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