POWERCRUISE 71 at Sydney Motorsport Park went off, as the event usually does. But in addition to the action at Powercruise proper, there was also a great Friday night of racing on offer across the road at Sydney Dragway, in the form of Lights Out.
With a crazy-cheap entry price of just $10 for competitors and spectators (and free for Powercruise ticket holders), I can’t recall a meeting in recent times that was so reminiscent of the good old days of racing in Australia.
Unlike any other style of drag racing, Lights Out allows for spectators to stand on the track behind the cars as they leave the line, and it made for a killer atmosphere. There was an awesome mix of cars, ranging from Lamborghinis with billet Sainty three-valve fuel engines to blown and injected 308 VK Commodores and Hemi-powered Pro Streeters. It was grudge racing at its best: turbo versus blower, rotary versus V8, Ford versus Holden.
In addition to the eighth-mile, heads-up pro-tree racing, there was also quarter-mile action, with a wide range of classes to suit every combination.
There was a classic match-up between Craig Hewitt’s Westend Performance-built blown and injected Hemi-powered Monaro and Greg Tsakiridis’s ex-Moits turbo Pro Line-powered Mustang. One of the quickest cars in Australia, the ’Stang has run into the 6.50 zone in the USA. Hewitt took the win in the first round, but Greg managed two more passes, a 4.00 and a 4.09, at 199mph over the eighth!
The event also saw a great battle between two Sydney Toranas, with Johnny Habib’s nitrous-fed, 632ci big-block Chev-powered LH (which has run a 7.6@184mph with near-stock suspension) serving it to the six-second LC of Mark Hayes, also a nitrous big-block deal.
In the first round Hayes blew the tyres off the 763-cube monster, handing Habib the win, but he had plenty of tuning and horsepower left in the tank for later rounds. With a lot of power dialled back on the two nitrous kits, Hayes’s Torry produced a personal best terminal speed later in the night against Hewitt, running a solid 162mph to half-track.
One of the more promising grudge match-ups of the night was the Hewitt Monaro against Dale Heiler’s Castle Hill Performance twin-turbo big block-powered Commodore. Heiler had been testing all day at the track. Heiler ran a solid 7.0@ 207mph over the quarter in testing.
There were no official winners for the night, but a mix of tough cars, good weather and a solid crowd was a win for the sport, racers and spectators alike.