As part of the 2022 Gunnedah Speed Weekend, a 1/2 mile Airport Sprint was held on Saturday March 26th.
Airport sprints are a fun way to see just how fast your car will go in a safe, off-road environment with minimal stress on your vehicle, and the Gunnedah 1/2 Mile was open to both road registered and log booked vehicles.
Cars running in this event run the length of two quarter mile drag strips!! The Gunnedah Airport is currently the only Airport “track” in NSW licenced to hold sprint events, as as such is held under a Motorsport Australia permit.
The entry cost was a very reasonable $125.00, for which competitors had 5 timed runs.
Warren Minns, Martyn Gridley and his family, Brett Humby, Aron Williams and Lina Betancur met at Thornleigh McDonalds on Friday 25th and left at noon led by Ian Williams.
The group arrived at Muswellbrook McDonalds at 2:30pm for a break and to meet up with Chris Ayers, Peter Bone and Ross Lasky. Sadly, Craig Kilpatrick‘s son came down with Covid-19 so Craig had to self isolate and miss out on the event.
Departing Muswellbrook at 3:00pm the group arrived at Gunnedah’s Overlander Motel around 5:15pm to check in and meet with Aden Williams who had driven over from Bathurst to Gunnedah, via Mudgee.
Once the team had checked into their rooms, they headed out to the Airport to meet with the Event Secretary, Geoff Hood, who welcomed our team and gave us the background to the event, as well as a welcome pack containing some very interesting information about Gunnedah and its environs.
Most of the team had dinner at the Gunnedah Bowling Club where the servings were “country generous”.
All the motels in Gunnedah were booked out for this weekend as there was also a Dog Show and some other events on, including a Hill Climb up Mount Porcupine and a Rural Museum Demonstration Day and Tractor Pull on the Sunday.
The Team turned up at the Airport for scrutineering at 7:15am which was followed by a Drivers Briefing at 8:30am by Gwynn Mulholland, the Clerk of the Course.
Drivers were then given an orientation run at speed, following the Course Car, with separation between vehicles. This was very helpful as the runway was a bit tricky. The best traction was in the right hand lane, so that’s where the start line was positioned, but the runway was under repairs futher down, which necessitated drivers crossing into the left lane to complete their run. Added to this were some undulations that were only really noticeable at speed, much like the old Sydney Dragway surface prior to restoration.
The field was divided into two groups, our club members were all in the second group. One group prepared and then waited on the dummy grid while the other group ran.
The running group was staged behind the start line and moved forward as each vehicle left for its run. Vehicles who had completed their run waited to the side at the end of the runway with the Finishing Marshal, and were then led back to the paddock as a group by the Course car. At that time the other group moved into the pre-start staging area.
The start process was quite relaxed, as there was no “Christmas Tree” to stress over. A simple white staging light came on when correctly staged, and once the red light turned green, the competitor could leave when they were ready. Timing only commenced when the beam was broken.
There was a tail wind which was the good news, but light drizzle came down sporadically making many of the runs quite hairy. Some competitors also found out that their windscreen wipers didn’t work at over 200 kph!
Managing traction off the line was the key to quick times. Although their was a hot-mix surface at the starting line, and a short burnout to heat the tyres was allowed, the track was not “prepared” like Sydney Dragway. This was proven by Aden Williams‘ stock standard AWD Audi RS5 getting the fastest time of the day, and that included beating big horsepower competition vehicles!
The pictures and results below tell the story of the day, and without exception, despite the sometimes wet conditions, every driver had a ball and vowed to come back again in two years when it is next held.
Several drivers commented before the event that they had never driven anywhere near 200 kph before, and once that had exceeded that on their runs, they became addicted for more!
The presentation dinner was held in a function room at event sponsor Railway Hotel, where again the food was country excellent!
Our Club’s drivers not only dominated their classes, but had the four fastest times of the day, beating full competition vehicles with mega power and setup. Photos were taken of the Outright winners and will appear in the local newspaper, in an article covering this event.
(Special vehicles, 2 wheel drive over 2 litres)
1. Aron Williams (HSVOC) 19.11
2. Brett Humby (HSVOC) 19.67
3. Big Will Williams (BLCC) 20.37
(Road Registered vehicles, no performance modifications over 4 litres)
1. Aden Williams (HSVOC) 18.51
2. Peter Bone (HSVOC) 21.99
3. Ian Williams (HSVOC) 26.12
(Road Registered vehicles, limited performance modifications over 4 litres)
1. Chris Ayers (HSVOC) 19.12
3. Warren Minns (HSVOC) 20.98
5. Ross Lasky (HSVOC) 21.98
6. Martyn Gridley (HSVOC) 22.20
1. Aden Williams (HSVOC) 18.51
2. Aron Williams (HSVOC) 19.11
3. Chris Ayers (HSVOC) 19.12
6. Brett Humby (HSVOC) 19.67
On Sunday, several members drove to the Porcupine Lookout to watch the Hillclimb in anticipation to entering it when we come up to this “Weekend of Speed” in the future.