SUBSCRIBER EXTRA /
THE BUSINESS of drag racing is probably as hard as the performance sport itself. Darren Morgan should know, because he has just won his third straight Australian Top Fuel drag racing championship – and he has managed to do it from his rural base in Mildura, Victoria, far from the more usual motor racing bases of Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast.
Mr Morgan admits the distance means he has to “drive that extra mile” to engage with his sponsors, but he is always more than prepared to do so, in gratitude for the way they have supported his sport over the years.
In fact, it is this high level of engagement and empathy with his sponsors and business partners that sets Darren Morgan apart, as much as his undoubted high octane, split-second racing skill. It showed in the way he took the title, one race shy of the season finale, but still raced at the next event to delight his sponsors and fans.
“We are here for our fans, supporters, and our sponsors. And besides there is still a race to win,” grinned Morgan as he climbed into the dragster.
His DMR/American Truck Works dragster took out the Nitro Thunder Top Fuel round at Calder Park and basically secured his third straight ANDRA Championship. All that was required to make it official was to stage the Victorian American Imports dragster in Sydney during qualifying in late November, accept the green light and celebrate.
Mr Morgan could have easily stayed in the pits after the first qualifier to save parts and money, but he was there to win the event and try to double up with two ANDRA gold Christmas Tree trophies.
It is a measure of the DMR team that even though the title was secure, they were prepared to go one better and battle what were some of the season’s most trying conditions.
Saturday saw the temperature climb over 30 degrees “and then on Sunday it was high winds and a lot of dust” Mr Morgan said. On the first qualifying session a mechanical problem hurt the engine early and resulted in a 6.51 elapsed time over the quarter-mile distance.
Headed by crew chief Ben Patterson, the DMR team made the repairs and bounced back in the second session with a clean run in 4.81 seconds at 308mph [495.68 kph]. This moved Morgan from fourth position to third.
For the final session the Victorian American Imports dragster was looking good in the early increments of the run but the engine suffered some damage around half-track and slowed to a 5.75 at only 157mph.
Mr Patterson believed the car was on a high 4.6 run as the night conditions were the best all day. Morgan finished fifth and had a first round match-up against American Tommy Johnson Jnr.
Eliminations saw one of the biggest Top Fuel fields of the season with eight teams in for round one. Darren Morgan tried hard against his opponent, and while it was a close run, the DMR/Victorian American Imports Top Fuel dragster fell short by .0823 of a second.
Mr Patterson put it down to wearing out too much clutch “which in turn slowed the car”.
For Mr Morgan it was more about looking after his supporters and fans at the event.
“Overall it was a successful weekend with another championship win and a successful corporate outing for DMR and the L&H Company – a leading industrial supplier of quality electrical, lighting, heating and cooling, and ventilation components,” he said.
“I’m very thankful to my hard working crew. I know how hard they work and I am especially proud to be working on the car alongside my 17-year-old son, Will.
“We didn’t have a lot of time between Melbourne and Sydney rounds so I’m thankful for the teams time and dedication.”
Plus, DMR wanted to thank his sponsors and supporters in person at the final event of 2013.
“Having L&H and 100 corporate guests was a huge undertaking,” Mr Morgan said. “It was all about them on Saturday.
“They put their toes in the water at the Nitro Champs back in May and at the Nationals we gave them the full ANDRA Championship drag racing experience. It was up close and personal, and judging from the smiles I saw, I’d say they really enjoyed themselves too.
This makes it three consecutive Top Fuel Championship for DMR (2011, 2012 and 2013) and a fourth overall for Darren Morgan as a driver. DMR won four of the 11 championship rounds, two runner-ups and two top qualifiers.
Mr Morgan thanked John Bakker and his team, at Victorian American Imports, for their continued support of DMR and for understanding how the team worked, doing most of its testing at race meetings for financial reasons.
Darren Morgan said he was once told he would never succeed in Top Fuel because of his country location – which only him more determined to succeed and win – and with three in a row under his belt now, other drag racers wonder what they are feeding the men and women who build and race the mighty machines of Mildura.
POSTED MAY 2014
Darren Morgan and the ANDRA Top Fuel winning DMR Victorian American Imports dragster.
Darren Morgan’s DMR team also enjoyed a humorous aside last season when they provided the machinery and drag racing sets for the Australian comedy series, Upper Middle Bogan, starring Glenn Robbins.
Morgan was quoted in the Sunraysia Daily when asked to assess the season, “We seem to be getting better and better. We don’t test like some of the big teams do because we don’t have the finances, we have to test at the race meetings”.
Morgan concluded by saying that winning the championship for 2013 was made even more special knowing it was ANDRA’s 40th year of drag racing in Australia.
Special thanks to John Bakker and his team, at Victorian American Imports for their continued support of DMR.
DMR was backed last year by Victorian American Imports, American Truckworks, Permatex, K Trans WA, Shannons Insurance, Timken, Cabac, Lovells, Castrol, Champion, Disc Brakes Australia, Speedmaster, White International, Stahlwille, Simple Green, CRC, Crow Cams, Fusion, Pavtek, Torque Calibration, Hedman Headers, Rocket Industries, Aeroflow, PPG, Elgas, Super Mini Booster, Garner Transport, GTS Transport, The Brakeman, Performance Diff Services, Replay XD, Lawrence & Hanson, Tiger Light, CRD Engineering, Airmaster, Clevite and Kingpins Custom Paint.
The pinnacle of drag racing success is winning a championship. In the case of Morgan he can hold his head high knowing he has done that – not once, but four times in his career.
The first outing of the 2014 ANDRA Top Fuel Championship fires up in Perth and will feature round one and two on January 10 and 11.
For more info: find and like Darren Morgan on Facebook
and check out www.darrenmorgan.com.au for news, photo gallery and more.
Top Fuel Total
Darren Morgan 805
Phil Lamattina 755
Steve Read 421
Damien Harris 387
Tommy Johnson Jr 197
Mark Sheehan 184
Allan Dobson 182
Terry Sainty 171
John Lamattina 154
Phil Read 131
Luke Shepherd 87
Martin Stamatis 83
Larry Dixon 72