Papamoa drag racing national record holder Cory Abbott begins an Australian quarter-mile campaign this weekend.
The Abbott Brothers Racing Team — Cory driving and Jeremy engine building and tuning — are among three Kiwi teams joining drag racers from the USA and Japan who will provide the international flavour at the big Honeywell Garrett Brisbane Jamboree this weekend.
The Abbotts have shipped their turbo-charged, twin-rotor Mazda RX7 to Queensland to compete in the Pro Compact class, joining 208 racers contesting 12 classes at Willowbank Raceway at Australia's premier sport compact drag racing and car culture event.
Their Mazda is well-known in sport compact circles on both sides of the Tasman, having been embroiled in a record-swapping duel with Sydney's Pac Performance team over recent years.
The record books currently show the 38-year-old Papamoa builder on top with a 6.829secs/196.44mph run set at Meremere in March this year for boasting rights as the quickest 13B/twin-rotor car in Australasia.
''We were the first to run a six-second pass for this kind of car in the Australasian region – there were a few in the States who did it before us and the Pac Performance guys in Australia and some others were pushing pretty hard to do it too,'' Cory Abbott said.
''We were pretty proud to be the first. Later Pac Performance went ahead and beat us, but since then we have gotten in front again.
''We are the ones to beat now I guess and that might not be the case in a few years' time, so this is the sweet spot for us to get over to Australia.
''We are happy with the car's performance so we don't want to push too hard as far as elapsed times but we want to chase the Most Consistent Qualifier Award and of course, get our hands on one of those billet 'J' trophies by winning Pro Compact.''
Not only do the Abbott brothers feel the time is right for their Jamboree trip, but it is also the culmination of a long-time love affair with the event.
''We have been spectators at the event for years since 2000. The whole hype around the event and the scene in Australia is really what started our love affair with sport compact drag racing," Cory said.
''We raced in the event a few years ago when the promoter of NZ's Rotary Nationals took some class winners over to compete and it was a dream come true.
''It was quite a big deal for us so we were a bit disappointed when we had a whole lot of bad luck – we went home knowing we had to give it another shot.''
The Jamboree is the beginning of a longer term programme in Australia for the Abbotts.
''We are going to leave the car in Australia for 12 to 18 months so we can race at the Sydney Jamboree and then at next year's Brisbane Jamboree as well as some meetings in between,'' Cory said.
''We hope to fly over to race three or four times a year. When we race at home we are competing against three or four others whereas in Australia there are 18 to 20 cars in the category so it will be really cool to be able to race against those bigger fields more often.''
Abbott says running above 200mph — his current best is 197.16mph— is one goal the team has during the Australian programme.
''If we can take advantage of the track conditions in Australia I'd like to think there's a solid 6.70secs in the car on a good day,'' Cory said.
Auckland drivers Rod Harvey (Toyota Camry) and Trevor Smith (Holden Statesman) are also entered for this weekend's Jamboree which has three rounds of qualifying on Saturday and eliminations set for Sunday.
Harvey, who bases his racing campaign in Australia, will debut a new Toyota Camry in the Factory Extreme category while Smith is looking to follow up on a 6.232secs personal best he posted racing at Willowbank in June when he lines up in the IHRA Pro Modified division against a strong line-up of supercharged and turbocharged Door Slammers.