Rob Harrington sets off for a 296kph pass in his new modified dragster at Willowbank Raceway.
Rob Harrington sets off for a 296kph pass in his new modified dragster at Willowbank Raceway. www.justdavephotography.com

Speed quest

WHAT do you do when drag racing at nearly 200kph feels like popping down to the corner store?

You get a faster car.

And if your faster car is going to take some time to build, you buy another car to get by.

After taking out his second successive Super Street title at the Willowbank Raceway Winternationals last month, Rob Harrington decided it was time for a new challenge.

So he is selling the VN SS Commodore that earnt him his success while he begins building his own super-charged outlaw.

The 21-year-old thinks it will take about two years to complete.

In the meantime, he has purchased a modified dragster to get used to the step up in speed he will face when his outlaw hits the street.

"I'm trying to get used to the car because it's a bit of a jump," he said.

"First time I was just trying to sort it out from the US and we did 7.25 seconds at 184mph (296kph).

"I'm looking at, with a bit more trialling, 7.1 seconds or with new fuel, maybe 7.0."

He is used to covering the 400m in about 11 seconds in his Commodore.

"Probably the easiest way to describe it was 11 seconds to me was like driving down to the shops," he said.

"It was nice and easy to drive and I had time to think."

Not so in his new beast.

"I didn't know where I was until I was 150 feet down the track," he said of his first run in the new car.

That's what almost three G's of force will do to you when you haven't experienced it before.

"It is an assault on the senses," Harrington said.

"You're jammed back with the engine revving like crazy.

"I had hit the rev limiter before I dropped a gear.

"My head was getting jammed into the roll cage. I was shaking like crazy and couldn't see when it hit the rev limiter.

"The finish line comes at you so fast. Pulling the parachute was another experience as well."

And this is just his stop-gap car until he builds his dream machine.

He expects his outlaw to cover the quarter mile in 6.5 seconds.

"It's a pretty big investment so I'm building it while I'm young," he said.

Drag racing is an expensive past-time, with Harrington estimating he has spent $30, 000 on his Commodore in the past two years.

"I got a loan out on this one to go fast and have fun," he said of his modified dragster.

It partly explains why he still lives with his parents at Karana Downs. The other reason is his father Tony, who is his mentor and inspiration.

"A lot of people have helped me out and we build everything ourselves," Harrington said of how he affords his hobby.

He has a list of sponsors to thank too long to mention, including Craig Hasted from Hasted Performance and Gavin Hansen-Blaze, from Wizard Race Car Fabrications.

He could use some more but without Tony's guidance, Harrington wouldn't be where he is now.

"My dad taught me everything I know," he said.

Harrington senior won Super Sedan national titles every year from 1980-84 and enthusiastically supports his son.

Mrs Harrington has her doubts.

"Mum doesn't like it because of the money side of it," Harrington said.

If she brings it up, he reminds her there are lots of worse things he could be spending money on.

"It's better than the alternatives," he said.

"This is my drug."



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