9 June 2016

As an innovative way to help Sportsman entrants get extra track time as well as a second chance at Winternationals stardom, Willowbank and Australia’s most-exciting new racing series, 400 Thunder, debut a new sub-event on the Thursday afternoon of the 2016 City of Ipswich Winternationals – the 400 Thunder Sportsman Shootout.
With limited time on the track, racers had to elect a Dial In time and had just one chance at a perfect pass to get as close to their Dial In as possible. This was then indexed against their Reaction Time, making for fast and exciting, nail-biting racing that’s brutally unforgiving to weakness or the slightest margin of error.
With clear blue skies overhead and plenty of bite in the fanatically-prepared Willowbank track, the shootout-style event was a truly level playing field and the racers responded enthusiastically. However with a day’s worth of racing rubber layered all over the track, the sticky conditions meant that the massive field of entrants was quickly whittled down to a highly-competitive field of finalists.
“There’s no denying that the track is in premium condition ahead of a major Championship event like the 2016 City of Ipswich Winternationals, so it’s no surprise that we had entrants breaking out and running faster than their Dial In time. The track was definitely ‘there’; it’s ready for the big show this weekend!” exclaimed Tony Wedlock from Willowbank Raceway.
The 400 Thunder Sportsman Shootout gave racers a chance at a massive $11,500prize pool - $3,000 of which was tipped in from Willowbank, and the remaining $8,500 coming from a $50 buy-in from each of the 170 entrants that braved the Sportsman Shootout.
The Doored Class was incredibly well supported, with a massive field ultimately led by Super Street racer Lucas Holz in his LS2-powered LC Torana who Top Qualified and led the way in to an Eliminator against Colin Boyd, Tony Rogers and Ray Fairfull.
In the Open Class, Andrew Sargent paved the way for an all-Modified Elimination Round against Bob Frawley, Nick Galea and Kellie Kidd. Mere thousandths-of-a-second separated the group all the way through Eliminations.
The Doored/Open Finals showdown saw Bob Frawley shape up against Kellie Kid. With $5,000 on the line, Frawley cut a 0.08sec light but broke out running an 8.09sec against a Dial In of 8.10sec, handing the green to Kellie Kid who ran a highly-competitive 7.55sec against a Dial In of 7.54sec.
On two wheels, it was a nail-biting 8-way Elimination Round which saw Tammy Goldthorpe and Shaun Soboll consistent throughout their various match-ups. Goldthorpe proved better on the day taking home the $1,000 cash pool for the Bike category of the Sportsman Shootout, cutting a 0.64sec light and running a 9.059sec against a Dial In of 9.02sec in the finals.
Junior Dragster also got a shot at the title, with most of the 44 entrants trying their luck in the 400 Thunder Sportsman Shootout. James Hazzard, Eden Ward, Garth Spooner and Corey Fry met in the Eliminations, propelling Garth Spooner and Eden Ward in to the finals. With a $900 pay-day on the line Ward succumbed to the exhaustion of a long day’s racing and red-lit, handing Spooner the win on a hard-to-beat 8.05sec pass against his 8.04sec Dial In.
The response from both entrants and spectators alike was phenomenal, with a colourful array of cars making the Sportsman Shootout a thrilling, high-energy racing spectacle.
The inaugural 400 Thunder Sportsman Shootout sets the tone for another day of incredible racing tomorrow. Racing starts at 8am, and Friday sees the Pro Class racers including Pro Slammers, Pro Stock, Pro Alcohol, Pro Bike and Top Fueller take to the track for the first time – for more information click here.