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Wild Bunch is back!

by Greg Stokes

Cast your mind back to the late eighties/early nineties at Champion Dragway (now Meremere Dragway), a new class of quarter mile drag racing was sweeping the nation – WILD BUNCH! This class essentially took the street appearing two door saloon car and stuffed it full of supercharged methanol fuelled drag racing goodness. Crowd appeal was huge as these cars were something people could relate to in the crowd due to their bodies looking very much street like.

For example, undisputed king of Wild Bunch, Chris Tynan ran New Zealand’s first 7 second quarter mile pass in his famous “Rat Attack” 1955 Chev two door. The awesome car looked all the world like a stock 1955 Chev body in red and white two tone draped over the purpose-built tubular chassis which his business at the time Tynan Race Cars made their name from. The Tynan ’55 is currently owned by Mike Reid. Who can forget the twisting Mercedes 500 SEC coupe of Steve Keys and also the twitchy Ferrari of Terry Simms? The Wild Bunch class had racer and crowd appeal due to the cars actually looking like cars opposed to the longer wheel base dragsters and funny cars in other drag racing classes.

Like most things, Wild Bunch evolved and as guys chased the 6 second mark, 200 miles per hour mark and more recently the 5 second mark, the class morphed into Top Doorslammer. As the elapsed times dropped, the cost went up the faster you ran. As a result, the slower Wild Bunch cars were parked up with nowhere to race as most felt that the spectacle had changed. Fast forward to today – Ryan Sheldon and Mike Reid and company have revigorated the Wild Bunch movement and this coming season sees in excess of 20 Wild Bunch cars making the field for the Wild Bunch Wars at Masterton in January and Meremere in April.

This shot in the arm to New Zealand drag racing is exactly what the racers and fans wanted – to relive those days of supercharged “street appearing” drag racing cars racing in the most unpredictable manner. The newly formed Wild Bunch NZ in association with Kumeu Classic Car and Hot Rod Festival is proud to announce the official return of Wild Bunch, with a 16 car show set to entertain and light up the Masterton Motorplex on January 4th and 5th as part of the annual DRAGSTALGIA event.

The invited field will consist of new cars set to debut to some of the classes originals. The diversity and unpredictability of the original class remains, upgraded and improved to create a show not previously seen. From wild smokey burnouts to insane edge of your seat passes, the Wild Bunch is just that, so mark the date on your calendar because you won't want to miss it. Wild Bunch Wars is set down as a 2 day event with day one consisting of a heads up "teams race" and day two the main individual battle. With 19 cars pre-entered already, the teams race will also double as qualifying for the 16 car show on Sunday, and with a prize pool of over $4k, the action will be fast, exciting and down right brutal.

Along with show appearances at the Kumeu Hot Rod and Classic Car Festival and Beach Hop, the Auckland round of Wild Bunch Wars will be at the Nostalgia Drags at Meremere Dragway in April. For further information visit the Facebook page Wild Bunch NZ is where you will find all of their sponsor announcements, event details, photographic history and very soon a bunch of unique merchandise for sale. It is also where you will soon find details of a second event later in the year, so check back often.


Elocal has a couple of special ‘Wild Bunch’ prize packs to be won.

Email your contact details to office@elocal.co.nz with Wild Bunch in the title to be in to WIN!

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elocal Digital Edition – December 2019 (#225)

elocal Digital Edition
December 2019 (#225)

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