Flat Head Challenge: Glenn Keen (Hamilton) '31 Ford Model A Coupe
Front Engine Dragster Challenge: Brad Taylor (Tauranga) Chev 454 FED
Classic Gasser Challenge: Clint Bauer (New Plymouth) '48 Austin A40
Blown Eight Shootout: Mark Vincent (North Harbour) Freight Train