A top New Zealand drag racer was beaten by a 65-year-old at the New Zealand Drag Racing Association (NZDRA) National Finals at Fram Autolite Dragway in Meremere on Sunday 28th March 2010.
Veteran drag racer Trevor Watson drove his 1967 Peugeot powered dragster into the C2 Competition Class finals to take on event favourite Robbie Ward.
Ward says he has had a successful 2009/2010 season, taking nearly two seconds off the New Zealand record with his newly built Nissan turbo-charged chassis.
However, in the final race Ward lost his concentration and was disqualified for leaving the line six hundredths of a second too early. His car still ran a 7.6 second quarter mile and reached 143.09 mph (230.27 km/h).
“I’m absolutely kicking myself that I didn’t win it. It was in the bag and I blew it”, said Ward.
Watson, an experienced drag racer says nearly 50 years of reading the lights contributed to his win. His bright red dragster ran a 9.285 second quarter mile and reached 137.16 mph (220.73 km/h).
Although pleased with the win Watson says his biggest achievement was winning the Super Eliminator at the Kopuku open coal mine [New Zealand’s first drag strip] in 1969. “We had an old dragster with a Vauxhall Victor engine – it would have been New Zealand’s first.”
Watson says he comes back every year for more than just the racing.
“The racing’s fine, but it’s the people, atmosphere and the huge adrenalin kick I get out of it. At my old age I don’t need any of the rat pills to keep me going.”
Watson demonstrates age is just a number and passionately encourages others over 65 to enter the sport. “Chuck away your pills, spend a few dollars and go buy a little drag racing car. You’ll have an awesome time.”
Article by Geoff Bell. Originally published in Te Waha Nui. Reproduced by permission.