A day at the drag races – Alice Springs style!

By Greg Tingle – 11th April 2015


I’d read something about the drags’ in the local paper. Next thing I’m doing the rounds in Todd Street Mall, and I overhear rev head enthusiastically telling folks all about it at popular cafe, Red Dog – and being a new local and bit of a sticky beak that I am, I had to find out more, and man, was this young fella happy to tell me all about it.

Why wouldn’t he be enthusiastic to spill his guts, with the news that local MP Adam Giles has recently given a green light of funding to the Northern Territory motorsport sector rumoured to be in the $1.5 million dollar range, as the government sees motorsport as a potential major tourism attraction to the region, as it is in other parts of Australia and the world, be it the Gold Coast, Adelaide, Los Angeles, France, Britain or even further abroad. For the record, this type of tourism is known as “Sports Tourism” and it’s a very big money spinner on many levels.

Just ten minutes later and this chance meeting with Joel Bester (Team No BMW) at Red Dog Café had got me a ride and media accreditation for the first Alice Springs Drag Racing event for the season, which just happened to fall on the following day. That sure took care of what I was going to do for the majority of Saturday.

Drag racing is one of those sports (or is it pastimes) that you either love or hate, and I’m starting to love it, although the inner-greenie in me has a couple of small reservations, but there’s a lot of worse things happening to world’s environment than a bit of burnt rubber and hi-octane fuel emissions in Australia’s outback, so I digress, and on with the story.

Mr Bester has loads of talent as I soon found at, big dreams, and a considerably lower budget than most (at this stage of the game), however that’s tipped to change, should his current wave of success on Australian drag strips continue. He drives a hotted up Holden Barina, which can do the quarter mile in 18 seconds, and on this day he bested a hotted up Nissan Z coupe worth over $100,000. Bester is quick to point out “It’s the fastest and best Barina in the entire Northern Territory”.

You see, it’s not always the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog (and reaction times and technique often have just as much to do with who wins, as what’s under the bonnet). For the record, Bester competed 5 times, and won 4 of the races, which saw him achieve 2nd place overall and best in class (reaction time – 0.071), which is remarkable given his very modest budget, but not totally surprising given his amazing talent and lightning quick reflexes, and love for the sport.

Mark ‘Yak’ Probst of YAK Racing (Supercharged Outlaw) has a considerably higher budget that Mr Bester at present, and his rocket on wheels is valued in the $90,000 plus region. Yak’s team of five spends the majority of a Friday AM and PM getting his car ready, simulating the speeds and conditions that it will rocket down the dragstrip. Folks, a little birdie told us that Yak’s wheels will soon be on the market, so if you’re looking to get into drag racing Yak Racing might be able to help you out (for the right price).

Fans and non-fans… you don’t have to be into motorsport and drag racing as much as our new friend Joel and track legend Yak, to still enjoy a day at the track. Bring the family, a camera, an esky, buy a few cold ones if you care, and grab some sunscreen and ear plugs – you will be sure to have a blast.

2015 is shaping up to be a banner year for drag racing in Australia, and Alice Springs is in the thick of the action. There’s big plans to turn the sport into a full blown entertainment extravaganza with live music, fashions on the field and more, so be sure to keep checking this place. Don’t blink, or you’re miss out.

It was a roaring day of fun at the track, with tons of excitement, bright colours, nice folks and even a beautiful sunset to cap off the day, so before you think it’s just rev heads only, don’t be too quick to judge.

There can only be a few actual winners on the track each meet, but the general consensus was that we were all winners for just being there and taking in the sights and sounds.

State and local government departments and a good spread of businesses see loads of potential in the future of Alice Springs drag racing, and it would be great if all the locals and tourists get right behind this unique pseudo sport and enjoy the ride.

Fast Facts:

Cool names for hot drag cars regularly featured at the track…

  • No BMW
  • Grim Reaper
  • Super Charge
  • Bluebird
  • Pocket Rocket
  • Rat Bag

Big Al Stainer Memorial official results

  • Street Car W – Mick Williams R/Up – Joel Bester
  • Super Street W – Conan Latham R/up Malachi McMurtrie
  • Super Sedan W – Mick Willox R/up – Geraldine ‘Blondie’ Willox
  • Junior Dragster W – Lathan McNicholl R/up – Daniel Willox
  • Mod Bike W – Brian Metcalfe R/up – Brian Moore
  • Supercharged Outlaw W – Mark ‘Yak’ Probst R/up – Andrew Cole
  • Best Burnout – Angelique Stainer
  • Rest Reaction Time – Brian Metcalfe
  • Best Presented – Mark Probst

Governing Bodies: CADRA and Alice Springs Inland Dragway

The average value of a drag car is about $15,000, however you can get up and running for as low as $5,000, if you know your stuff and are prepared to put in the hard yards

Bar and hot food facilities at the Alice Springs venue, and merchandise available from as low at $10

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ASID.CADRA

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