Racing as a combined Super Comp field over 1000 feet, it was fitting to see two Super Stock cars fight it out for the prestigious Rowe Memorial trophy in honour of brothers Andrew and Wayne Rowe.
The “Underdog” top qualified and carried his form all the way to the winners’ circle defeating the returning Darren Parker in the final.
Dimitropoulos led off the line and never trailed crossing the stripe on a 7.567 on a 7.77 index at 127.93 mph from Parker closing in with a 6.217 second pass on a 6.40 index and a record setting 169.08 mph.
“I thought I’d change (The Underdog) and go back to my original, I always used to have Tom Dimitropoulos Racing on my car,” he said.
“I just want to thank all my family, my wife, crew, just everyone. It’s a good win.”
A solo Round 1 paved the way for Dimitropoulos to defeat Daniel Camilleri and Mick Simic en route to the final.
In other news, Camilleri, Les Heintz and Parker set new Super Stock National Records for a trio of classes.
Camilleri set a new speed mark for DD/GA reaching 161.61 mph in Round 1 while 2015 Rowe Memorial winner Les Heintz set a new elapsed time record for B/MP on a 7.038 second pass.
On his return following a long layoff and a last minute rush to be ready, Parker reset both speed and ET for the B/APA class with a pass of 6.199 seconds and his final round mph of 169.08 mph.
Craig Gerdes (Yering, VIC) secured an emotional win in Supercharged Outlaws taking home his first ANDRA Christmas Tree since 2005 when he won the first ever National event trophy for the bracket.
His final opponent Jason Keily had the handicap start advantage and a quicker reaction time but Gerdes was not be denied reeling Keily in with a 6.369 second pass on a 6.04 dial in at 168.94 mph. Keily recorded a 6.581 on a 6.10 dial in at 153.98 mph in his runner up effort.
“I’d just like to thank my crew, Danny, Chase my brother, my old brother and mate who couldn’t be here Shonky - he did a lot of work on the car – he’s missed, very much” said Gerdes.
“This is great, (the trophy) goes next to the gold one that I won in 2005 in Sydney, its great, tremendous.”
Gerdes defeated Mark Hunt, who’s Huntsman Racing team at least won the Gridstar by YBI Best Presented Award, and Doina Day to earn his final spot.
Craig Baker (Gowanbrae, VIC) ended his trophy drought on the national stage with his first Modified Championship event win since 2013.
Out of eighth qualifying position, Baker defeated Cory Dyson, Shane Wynd and Stewart Johnson to earn a final place alongside Jess Turner coming off a runner up last time out.
Reacting quicker, Baker led all the way to win on an 8.552 with an 8.47 dial in at 155.76 mph from Turner stopping the timers with a 7.292 on a 7.22 dial in at 180.04 mph.
“I can’t believe it actually, it was a tough race all day – the competitors in Modified Eliminator are just a fantastic bunch of people but they are also very tough so to go rounds with these guys is just fantastic so good on them and good on me for holding this baby right here,” said Baker holding the silver Christmas Tree.
“I’d like to thank a few sponsors, Paul Rogers Performance Tansmissions – he does a great job for a lot of the Sportsman racers. Wayne Cartledge Racecomp Motorsports – the engine performed fantastically all day. My crew, my beautiful wife Audrey at the top of the list, my boys Josh and Tim, my sister comes out every time we’re in Melbourne – Jack thank you very much.
“I’m going to dedicate this to a very special friend of mine who lost his life many years ago and he’d be looking over me right now with a big smile on his face so this one’s for you Archie, good on ya mate.”
The honours in Top Sportsman went to Paul Russo (Virgina, SA) who picked up his third ANDRA Christmas Tree in the past 12 months and first of the 2016/2017 season.
Russo reacted in under .020 seconds in each of his three elimination rounds defeating Julian Carafa, Matt Forbes and finally Stuart McBain to claim the trophy.
McBain had the slight reaction time advantage at the start line but his 8.184 on a 7.94 dial in at 167.24 mph was no match for Russo, only reacting .003 seconds slower, and taking the win in 7.613 seconds on a 7.49 dial in at 165.01 mph.
Four times defending Super Sedan Champion John Kapiris (Two Wells, SA) picked up is first event win of the season benefiting from Sinisha Skrnjug’s troubles at the start line in the final. Kapiris went on a solo victory lap with a 9.897 on a 9.88 dial in at 133.08 mph.
The South Aussie downed Dave Yanko, Enio Marrocco, Danny Buccella and Joe Bresciano earlier in the day to reach the final.
The last time Gavin Dohnt (Henty, VIC) raced in a National event at Calder Park Raceway he won the Australian Nationals. He kept up the winning record taking home the Modified Bike trophy with a win over the in form Matt Lisle.
Dohnt benefitted from a Lisle red light but he still raced to the finish line with a 9.418 on a 9.33 dial in at 141.47 mph. Derryn McGregor and Brendan Sanders were on the receiving end of losses thanks to Dohnt either side of a solo pass in Round 2.
Chris Tatchell (Merbien, VIC) won his second consecutive event in the Super Street bracket knocking out Wayne Cartledge, Ross Holmes and Simon Lazzaro before enjoying a solo run to the final.
There he took on Anton Krajina out-reacting his opponent by a long way and winning on a double break out when both drivers went quicker than their dial in.
Tatchell recorded an 11.889 on an 11.90 dial in at 107.10 mph from Krajina on an 11.018 with an 11.09 dial in at 124.09 mph.
Joel Burns (Menangie, NSW) won his second Summit Racing Equipment Junior Dragster event of the season when he defeated fellow Sydney-sider Bradley Bishop.
Burns recorded an 8.116 on an 8.09 dial in at 78.45 mph to win from Bishop on a 7.980 and a 7.96 dial in at 80.75 mph.
Sarah Osborne, Jake Berias and Kelly Donnelly all fell by the wayside at the hands of Burns who now asserts himself as a favourite for the Championship.
Colin Griffin (Mt Ridley, VIC) picked up his first trophy of the season easing through a solo Super Gas final with a 10.230 second pass at 135.36 mph.
His day started by qualifying ninth but once he negotiated difficult match ups with both Warren Bull and Darryl Stephen, a solo semi final and a solo final round due to Joe Catanzarti never making the start, made for an easy end to the day.
ANDRA extends its thanks to Calder Park Drag Racing and thanks all the volunteers for a great event.
The Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series moves onto Adelaide and will be joined by the Group One ANDRA Drag Racing Series on December 3-4 at Adelaide International Raceway.