Kwinana (WA)

Repairing both car and body pays off for Paul Carey

Repairing both car and body pays off for Paul Carey

21/01/2021, Kwinana (WA), Motorsport - Drag Racing, Perth Motorplex, Article # 30210352

Maintenance on vehicles is no foreign concept to drag racers, but driver Paul Carey has discovered that all elements of his machine need attention – including the pilot.

Carey campaigns a unique Toyota-powered Top Alcohol Altered, the latest evolution of a supercharged engine combination he has been experimenting with for two decades.

He heads into this Saturday’s Night of Fire at Perth Motorplex with his goal of a five second pass looking closer than ever before and a car that has been handling much better in recent events.

His season started with an enormous wheelstand, where the front wheels climbed off the ground under acceleration before slamming back down to the track. The chassis was damaged and needed much attention from fabricator Clyde Carstairs. The silver lining was that the repairs unearthed some issues with the chassis.

“After the wheelstand we had front halved the car (replaced the front of the chassis) and Clyde found a few things that were contributing to the mishandling,” Carey said. “We now have a perfectly square chassis to work with.”

Carey’s race car is quick, reaching 100kmh in less than a second. That kind of G-force is tough on the human body and Carey – like the chassis – found he needed some work done.

“I’m nearly 60 and it was all getting too much physically; I had lost confidence as a driver,” he said.

“I got in touch with my personal trainer Shayne, who works at Liftlab and specialises in preparing athletes for competition. The training helped me lose weight, get fit, and work on situational awareness and I’ve now got my confidence back. I’d like to master this engine combo.”

Most cars in Carey’s class use a Hemi motor with twice the cubic capacity. His Toyota is certainly a David among Goliaths and needs to be worked hard in the first half of the track.

“We have no real advantage over the big Hemis except maybe being quick early in the run and not so prone to tyre shake,” he said.

“At the Night of Fire we will be trialling some more changes to the design to get from A to B more consistently and the rest will follow.”

The Night of Fire features Jet Dragsters and the Summer Slam, plus all the classes of the WA Drag Racing Championship. Qualifying begins from 11am with the feature program commencing from 5.30pm. For more information, go to

NitroSlam! at Perth Motorplex

Words: Luke Nieuwhof

Pic: High Octane Photos

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Rothwell to make comeback at Night of Fire this weekend

Rothwell to make comeback at Night of Fire this weekend

20/01/2021, Kwinana (WA), Motorsport - Drag Racing, Perth Motorplex, Article # 30209340

Mark Rothwell will bring his “Blown Money” Chevy Nova back to the Perth Motorplex for the first time in almost seven years for this weekend’s Night of Fire event (January 23).

Rothwell’s return has been hotly anticipated for some time within the local drag racing community, with many eyes set to be trained on his entry in the Supercharged Outlaws category this Saturday.

“Originally I decided to take a year off just to have a break. I felt like I had missed out on a lot of BBQs, catch-ups with friends and family since racing every season since the Motorplex opened, first in Super Street and then Super Sedan and Supercharged Outlaws.

“The next year some political stuff happened and since then there have been some holidays with my wonderful new partner, we have bought a new house together and there was a nice new shed to be built and so on.

“All the while though, I have been buying new parts here and there as there are a few big goals I want to achieve yet.

“The main motivator for making a return now was the death of one of my crew, Dan Whitehorn. With the blessing of his widow and parents, we want to do something special for him at the Westernationals in February, and to do that we need to log some track time beforehand.”

It has been a frantic preparation for Rothwell and his crew as they ready for this weekend’s event.


His chariot now has a screw supercharger in place of the old roots supercharger, a new fuel system and a new ignition system. A new three speed gearbox has replaced the old Powerglide two speed and there is also an updated four link suspension, new ignition/fuel management control system, and a few modifications inside the cabin for the driver’s comfort.

“I am really excited to get back into it but even though I committed to coming back for this meeting halfway through last year, the past few weeks have been intense!” he said.

“I cannot thank some awesome people enough for their help along the way. With so many changes to the car in the six to seven years we have been away we have no data and there is one weak link on my mind, so this weekend we will be taking our time with it.

“I am both excited and nervous to be getting back on the track after so much time away. I am of course excited to be behind the wheel again, to try all the new tech and see how much quicker and faster it will run, but I am also nervous that with all of the changes will come the inevitable teething problems.

“There is also that healthy dose of nerves about going quick again, which I think there always should be – you can never get too complacent with these cars.

“Hopefully, this weekend we can have some fun and then we will work out what the car needs in terms of set-up to ensure we are back to running quick and consistent times.

“The Night of Fire event is a family favourite over here in the West – the kids love the show the Jet Dragsters put on and I hope to see some great crowds at the Motorplex this Saturday.”

With such an intense preparation period, it is no surprise Rothwell has a long list of people he would like to thank for their help ahead of this weekend’s event.

“I want to thank Dan firstly; for his friendship, the laughs and all of his help over the years – we miss you mate,” Rothwell reflected.

“Ray Treasure is the king, and the Motorplex is the envy of all of the tracks in Australia because we have him at the helm, and because it is just so pretty, so we send our thanks to him.

“To all of the track staff and volunteers, you are just superhuman people, thank you for all that you do.

“I would also like to thank Merv Biggs and his business, M’mates Place in Mandurah. Without question he has been the driving force in keeping me on track and has been instrumental in making this deadline. He has probably worked more on the car than me! Merv is like a hyperactive, mechanical saint and I cannot thank him enough.

“There is also Chris Dicker at Dicker’s Speed Shoppè in Mandurah who must be recognised for introducing me to this addiction. His constant help, advice, knowledge, friendship and unbeatable pricing on parts over the many years has been simply awesome.

“Of course, I must also thank my crew – Tammy, Craig, Ben, Karl, Daniel, and Sean. None of this can happen without them. And I want to send shout outs to Greg Gower at Alky Pro, James Rowland at WA Vehicle Solutions, Blacky and Lauren at Black Magic Race Cars, Chris Dimoff, and Bells Engines for all of their support.

“And last but never least – my Shelley. To her, I say thank you for being so understanding of all of this. You are not a car girl and it is not your favourite pastime but your support and undertaking of the catering manager’s position has meant the world to me and you are my world.”

The Perth Motorplex will host the Night of Fire event on Saturday, January 23.

The event will feature the return of the Iron Horse and Banshee Jet Dragsters, the Summer Slam Series and Nitro Bike.

Also battling it out on track for points in the WA Drag Racing Championship Series will be competitors in Top Comp, Super Comp, Comp Bike, Supercharged Outlaws, Top Sportsman, Outlaw Radial, Modified, Super Sedan, Modified Bike, Super Street and Junior Dragster, while a huge fireworks show will also delight the fans.

For more information, visit

Pic: Rothwell in action before his time away from the sport. Pic credit: High Octane Photos

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Procharger power a handling headache for Rowles

Procharger power a handling headache for Rowles

19/01/2021, Kwinana (WA), Motorsport - Drag Racing, Perth Motorplex, Article # 30208377

Getting a purpose-built drag racing vehicle to travel in a straight line might not seem to be a difficult task, but for Gail Rowles and her Mazda RX4 it has proven to be a challenge.

Of course, this is no ordinary Mazda RX4. Lying up front is a small block Chev with a Procharger supercharger system that produces 1151 horsepower.

Rowles said that the car had been unpredictable, with hard turns sometimes occurring in the middle of a run. That has made her driving job difficult.

“The car launches well and I don’t have a problem but as she gets down track I start to feel uptight because you don’t know what it is going to do,” she said.

“In December it stepped out badly and I was lucky not to hit the wall, damage the car or hit my opponent in the other lane – but that scared the bejeezus out of me.”

Summer Slam Series Opener featuring Nitro Bikes at Perth Motorplex

Since then, the team has been changing anything and everything in an effort to cure the Mazda’s handling woes.

“My husband Phil dropped the rear suspension out and redid it all, and we’ve ordered two new rear tyres,” Rowles said. “I’m hoping that cures the issues because otherwise I’ll have no nerves left!”

The Procharger centrifugal supercharger system is still fairly rare in Australia, though many drag racers in the USA now use the setup. The system is crank-driven like a supercharger, but uses an impeller and housing similar to a turbocharger.

“Phil always had a dream that he wanted a supercharged car, and we took the Mazda off the track seven years ago to rebuild it,” Rowles said. “At the time no one was using Prochargers in Australia so Phil wanted to do something no-one else had done.”

When all goes perfectly the Mazda is seriously quick, having clocked a quarter-mile in just 7.90 seconds at 279kmh, however there have been many gremlins to eliminate along the way.

“Last meeting out we broke a supercharger belt and a burst panel, and we’ve had a few hiccups with the fuel system over the years.”

Rowles will be competing in the Top Sportsman class at the Night of Fire event at Perth Motorplex this Saturday. The event features Jet Dragsters and the Summer Slam Top Doorslammers.

While many of those racers will be chasing record times, Rowles has a simple and humble goal.

“If the car would go straight it would be a perfect weekend, that would be my ultimate,” she said.

Qualifying begins this Saturday from 11am with the feature program commencing from 5.30pm. For more information, visit

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Record-setting Nitro Slam

Record-setting Nitro Slam

05/01/2021, Kwinana (WA), Motorsport - Drag Racing, Perth Motorplex, Article # 30193908

Competitors at the weekend’s Nitro Slam did not hold back with no less than eight new track records set at the Saturday event on the 2nd of January.

Setting new track records were:

• Nostalgia Funny Car: Matt Abel, 5.427 and 428km/h (266.19mph)
• AA/AP: Wayne Keys, 5.860
• RR/SM: Michael Buckley, 7.315 and 301.35 km/h (187.25mph)
• C/GA: Rob Gaikhorst, 264.59 km/h (164.41mph)
• BB/AB: Michael Holister, 8.198 and 277.42 km/h (172.38mph)

For Abel, it was not a surprise to eclipse the track record.

NitroSlam! at Perth Motorplex

“The first two runs we had done prior had certainly shown it was going to run fast. I think the first pass may well have been faster, but it is hard to know as we didn’t get a time (due to a problem with the timing system),” Abel explained.

“The second pass was on-track to actually be faster than the first pass and the last pass, but it had the front wheels off the ground and was heading to the centre line, so I had to short shift and slow the car down.

“That last pass was certainly fast, and I said to Rory that is certainly the fastest pass I have ever done down the quarter mile! It was great.

“At the end of the day, I am just the person that puts the foot down and steers the thing. It all comes down to the massive efforts of the crew and the skill of Rory Taylor as Tuner, so my thanks goes to them.

“I would also like to thank our sponsors, Speed Torque, Bill Miller Conrods, Oil and Energy Pty Ltd, SignBiz, Red Line, Dean’s Autoglass, D&D Racing, Kendall, Kendall Motor Oils, Coverall Sheet Metal, DTM and Green & Gold.

“Finally, I would also like to recognise staff and volunteers at the Perth Motorplex and send a special thanks to the track crew – the track surface was excellent.

“We will be back in March for the next round of the BME WA Nitro Championship – I am certainly looking forward to the next one, I reckon we might be able to give Graeme Cowin’s national record a bit of a nudge!” he grinned.

For the full event wrap-up from the Nitro Slam event, please click here.

Drag racing returns to Perth Motorplex on January 23 for the Night of Fire featuring Jet Dragsters. For more information, see

Pics by High Octane Photos – above: Matt Abel; below: Wayne Keys, Michael Buckley, Rob Gaikhorst and Michael Holister

NitroSlam! at Perth Motorplex

NitroSlam! at Perth Motorplex

Summer Slam Series Round 2 at Perth Motorplex

Summer Slam Series Opener featuring Nitro Bikes at Perth Motorplex



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Wild Wednesday Motorplex show not to be missed

Wild Wednesday Motorplex show not to be missed

05/01/2021, Kwinana (WA), Motorsport - Drag Racing, Perth Motorplex, Article # 30193802

Perth Motorplex’s biggest mid-week evening of the season takes place this Wednesday with a quadruple treat for motorsport fans.

The pits will be filled to the brim, with the speedway shaking to the sounds of the Maddington Toyota Sprintcar Series for round five of WA Sprintcar Speedweek, alongside the BGC Late Models for night two of the Late Model Nationals.

On the drag strip, Perth’s quickest street cars will be attending for Formula Tech Whoop Ass Wednesday, before the tyre-smoking Hour of Power takes place on the burnout pad.

All in all it represents one of the best value nights of motorsport entertainment in the country, with venue-wide admission (including pit access) for just $20 and family passes (two adults, three children) for only $47.

Among those hoping to make an impression in the penultimate round of the WA Sprintcar Speedweek is Geraldton’s Kris Coyle. Coyle seized third place at round three in Bunbury on Friday night in the Merger Contracting Sprintcar, realising some of the potential he has shown throughout the season.

Coyle started seventh in the feature but fought through the pack.

“This is our best result for this team since I have been at the wheel,” he said.

“Being so far back (in the field) we just knew we had to be there at the end of it. The first few laps sure enough had a bit of carnage here and there. A few people went hard at the start and it cost them, but it worked out for me.”

Coyle feels that some fresh horsepower has been helpful for the team this season, helping him to qualify well and avoid mid-pack troubles.

“All last season was a bit of a learning curve with cars and motors and that,” he said. “We have a little more power than last year and it is starting to show. It helps having the motor to be able to qualify well and sets you up for a good night.”

Gates open for Wednesday’s action-packed evening at 4.30pm, with speedway heats from 5pm, drag racing from 6pm and the burnout show at 9pm.


Words: Luke Nieuwhof

Pic: Peter Roebuck

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Life’s a beach for Katavatis at Nitro Slam

Life’s a beach for Katavatis at Nitro Slam

03/01/2021, Kwinana (WA), Motorsport - Drag Racing, Perth Motorplex, Article # 30191596

Andrew Katavatis unleashed a near perfect sequence of runs as he claimed his second straight BME WA Nitro Championship victory at Perth Motorplex’s Nitro Slam on Saturday night (January 2).

Katavatis, driving the ‘Beach Bomb’ Camaro Funny Car, started the event in strong fashion with a 5.58sec. run in round one to defeat Shannon Taylor, followed by another 5.58sec. in round two to secure a win from Matt Abel.

NitroSlam! at Perth Motorplex

The final round pitted Katavatis against the Northern Territory’s Nathan Coles, driving the ‘Thumper’ Camaro Funny Car. There Katavatis finished his night with a 5.61sec. pass to outrun a personal best 5.66sec. from Coles.

“With great weather and track conditions we were hoping to better our personal best times but it was overall a great night of racing,” Katavatis said.

“We started the night off very solidly and we wanted to step it up in the second round. There were a few delays while we were waiting to run, during which time the track got cooler and the clutch set up was slightly off.

“The final was a great race, with Nathan getting his best ever time and we just got there.”

Katavatis has now built up a strong lead in the BME WA Nitro Championship with one event remaining.

“The night was a great success. Nitro is really something spectacular and headlining the show was a great honour. Thank you to the WA supporters and fans of drag racing, it was a huge crowd that we had great pleasure in putting a show on for.”

While Katavatis walked away with the trophy, Northern Territory racer Matt Abel took bragging rights with the quickest time of the night. His 5.42sec. performance in the ‘Nitro Thunder’ Funny Car was a new track record.

NitroSlam! at Perth Motorplex

Kelvin Lyle was rewarded with his first victory of the season in the Direct Mining and Industrial Summer Slam. Lyle secured an unexpectedly easy win in the final round when opponent and top qualifier Daniel Gregorini had problems after his burnout.

Benny Stevens’ return to the Nitro Bikes series was as successful as he could have hoped for, as he defeated Ricky Wood in the final. While Wood was running his best ever times, he did not have anything to stop a 6.74sec. run from Stevens.

Wayne Keys continued his stranglehold on the Top Comp category, registering his third win of the season. Luck was on Keys’ side after his opponent Paul Carey was disqualified for crossing the centre line, hanging away a certain win.

Other winners on the night included Errol Quartermaine (Super Comp), Ross Smith (Competition Bike), Darryl Mullins (Supercharged Outlaws), Alby Bakranich (Top Sportsman), Kevin Boulton (Outlaw Radial), Jim McQuade (Modified), Kathy Regan (Super Sedan), Ian Glatz (Modified Bike), Paul Garbellini (Super Street), and Brodie Zappia (Junior Dragster).

Drag racing returns to Perth Motorplex on January 23 for the Night of Fire featuring Jet Dragsters. For more information, see

Words: Luke Nieuwhof

Pics: High Octane Photos

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New nitro pilot tests his skills

New nitro pilot tests his skills

01/01/2021, Kwinana (WA), Motorsport - Drag Racing, Perth Motorplex, Article # 30189680

Brodie Pilkington will be taking more steps on his path to becoming a fully licensed nitro drag racer this weekend at Perth Motorplex’s Nitro Slam.

Pilkington is a second generation driver who has racked up plenty of experience in a variety of drag racing machines, including his father Rob’s supercharged Funny Car.

The temperamental nitro cars are a different beast however, and require their own licensing procedure to ensure drivers can handle the demands of a 4000 horsepower vehicle.

Pilkington has been given the keys to Anthony Begley’s Dark Knight Funny Car for the early part of the day, before Begley himself takes over in the evening’s racing.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to have driven methanol-fuelled Funny Cars and also a couple of laps in this Nitro Funny Car and nitro is just something else,” Pilkington said.

“It’s unpredictable, it’s wild and you feel it in every bone of your body. There’s nothing but excitement when it comes to nitro.”

While this breed of race car is capable of accelerating to well over 400kmh in under six seconds, Pilkington is taking his first runs conservatively.

“Just making a nice half or three-quarter track lap would be awesome,” he said. “Performance wise that should be a quarter-mile somewhere in the 6sec. range. When Anthony jumps in for the show on Saturday night we’ll be setting the bar higher and trying to get into that 5sec. zone.”

Pilkington brushed off some cobwebs in December with a pass in the car, one that gave him more confidence for what is to come.

“The car made a nice, clean half track lap and my incremental times were almost identical to Anthony’s runs later so we were definitely happy,” he said.

“I had been out of the seat for quite a long period there were quite a few nerves but once the car started up I felt right at home.”

So long as he can get the sign-off from Australian National Drag Racing Association officials, Pilkington will become the latest licensed driver in the new BME Nitro Championship, which has been set up to cater for a growing variety of nitro vehicles in Western Australia.

The series sees its second round take place at the Nitro Slam this weekend. Contesting the event alongside Begley and the Dark Knight Funny Car will be opening round winner Andrew Katavatis (Beach Bomb), Matt Abel (Nitro Thunder), Michael Brooks (Nitro Mayhem), Shannon Taylor (Aussie Digger) and Nathan Coles (Thumper).

This Saturday will also feature the Summer Slam for Top Doorslammers, Nitro Bikes and round four of the WA Drag Racing Championships. Sportsman qualifying begins from 10am with features from 4.30pm. For more information, visit


Words: Luke Nieuwhof

Pic: Jay Treasure

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Nitro FED record holder back again for Nitro Slam

Nitro FED record holder back again for Nitro Slam

31/12/2020, Kwinana (WA), Motorsport - Drag Racing, Perth Motorplex, Article # 30188913

The BME WA Nitro Championship is home to an exotic group of nitro-fuelled machines, including one that has become Australia’s quickest nitro front engine dragster.

Shannon Taylor drove Aussie Digger to a 5.861 second time, putting the Michael Brooks-owned rail at the front of the pack. Brooks himself made the fastest run for the breed on the same night with a blazing 248.58mph pass.

Taylor is the nephew of Rory Taylor, the owner of Nitro Thunder and Thumper. 42-year-old Shannon grew up working on the cars that came out of his uncle’s workshop and spent much time crewing for Mark Sheehan.

“I’ve been around nitro for a long time,” he said.

Rory invited Shannon to drive a Top Alcohol Altered for a time – “A handful to drive,” said Shannon – before Brooks asked him to take the seat of ‘Aussie Digger’.

The team’s work to break into the fives paid off in a big way on December 12 when Shannon smashed the Australian record.

“I knew it was pretty good as soon as it left the line,” he said. “At about half track I could feel it was pulling and it was going to be a solid pass.”

The adrenaline thrill of a nitro dragster at top speed is part of an extreme life for Taylor, who also enjoys downhill mountain biking and hot rodding.

“Mountain biking probably more dangerous than drag racing, it certainly makes you keep your wits about,” he said.

The January 2 Nitro Slam marks the second round of the BME WA Nitro Championship, where Taylor hopes he or the bossman Brooks can reset the record once again.

“We are aiming for consistent 5.8s, and I’d like to see the car perhaps go into the 5.7s,” he said. “I know Brooksy would like to take the record with his car and by the looks of it the weather conditions will be good, so fingers crossed!”

You can catch Shannon Taylor in Aussie Digger and Michael Brooks in Nitro Mayhem, plus Andrew Katavatis in Beach Bomb, Matt Abel in Nitro Thunder, Nathan Coles in Thumper and Anthony Begley in Dark Knight, this weekend at Perth Motorplex.

The BME WA Nitro Championship is a new three-round series dedicated to nitro burning dragsters, funny cars and altereds in Western Australia. The series is open to a wide range of nitro burning vehicles. Want to see if your vehicle is eligible? Send us a message and we will get you in touch with the right people.


Words: Luke Nieuwhof

Pic: Jay Treasure

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31/12/2020, Kwinana (WA), Motorsport - Drag Racing, Perth Motorplex, Article # 30188671

Michael Brooks blazed through for Australia’s quickest and fastest Nitro Front Engine Dragster pass at the Perth Motorplex earlier this month, only for Shannon Taylor – racing Brooks’ other FED – to steal his ET record on the very next pass.

Now, both racers are hoping to better their markers at this Saturday’s Nitro Slam event (January 2) at the Motorplex, which will host not only Nitro FEDs but also supercharged dragsters and funny cars as well as a further 130 of West Australia’s toughest sportsman racers.

Brooks and his Nitro Mayhem machine will head to Saturday’s event as Australia’s fastest Nitro FED thanks to his 5.900s run at 400.4km/h during December 12’s Outlaw Nitro Challenge event.

Outlaw Nitro Challenge

“That run felt faster than a ‘five-ninety’, but the speed was pretty good. I was happy to be both the quickest (ET) and the fastest (speed) in Australia for about five whole minutes, and then Shannon came past,” laughed Brooks.

“It didn’t take the sting off either that he is racing my Aussie Digger FED and I was tuning it as well!

“Even so, it was really good to finally get some decent numbers for the front engine dragsters as we want to promote this kind of racing as much as we can.

“It can’t hurt for the Aussie Digger’s profile as well, given I am trying to sell it!” he chuckled.

“We still have a long way to go to catch up to the times of the Funny Cars, but we will give it another go on the weekend.

“I found a few problems after the last event, so I am confident with those sorted out I can go quicker and faster at Nitro Slam. As far as goal numbers, I am just looking to go a little better than Shannon!”

For Taylor, resetting the new ET record to 5.861s was a pleasant surprise, albeit one he feels “a little” guilty about.

Outlaw Nitro Challenge

“I didn’t actually realise it was the quickest pass of its type in Australia until I got back to the pits and Brooksy told me, so I was quite surprised!” Taylor explained.

“It took off well and then at about half to three-quarter track when I punched second it kept pulling and I thought, well this is honking along allright! It was a good pass.

“Brooksy and I had a bit of a chuckle about the record stealing back at the pits – given it is his car I do feel a little bit bad!” he grinned.

“He owns both of the cars and right now I am the quickest and he is the fastest. I do not think I can beat him when it comes to mile per hour in this car if I am honest, but I am hoping to better the ET – I am aiming for a ‘five seventy’ this weekend.

“All fun and games aside, I would like to thank Michael Brooks for the opportunity to race Aussie Digger and also the Andrew Frost and the crew and my Uncle Rory and Aunty Leonie Taylor for all of their support; and also, the Perth Motorplex, Ray Treasure and Chris Andrich of VenuesWest for all they do to hold the event.”

The January 2 Nitro Slam at Perth Motorplex will also feature the Summer Slam for Top Doorslammers, Nitro Bikes and round four of the WA Drag Racing Championships. Sportsman qualifying begins from 10am with features from 4.30pm. For more information, visit

Pics: High Octane Photos