When Adrian Rivers pulls his supercharged dragster into stage at The Rock 94.4FM Dragway in Motueka on Saturday, he will do so thanks to a friendship that has lasted 30 years.
Back in the early 1980s, Rivers' father, Grant, raced in the altered class against the Blummont brothers from Manawatu. Rivals became friends and friends became racecar partners. "The Blus Brothers" were coming to the end of a long racing career just as Grant Rivers' two children, Nicole and younger brother Adrian, were moving out of the junior dragster ranks.
A post-race chat over a couple of quiets saw Nicole suggest that maybe the brothers would like to see their rail chassis still running in the hands of family friends.
"It all grew out of some banter over beers," Grant Rivers said. "Nicole wanted to step up and the Blus wanted to step out, so we came to a deal."
The chassis Adrian Rivers will race on Saturday is still owned by Graeme and Phil Blummont but the supercharged Chev engine, transmission and diff come from the Rivers Speed and Spares shop in Whanganui.
Both Nicole (26) and Adrian (24) have raced the rail but Nicole is taking the season off to recover from shoulder surgery and her younger brother has sole control of the car.
Running in the Modified and Supercharged Outlaw brackets, it's a consistent 7sec performer. With a 500 cubic inch Chev, it has a best of 6.7sec at 320kmh (200mph), while the smaller 427 Chev it will use on Saturday has seen Adrian dip as low as 7.0sec.
"He's having a heap of fun and driving well," Grant Rivers said. "Nicole will have to fight to get him out of the seat when she's ready to go again."
The Rivers family were to have faced Motueka's Craig Griffith on Saturday as part of the Keith Whiting Memorial Trophy series - a drawn pairs challenge between North and South Island racers - but the local dragster is laid up with an engine that has a damaged cam, valve, piston and head. Last time they were in Motueka for the trophy meeting, Adrian Rivers beat Nelson's John Gourdie 3-0 and posted a huge 192mph (308kmh) top speed.
"The Nelson guys always work hard to prepare a good track and then they make you feel a part of things before and after the meeting," Rivers said. "Sometimes we finish our last race, load the car and go home but, down in Nelson, there's half the fun left to come once the meeting ends."
The Nelson Drag Racing Association has had a tough season with a rain out and a serious crash marring two of its four meetings this summer. Club members will want to end on a high with Jen and Matt Gibbons' Mopars, Nathan Hartley's series leading Junior Dragster and the screaming Chev V8-Toyota ute of Canterbury's Chris Duncan confirmed travellers.
"Look, we were keen to square off with Craig [Griffith], that Supercharged Outlaws bracket has been spectacular, with the top half-dozen cars so close it's won and lost on the startline but, if he is not there, we'll still be doing what we do," Rivers said.
"This car will run low 7s all day long and come home in one piece and we get the chance to support the event and race with a great group of people."
Keith Whiting Memorial Trophy drag racing, also the Ian Griffith Motors Hot Rod Drags, Richie Woodall Memorial Trophy for modified bikes and final of club points series, The Rock 94.4FM Dragway, Motueka Airport from 12.30pm-4.30pm Saturday. Adults $15, children 12-16 $5, under-12s free. No alcohol, drugs, glass, dogs, patches or eftpos.