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Tue, 2 Jan 2001, 02:38 PM

300 Mile Per Hour Barrier Broken in Australia
Courtesy of Gerald McDornan

Veteran Australian drag racer Jim Read's New Year couldn't have come any faster, with the 15-time Australian Champion becoming the first racer outside the United States to break the 300 mile per hour barrier at Willowbank Raceway near Brisbane on Saturday night.

Read recorded the 301.40 mph historic run in his 10-year-old Dave Uyehara-built car, recording his quickest ever elapsed time 4.89 seconds in his Gregory's Automotive Publications Top Fueler in the process.

"After seven years of trying to better it, this time we weren't trying to run 300, but that's the way these things work out," an elated Read said. "The car has been to half-track faster before, but this time it really hooked up and hauled from there on "it was an amazing ride!"

It had been seven years since Graeme Cowin topped 290mph for the first time down-under, recording a 294.31 mph charge in December 1993, while Steve Read had previously come closest to 300 with a 298.41mph run at Eastern Creek Raceway in Sydney four years ago.

Ironically, both father and son Charlie and Darren DiFilippo had recorded 298.40mph runs.

It was also ironic that, while Read wasn't trying to break the mark, neither was anyone in the sport expecting it to be broken with a practise of posting bonuses by racetracks for the first 300 mph run to take place some up to $100,000 not on this Saturday night.

"It's sad we aren't getting anything extra for the run, but we've re-written the history books and really that's what counts. I'm sure we won't go without because of it."

The run couldn't of come at a better time for either Read or the sport, with the run drawing attention to the plight of drag racing in Australia.

Read is currently in negotiations with the New South Wales State Government trying to open a stand-alone drag racing facility in Sydney, while promoter Bob Jane last week closed both his Melbourne and Adelaide tracks to drag racing.

"Five years ago the headlines read that drag racing attracted in-excess of one million people annually, yet today things aren't looking great," Read said.

"We're hopeful of successfully concluding our negotiations with the NSW Government soon, while moves are afoot by others to lease the Calder Park and Adelaide facilities and return racing to them immediately.

"Hopefully, our 300 mph run will draw some attention back to the sport and we can get drag racing back on track in Australia."

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