PHOTOS: Nothing will stop these speedsters
MOTORSPORT: Drivers and riders from all parts of Central Queensland took all the COVID-19 precautions to make it a super Saturday of racing.
CQDRA president Mike Gawley said the 68 drivers and riders relished in the ideal conditions.
"We had nearly 60 competitors pre-nominate online, and another 10 or so sign up only a few days before the meet," he said.
"One of the great highlights was the opportunity for Benaraby to honor a recently retired drag racer named Gary John Weeding, who 35 years ago, was a pioneering drag racer at Benaraby.
"We were recently contacted by his widow and asked if we could host a farewell to this bloke.
"One of Benaraby's newest favorites in the Eat Street Outlaw class, Adam Cruden, took Gary for a ripper of a run in his own turbo six-cylinder car.
"Gary will forever be at Benaraby, challenging the racer in the other lane to bring their best to the line."
Gawley said Weeding's family watched with excitement from the hill as the drag racers did impressive skids and gave every effort for to win.
One of the other highlights was the recently-graduated junior and Gawley said the future looked bright for these racers tutored by their parents and race friends.
Gawley said an electronic format of pairing called Shotgun Seeding, developed by Benaraby staff will be used to specifically improve safety and the spirit of competition.
"With this electronic format of pairing, qualified racers against their nearest competitors in rounds two and three will prove to raise the excitement felt by racers and spectators alike," he said.
"It will also improve the general safety to competitors by reducing the time and speed spread between them.
"Of course it will make for better photographic opportunities all down the track."
Gawley said there was another exciting new innovation that would allow fans and racers to watch from afar.
"Benaraby Dragway also has a state of the art app that is track specific and developed so that racers and spectators alike can access the race data live from our track," he said.
"Quite literally, the results are live-streamed from the starting line, and every detail of the timing is broadcast for all to see, share and collect."
Gawley said the round one numbers were up from last year because of the positive promotions from Viv Jocumsen and others behind the scenes.
"The recent come and try days have been a huge success, " he said.
The COVID-19 issue presented more mental and emotional challenges than anything according to Gawley.
"We are a huge, open-air outdoor facility with nice green grass to spread out on," he said.
"The racers were all bundled up in race suits, helmets, boots, leathers, and gloves and locked in hot cars with windows rolled up.
"Their families and fans were loosely scattered across the pits, down the back paddock, across the creek, and on the hill, enjoying the gentle breeze."
The president said that ANDRA was very proactive and assisted with written health and hygiene guidelines as well as government regulations that were distributed to all competitors and shared on social media.
Round two is scheduled for April 10-11.