Hawke's Bay's dragstrip, Thunderpark, was the country's second purpose-built dragstrip. But the thunder stopped in 1997 and the site became a vineyard.

Five years ago, a dedicated dragstrip was built in Masterton to an international standard, and it has been credited with rejuvenating the sport in the lower North Island.

"Some people see this as the number one track in New Zealand," Masterton Motorplex track manager Bob Wilton said.

"We have definitely come a long way in a very short time.

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The Masterton Motorplex replaced the nearby aerodrome which was used as a drag strip for several years. That wasn't ideal because racing would have to stop whenever a plane took off or landed.

"This track here is just a drag strip and it's a pretty good drag strip too," said Wellingotonian, John Dreliozis. "From what we're hearing it's the best one in the country - real sticky, straight as - so you can get some good speeds out of these cars."

Dreliozis was among the competitors at Dragstalgia over the weekend, a hugely popular event with classes for older and street vehicles.

"I tell people we've created a monster," Wilton said. "Because in the Wairarapa now there's a lot more cars than there ever used to be. People are buying them from Australia and America and so on."

More than 160 cars competed at Dragstalgia, drawing thousands of spectators.