PORTLAND’S South Coast Dragway will play host to some of Australia’s best single-track racers this weekend.
The eighth-mile strip is the venue for round two of the Aeroflow Sportsman Drag Racing Championship (ASDRC).
More than 160 racers in 11 classes from group two to four will converge on the track as top-level racing returns to Victoria for the first time in about 10 years.
Staging a round at Portland marks a change in direction for the ASDRC, which typically runs at quarter-mile strips across the country.
South Coast Drag Racing Association race secretary Scott Cleary said the weekend shaped as being one of the biggest in association history.
“There are 160 racers entered for the weekend — that’s just the racers,” he said.
“They’ve all got three crew so that’s 480 people that come with them too.
“Then you’ve got people who want to come and watch the event. We expect about 200 to come to Portland over the two days.”
Cleary said the meeting would help put the South Coast Drag Racing Association — which has spent $100,000 upgrading its strip in preparation for the series — on the map.
He said drag racing had battled to gain the attention of motorsport fans following the rise of V8 Supercars.
“Because there hasn’t been a race in Victoria for 10 years a lot of the household names haven’t been here,” he said.
“At one stage before they went to V8 Supercars, drag racing was one of the highest-profile motor sports in Victoria.
“All those people went away from it. We’ve been trying to build that up now.
“One of the ideas is to race at regional tracks to build up the popularity of the sport and show it’s more than putting your foot down on the gas.”
Victorian racers Jason Maggs and Craig Geddes, who will contest the group two competition car class, are among the higher-profile names headed for Portland.
They will compete against Warrnambool contender Geoff Kelly and his altered T-bucket with a 364-cubic inch small block Chev engine.
Kelly, 41, has raced drags for about two decades — the only one of eight siblings interested in the sport.
“It’s a bit of an adrenalin rush of course, and it’s the people you meet,” he said.
“I built this car myself and all my cars I’ve built myself, so it’s the learning.
“I’m inquisitive about how everything works.”
Kelly said he hoped to beat his “index” — his benchmark time for eighth-mile racing — and last at least one knockout round.
But he was wary of a strong field which he believed would break the track record.
“You’ve got so many chaps there this weekend. Nearly everyone in the class was an Australian champion at one time or another,” he said.