Many West Australian racers scored valuable points towards a national championship on Saturday at Perth Motorplex, despite weather bringing an early end to the Prestige Lock Services Goldenstates.
As the fifth round of the nationwide Summit Sportsman Series, competitors came from across Australia for their shot at a Goldenstates title, with over 150 teams in total participating during the day.
Despite their successes on the track, few racers were in the mood to celebrate following the tragic passing of Junior Dragster racer Anita Board after an accident on Saturday morning.
Only one final round was completed, where WA’s Nick Panagopoulos took the victory over South Australia’s John Kapiris in Super Sedan.
“For us it was a pretty good day, even if it was in pretty tough conditions with the weather changing on us as much as it did throughout the day,” said Panagopoulos
“We were pretty happy to get through to the final. We were not expecting to run as quick as we did, but I think the wind swung around and pushed us a bit.
“We are ecstatic to get our first ANDRA (Australian National Drag Racing Association) trophy and to win the event this year, after being the runners-up last year.”
The Super Stock final round was lined up for young gun Jamie Chaisty and wiley veteran Graeme Simms until rain called an end to proceedings.
“It was a bummer not to get to run the final,” Chaisty said. “We were in testing mode more than race mode and hadn’t made a full pass all day. It would have been great to race Simmo in the final, as he is always tough, but it wasn’t to be.”
In Competition Bike, turbocharged Suzuki rider Phill Paton was set to face Justin Townson’s nitrous-assisted Honda for the trophy in the final round. While they didn’t get to make their final run, both riders did get a bag of national points for their troubles.
“I had really struggled last meeting with a completely new and untested chassis and gearing changes and couldn’t get the thing to hook and go straight,” Paton said. “Wanting to do well at the Goldenstates I changed everything back to last year’s setup and left the softened launch settings in the bike.
“Overall, I felt I had a hard time putting decent passes together, but at the end of night we were getting moving.”
Paton echoed the feelings of most racers, with the high of a good performance at the track being replaced by sadness for the Board family.
“Our elation was tempered by concern for young Anita and her family,” Paton said. “Now we’ve heard the final result, we’re all crushed and don’t feel like celebrating anything.”
A large Super Street field came down to Roger Moorhouse’s Holden Torana and Lee Watson in the ‘Beat the Heat’ Pontiac GTO. For Moorhouse getting to the final round was especially unexpected as he hadn’t raced his Torana in four years, instead concentrating on a Supercharged Outlaws car.
“We originally decided to to take the year off, but after only one meeting sitting on the sidelines I decided to run in the prestigious Goldenstates event,” he said.
“We didn’t have any real expectations going into the event. We always had faith in the old girl, the driver not so much. But both did alright on the day.
“After winning against last year’s Super Street track champion in the first round and then facing last year’s Australian Super Sedan champion in the second we thought maybe we had a chance.
“We did well in the next two rounds with very close races and thought we had a real chance in the final.”
Other finalists for the day included John Zappia and Kelvin Lyle (Summer Slam), Ralph Lewis and Matt George (Competition), Adam Murrihy and Alan Mahnkoph (Supercharged Outlaws), Johnny Brecich and Paul Downe (Top Sportsman), James Kemp and Jeff Acton (Modified), Bryan Finn and Luke Seaton (Modified Bike) and Beau Higgins and Jack Wasley (Junior Dragster).