Australia’s biggest drag racing event, Winternationals in pictures

The next two weekends at Willowbank Raceway will unleash the beast, with the biggest drag racing event outside of North America to hit the black track - Winternationals
Dave Reid, Motorsport photographer

Get ready for some adrenaline filled action as the Winternational Warm-ups start weekend followed by the main event, the 52nd Gulf Western Oils Winternationals over June 6- 9.

I have been attending for years taking images for Drag Photos, here is some of my favourite shots over the past few years to give you an insight into what to expect at this iconic event.

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The first thing you notice at track is the sound …. it is loud! The sound of 10,000 HP blown nitromethane weapons racing to over 500kph in three seconds… that’s faster than a fighter jet taking off at the RAAF base!  So grab some earplugs especially for the little ones and come and experience the loudest event in Ipswich!

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Being a family friendly event based around drag racing there is never a shortage of activities for the little ones, plenty of roaming characters to grab a photo with, kids face painting, jumping castles and of course the kids favourite- the cupcake parlour.

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The event attracts thousands of spectators and entrants over the four day drag racing festival with plenty making the trip from NZ and as far away as Peru and America. “It’s a huge gathering with like-minded drag racing enthusiasts watching racing on par with the rest of the world and it is in our own backyard,” track media manager Julie Lamb said.

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Drag racing royalty Ben Bray of the Gulf Western Oils Pro Slammer said the “kids and the older kids come to have photos with the car between runs and then its time to put on the show out on the track”.

“It is always one of our favourite events of the year, looking up and seeing the grandstands full and then its just me in the zone in the car heading down the track in less than six seconds, it’s one of those sensations you just can’t explain, you need to be there.”

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The sounds of the engines, to the bright coloured race cars and bikes, it is what draws the crowds, but we all know everyone loves to see a bit of action from cars wheelstanding, to engines exploding from pushing them to the edge every single pass, you really never know what will happen!

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Back in 2015 Phil Lamattina in his brand new top fuel car came out for his run and at over 500kph the car started to buckle and snapped clean in half, it was one of the most spectacular but most scary things I have ever witnessed, but with the huge safety focus the sport has Phil is still around managing the number one Top Fuel 2018 Champion Kelly Bettes for LTFR.

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Kelly Bettes was the first ever female to take home the Top Fuel Championship and is a great ambassador to help encourage females into the sport. She is proof that if you work hard anything is possible. 

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No matter what you’re into there is something for everyone at the 52nd Gulf Western Oils Winternationals this June 6-9, so pack a blanket to sit on, some ear muffs and slip slop slap and enjoy your family day out at the Winters.

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Dave Reid Motorsport photographer
Dave Reid is a Queensland-based motorsport photographer who has spent a good part of the last three decades covering spectacular thrills and spills - and fiery sunsets - at Willowbank Raceway.

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