Street drags a cracker

By Jared Smith

It is the only day of the year where "sustained loss of traction" on Taupo Quay is met with applause and not a court appearance.

The 27th annual Wanganui Road Rodders annual street drags pulled in the punters to watch open racers by modified street cars, as well as the motorcycle events and exhibitions from the specialist dragsters blasting down the quarter mile.

The likes of Grant Rivers would bring forward his River Rat IV funny car, which could do in seconds what took the regular cars over a minute by blanketing the spectators in smoke.

Petrolhead fans had three choices cover their ears, get out their camera phones, or try to do both as methanol-powered machines blasted by.

Son Adrian Rivers also got valuable road time in his Blu's Brothers dragster, although as it was only an exhibition, one could only see a fraction of their true power. The Rivers family is gearing up for the big Central Nationals event in Masterton from March 5.

"Both cars went really well, a good test of the transmission, but you don't even use quarter throttle," Grant Rivers said.

In the actual competition, the Wanganui contingent of drivers covered most spots in the semifinals and finals of their various classes.

he said the pressure really came on during the finals, where a number of cars got the dreaded red light.

In his Torana, local Aaron Jackson pulled down the fastest time with 6.673 seconds, as the best runs came late in the day across the classes. Jackson also took out the best presented car award.

Club president Tristan Teki said the turnout was near the annual average of 2000.

The drags are the club's major fundraiser for the year and attracted 51 cars and eight bikes for competition, down from the 60-90 they regularly enjoy. Teki said most were locals with regular enthusiasts from Wellington and Palmerston North.

"It's huge. There's new cars through to a'68," Teki said.

"They range from Fords and Holdens to new Evos and Skylines."

Always up for the excitment was club veteran Rod Sklenars, a racer since 1986 who has been fine- tuning his street-legal 1934 Ford coupe for 20 years.

"I'm getting older and slower. It's running awesome, I'm just getting no traction," Sklenars said during qualifying.

Having raced all over New Zealand, Sklenars now focuses on Wanganui.

He loved seeing familiar faces once a year.

"Just the buzz, going up the track, racing your mates and having a laugh and a beer later," he said.

Rivers said special thanks had to go to the sponsors and the Wanganui District Council for all their assistance to help the non-profit club to pull off the event.

Wanganui Road Rodders will be holding their 40th anniversary celebrations with a rod run in Wanganui, May 17-19.


- Wanganui Chronicle

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