Welcome to a new mini-series of articles on Drag News Magazine called 'Events I Remember'. With Australian drag racing currently on hold due to COVID-19 we are going back through some of the most memorable events over the last decade, and more, of the sport.
Today's event is the 2012 Pro Series 1000 at Adelaide International Raceway, which marked the return of the ANDRA Pro Series to Adelaide for the first time since 2001. Top Fuel, Top Alcohol, Top Bike and Pro Stock Motorcycle were the categories on show, backed up by a local sportsman contingent. The three day event took place from April 13 to 15, taking advantage of some excellent weather across all three days and as the name implies, all racing took place over 1000 feet due to the short braking area of AIR.
I was working with ANDRA at the time as the media manager and remember sitting in on the meeting to come up with the event name and when Pro Series 1000, I really liked the sound of it. I thought it did well to describe exactly what the event was, while taking on a bit of motorsport tradition by using the race distance after the name (think Bathurst 1000, Indy 500 and so on).
Adelaide's all bitumen start line was a marked difference from the concrete of Sydney Dragway, Willowbank Raceway and Perth Motorplex and presented a traction challenge for most of the teams. But that was one of the reasons I loved watching this event happen, the surface was a real equalising factor as the teams had to tip-toe down instead of trying to rotate the earth on every pass. For some comparison, the quickest time of the weekend in Top Fuel was a 4.37 by Andrew Cowin, over half a second slower than what you would expect to see elsewhere. It was fascinating to see the teams figure out the surface and the racing was extremely unpredictable.
Darren Morgan won Top Fuel, displaying the consistent and conservative approach that took him to a number of Top Fuel championships.
“In qualifying with some runs I had to let it do what it was going to do so (crew chief) Benny (Patterson) could learn from it. Once we had that figured out Ben knew where to go with it.”
Andrew Cowin keeps the boot in as the rear tyres begin to smoke. There were very few runs from Top Fuel that weren't hazing the tyres through the top end, though Cowin took it to the extreme. He did top qualify however with a 4.37.
"We just slid it down there this run and were really careful with it. It got a little bit loose, it put a cylinder out and it pushed me back to one side. I got it back into the middle and sort of held it, even if we took the long way down."
Mark Mariani was driving for the Rapisarda family but lost a close first round race to Phil Lamattina. Check out that huge Saturday night crowd in the background. AIR is a great facility that has fans very close to the race track.
Phil Lamattina has all eyes upon the Fuchs dragster. Lamattina was running interesting cylinder heads at this event, a collaboration between Noonan Race Engineering and crew chief Aaron Hambridge.
John Cannuli took the win in Top Alcohol and also claimed low ET and top speed with a 4.89/226mph. The final was a wild one as opponent Wayne Newby crashed into the wall at the top end.
Newby's beautiful dragster on track before its encounter with the walls in the final.
Local Gary Busch in Greg Brown's Funny Car.
Debbie O'Rourke had a handle on the track and top qualified with a 4.92, but was unlucky to lose on a holeshot in the first round.
“It’s pretty humbling to be where we are in a class field. The crew have been working really hard and Grant has been making some really good calls,” she said at the time. “It would have been quicker but we broke an exhaust rocker during the pass. This weekend I have managed to hit all the shift points so from a driving perspective it is a good experience. The crowd took me back to the nineties and you remember why you started racing in the first place.”
Early fans file through the catering and trade midway on the way to the spectator terraces.
BTP Racing brought their trademark presentation and professional presence to the pits.
There have been a few more championships added to that number on the side of Gary Phillip's transporter since 2012!
Chris Matheson managed the power of his Top Bike beautifully, winning the event and taking low ET with a 5.30 over 1000 feet, equivalent to somewhere in the 6.3s or 6.4s on the quarter mile.
Locky Ireland, shown here with father Jonny, was the winner of Pro Stock Motorcycle with a consistent set of Sunday runs.
The Aussie Bandit wheelstander entertained the fans betwen pro sessions.
The sun sets over Adelaide International Raceway in brilliant fashion.
Check out video of the race and more photos below!