Drag racer Errol Brittan ran a personal best (7.61 seconds over the quarter mile) to claim an unofficial world record as the fastest 4 Cylinder Subaru powered car. Picture: Dave Reid/dragphotos.com.au
Drag racer Errol Brittan ran a personal best (7.61 seconds over the quarter mile) to claim an unofficial world record as the fastest 4 Cylinder Subaru powered car. Picture: Dave Reid/dragphotos.com.au

World record claim as Raceway roars back to life

THE highlight of being back at Willowbank Raceway after a forced three-month shutdown was no on-track incidents.

However, for Raceway operations manager Harry Rowsell and his dedicated team, the latest test day that included some personal best times had so much significance.

More than 70 of the 78 drag racers who nominated provided the roar motorsport fans enjoy at the Ipswich facility.

That included Errol Brittan's stunning new time of 7.61 seconds over the quarter-mile. He lays claim to having the unofficial world's fastest 4 Cylinder Subaru powered car.

Other racers shook out the cobwebs, looking ahead to future meetings.

 

Brianna Barker gets some test hits down during the first racing allowed at Willowbank Raceway since March. She usually crews on the Team Fletcher QDRC Supercharged Outlaw Team but is now ready to take out her own championship. Picture: Dave Reid/dragphotos.com.au
Brianna Barker gets some test hits down during the first racing allowed at Willowbank Raceway since March. She usually crews on the Team Fletcher QDRC Supercharged Outlaw Team but is now ready to take out her own championship. Picture: Dave Reid/dragphotos.com.au

Despite tight restrictions required under the Queensland Government's COVID Safe Plan for outdoor sporting venues, Rowsell was encouraged by the return of loyal competitors.

"It went well given the restrictions that had been placed over us,'' Rowsell said.

"I've just got to thank the racers for their understanding and to our staff for coming back for what really is a different footprint.''

Saturday's event was a test day and the first time racers were allowed back on the drag strip since March 7.

 

Testing under the new COVID-19 conditions at the first meeting back at Willowbank Raceway. Picture: Dave Reid/dragphotos.com.au
Testing under the new COVID-19 conditions at the first meeting back at Willowbank Raceway. Picture: Dave Reid/dragphotos.com.au

Rowsell and his team had to implement strict measures to ensure the testing met compliance standards.

With no spectators allowed, the gates were opened at 7am and closed by 5pm.

"It went well because we had sent out a lot of communications prior to the day,'' the experienced administrator said.

"So the racers in particular arrived at the gate knowing what was required of them.''

That included staying in their designated areas and following sanitising procedures.

Willowbank Raceway staff had a training day to prepare.

"It was quite seamless at the end of the day,'' Rowsell said.

 

Northsider Tony Webb, with son Connor, dusts off the cobwebs ready for the upcoming Queensland Drag Racing Championship. The father and son team were part of testing under the new COVID-19 conditions at Willowbank Raceway. Picture: Dave Reid/dragphotos.com.au
Northsider Tony Webb, with son Connor, dusts off the cobwebs ready for the upcoming Queensland Drag Racing Championship. The father and son team were part of testing under the new COVID-19 conditions at Willowbank Raceway. Picture: Dave Reid/dragphotos.com.au

As a long-time motorsport enthusiast, Rowsell said the buzz of excitement was welcome "for all concerned.''

"It was good to make some noise,'' Rowsell said, clearly relieved.

"The highlight was no on-track incidents, which we absolutely love.''

Waiting to hear more state government decisions, Rowsell said planning continued for another test day this weekend. That will feature licenced racers and a Test and Tune event for off-street participants.

"We'll be running it again under the same format this Saturday,'' he said.

"The more we do this sort of stuff, the more we learn.''

 

Drag racer Steve Carkeet testing under the new COVID-19 conditions at Willowbank Raceway. Picture: Dave Reid/dragphotos.com.au
Drag racer Steve Carkeet testing under the new COVID-19 conditions at Willowbank Raceway. Picture: Dave Reid/dragphotos.com.au

Rowsell was hopeful other events planned in July could continue.

They include the Queensland Drag Racing Championships, for sportsman level competition, scheduled for July 11.

Other proposed upcoming events include Kenda 660 Radial test days on July 17 and 18.

A street series could return on July 25.

"All events will be conducted with strict measures as required by the COVID Safe Plan,'' Rowsell said.