New Zealand drag racer Mark Vincent travelled to Warwick to take part in the first ever Trans-Tasman Challenge, which was held at the Warwick Dragway yesterday.
New Zealand drag racer Mark Vincent travelled to Warwick to take part in the first ever Trans-Tasman Challenge, which was held at the Warwick Dragway yesterday. Erin Smith

Racers come from across the Tasman

THE facilities at the Warwick Dragway, and the Rose City itself, have left New Zealand racer Mark Vincent very impressed.

Vincent, who had never been to Australia before the weekend, travelled to Warwick to take part in the first ever Trans-Tasman Challenge at Morgan Park.

"I am surprised at how big Warwick actually is," Vincent said.

"It is a really great spot though and the facility out here is great."

Vincent said he had always had a love of motorsport and had been into drag racing for many years.

"I bought my first car in 1978 and then a second one in 1981," he said.

"Then sadly I got married and had to sell both my race cars in order to buy a house."

While unable to zoom down the track, Vincent was still not able to tear himself away from the sport.

"Through the '80s I worked on a crew for Garth Hodge, who was a New Zealand top fuel racer," he said.

"Then in '89 myself and Ken Hopper (a drag car builder) worked on a nostalgia-style car.

"We chose to go with the freight-train twin engine, which was new for this part of the world."

Over the years Vincent and Hopper worked on the car, adding upgrades.

The car is now the world's quickest freight train, with a time of 6.57 seconds, reaching a top speed of 337kmh.

Although Vincent dubbed drag racing as the safest motorsport he admitted he had had his own share of close shaves.

"I have had a couple of crashes and a few hairy moments but I have been lucky to survive them with no injuries," he said.

Vincent said drag racing was a great family sport.

"I love the speed and the challenge of always trying to go faster," he said.

"I really enjoy the people you meet and race with.

"There is no ego. It is just one big family."



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