Nitro Champs at Sydney, Australia


Mark “The Shark” Mariani

The 2016 version of the Nitro Champs at Sydney Dragway was a bit different to years before for one very important reason – a change of sanctioning association. This saw Sydney Dragway switch from ANDRA (Australian National Drag Racing Association) to IHRA (International Hot Rod Association) sanction. Additionally, there was also a change in the duration of the event after being a three-day race for most of its existence it was mooted to go down to one day but eventually went for two days.

When May 7 dawned in Sydney it was unlike any day this scribe had ever seen before. While winter fogs are common here for the first time Sydney was blanketed in a thick coat of bushfire (wildfire too you) smoke. The Rural Fire Service had been burning off the day before in the mountains above the track and with a temperate inversion said smoke clung low to the ground. It was so bad that it was hard to make out cars coming to a stop in the braking area.

This phenomenon didn’t really lift until early afternoon and never really went away making the simple of act of trying to take a clear photo an extremely hard one. The show was originally mooted to be a one-day affair focusing mainly on the group one pro brackets, however the reaction from the sportsman racers was loud and boisterous so it was re-instated as a two-day event. While a solid crowd appeared on the Saturday evening, Sunday was Mother’s Day and as such you didn’t need to be Solomon to realize most people had other priorities on the day.

As things turned out, most of the Sportsman brackets were rained just after the first round on Sunday so it was a tough way to finish as it turned out. That said, the Top Fuel show that went down was one of the best this reporter has ever seen. There were a vast number of 4.7-second quarter mile times, super close racing, and not one engine fire – that must have been a first at Sydney Dragway and a very reasonable crowd turned up to watch.

A SHARK’S TALE: an inside look by Mark “The Shark” Mariani