By DANIELLE de BRENNI
More than 50 competitors, all with crews of different sizes, came from interstate to compete in the third drags Desert Nationals on the weekend, on a track recently upgraded with NT Government grants.
They battled against 13 local competitors and five from elsewhere in the NT.
A crowd of about 1000 spent $40,000 on admission, food and drinks at the two-day spectacle organised by the Central Australia Drag Racing Association (CADRA).
Some VIP spectators and the 25 sponsors got a special treat of observing races from between the two starting positions – earplugs firmly in place.
Among them was Mayor Damien Ryan, a self-confessed petrolhead and active supporter of the Finke Desert Race next-door since its inception 40 years ago.
“Organised sport is terrific,” he says.
“Events are very important to the economy of the town and events like this wouldn’t happen without sponsors, whether they be government or a private business, but all those events bring people to town.
“It’s a family event, and whether it be this terrific event here today, or whether it be something that happens at the speedway or the Finke, wherever motor sport is controlled it’s safer for everyone.”
One family particularly in love in drag racing are brother and sister Lathan and Cadance McNicholl who, with the support of their dad Brett, have been burning rubber since age eight.
Brett, a mechanic by trade, doesn’t race himself but has his hands full working with the kids to get their cars ready.
“This is Cadance’s first Desert Nationals and it will be Lathan’s third,” he says.
“As a support crew I have to be a member of the organisation.
“It can be a bottomless pit (in terms of costs) but the way I look at it is that the kids have just started, and it’s more the fun of it than anything.
“That’s what I want to keep it as, especially their mental attitude.”
PHOTOS by DANIELLE de BRENNI: Top – Doina Day racing past spectators. Above – Cadance McNicholl’s dragster.