P H I L L A M AT T I N A - T R A C K C H A M P S F R O M S Y D N E Y, P E RT H A N D A D E L A I D E
ISSUE TWO DECEMBER 2014
APSA GRAND FINAL DANIEL NUNZIANTE
BE A BETTER BRACKET RACER
RACING IN MEMORY THE CORAL DYER STORY
AEROFLOW NIGHT OF FIRE
EDITORIAL Why do you drag race? It's a question a few people could do with asking themselves. For 90% of racers, the answer is for fun. It's a hobby. It's something to do with your time when you are not working or raising a family or engaging in any of life's many other pursuits. Speaking with racers participating in both the Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Car Series and the Australian Pro Street Association at Sydney Dragway recently it was clear that fun was the main reason most of these guys and girls were out there. These series offered a level of fun that suited them. But I've also spoken to a few other racers recently who have said the fun is no longer there for them. Their passion seems to have been drained. And I wondered why that is. It could be cost, racing certainly isn't getting any cheaper. But then it has never been particularly cheap in the first place. Have we passed a point where racers are electing to spend their hard earned dollars on other activities instead of our beloved straight line sport? Maybe it's time. Today's vehicles and level of competition require a pretty superhuman effort just to get to the track. If you want win lights you better be prepared to treat your racing like a second job. A day at the drags should be a day of celebration and joy (sounds like church or something, maybe a religion of the holy quarter mile) and a day where you get to engage in your passion. Some people though treat race day as a chance just to have a good old fashioned whinge about everything under the sun. What's the point? It's that kind of thinking we need to turn around. If you have fun keep racing! If you're not having fun, find another sport! There's no point hanging around just to keep poisoning it from the inside. I think the level of fun we all have at the track is all within our own control. The more people who are having fun, the more fun the whole lot becomes. Have fun catching up with your racer mates at the track, make time to go and spectate and watch your friends throw down, catch up with people away from the track too and build the social side of the sport that is what attracts many to it. When I read Grant's story about Coral Dyer this month, I was amazed at just how much of an impact the drag racing community had on this one lady. Perhaps even enough of an impact to extend her life. Just think how powerful that 'fun factor' was for Coral and how potent that could be within your own life. Had a bad week at work? Drag racing can be your saviour. It is the place where we all get to be heroes and revel in a common pursuit. Have a think about your team and what you can do to have more fun at the track. That kind of positive, building spirit might be the shot in the arm the sport needs. Now on a more commercial note, thanks to all of you who have purchased this second issue of the magazine. Special thanks if you got a subscription! And also a big cheers out to our advertisers who have jumped on board including Ticket2Ride, Rocket, Aeroflow, VPW, Proflow, Babiators, Premium Motorsport Products and Flatout Services. If you would like to support future issues with advertising, please email email@example.com. Hope you enjoy the read! Luke Nieuwhof Editor
DRAG NEWS MAGAZINE STAFF
Editor: Luke Nieuwhof (firstname.lastname@example.org) Content: Luke Nieuwhof, Grant Stephens, Rob Sparkes Photography: cacklingpipes.com (email@example.com), Luke Nieuwhof Design: Luke Nieuwhof Accounts: Rob Sparkes
FREELANCE PHOTOGRAPHERS Joe Maday 0468 413 124 firstname.lastname@example.org Dave Reid 0412 686 478 email@example.com Lee Davis 0425 886 072 photorequest@ westernautopics.com.au
WANT TO SEND US CONTENT? firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING email@example.com Or call Rob Sparkes on +61418411684
WANT THE LATEST? www.dragnews.com.au is Australia's most popular drag racing website and carriers all the up to date news you need on Australian drag racing.
LEGAL All content is copyright to Drag News Australia Pty Ltd and may not be reproduced in any form without express written permission.
5 - Quarter Reporter 10 - Shutter Speed 14 - Nitro night fight: Aeroflow Night of Fire coverage 26 - Pro Street goes grand: APSA Grand Final coverage 38 - Radial romper
Daniel Nunziante's Outlaw Radial Ford Cortina. 44 - Racing in memory The emotional story of how the late Coral Dyer, and now her daughter, fell in love with drag racing. 54 - Decade of thrills Phil Lamattina discusses his second ANDRA Top Fuel championship and his plans for next season. 58 - Be a better bracket racer ANDRA Super Gas champion gives an introduction to the basics of bracket racing - see what you can learn. 64 - Sydney finale The Atura Blacktown NSW Championship wraps up. 70 - The Croc bites back
Christine Steffens fireballs big in the third round of Perth Motorplex's track championship. 74 - Sprint finish
Adelaide rounds out its short championship series. 76 - Product Spotlight
The latest from our friends at Aeroflow. 77 - Mr Yes and Mr No
Should we have turbochargers in Top Doorslammer? 78 - Chutes Out 79 - Business Directory
MR OUTLAW 10.5 TO TOP DOORSLAMMER Frank Mamone will stepping into a Top Doorslammer next year. Mamone originally had a Barracudabodied Top Doorslammer commissioned for himself, but has since sold the car. However he will be in the driverâ€™s seat. "The car is owned by Cathis Australia, originally I had the idea to build a Barracuda and from there I got Joey Martin to commence the project and just got him to slowly do bits and pieces when I had extra money saved," said Mamone. "But the car kept sitting there with not much progress as I didn't have the money to keep wasting on the car as it wasn't my first priority, so I approached Cathis Australia to see if they would like to sponsor me, as they already sponsor the Western Sydney Wanderers and the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs, and told them it would get good advertising exposure as well. "So they came on board and I sold them the car as is with the condition that I got to drive the car. They agreed and spent the rest of the money needed to complete the project and buy the engine. I have a good relationship with the owners of Cathis Australia so it worked out well, as they have been working closely with our company where we helped them develop their new transport mobile app because we had the vehicles and
resources they needed to develop and test their app." Mamone tested the car in the US but had an unfortunate set back early on with a serious bout of tyre shake that shook the battery terminals free, starting a fire that caused extensive body damage. That will need repairing before they can test again. "The plan now is to get the car back to Australia and run in Top Doorslammer and see how we go," he said. "We have all the right people on board now so it should be good. We have Stuart Rowland from Perth as crew chief and a lot of other known names in the game to help us be competitive."
FED READY Matty Evans and Ally Stewart are in the final stages of preparing their blown alcohol front engine dragster for testing. The former Canberrans, now residing in Bungendore NSW, purchased the ex-Chuck Tanko nostalgia nitro FED from Peter Leahy Custom Imports who imported the machine from the US. "The opportunity to buy the dragster popped up and we couldn't pass it up, there needs to be more blown FEDs
running in Australia," said an excited Evans. The dragster was repainted by Simon Farrell (of Bungendore Bullet fame) and Evans sourced a 451ci KB Hemi for motivation backed by a two speed Lenco and Mark Williams 9.5" diff, with a focus on Supercharged Outlaws. Evans will be doing the driving with the pedals a bit of a stretch for Stewart, much to her dislike. Stewart, who has been racing the family Oztin Austin A40 Ute in Super Sedan, will be having a shot in Modified in Geoff Wright's rear engine dragster in the new year.
REPORTER TAYLOR BRINGS IN NITRO THUNDER, ABEL TO DRIVE WA's Rory Taylor has recently imported a new Outlaw Nitro Funny Car, nicknamed 'Nitro Thunder'. The car was previously owned by Jack Harris of Salt Lake City, Utah. "I came across it while organising a car for someone else," he said. "We basically bought it sight unseen from some photos. "I went over there and hired a U-Haul, loaded it on the back and towed it to California so we could ship it home." Taylor is racing against time to try and have the car ready to run at the January 9-10 Home Group WA Nitro Slam event. "I bought it as a rolling chassis without an engine or gearbox and we are putting it together right now," he said. "My plan is to have it ready to run for January but I don't know how we will go with that. We are close." Taylor said though he has dabbled in speedway and drag racing, he prefers to hand the driving off to someone else. "(Top Doorslammer driver) Matt Abel will be driving it first and then when my nephew Shannon gets some more
experience he will step into the nitro car," Taylor explained. "I have decided I am too old to do it. I'm sensible enough to realise it is hard enough just to tune one of these things and get it down the race track." He might have ruled out nitro, but Taylor still sees himself getting some track time. "I have purchased a 'slingshot' front engine dragster that I may well put together and have a play in Supercharged Outlaws, but we will see how we go running the nitro car first," he said.
BACKDRAFT NAME RETURNS, WALFORD AND DEVELIN JOIN FORCES FOR FUNNY CAR With a long history in running blown alcohol sedans and funny cars, Darryl Walford has teamed up with another Wild Bunch legend in Geoff Develin to go nitro racing. The pair have purchased a funny car and will be joining the rapidly expanding Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Car roadshow. "Having someone like Graeme Cowin to create, support and promote this new show was the reason I looked at this Outlaw Nitro deal, I enquired about it and GC gave me the opportunity to license in Fast Company last December," said Walford. "Having raced Supercharged Outlaws in the Skips Thunderbird funny car for several years then testing an Outlaw Nitro Funny Car I said to my crew and family, I just have to do this. I believe GC has created something that is achievable and I am able fulfil a dream I never thought could happen.
"Geoff Develin and I have been mates for over twenty years and I'm happy to get him back to the race track, we are doing this together as a new team, I will be driving and Geoff will tune the car. Walford used to campaign a Ford Customline in Wild Bunch named â€œBackdraft". "Being a fire fighter for 30 years and with my first blown car being called Backdraft I thought I should bring that out again with the funny car having a fire theme," he said. "I went to the States in March and purchased the car from the guys at B&J Transmissions in Salt Lake City, then with a huge effort and help from Matt Leonard who also lives there have converted the car to suit Outlaw Nitro Funny Car rules here. The car is a McKinney chassis with a 2001 Pontiac Firebird body, running a 500ci BAE Hemi with a 6/71 Littlefield blower and B&J two speed transmission. There will be some testing when car arrives early in January with the aim to be at Mildura for the AONFC event in April.
REPORTER VALE: COL BEASLEY Col Beasley, the original crew chief for Darren Morgan Racing, passed away on December 1 after a short battle with cancer. He was 59. Col, easily recognisable at the track thanks to his signature widebrimmed farmerâ€™s hat, was a cousin to Darren Morgan and instrumental in DMR achieving their initial championship success as the team's first crew chief. Morgan paid the following tribute to Col via his Facebook page: "Colin, your guidance and enduring support allowed us to achieve the ultimate goal - Australia's No 1 Top Fuel Champion multiple times! "Thank you for always standing by us. A wonderful mentor and friend. Most of all - thank you for the irreplaceable memories." The speedway world will also be mourning the loss of Col. Col was involved in the emergence of 360 Sprint Cars in Australia and raced himself for over 25 years. A very successful entrepreneurial farmer in country Victoria, establishing Thurla Farms, Col will be survived by his wife Karyn, three children and eight grand kids. Drag News Australia passes on its deepest sympathies to his family and friends.
VALE: JOE 'BUZZARD' GATT The drag racing world lost a real legend of the sport on December 3 with the passing of Joe Gatt or "Buzzard" as he was affectionately known. Many may consider Joe drag racing royalty. He has been involved in the sport since 1964 after the Gatt family arrived in Australia from Malta in 1957 and is one of ten siblings, four of which went drag racing (Jeff, Dennis, Ben and Joe). In 1965 Joe raced at the first Australian Nationals at Riverside in Victoria with his '34 Coupe and started Super Flow heads in 1972. With brother Ben he formed an ominous drag racing team for the next several decades running everything from a nitro funny car to their iconic blown XA Coupe. Ben and Joe won the 1991 Nationals at Willowbank after 25 years of trying and set the world record in their EA Falcon Top Doorslammer at 6.66/203mph, the quickest Ford powered, Ford bodied race car at the time, a goal Joe set for himself. Joe's health had been failing him in recent years and the passing of his wife Jackie was an emotional blow two years ago, but Joe fought on, returning the EA Top Doorslammer to the family and having the honour of flicking the starter switch on its return to the track in the Gatt name. But what really made Joe a legend was his character. While it may sound clichĂŠd that he was the most genuine and loveliest person you could hope to meet, in Joe's case it was true and the outpouring of tributes to Buzzard since his passing are testimony to that. Drag News Australia extends its deepest sympathy to the entire Gatt family and their friends and thank you to Buzzard for all you have done for the sport of drag racing.
Gerry Sarafoglou found out the hard way that too long up on the revs on the start line will kill a transmission. This fog bank looks more like a burnout! ISO 1250, 1/4000sec, F7.1, Canon EOS-1DX at 200mm. Image: cacklingpipes.com
Alexis DeJoria burns out in a special edition Patron XO Cafe Incendio Toyota Camry during qualifying for the NHRA World Finals at Pomona's Auto Club Raceway. ISO 100, 1/250sec, F7.1, Canon 7D at 17mm. Image: Luke Nieuwhof
NITRO NIGHT FIGHT
BY LUKE NIEUWHOF AND GRANT STEPHENS.
The Aeroflow Night of Fire returned for its second year with a massive seventeen Outlaw Nitro Funny Cars converging on Sydney Dragway. Graeme Cowin, owner of Aeroflow and Rocket Industries, has been the driving force behind the series, aiming to deliver a package of racing that is as much entertainment as it is horsepower. There were low flying jet planes, a flame throwing hatchback, pro burnout cars including crowd favoruite 'Mater' and duelling wheelstanders. All combined to deliver constant action for the thousands of people in attendance. Organisers would have preferred a few more thousand people to be in the stands, but those who were there got delivered a pretty impressive show.
If there was a downside, it was in the delays experienced across the day with a large number of oildowns. In particular transmission dramas seemed a specialty. A few racers learned that a long time spent on a transbrake button or convertor is not a heathy habit! But first let us to take you into our nitro wrap.
Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Car A number of cars tested in the lead up to the event, including Tommy Johnson Jr who was doing familiarisation passes in LA Hooker, Harold Campbell still licensing in Insanity, Bazz Young testing and familiarising at the wheel of the all new Shack Attack, Peter Leahy making laps in Superbad and Phil Lamattina
coming to grips with the big motor combo in Fuchs Flyer. Johnson Jr was successfully signed off, as you would expect of the third place finisher in this year's NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car series, though the team had some dramas with the fuel shut off partially shutting. Campbell had all the wild handling traits of his heyday, great for photos but not so much for impressing the ANDRA stewards. Young battled tyre shake while Lamattina was definitely the highlight of the lead up, carding a tough 5.75/242. Race day would feature three rounds, each contributing points to a racer's total. The first round would be randomly drawn, the second round would be seeded with fastest against slowest and so on through the order while the last
Shane Olive awaits his first round run in 'Fast Company'. Image by Luke Nieuwhof.
round would pitch the highest point scorers from the previous two rounds against each other to decide a winner. With several racers having the ability to score three wins from three rounds, the tie break was the quickest ET in the final round. Round one opened with Lamattina back into the fives on a 5.86/235 defeat of Shane Olive's tyre smoking 11.78 in Fast Company. Willy White took Back to the Future on a 6.11/241, well above the mystical 88mph in theory required for the car to travel back in time. Glenn Moore opposite mustered a 6.41/209 in Bad to the Bone but unfortunately engine damage prevented him from coming out again during the event. Rick Gauci powered Nitro Express to a 5.93/243 against Aaron Russell in The Russler, who experienced an unusual supercharger backfire 60 feet out (see feature). Paul Messineo rode Dark Horse to a 5.93/248 win over Daniel Schultz's 6.32/225 in Supa Charger, as Nathan Peirano scored an upset win in Time Traveler with a 6.49/203 against Anthony Begley's tyre smoking, pedalling 7.03/245 in The Stormtrooper. The warm track proved no barrier to Aaron Hambridge in The Bandit, carding low ET of the event straight up with a 5.70/259 knock out of Bazz Young's 6.42/234 in Shack Attack. Tommy Johnson Jr took the stripe in a close 6.06/239 to 6.12/229 race against Peter Leahy while brother Greg Leahy had more luck in Harbour City Hustler with a 5.93/246 win against Justin Walshe in Let's Boogie. Campbell was still licensing and indeed still unlicensed after the first round, taking out the timing beams on his seven second pass. After a little bit of carnage from that first round, just 13 cars remained for the second. Begley was back in form with a 5.77/255 to beat Hambridge's 8.84, while Lamattina threw away a 5.90/232 after crossing the centre line against Peirano. Young got down track in a 5.87/238 but put rods out (see feature), defeating Rick Gauci who mortally wounded Nitro Express as well on a 6.21/198. Greg Leahy charged hard for a 5.75/244 win light against Schultz's 7.82, as Messineo racked up his second win for the night as well with a 5.80/249 against Peter Leahy's 6.16. Johnson Jr used a 6.00/245 to join the two win club, defeating Olive's 6.21/246 while Walshe soloed to a 6.93/218. With the third round in the lanes, three drivers were left with the opportunity to win the event â€“ Greg Leahy, Nathan Peirano, Paul Messineo and Tommy Johnson Jr. Peter Leahy got some momentum going for his brother, with a 6.11/211 defeat of Schultz's 6.76/230. Olive bounced back for a 5.84/251 win over White's 7.52, while Lamattina ran a close-to-the-wall 5.96/232 on what became a solo pass when Hambridge was unable to start. Hambridge fired up shortly after to run what was effectively an exhibition pass, no doubt kicking himself for not having the chance to beat his Lamattina Top Fuel Racing boss when he carded a 5.79 at just 203mph. Incrementals showed the car was .08 quicker to 1000 feet than his earlier 5.70, as some indication of the potential of the run. Walshe belted out a 5.77/249 to win against Begley's 5.87/214, which leaned out and banged the supercharger towards the end of the pass. It was then time for the business end of the
From top: Aaron Hambridge ran the quickest ET of the event at 5.70 but couldn't start for the final round. Phil Lamattina found five second consistency in Fuchs Flyer, running one of the 'big' motors from his Top Fuel dragster. Willy White didn't enjoy a whole lot of luck in Back to the Future. Images by Luke Nieuwhof and cacklingpipes.com.
evening with the four drivers with two wins coming up against one another. Johnson Jr versus Peirano was first up and history was surprisingly on Peirano's side â€“ last year the Time Traveler defeated the LA Hooker in the
final round. Unfortunately for the Queenslanders this time the result was reversed as Johnson Jr pounded out a 5.794 to set the mark for Leahy or Messineo to beat. The fancy rocketstyled trophy would be going home with
To the victor go the spoils: Tommy Johnson Jr earned himself a unique rocket-shaped trophy to take home as the winner of the Aeroflow Night of Fire. That's going to be interesting getting through customs. Following the presentation of the trophy came the spraying of the champagne, with runner ups Greg Leahy and Justin Walshe making sure Tommy got his fair share. Images by cacklingpipes.com.
Johnson Jr though as Leahy's 6.26/223 got a win against Messineo's 6.72 but was lacking the five tenths of a second or so needed to claim overall victory.
JOHNSON GETS TO RACE AND CHILL Tommy Johnson Jr is no stranger to winning races in Australia thanks to his time with Rapisarda Autosport International, but his victory at the Aeroflow Night of Fire was the first time he has done it in one of the plastic fantastics. Johnson finished third in the NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car championship this season, driving the Make A Wish Dodge Charger operated by Don Schumacher Racing. Johnson said he was starting to make plans to come over over with Ron Capps, who was originally going to steer LA Hooker, but those plans became a little more involved when Capps announced he would be unable to make it. “I had actually asked about coming with him to a guy from Santo's team and he said Steve Bettes (manager of the Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Car series) was in Indy and wanted to talk to me,” he said. “I met with Steve the next day and he informed me Ron couldn't make it and wanted to know if I would be interested. It worked out because I was wanting to go and they were needing someone to fill in for Ron. We struck a deal in about five minutes. “I was excited to get the chance. I had followed Ron on the internet last season and was well aware of what Graeme had created over in Australia.” The nostalgia funny car scene is huge in the USA and Johnson had experience with it, last in 'Crop Duster' in 2013. “Every car you drive is a little different,” he said. “The guys at the shop did a great job of adjusting a few things for me like the steering wheel and some padding in the seat. “The car was easy to drive. Getting used to making a shift was about the only thing I had to remember - and not shutting off at 1000 feet.”
Running 320mph in a touch under four seconds in a big show car is a pretty big deal, but Johnson said the Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Cars were a lot of fun to drive. “Of course they are slower than the big show car, but not a lot,” he said. “It's still a fast ride and a lot of fun. You actually get more time to enjoy the ride in them. I can tell you the vision is a whole lot better in them than what I'm used to.” Racing wise, Johnson started out cautiously but motivated the team to throw more at the tune up for the final round – the one that counts the most under the Night of Fire format. “The first round we didn't run all that well. The track was hot so we were just trying to go down without smoking the tyres,” he said. “Shane Olive had run before me and leaned in under the body and suggested I hold the brake because his car had come loose at the hit of the throttle. As it turned out it didn't need that and really killed a good ET. “I had to run Shane in the second round so we tuned it up as the track had cooled down. The tune up was a little too much and the car shook the tyres. I had to pedal it quickly as did Shane in the other lane and was able to get it to recover and run a 6.00. “That put us in the final and I told Graeme that we were going to need to get it to run better if we wanted to win. I suggested what I thought might be a problem in the clutch. He made some changes and hit the tune up perfectly with a 5.79. “I think with a couple of more runs we could have easily got it down in the 5.60s. Sometimes you just have to be at the right spot at the right time.” Johnson joked that everything went pretty smoothly for a crew with three Top Fuel drivers on it – Darren Morgan, Wayne Newby and himself. After the event he had the chance to explore a little more of Australia and catch up with former RAI team mates Damien Harris and Steve Flynn as well as Stormtrooper driver Anthony Begley. “I got to visit my favourite brewery in Australia, Little Creatures on the Sunday night,” he said. “Then on Monday we got on (friend) Perry's boat and did a tour of Perth up the river and then headed out to Rottnest Island. “It was nice to get a few days of basically nothing after a long year racing. We stayed on the island and cruised in the boat some. I certainly took a lot of the Australian sun back with me. We did a lot of bench racing over some adult beverages and food.”
LEAHY HUSTLES TO SECOND The Harbour City Hustler hasn't been the most loved car in the Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Car paddock but it seems to have turned some of its reputation around thanks to a second place finish with Queensland's Greg Leahy at the wheel. Leahy explained that since the car was upgraded to the bigger fuel pump it seems to have turned around. “It was one of the last cars they put the big pump and big mag on,” he said. “When we tested in September it showed promise of running well into the fives and we came away confident. “We really didn't expect it to run 5.75, and it was the quickest 60 footing car out there.” On race day Graeme Cowin gave the team a base line tune up and then input throughout the day, which the team would respond to with their own input. The result was a car that went oh-so-close to knocking off the American Tommy Johnson Jr. “It didn't quite run as fast as we thought it would in the final,” he said. “I got lucky because Paul Messineo had to give Dark Horse a big pedal which opened the door for me, that was our luckybreak.
“The car ran perfectly. It was well prepared by the Cowin team and our boys did everything needed on the day. “When we've had trouble it has mostly been self inflicted, but the car ran perfectly.” Leahy said he had to pinch himself to believe that he was up on a podium next to the third ranked nitro funny car driver in the world. “It was quite humbling to be standing there on a podium looking at the guy who just came third in the NHRA championship, then being given a bottle of champagne to spray all over him,” he said. “I can't believe I got that opportunity, there are a lot of guys who would have swapped positions with me.” Leahy said while the opportunity to drive for Graeme Cowin is there he wouldn't look to get his own ride to go along with brother Peter's Superbad, but you never know what the future might hold. “If circumstances changed and we had to make a decision, if the ride stopped, if he (Cowin) sold the car, then I think we would look at doing it,” he said. “Of all the racing I am doing it is the highlight, over and above the Comp deal. But you're dancing with the devil when you are playing with nitro.”
SHACK'S BACK Paul Shackleton's brand new 'Shack Attack' Camaro was a centre of attention in the pits at the Aeroflow Night of Fire with its high standard of engineering and presentation. The north Queensland drag racing veteran said the car (pictured right) was a testament to the skill of builder Bob Meyer. "Bob says this is his last short car, so he made it into his best work," Shackleton said. "I always liked the 74 Camaro body and when I saw 'Fighting Irish' at Bakersfield in the flesh that made my mind up." Shackleton only got the car on to the track in the days before the event and it had some early troubles with tyre shake as he worked out what the car needed tune up wise. "It was shaking the tyres at the top of low gear, then going into wheelspin," he said. "The engine had a new SSI blower, MSD mag and Rage fuel pump and it has a new East West clutch so we were trying to get on top of it as quickly as possible. "My plan was to test for two days, but I had to shorten it up due to work commitments. We only did four runs, two half track passes, the first round 6.43 and the 5.87." On that 5.87 things ended a little outside the script, with a rod exiting the block. "It was only one rod so the damage isn't too bad," Shackleton explained. "It looked like the rod decided to quit about 1100 feet, then it backfired when it crossed the finish line, causing a small fire. "From the in car footage I have seen, all looked fine until the rod broke, it didn't shake on that run as we made some changes to alleviate that. "I had a spare short engine in the trailer but we really didn't have enough time to change it and diagnose what the issue was and I certainly didn't want to send it down the track again without finding the cause first. "My initial thoughts are it went lean for some reason; I didn't have a data logger on the car. The incrementals showed that it probably would have run in the low 5.80s at 250 mph." Certainly Shackleton did not seem too phased as to the damage. "The block looks repairable, and the oil pan, it'll fight another day," he said. "Hey, it's nitro, right? You can't run one of these things and expect this won't happen sooner or later. You just have to determine the cause properly so you can make changes to hope it doesn't happen again for that reason, but something else will crop up. "This was the only event I was going to run the Chrysler based engine, I have a new Miner Bros. Racing (MBR) engine package coming that I believe will be easier to maintain and better on parts." Shackleton had sometimes Australian, sometimes Brit, sometimes American Bazz Young doing the driving for the Night of Fire but revealed he is looking forward to hopping back into the seat himself next year. "I am intending on driving at some stage, Clint Thompson wants to come out and drive at a meeting or two, and there might be someone else that may licence in the car," he said. "As for rounds, that will depend on work commitments, and I want to test the big pump combination thoroughly as well. "I didn't have a big pump on for this race, I have one and I was going to test it but didn't have the time, so I decided to stick with what I sort of know. The big pump will be there from now on. "I am very happy with Bazz's efforts, he did good! And with an .089 light against Rick Gauci in the second round. And he helped with the car, unloading and loading so thanks Bazz! He'll be back in car at some stage."
A GREAT ROD ESCAPE Glenn Moore had enjoyed a relatively easy introduction to nitro racing until the Aeroflow Night of Fire where the engine went through a relatively subtle bit of carnage in the first round. "We were running as quick and as straight as we ever had, when just after half track the car started to lose power and Willy White went past us," Moore said. "We went back to the pits and pulled the nappy off and found two con rods hanging out of it." There was no fire, no death smoke, it really was about as stealthy as two rods can be in smashing through solid metal. Moore said that the current analysis points to a lubrication problem, possibly an oil pump failure. "I suppose that's racing. On the bright side, it was the quickest and straightest we have ever run," he said. "It ran over 180mph at half track and was definitely in front. "I've got a spare block that I am going to take down to Sydney
where the car is still because we are racing at Portland." Moore has plans to run all of the Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Car events. "We'll do the full season, anything we can," he said. "We haven't missed anything from when we put the car together last year."
BOOM TIME Aaron Russell and 'The Russler' team were left somewhat confused by a first round explosion underneath the body of their Mustang Nitro Funny Car. Occurring early in the pass, the car didn't smoke the tyres or over rev in any way, it simply went bang. "It has us dumbfounded," Russell said. "We just upgraded the heads and put some new gear on, some stronger stuff and something has let go." In the autopsy post event, the motor was not found to be terminal. "The bottom end looks good which is a good thing, just a bit of head work," Russell said. "It's smashed every push rod for some reason, it's lucky none of them hit the pistons." Russell explained that the run started off well from the driver's seat. "It launched really good, it didn't go past 7500 revs, didn't turn the tyres at all," he said. "Initially we thought it just banged the burst panel but when we got back it had pushed the head gasket out, causing a little oil fire. "It's really weird. I've been looking at a few photos and in one of the photos it is wide open throttle and you can see smoke coming out; it was chewing itself up before it went bang." For the former Modified dragster driver having the motor out front is still something he is getting used to, let alone having it go up in flames in your face. "It's something I've never experienced, I'm used to the dragster with the motor behind you and all the noise behind you so when you are in an enclosed cockpit it was like a large pop," he said. "The one thing that took me by surprise was the pressure, it throws you back in your seat. Just the force of the bang being enclosed in the body itself. My ears were ringing for the rest of the day but I didn't have a headache." Russell is hoping they will be able to make it to Portland for the next round of the series, which is essentially their home event. "Being from Victoria our opportunities are limited to race on quarter mile tracks and to race on good tracks, with the hype of the event (the Night of Fire) it's the last thing we wanted to do," he said. "We were moreso disappointed for Graeme and the other guys and the paying spectators that we couldn't be part of the show. We do it for fun ourselves but the main idea is to get interest back into drag racing. "We are aiming for Portland, that's the next plan, but we are unsure if we are 100% just yet, we are hoping to get some parts in time. I'm sure Graeme will let us be a part of it, whether it is in our car or with another team. He wants us to be there as Victorians. He was the first to ring us up when we got home to make sure we were alright and that anything we need to give him a ring." Russell said the chance to run a nitro team used to be just a dream, but the Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Car series has helped to make it a reality by providing a place to race nitro cars that doesn't require a massive budget. "It's more about the fans and it gives us teams a chance to race against these big names," he said. "We never would have dreamed of racing a nitro funny car. It's good for privateer guys who want to race nitro and can under the Outlaw scheme. It's a good deal on both ends."
Top row from left: A solid, if not massive, crowd watched on from the stands. Fuel from the pipes of Let's Boogie. Pro burnouts were a popular addition. Unique rocket trophies were handed out. Why hello there. Bottom row from left: This jet hatchback was one of the most bizarre exhibition vehicles we have seen. Low ET and a fireball. Josh Leahy entertained in the Nitro Sheriff wheelstander. James Rowland on the spanners. A jet fly over added extra pizzazz. Images by cacklingpipes.com and Luke Nieuwhof.
Right: Greg Leahy was the best finisher of the Australians, going to second place in 'Harbour City Hustler'. Image by Luke Nieuwhof.
PRO STREET GOES GRAND It has been a big year for those under tyred, over powered Pro Street machines with crazy engine combinations crammed between frame rails, their championship again culminating in another epic season ending APSA Grand Final event. Outlaw 10.5 A big field in Outlaw 10.5 saw Sam Fenech in the JSS Racing Grand Am make a miraculous return to the track. The Grand Am underwent a thrashing rebuild in just a handful of weeks following a crash and returned with personal best numbers in testing. "Mr Outlaw 10.5" himself Frank Mamone cranked a 6.41 in Q1 which would hold up as the benchmark across both sessions, Simon Kryger banked a 6.60 for the nitrous fans for second and Jeremy Callaghan made it the third different power adder in the top three with his turbocharged 6.63. Michelle Davies' blown Torana was not far away with a 6.64, Fenech was way off his 6.1 second testing pace with a 6.67 as he struggled to find the required traction, Matt Grubisa was solid with the Bumble Bee turbo Camaro at a 6.74, the spectacular Agent Orange '57 of Wade Wagstaff sat on a 6.92 and Nikki Hepburn rounded out the six second qualified cars with a 6.98. Outlaw 10.5 was one class that did receive all their allotted three rounds of racing before the final. Kryger threw away a 6.80 with a cherry against Davies in round one, Wagstaff was hanging on to a possible outside championship win defeating a non starting Fenech with a 6.93, Hepburn's Gemini held off Grubisa, Danny Makdessi found the six second zone with a 6.78 against Rigoli and Mamone chalked up a 6.88 win over Callaghan's 7.12. Fenech stormed back in round two with a 6.16 over Kryger, Davies won an all blown
match up with a 6.69 against Mamone who smashed a driveline on the pass, Wagstaff increased his performance with an easy 6.75 win over George Haramis' VL, Callaghan downed Grubisa in the Camaro duel 6.74 to 7.60 and Hepburn let a win on paper get away against Rob Godfrey's Torana. In the third round of racing a 6.67 from Davies was no match for Fenech's 6.21, Hepburn found retribution on Godfrey with a 6.91, Wagstaff came out on top in a fantastic blower versus turbo deal against Callaghan 6.66 to 6.68 and Grubisa picked up a win over Kryger 6.64 to a 7.03. Once the numbers were crunched the finalist would be the blown machines of Davies and Wagstaff, unfortunately a trail of oil left on the track after Wagstaff's burnout forced the '57 Chev to shut down and Davies would solo to a 6.65. Sam Fenech and JSS racing had done enough to be awarded the championship and how now set their sights on running a five with this car while on the hunt for a new machine that will be Top Doorslammer bound.
Outlaw Extreme In Outlaw Extreme the rules are quite simple, the car must run opening doors with just about everything else legal. Rob Campisi had a spectacular engine detonation in the first round of qualifying, disintegrating the front clip through the traps on a 6.21 second pass and retiring from the event. Johnny Roso finally stuck the Top Doorslammer Camaro to the track for a top qualifying 6.12. Racing in the APSA is normally held over three round robin rounds with the best two performers deciding the event in a standalone final, but a number of extensive oil downs during the day limited most classes to only two rounds and a final. Steve Petrovski and Troy Papadopoulos had unspectacular round one wins in their
Clockwise from top: Jeremy Callaghan and Matt Grubisa get the laundry out in the Sydney Dragway braking area. Dom Rigoli was representing for the four cylinders in Outlaw 10.5. Wade Wagstaff made it to the final of Outlaw 10.5 but had to be shut down with a leak. 'Mr 10.5' Frank Mamone dances the front wheels in the air. Sam Fenech top qualified in the Outlaw 10.5 field but couldn't convert it to race success. Images by cacklingpipes.com.
respective twin turbocharged Pro Mod style drives. Petrovski won round two with a struggling 6.93 over Bill Nabhan and Roso, who missed round one, went a career best 6.07 to defeat newcomer Rob Taylor in the "Mad Scientist" Top Doorslammer Camaro. The final was a future Top Doorslammer blower versus turbo dream for many with Roso taking on Petrovski and it did not disappoint, Roso sneaking home first with a 6.18 over Petrovski's 6.20 in what was one of the races of the event that brought a huge roar from the crowd.
Pro Street Blown Victorian Glen Forster had an untouchable lead going into the final event with his Ford Mustang. Forster was out early on the field with the 632ci boosted machine hitting a 7.06 in Q1, while a personal best 7.10 at a screaming 202mph from Tomi Raikko's little LJ Torana looked wild and kept Forster honest. Calder Park drag racing manager "Pistol" Pete Pisalidis showed he was the Pro Street Blown boss though in Q2 with a 6.87 to go into the racing rounds as favourite. Pisalidis did not stray from the sixes in the two racing rounds, defeating Raikko and Michael McGrath. Forster also showed his consistent championship winning form with a pair of 7.0 second laps in defeating McGrath and Craig Hewitt, the Hewitt matchup won on a massive holeshot. The all turbocharged final featuring Pisalidis and Forster delivered side by side sixes, Pisalidis held the slight start line advantage to a 6.88 against Forster's 6.95 effort.
Pro Street Unblown Pro Street Unblown has been struggling for numbers compared to the blown equivalent class, attracting only two entries by race day and not many more across the season. Local racer Chris Stevermuer had yet another championship virtually in the bag, his big block Torana was far from the quickest in the class but was killing them with consistency. Qualifying went the way of hired gun Fred Solieman in Joseph Somma's 440ci powered Cortina with a 7.96 and racing would essentially come down to a match race between the two. In the final Solieman took the victory, 7.96 to Stevermuer's 9.19. Hopefully next year we will see more Pro Street Unblown gear out of the shed.
Outlaw Radial Radial tyre racing is all the rage overseas and it is clearly filtering to Australia with the Pro Street radial classes swelling with new cars, the headline bracket being Outlaw Radial. In qualifying Australia's only six second radial car, Daniel Nunziante's
Cortina, topped the sheets with a 7.200 fractionally ahead of the Michael Kalaitzakis' 7.201 out of the big block twin turbo boosted Supra. Moving into racing, the championship picture had Perry Bullivant with his Snickers Torana now leading over James Horan's Hilux ute. An ugly transmission failure in round one for Horan ended his event and championship hopes then and there, but Bullivant was vulnerable with his new nitrous combination backfiring during the day. Nunziante was the class of the field on this day, a 6.77/228mph record run over Marc Leake in round one was backed by a 6.90 in the second round and set up a final berth for the one they call Pazzo. Steve Bezzina's rather unassuming XW Fairmont racked up two wins, his second round 7.84 pass over Andrew Micalleff securing a David versus Goliath finals throwdown. Special mention needs to go to the performances of Kalaitzakis with a second round 7.04 at 223mph and Leake on debut with a brand new twin turbo combination in the Torana flying to a 7.29 at 196mph. Bezzina gave it his best shot in the final in his streetable XW with a 7.70 only to have the orange Cortina come rocketing past at 224mph on a 6.90.
Mod Street Blown Mod Street Blown had a small but diverse field from a front wheel drive Honda CRX to a blown Mercedes, the latter owned by Guy Hall and running unopposed for the championship with Michael Arnold not attending the event. Matt McCarthy's turbo small block Bluebird was quickest in qualifying with a 7.86, McCarthy would keep that performance going in racing with a 7.87 solo and 7.74 win over Hall to fill one side of the final. Number two qualifier Paul Cibotto earned a 7.86 to 8.51 first round win over Brett Benz's VL and followed that up with a 7.75 winning pass over Jason Mansweto. In the final McCarthy was a year late and then some with a .500 reaction, the Mustang of Cibotto a holeshot winner with a 7.62 defeating a 7.53.
Mod Street Unblown Like its Pro Street equivalent, the Mod Street Unblown bracket was severely undersubscribed. Daniel Sharban was well in front of the three other runners in qualifying with a 7.86 from his big cube Capri. Racing saw Sharban continue his dominance with victories over Victor Tsatlogianis and Chris Michaloudakis to earn a place in the final. With no other championship contenders fronting Michael Brody would become the 2014 Mod Street Unblown Champion. Brody won his first round against Michaloudakis before going on
From top: Rob Campisi top qualified for Outlaw Extreme but a big pop through the finish line shattered his bonnet. Johnny Roso found new pace in his Top Doorslammer Camaro. Rob Taylor had 'The Mad Professor' licensing ahead of the APSA Grand Final and then got to make his first passes in competition, running some consistent six second passes. Paul Cibotto used a massive holeshot in the final of Mod Street Blown to defeat Matt McCarthy. Peter Pisalidis wrapped up Pro Street Blown. Images by cacklingpipes.com.
a wild ride in the next round when the lower control arm on the diff snapped, sending the Torana into a tankslapper that Brody managed to keep off the wall but would hand Tsatlogianis a slot in the final. Tsatlogianis' Torana is a veteran of the Pro Street scene and has been off track for quite a few years for some refurbishment. In the final an 8.58, despite being the quickest pass of the event for Tsatlogianis, could not match the brute force of Sharban's record holding Capri as he came home with a 7.87 at 176mph.
X275 The X275 radial class is enjoying similar success to its Outlaw brother. Helped by an 8.50 index to cap performance, the class boasted the largest field of all Pro Street classes. Qualifying was all out with Scott Cortina going the quickest at 8.20, however all racers would have to dial it back come racing. The championship was the tightest of all Pro Street classes with any number of potential winners if results fell certain ways or mechanical issues arose. But Terry Seng's twin turbo VC Commodore chalked up two wins to claim a final round start which would ensure he would stay marginally clear of Shane Baker's point haul. Facing Seng was another Commodore in the form of a VK belonging to Doug Day. A shoddy light from Day should have seen the race to go to Seng, but the VC was unable to slow enough, breaking out with an 8.48 to Day's 8.82.
True Street Dean McMahon was looking to ram home the True Street championship with contender Darryl Elliot needing a few upsets in racing after McMahon blitzed the field in qualifying with an 8.73. True Street did squeeze in three full rounds of racing. McMahon won all three rounds and locked up the title, Elliot was valiant with two out of three victories, but joining McMahon in the final was Shane Elvin's Hornet also with three wins and impressive mid nine second laps. The final was a non event, McMahon had cooked the battery is his XF Falcon and was out, Elvin cruised to the stripe with a 9.92 and the trophy.
DYO The event did cater for any sedan that did not fit into a legal Pro Street class with an all in Dial Your Own bracket, Jason Stares qualified his aspirated big block Corvette on top over the 36 car field with a 7.26. Stares was using the event as more of a test session with a new bullet for next year's Top Sportsman class, and after four rounds of eliminations he would have to declare the testing a success as he would be in the final against James Danakos. The Falcon of Danakos recorded a slight start line advantage over the Corvette and stopped the timers with a 10.526 (10.51), illuminating the win light with the tiniest of holeshot wins ahead of Stares' rapidly closing 7.315 (7.30).
Factory Xtreme The event also tripled as the final to the Factory Xtreme series, entry numbers weren't spectacular and Scott Porter had all but wrapped up the title. Collin Willshire went to pole in qualifying with a 6.78, a breath ahead of Mark Jacobsen's 6.79. Porter laid down a number in round one with a 6.32 at 228mph over Phillip Karpathios' Scion and Michael Baghdadi upset Willshire in a depleted field. Baghdadi succumbed to a 6.73 from the Infiniti of Porter in round two and Willshire would solo due to more breakages. The final was a mismatch, Porter securing the event win and asserting himself as Factory Xtreme Champion by demolishing Baghdadi with a 6.46 to the Silvia's 7.23.
Centre image: Darren Triffett turned his Powercruising wagon into a wheelstanding drag strip monster. Image row from left: Shane Elvin claimed True Street after Dan McMahon could not start for the final. Doug Day won against a breakout pass from Terry Seng in X275. Scott Porter was in a class of his own in Factory Xtreme. James Danakos defeated Jason Stares in the final of the DYO bracket. Images by cacklingpipes.com.
MISS SIX SECONDS Nikki Hepburn's little Gemini seems out of place in Outlaw 10.5 when surrounded by some of the other mechanical monsters in the class and goes way quicker than any Gemini ever should. When fans watch the way the Gemini is "manhandled" down the track with the front runners rarely touching the flight deck, there is surprise when the diminutive Nikki climbs out. The Gemini is an animal on the track, with the 540ci big block sprouting a pair of GTX 42 turbochargers somehow wedged between the rails. Hepburn and her crew have been chasing a tune up to go into the sixes. "I debuted the car in September 2012 and started racing the 10.5 class in 2013 and loved it from the start, we are not the quickest but we have fun," she said. "We been chasing the sixes for about twelve months now, I had a few issues to sort out to finally get everything working 100%.â€? The first six was proving to be something of a mental barrier for Hepburn. "It has been a little monster on my shoulder for quite some time now," she said. "A couple of days testing in Sydney prior to the APSA finals really got the car sorted and the first six second pass came on the Friday arvo of testing. When we got down to a 7.001 it was a bit frustrating but the next pass we went the magic 6.98 at 203.89 and it was a great feeling, it felt fast!" A string of six second passes followed, the best being a 6.91 at 204mph and three round wins at the APSA Grand Final, but there was no magic bullet on the breakthrough in performance. "Strangely enough we haven't made a heap of changes to the tune," she said. "It's been more chasing one issue after the other. First it was suspension, then the gear box, then the motor, then the transbrake - we just never had everything going good all at once." The team thinks 6.8s are about the limit with the current combination. "We can't go anymore than 26PSI as we are now out of turbo," she said. "But big thanks to everyone who has made it possible, my dad first and foremost for letting me drive the car, my partner Luke for his support, Justin at HPS for the tune up, Dan from Promodz for the fabrication work, Joe from Profab for the suspension setup, Fred from Protrans for the gearbox and TCE for the converter."
JUST BE THERE!
Pro Street racing may be heads up first to the line wins, but as Chris Stevermuer has shown with his third consecutive Pro Street Unblown championship you do not need to be the quickest or fastest to win. His three championship have been just reward for loyally supporting every round of the APSA series around the country with his big block LJ Torana. "I have owned the car since 2006, buying it as a roller and have done over 500 passes at many different tracks with it," he said.
"It had a smaller NOS motor years ago and ran a best of 8.1 at 169 mph, NOS is great but needs a lot more maintenance and a bigger budget, so I'm happy with the aspirated 598ci BBC that is in it now, it is fun and relaxing and I am not as stressed out.” Stevermuer’s stress levels might have been heightened however by a car that was misbehaving at times. "The final event started off great with a mad wheelie, I ran it through with a 8.6 but the speed was down," he said. "Then the car just got slower, over half a second and 14mph off pace, we worked out the stall converter shit itself but we still kept on running." Chris' passion for the Pro Street style of racing is unwavering. "I love these events, the Chicago shootout format, racing at all the different tracks, meeting and having a drink with new people," he said. "At the Pro Street events, you don't have to be the fastest car to win championships, you do have to do rounds and travel. I have achieved my three Pro Street Unblown championships with hard work, beforehand and after race meets, a good reliable engine, an understanding wife, a young son that loves watching dad, great crew and sponsor Alutec Windows."
Nikki Hepburn has found the six second zone at last with one of Australia's quickest Holden Geminis. Image by cacklingpipes.com.
RIDING THE RACING ROLLERCOASTER ‘Megatilt’ may well be the best way to describe the season Sam Fenech and the JSS Racing Outlaw 10.5 team have had. They have gone from running the quickest times seen from a supercharged car on 10.5 tyres in the land, to almost writing the car off, only to return after a herculean effort and win back to back APSA championships. "The season started with the purchase of a brand new BAE 521ci with PSI Top Doorslammer spec motor and clutch," said Fenech. "We had to fit the new engine combo and make pipes, change to a new corporate colour scheme for the car and transporter which was a massive undertaking and then we decided to push to make the first round at Willowbank. We were really focused on trying to win back to back championships so making every event was top priority for us. "We struggled at our first event with traction issues, but managed to win two rounds and come away with valuable points. The second round was at Sydney Dragway and after hitting the wall in qualifying we managed a runner up finish
and more valuable points. "Then we were invited to run at the Jamboree at Willowbank. Although we were booked to run at Benaraby the following week we decided to go to Jambo and use the event for testing. Well we had a great meeting up there, we ran a PB 6.11 at 236mph and managed to win the event! "Off we went back to Sydney to service the car, fitted new rods and clutch, then straight back up the highway to Gladstone for APSA round three. “APSA rounds at regional track are great events to race at, the people there really appreciate the effort we put in and we managed to win this event and run a PB speed to the 1/8th with 191 mph. Wade Wagstaff was runner up at the event and he was the one to watch, we only had a narrow margin in the points so the last round was anybody’s race." What seemed like a season going to plan rapidly swung the opposite way. "Disaster struck at a track championship event in Sydney when the car lost traction at the top of second gear,” Fenech explained. "We made some serious contact with the wall and had a decent fire - at this point I thought our championship was done and dusted.
"After assessing all the damage and consulting with Steve (owner of the team), he was adamant to repair the car and be ready for testing three days prior to the Grand Final round in Sydney. "So thank you to Craig, Shelley and Brian at SCF Race Cars who spent two weeks solid working on the car, Victor and Ben Bray made the new front clip in record time, Terry for Carbon Fibre Repairs, Danny at Custom Body Works for working day and night to paint the car in four days, Lee at Camden Signs for all the decals and wraps, the tow car was finished at the track. "With the car back from paint shop we had four days to refit the engine and all the brake lines, fire system, plumb all the braided hoses and wiring and be at the track Wednesday for a three day track hire prior to the last event for the year." After the outstanding commitment to get the Grand Am back on track the tension was building to see if all that work would pay off. "Our first full hit at the track resulted in a 6.22 at 225mph, needless to say we all drew a deep breath but it was very rewarding considering how much work had been accomplished in a relatively short period of time," Fenech said. "Race day and we struggled to get down a very tough, hot track, after qualifying we could only manage a 6.76 so first round would be tricky. In the burnout for the first round I heard a hissing noise which was a result of a CO2 fitting that
had broken off the shift tower. With two rounds in Chicago shootout left and we needed to win both to win the championship. "Second round we came out and ran low ET for the bracket, 6.16 at 238mph for the win, third round we ran 6.22 at 242mph which is was our personal best speed. We didn't make the final but we managed to accumulate enough point to secure our second APSA Outlaw 10.5 Championship, by less than one round in points!" With their season goals despite the road blocks, Sam and the team have now had a chance to reflect on the season and plot the future. "For next season we are looking at some options, waiting to see what the new owner of the APSA will do with the rules for Outlaw 10.5 next year," he said. "We may stay with 10.5, I really think we can run a five second pass with some more testing, or fit big tyres and run Outlaw Extreme. "There is some talk about stepping into Top Doorslammer but we will see what happens in the near future - either way we will be racing somewhere in 2015. "Massive thanks to Steve at JSS Racing for providing me with an incredible opportunity to race a fantastic car, without him and his company Megatilt Haulage none of this would be possible and thanks also to our sponsors Megatilt Haulage, Westend Performance, Gulf Western Oil, Custom Bodyworks, SCF Race Cars and Camden Signs."
BASED ON A TRUE STORY True Street has evolved dramatically since its conception in the APSA Pro Street scene. In just a few short years ETs have plummeted and the investment and development in machinery has climbed, turning it into a true Pro Stock class. Conquering this year's championship was Queenslander Dean McMahon with his Ford XF Falcon, a vehicle that seems to be the weapon of choice for many of the heavy hitters in the class right now. McMahon's trek to the top of True Street mirrored the evolution of the class. "When I started building the car, the front runners in True Street were running around 9.7s," he said. "During the build and within the space of one year the class leaders dropped quickly from mid nines down to 8.9s. "The original combo in my car was good for 9.3 and once the build was completed we raced the last two rounds of the 2013 season at around mid pack. Then in the APSA Grand Final last year Tony O’Connor turned up and shocked everyone when he dropped an 8.7 - this changed the game. "Over the summer we had to consider whether we wanted to step up and play with the leaders or just enjoy the racing at mid pack. After a lot of discussion with Aaron Tremayne we thought we could put an engine package together that could have us competing at the pointy end. So at Christmas of 2013 work began on our new engine combo. Also Kyle Hopf from 6Boost took up the challenge and made a range of small refinements to the car so that the factory chassis worked as best it could with the new power levels. "After some initial testing in early 2014 we were confident that we’d put together a car that could compete." True Street and its direction has generated a lot of discussion, with many saying it has become too much of a monster and has far exceeded the original design for the class. Others want it left alone and a ‘Real Street’ class brought in. The fact remains True Street just evolved within the original rule set and the drag racing desire to push the limit to always go faster, becoming Pro Stock for real cars - and that is a huge part of the class' appeal. "The class has undoubtedly taken a huge step forward in performance over the past two years," said McMahon. "There are four cars in the class that currently run in the
eights, there are also existing competitors developing their cars further and a couple of others with new cars in the build that fully intend to run in the eight second zone - they’ll turn up in 2015 and give us all a shake. "I do believe that over the next 12 months we’ll see a levelling of performance and ETs in the class – I don’t think we’ll see the rapid rate of improvement that has occurred in the past 24 months. APSA True Street is a factory chassis class with a reasonably small radial tyre, so even if you have mega horsepower, you’ve still got to get it to work. It will be who can best tune their car on the day to get off the line consistently that will win. "It’s an exciting class and one that the crowd can relate to really well, as the cars look pretty much like hotted up streeters. But then, when they hear them start and rip big wheelstands and run fast ETs it’s super impressive for people to watch. I know that’s what drew me to build my car and get involved, the really wide range of cars and a great bunch of people who compete in True Street and whether you run an 8 or an 11 second ET, we all have a heap of fun." McMahon looked to be on a charge to the event win as well as the championship until a strange problem intervened. "Our weekend started off fairly normally, we qualified with an 8.8 but we were dealing with a misfire in the gear shift and also in top gear – we chased that issue throughout the rounds," he said. "The second round saw us draw Tony O’Connor, who is basically our main rival as far as being the quickest in the class goes. We hadn’t drawn Tony in any of the rounds throughout the year so we were pumped for that match-up. It turned out to be a great race, with us going 8.7 and Tony 8.8. "We were lucky enough to get through our Chicago shootout rounds with all wins, but as I crossed the line in the last shootout everything just went dead in the car, all power was gone and some smoke was coming into the cabin. It turns out our battery had cooked itself, which was also the cause of the misfire. Our night was over, which was disappointing as we were really keen to try to finish off the year with a round win. "Fortunately we’d done enough on the night and throughout the year to take the championship, which is something that our team are really proud of. We set out at the start of the year to have a crack at the championship and all the effort in developing the car and travelling with the series has been rewarded."
RADIAL ROMPER Daniel Nunziante has 3000 horsepower on tap, no wheelie bars and tyres that work in the rain. This is the world of Outlaw Radial. By Luke Nieuwhof.
The modern Pro Street car has evolved from a common ancestor into a bundle of different breeds but perhaps none represents more the original intent than the Outlaw Radial class. It's ostensibly a car that is pure street, with a bunch of horsepower under the hood. The two traits most responsible for that are the three quarter chassis limitation and the category's namesake - DOT approved radial tyres.
And if you are an Outlaw Radial competitor in Australia at the moment, the man you are looking up to is Melbourne's Daniel Nunziante, driver of the [PSIDUP] Ford Cortina. Nunziante most recently stomped the record down to 6.779 seconds and 228.81mph at the Australian Pro Street Association Grand Final, run as part of the Aeroflow Night of Fire at Sydney Dragway. With such a short wheelbase, so much horsepower and no wheelie bars, it's not for the faint hearted. "It feels like the wheels are just barely touching the
ground,"Nunziante said. "You are just worried about keeping it straight rather than worrying about how fast it is. When I went 228 I couldn't tell." Nunziante grew up a Ford boy, but his first fast cars were a couple of Holden Commodores, cutting 10 second times with naturally aspirated horsepower. The lure of the Blue Oval proved enough for Nunziante to progress to a more purpose built Ford Cortina that started in the tens, before dropping to nines and eventually eight second times as he got more and moreserious.
Things stepped up a notch though when Nunziante met Craig Burns from SCF Race Cars and decided on building the Ford Cortina that nightmares are made of. "I had good mates that used to race in Mod Street, which was a mini tubbed, standard suspension kind of car, so I built one of them and put a little twin turbo small block in it,"he said. "The record at that stage was like 7.40s or 50s and I wanted to be the first one on a standard suspension car to run 200mph. We did that. Then I hurt the small block and I was watching the radial stuff in America so that's when I decided to put the
big block in.â€? Nunziante explained that the car is probably more Mod Street than Outlaw Radial, being not quite as purpose built as some of the American cars now on the scene. "As a Mod Street car it is more advanced than any other Mod car in Australia,"he said. "It's a mini-tubbed Cortina with standard suspension. It has a lot of roll caging and strengthening but besides that everything is steel besides the bonnet and boot lid. For the rules in America the car has to weigh over 3200 pounds. We have a lot of weight in the car to meet those rules." For Nunziante, the attraction to Outlaw Radial lied in the fact that massive turbocharged motors, essentially the same or even more powerful than what are found in turbocharged Pro Modifieds, were getting shoehorned into cars with no wheelie bars and a street tyre. Nunziante's current package is a 632 cubic inch big block Ford, armed with twin 98mm Precision turbochargers and a Mike Moran-specced cam. A two speed Turbo 400 transmission turns the tyres along with a Pro Torque convertor.
"It (Outlaw Radial) is something different and I thought it would grow,"he said. And grown it has. Twenty two cars raced at the most recent round of the APSA series and Nunziante believes it is going to get bigger and bigger. Currently he is the performance leader and indeed the only racer in Australia to have achieved a six second pass on a radial tyre. But there are several others closing in. "My mate Stix (Michael Kalaitzakis) is pretty close to the sixes, he has gone 7.04 and he should run into the sixes within the next couple of meets,"Nunziante said. Although six second passes seem to be coming at will right now, it hasn't been an entirely smooth road for the team. Nunziante was lured into a false sense of security when they went 7.00/220mph first time out but then some gremlins decided to play their hand. "After we went 7.00 we just had issues where we thought it was the convertor and stuff like that but it ended up being in the Pro Mag and so we lost our way for a little bit,"he said. "After little problems like that we finally sorted it out and the car has come around so now we are doing suspension changes
Photography in this article by cacklingpipes.com. Joe Maday and Luke Nieuwhof.
and the car is responding.â€? An Outlaw Radial car is a long way from a pure drag racing vehicle. At one end of the spectrum is a naturally aspirated dragster where you throw everything you have it right from the start with most of your acceleration done within a few seconds. Then you have a 3000 horsepower beast of an Outlaw Radial car like Nunziante's and that requires a far different approach with power having to managed and finessed for much of the pass. This is achieved primarily through tune up, rather than the driver having to modulate the throttle pedal. "When you have as much power as we do it is all in the tuning
and power management,"he said. "It is all in the boost controller and with timing and to bring it on as you need it. "I have Kevin Fiscus, he was one of the fastest guys in America on a radial but now runs in Pro Mod, he helps me out with the power management and the tuning side of it. "A lot of timing gets pulled out when you let go of the transbrake, it gets fed back into the engine about four seconds into the run. We try not to blow the tyres off mid track. Now the suspension is working really well and we can add a lot more power earlier in the run. "The first couple of times I drove it was like pushing my stomach into my chest. Now I am used to it. I have a look on
“It feels like the wheels are just barely touching the ground.” my face now like it doesn't feel fast. I'm concentrating on driving the car and not realising how fast I'm going.” You might think traction control could play a role, but Nunziante says they aren't running it, as shown from the way he spent two days of testing blowing the tyres off the car on the launch. "It's learning the car and making little changes,"he said. "We got into the 6.80s in testing and then on Saturday (at the APSA Grand Final) I put some more power in and did a wheelie at half track. "So we pulled a little more power out and went 6.70s, then backed it off to try and win the meeting and run 6.90s a bit. "I hit 39psi on the first pass on Saturday but it did the wheelstand so I was running about 36-36.5 across the line on the 6.77.” Eventually Nunziante belies a 6.5 second run will be possible from the Cortina. The track is a limiting factor, with radial cars requiring a very tight surface, one that would probably result in most slick tyre cars shaking themselves to bits in a struggle for wheel speed. "The better tracks we get, the faster I will go,"he said. "I think I
could run 6.50s, that is my goal, I think we can get pretty close to that, doing 230-235mph. I just need to sort out the wheelies down the middle of the track now. We are going to start playing with weight and try to make it stop.” There has been some ideas exchanged on a possible new car with builder Craig Burns, who would like to run something with a longer wheelbase like a Ford Falcon. But Nunziante is attached to his Cortinas. "Craig would to do a BA, BF or XG Falcon because of the wheelbase and the sides of the engine bay, but it's just not me,"he said. "If I was to do another radial car I would do another Cortina – but it is a tight engine bay to work on. "I also like the turbo Pro Mod deal, but I love the small tyre radial race more. I see the grief Campo goes through with his Mustang so I'll stick to radials. There are more and more cars coming into it." Nunziante passed on his thanks to Speedpro, Craig Burns, Kevin Fiscus, Glen Wells Engines, Lucas Oil, Pro Torque and Proformance Racing Transmissions.
What is an Outlaw Radial car? Frame/Chassis
- Must be based on a production car and can be made of fibreglass, carbon fibre, metal such as Doorslammer or Pro Street bodies permitted. No one piece bodies, no funny car bodies, no open cockpit, no open wheelers or roadsters allowed. - Cars must have at least two functioning doors being able to be opened both from inside and outside. - Open to all sedan based vehicles with doors. Three quarter chassis or less. No full chassis cars permitted.
- Computers and data acquisition allowed.
- Any engine combination permitted. No cubic capacity limits on any engine combination. - Unrestricted power adders (nitrous, supercharger or turbocharged). Multiple power adders permitted. - Dry sumps permitted.
- Varies based on combination, from no minimum weight for a naturally aspirated small block to 3200 pounds for a twin turbo big block.
Wheels - No limit. Tyres - All vehicles running on radials must run a DOT approved radial tyre. - Max tyre size 325mm. - Max of a 10.5*29 non W slick permitted.
Rules courtesy Australian Pro Street Association (www.austprostassc.com.au).
Suspension - Wheelie bars not permitted on any vehicle except 13B rotary and four cylinders.
RACING IN MEMORY Earlier this year, New South Wales Modified racer succumbed to cancer following a ten year battle. She used drag racing to prolong her life well past doctors' expectations. Now Coral's daughter Kaz Williams has emotionally followed her mother's footsteps into the sport. By Grant Stephens.
One of the amazing facts about Coral's drag racing career was that she started at a time in her life when many other racers would be considering hanging up the helmet. In time her fellow racers learned about her motivating factors and the inspirational determination not to let anything stop her from achieving what she wanted, something the doctors knew only too well already. "Mum was diagnosed with Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer in 2004. After an operation and many rounds of chemo she decided she wanted to start racing," Kaz remembered. "She fought the disease for ten years and in the beginning her professor tried to deter her from racing, but soon worked out that was not going to happen. "As the remission time became less and less, chemo became a more regular occurrence. She would drive her professor crazy because every time he would give mum the bad news that she would have to start chemo again, she would tell him I can't start then - I'm racing! He would just shake his head. He soon learned that she would not let the cancer rule her life and after time he would ask her when she could start chemo instead of telling her when she had to start. "She was an inspiration to all the other ladies in the chemo room at the hospital too, they would be amazed at what Mum was achieving and would inspire them to try things they once thought they couldn't do because they had cancer." Coral was always a thrill seeker and husband John Dyer (JD as he is known) was involved in drag racing by crewing on teams. He constructed a HAMBster, not knowing at the time that it would start Coral's racing career rather than his own. "She had always been an adrenalin junky," said Kaz. "She did things like sky diving and demolition derbies, she would ride on the back of JD's Harley. But that didn't last long either when she told JD that she wanted a Harley of her own and of course she got it." But the drag racing that ended up defining Coral was not on her list until that HAMBster came about. "Once the HAMBster was dialled in, Mum said that she wouldn't mind having a go in it, and once she had driven it JD wasn't allowed back in it,"Kaz said. With the need for speed in the veins, Coral's drag racing was about to get a whole lot faster. "It didn't take long for Mum to decide she wanted to go quicker and after a call to S&W Race Cars the dragster was in production and about six weeks later it was ready to ship to Australia,"Kaz said. "Once the dragster was in the pipeline she booked into Ken Lowe Race School and nailed it. She was ready to race." The transition to the dragster from a 13 second HAMBster was not a small leap and there were a few hiccups, such as a stuck throttle which resulted in the dragster rolling in the sand trap and a concussion. Coral went straight to the drag racing media and excitably asked - "Did you get that?" The dragster was repaired quickly following its excursion and Coral went on to record a 7.59/173mph personal best, win a round of the NSW Championship Series and take a couple of runner ups, all in resistance to a disease the doctors said should have taken her from this earth years earlier.
"Mum would get out to the track at every possibility, test and tune days, private track days, track and national championship events. No matter how bad she had been feeling from chemo, she would perk up when race day arrived," said Kaz. Sadly Coral lost that unwinnable fight in July 2014. An emotional tribute at Sydney Dragway followed and a memorial trophy was named in her memory for the highest female point scorer during the NSW Championship Series. Her determination and attitude had touched many during her relatively short drag racing career and now many racers look to what she achieved in the face of mounting adversity for true inspiration. "Most Nannas would carry pictures around of their grandchildren, but mum would always have pictures in her handbag of her dragster and would show and tell anyone that would listen," said Kaz. "She always said she'd wish she had started 20 years ago, we believe that racing was a big part of keeping her around long after the doctors told us she would not be here. We all believe the saying someone "lives to race" is true, Mum is evidence of that. She loved it so much that she organised perspex cut-outs of her in the dragster to go on each side of her coffin and her pit crew carried her into the chapel. Coral's achievements impressed no one more than her daughter. "I was always amazed to see her racing, I would go out to the drags when I could to crew for her, which could be a bit stressful, especially when she got knocked out. I would laugh when my kids Dylan and Courtney would say to their friends their Nan drag races - what does your Nanna do? They thought she was so cool."
Clockwise from opposite page: Coral Dyer did not get to spend long in drag racing, but in her short career she made an impression on the community. Coral's seven second dragster was a real step up from a HAMBster. The Sydney Dragway big screen lights up in honour of Coral. Racers from Modified gather together to remember Coral. Images by cacklingpipes.com.
Since Coral's passing, Kaz has been gently coerced by drag racing legend Ben Gatt to have a skid in the dragster and there was no better way to honour Coral's legacy. "When Mum passed away everyone kept asking what JD was going to do with the dragster and if he was going to jump in it, but Modified was not his cup of tea," she said. "While we were walking around the pit area at Mum's tribute day, Benny Gatt came up to us for a chat, then looked at me and said why don't you have a go? JD and I looked at each other and JD asked what I thought. "It was strange because with everything going on we hadn't even thought of it. He told me to think about it and so I thought about it constantly that day and night and rang him the next morning and asked where I would get a race suit." Just like her mum, Kaz had zero drag racing experience or in any motorsport for that matter, but she did not have to go far for motivation.
"The only horsepower I'm used to is the four legged kind. I have a thoroughbred chestnut horse called Raffa which unfortunately I didn't get to ride much due to work and was never that good at, hopefully I will be better at racing," remarked Kaz. "I've never raced before, JD always laughs and tells people how I haven't even done a burnout in a street car. To be honest it had never crossed my mind to do it, but I was always in awe of Mum, Jenny (Petrie), Margaret (Hartill-Law) and all the other women racers and thought they were all so awesome. "Once the decision was made that I would try driving Mum's dragster, I was really excited. JD said hang on a minute, maybe you should drive my ute on a Wednesday night meeting at Sydney Dragway to see if you like it or not. But I said I didn't think that there was really any point because it wouldn't be anything like driving the dragster, so that's when he suggested I do Ken Lowe Race School and that way I would be able to see
if I liked it or not. "To be honest I didn't even know whether I would be able to handle the speeds or if it would freak me out." Kaz booked into the school at the end of September and then reality bean to hit. "Ken emailed pre-school information to read and I remember thinking to myself, oh my god how am I going to remember all this,"she said. "I arrived at Willowbank for the first day and I was so nervous. After the theory and blindfold test it was time to get into the car, then the nerves really kicked in. "The funny thing was I wasn't worried about going fast I was more worried about getting all the procedures that I was taught right and hitting the necessary markers set by Ken to be able to get licensed. "I remember the first burn out I did, I was supposed to count to three mississippi and stop, but I ended up stopping at the 330 feet timer. A video shows Ken throwing his hands up in
the air wondering what I was doing. He came up to me and asked what happened - I laughed and said I was so excited I forgot I had a brake. He just shook his head. "I had to do 330 feet passes and 660 feet passes to show Ken that I knew where I was on the track, it was like nothing I had ever felt before. At the end of day one I was buzzing and couldn't get the smile off my face. "Day two was time for full passes to get licensed, I put so much pressure on myself to do it as I wanted this license so badly. At the end I did what I had to do to get licensed and Ken said I had the basics and just needed as much time in the car as I could get." It wasn't until after the adrenalin rush that Kaz was able to reflect on the experience she had been through. "The strangest thing was that after it was all over, the next day I felt really flat,"she said. "I think after two days of running on a high and my adrenalin running full pelt I was then on a low.
Above: First burnouts in Mum's dragster. Right: Getting guided into stage on the first pass against a fellow competitor. Friend Jenny Petrie provided a comfortable start as an opponent. Images by cacklingpipes.com.
"I didn't like it at all, I wanted that rush again. I was so keen to get into Mum's car to test what I had learned and it couldn't happen soon enough." When the time came to run Coral's dragster, a few unexpected obstacles arose, emotions resurfaced and there was a possible spiritual intervention. "We decided we couldn't remove Mum's name from the car, it will always be Mum's car, that's why we added 'In loving memory of',"Kaz said. "It took me over an hour to put my name on the car because I kept thinking this doesn't feel right
and it was hard to see through the tears if it was straight or not. "JD then organised for me to go to a private track day that Lee Bektash had arranged. I did a burnout and ran to 660 feet as instructed, then went around again for another run. When I cam into stage and put my foot on throttle there was nothing! It broke the throttle cable and I remember saying to JD and my husband Rob that Mum didn't want me to drive her car. "I had some wonderful people there that day who drove around Sydney trying to track down a new throttle cable. Three
hours and many kilometres later I had a new cable. Just as we were ready to roll the wind started to pick up and before long it was blowing at 100kph, blowing the roof off the marquee, barricades were blowing across the pit area and we were being blasted by dirt and crap coming from the tip. "I looked up to the heavens and said, come on Mum give us a break, and it felt like mum definitely didn't want anyone driving her car. Then they cancelled the rest of the day due to the amount of dirt and debris all over the track and I really felt like this wasn't meant to be. We refer to that day as when
Cyclone Coral hit town." The testing setback would be no hindrance with Kaz entered in the final round of the NSW Championship the very next weekend. If it was Coral testing Kaz's resolve then she was not done yet. "We arrived Friday afternoon to set up, drove into the pit area and ended up with a tech screw in the tyre and had a flat," Kaz said. "The gods were against us and I had to have a word with Mum again. "On Saturday morning I was so nervous and excited at the
same time, I was more worried that I would embarrass myself or JD by not doing things properly or well. I had never run beside anyone and it was my third only time doing a full pass and was a whole new experience. Mum's beautiful friends, and now mine, Tim and Jenny, had Jenny run beside me in the first couple of qualifying runs which took some of the pressure off, thanks guys. "My first run was a 7.68, it surprised the hell out of everyone but no one more than me. I'm not going to mention the reaction time but, let's just say I could have made you a coffee. "It felt fantastic but the funny thing was I wasn't sure how I actually went and had to wait for the tow car to come up so I could ask them if that was okay, then when they told me the time all the emotions hit me. I was so happy but when I saw JD I just cried, it was such a strange feeling because I was so excited but felt bad at the same time. I wanted to tell everyone how it felt but then realised the only reason I got to do this was because Mum wasn't here and she would be one of the people that I would want to share this with, but I had a locket with some of Mum's hair in it that I wear to channel her strength. "I qualified fourth out of a field of about 17 I think and I was just happy to achieve that. I made it to the second round of eliminations, lined up in the staging lanes and my car wouldn't start. They tell me it is all part of racing, you'll get used to it, but I think I've had my fair share for a while." With the daunting task of learning to drive a seven second dragster out of the way, Kaz can focus on future goals with the car and thanks the many who have supported her efforts to date. "I'm happy with what I have achieved so far and looking forward to going rounds and going quicker because it's something I wasn't sure I could even do. I am hoping one day that I will be good enough to get my name on Mum's trophy," she said. "It blows me away the amount of kindness and patience I've received while I'm learning. I'm now starting to understand why Mum loved racing so much. It wasn't just the rush of racing but the support and encouragement from everyone, it really is like having a huge new family."
DECADE - OF THRILLS ANDRA Top Fuel champion Phil Lamattina has ridden the highs and lows of drag racing. But a 2015 title win has been just what the doctor ordered to make him hungry again. By Luke Nieuwhof.
It has been a decade since the Lamattina family burst on to the Top Fuel scene. Success came quickly with the team earning a championship with Darren Morgan at the wheel in 2005 but since then, even by their own admission, they have not enjoyed the amount of championships they wanted. Sure Phil Lamattina scored his first title in 2009, but for a team that has always made sure they had the best of equipment it has been a process of gaining the experience and wile that only more racing can provide. Lamattina makes no apologies for wanting titles for the Fuchsbacked outfit. "I don't think anybody ever goes to a race meeting or ever competes for a year to not win something," he said. "As you get older you get wiser, the more you race the better at racing you get. I think the difference now is how we are able to recover from a mistake due to the fact of having the runs on the board. That's the difference this year, being able to react faster to issues. "We really dug deep, and I'm not saying that because we didn't dig deep other times, this time we learned from our mistakes over the years and were able to identify our weaknesses and rectify them." Perhaps there is room for philosophy in the rough world of nitro drag racing. If there is a philosophy Lamattina has now adopted, it is to plan for your problems rather than confront them as they arise. "We would start off flying and be in a good position at the start of the year (in past seasons) but then these dreaded clutch plate issues that plague every race team in the world would come up," he said. "What we were able to do was identify that as being an issue and instead of persevering and working
through it we went in a different direction and threw them out and got a new batch and got on top of them and continued on our way. "Last season for instance that took three race meetings before we realised the trouble we were in." The Lamattina family aren't ones to rest on their laurels, be in on their carrot farm in Victoria or in their racing operation. This season has seen the team add a second car on a more regular basis with youngest brother John doing the driving. While teams in America will often promote the benefits of a second car for gaining data, the truth of the matter is that getting a second car up and running leads to many hassles. "Initially the second car was a huge hindrance," Lamattina said. "Long term, I knew that the things we needed to achieve with that second car were going to come. "When we first went out it was about getting a team to gel, getting the team environment and getting the team consistent enough to have confidence in the changes you do make the car so that it is significant information coming back." Lamattina said it was a wild goose chase in trying to make each car act identically and they found the better approach was to study how each car was different, accept that fact and use it to the team's advantage. "At the start we tried to treat them the same, btu it is amazing how even with practically identical combinations they are not the same," he said. "Both cars need different things at different times in different areas, power wise, clutch settings, all that sort of stuff. "Aaron (Hambridge, crew chief) is tuning each car to its needs. Once he started doing that, that information that was coming back in a broader sense was valuable. "Mine for some reason makes more power, it's only marginally more but it is significant enough that you can tell on the computer. The increments are funny, I'll be quick early but then slow down that little bit and all of a sudden John's car
A planned approach to technical obstacles has benefited Lamattina Top Fuel Racing this season. Image by cacklingpipes.com.
catches up later and then will stay - the cars are practically identical from half track on. But to get there in the first 300400 feet each car does it a little bit different. "It's amazing how they do it differently at the start but from from half track they do the exact same thing. Try and work that out and you'll be a genius. "I think rather than try and work out why they do that, you have to accept the fact they do and then tune the cars around the information you have. If that means they are both that little bit different well so be it." Lamattina confirmed that both cars will be out full time for the 2015 season. A late season move on the part of the team was to engage the services of NHRA tuner Mike Domagala who has spent time under the flags of several different teams. Lamattina was happy enough with the service to engage Domagala for the coming season. "Mike was a big relief for Aaron, having his experience and the little things he was able to take care of without hassling Aaron about a lot of stuff," he said. "We have been able to secure his services for next year for the second car. We are going to get Mike out for the shortened season until the Fuchs Winternationals. He enjoyed his time out here and he wanted to come back and we were able to strike up a deal he was happy with, he's all ready to go." New brains won't be the only upgrade next season, with new pipe on the way for Phil too. The latest edition of the McKinney chassis is expected to be ready for the Easter Super 3 event at Willowbank Raceway. "We haven't ordered a long chassis for a new time and there is a lot of different things that this chassis will have," he said. "It's practically a complete car minus running gear. It will have the front wing, rear wing, tree, chassis, panels, seat, padding, all the levers and pedals. "The car I had the accident with was a Hadman and since then we have been McKinney, this will be our fourth. The simple fact why we chose McKinney is that because we are half a world away from the USA, it is just easier if you need parts because all his stuff is coded with part numbers. For us in Australia it was just a better business decision. "We have gone 4.56, 333mph with it, we've won
championships with them. I think more important is that it is new tube and that will make a difference, rather than who's name is on the inside." It's part of a current arms race in Top Fuel. Mark Sheehan's new 'canopy car' has been creating a stir. Add to that Rapisarda Autosport International's constant influx of new equipment and similar plans to race two cars at every event and the coming series is looking very tasty. Lamattina says bring it on. "I'm dying for it to step up," he said. "Mark Sheehan is a tough customer to go over to the west and beat him on home turf, I think he will find it interesting to get out of his comfort zone if he travels a little bit, hopefully it doesn't scare him too much. It'd be great to race him in our comfort zone, Sydney, compared to going to racing over in Perth. But then again going by how much success we have in Perth he would probably be hoping he kicks our ass in Sydney. "And we are just chomping at the bit to take up the battle again with the Rapisarda boys." Strangely enough though, Lamattina's biggest threat may be the assassin of his own making â€“ brother John, who has earned accolades for his driving as a rookie. "With John driving for a full season he will have a decent tilt at the championship at well," Phil said. "In fact he will probably be my biggest competition. "A lot of people that have been racing a long time can't believe his ability there. He's not too shabby on the lights, it will be tough for a lot of people. "He's hungry, he's new and fresh. That will be the same with Wayne Newby (who will be driving for Rapisarda Autosport International), even though he has been racing a long time that change to Top Fuel will suit him nicely I think." The question is does Phil still have the same hunger after finally securing that second championship? "Shit yeah. I suppose winning this one has given me more confidence that we can win a lot more championships because I thought it would never come," he said. "We've come so close so many times and tripped over right before the end. I thought when it is going to be my turn and now it was. I'm probably more hungry knowing that it can be done to go out and do it again."
The brothers Lamattina. From left: Phil, Angelo and John. The trio have nitro running through the veins. Image by cacklingpipes.com.
BE A BETTER BRACKET RACER
When I was first approac hed article I was very flattered to provide input for this I am sure there will be points tha t you agree with and som an e could offer that would ass d also wondered what I that you disagree with and thatâ€™s okay. Th e goal is to get you ist bracket racers improve thinking about your pro gram and where it can their program. be improved and hopefully raise som e topics
that you may not hav considered. These are in e no way covered in depth, Once I devoted the tim rather just tou chi ng on some of the one e to sit down and reflec percent areas I feel are t, looking sometimes overlo retrospectively into what oked and are very impor has worked for me, I fou tant to turning on win nd lights. I could only scratch the surface. I oft en get ask ed why I drag race. There Some of the points ma de are going to seem ver really is no simple y basic and answer to that as most people str elementary, but prior uggle to understand the to moving on to interm lev el of tim e, edi effort and financial com advanced bracket racing ate or mitment required. I theories and strategies, eat, breathe and sleep it important to thoroughl drag racing and itâ€™s jus y understand the fundam is very that drives t something me entals of what we are trying to ach (crazy at times!) but som ieve by reducing variables ething I must do and love. My first drag racing . experience was at Surfer s Paradise International Raceway at eight years of age and I knew then
Australian Super Gas champion Matt Forbes gets us started with the basics on bracket racing in the first article of our self help series.
this sport would shape my life in a major wa y. Simply put, the cars, the noise, the speed, the smells, the sm oke the tough competition, the highs, the lows, the and later the travel, the effort, the challenges, smiles and the lifelong forged are what keep friendships me addicted to compet greatest motorsport on ing in the the planet. So let's sta rt with, quite literally, the start.
consistency in every asp ect of your routine thr oughout this article and staging mu st be done with a gre precision and consisten at deal of cy. There is nowhere else on the racetrack you could acc urately locate your car or bike within an inch or two so take the time to stage your car correctly. I choose to stage very sha llow allowing my secon d bulb to just turn on; this way I know I can repeat this proces Correct staging â€“ Sta s pass after pas s and adjust my car to ging your race car is a suit very important Positi part of making a com oning your vehicle to the the required reaction time. petitive pass down the side or out of the groove drag many racers overlook thi will s, not realising it is a cri strip. So also affect your run. Over time we all fall victim to bad hab tical part of so now the run. Staging your car its is a great time to rev or bike in a different ma isit time will result in varyin your staging techniqu nner each e. g reaction times, rollou t and 60 foot Consist times and this will gre ency â€“ There are so ma atly impair your ability ny to react and race car dial with any repeatabi variables to making you or bike consistent and r lity. You will hear me here are just a few areas reinforcing feel are vit that I ally important. This is nowhere near covering all
areas however I feel you need to have these following aspects right in order to refine your program further. Tyres - Looking for the correct tyre for your race car or bike can be a minefield - stiff sidewall, high growth, W series, radials, bias ply and the list goes on. I tend to look at the characteristics of a tyre and what is best suited to my application. I have experimented and tested with various brands, constructions and compounds and have found a product in Hoosier Racing Tyre that I believe is second to none for traction, consistency and repeatability. Tyre compound and construction technology have evolved to such an extent that overly big, smoky burnouts are not required for today’s bracket racing cars. Keep your burnouts and pressures to a routine that can be repeated. Record your notes and understand how pressures, track temperatures and ambient temperatures will affect what style of burnout you require to maintain consistent heat and traction levels. Converter - Stall converter technology has really advanced over the past 10 years and the amount of companies building
converters has also increased. Every company will have their own way of configuring and constructing a converter to suit you. The converter will have a direct bearing on how aggressive your car is and being too “tight” or too “loose” will impact your ET, how your car responds and in turn your consistency. I cannot tell you how to build a converter and don’t profess to, what I have done is work with excellent torque converter companies to achieve a brilliant combination. It is extremely important to have a company that will work with you to build you the right converter for your application. I choose to have my converter on the “loose” side and it is very predictable, repeatable and forgiving. Carb/Fuel – Carbs are also an area where it is rarely a one size fits all deal, race cars are at their most consistent when they are tuned correctly for optimum performance and efficiency. Choosing a carb that is too big/small for your combination can really throw curveballs when the air moves around over a two or three day race meeting. Storage of race fuel and ensuring your supplier has fresh batches of fuel is also something to take into consideration.
Burnouts should be small and repeatable in order to gain maximum consistency. Modern tyres do not require large burnouts.
Staging is the only opportunity you have to place your vehicle inch perfect on the drag strip. Use the same staging technique each time to improve consistency on each pass. Shallow staging can be a way to make sure you have the same staging input each time.
Heat â€“ Heat in working components will also have an effect on the performance of the race car. Most racers focus on trying to keep engine temps in a certain range and this needs to be in a range that can be achieved if you are going rounds and are hot lapping the car. Lucas Super Coolant is an excellent product to keep engines temperatures in check. This applies even more so to the transmission. As heat builds in oils and fluids the converter may stall a little higher leading to increased, unexpected performances down track throwing you off your dial. High quality engine oils like the Lucas Oil Racing Only High Zinc range, Synthetic Stabiliser and Lucas Oil Sure Shift Semi Synthetic transmission fluids are vital for engine/trans protection, high pressures and temperatures, heat dissipation and positive shifts and will not break down and lose performance as the race progresses. Preparation - Every aspect of preparation has to be looked at and performed with consistency. Whether it is preparing the car at home or before the first round on racing, driver and crew need to be vigilant in refueling, tyre pressures, location in burnout box and any other duties.
Data â€“ It is vital to record and review data from all passes down the racetrack. This will provide you with a greater understanding of how your race car or bike works and how it responds to varying conditions. The basic data you should be recording and working with is ambient temp, humidity, barometric pressure, oxygen, relative altitude or correction factor, track conditions, wind speed and direction, time of day, lane, shift points, ET and down track increments. The performance of your race car or bike can be tracked and recorded as previously mentioned, however all maintenance should also be tracked and recorded between races as well. Shock settings, how many runs on your tyres, oil, trans fluid, spark plugs, ignition timing as well as a thorough inspection of the vehicle. Careful inspection and cleaning can lead to discovering items that may need special attention or replacement prior to a failure. Reaction times â€“ I will touch briefly on these following points only to raise awareness of these important factors of bracket racing. You will most likely be all too well aware of the importance of reaction times in drag racing. To achieve a
There are many different strategies for 'the stripe'. We will cover more of these in depth in future articles but needless to say, awareness of where your opponent is on the track is critical.
competitive reaction time you need to have a vehicle that works well and a driver that can focus and react to “their” spot on the tree. Whether it is pro tree, top bulb or bottom bulb racing, you need to set your car up accordingly as a tight grouping of consistently low reaction times will go a long way to getting you into the winners circle. Once the car is working well the mental aspect needs to be addressed, intense focus and concentration are the key here. We will get more in depth for these in coming articles. Math – This is maybe one of the single most important aspects of bracket racing in my opinion and is one of the most misunderstood. I have spoken with many experienced racers that have not understood what information the time slip is providing them. The time slip has the numbers you will need when processing the data and analysing your run. You need to fully understand what the time slip is telling you so you can ue this information in coming rounds. Finish line driving – I will preface this point by saying that driving the stripe successfully is determined by appropriate strategy, correct execution and a well sorted car. You need to
know exactly what your car is doing prior to implementing and executing successful moves at the stripe. If you have a great plan and don’t execute well or you execute a bad plan well, it’s still a lose. We could spend years on learning to drive the stripe as each scenario has various contributing factors and I feel it’s one of the most difficult to reach a high level of competency in. The racers that can turn a race on the finish line truly are the bracket racing masters in my opinion. Again, this is an area we will cover in depth in coming articles. I hope this has given you some insight into the fundamentals of bracket racing. For many of you these are basic topics that you know well, but it’s always a good time to revisit the basics so we make sure we don’t fall into any bad habits. This is only a few topics of the hundreds we could have selected. In the future we may look at basic, intermediate and advanced racing strategies, physiological/mental preparation, opponents' tendencies, track positioning, being predictably unpredictable, racing manners and etiquette, sponsorship, staying positive and ways to ensure you keep refining your program. Thank you for taking the time to read this article and I hope it has assisted you improve your racing program.
BY GRANT STEPHENS. PHOTOS BY CACKLINGPIPES.COM. Fun times: Russell Mills burns out in his 'Funster' Top Alcohol car.
The curtain has come down on the 2014 Atura Blacktown NSW Championship Series at Sydney Dragway. The nine event series had several uncompleted rounds due to Mother Nature but finished strongly and was well supported by over 250 racers at times. The NSW Championship Series featured 15 brackets with a mix of traditional ANDRA sportsman classes to variations or completely new classes that work well locally, with all earning points over nine rounds with the proviso that their worst round would be dropped, a condition that did become a factor in deciding champions. Top Comp did struggle for cars across
most events, with most racers just using the class as a test bed. The final round gathered five up entrants with Top Doorslammer's Johnny Roso looking the goods for the championship in his Camaro ahead of Mark Hinchelwood in the Sainty Top Alcohol Funny Car. Russell Mills top qualified with a 5.86 in the TA/D â€œFunster" with Jeff Wilson's Top Doorslammer next on a 6.24, but neither would make the runs needed in the elimination round to advance to the final. By just fronting for racing Roso had already earned the championship and a 6.21 (6.34IN) in the final was too quick for the Andrew Musgrave's 6.64 (6.65IN), sending the event trophy to the Roso camp as well. In Super Comp Domenic Rigoli and George Rehayem were the championship combatants locked up
going into the event, however the PAC team were no shows along with all the other Super Comp racers apart from Rigoli in a disappointing end to a normally solidly supported class. Therefore Rigoli merely had to attempt a run to receive 20 points and a championship win. Outlaw 10.5 followed the same vein as Super Comp, most racers were saving parts for the APSA Grand Finals. Michael Haimandos ran unopposed to claim the title. The Top Outlaw eliminator was for any traditional Supercharged Outlaw machines that are not sedans running against a handicapped pro tree for extra spice. Championship wise it would come down to the dragster of John Ward and Greg Smith who was in his first season of blown racing with his
From top: Johnny Roso earned both an event win and the championship in his Top Doorslammer Camaro, we just love the stockish look of this car. John Ward secured a fourth track championship. Neil Constantinou took a narrow title victory in Top Sportsman. Right: Joe Princi finally got his own dragster and was instantly rewarded with a Modified win.
altered - only five points separating them. As fortune would have it both would face off in the elimination round for the title. Ward had the jump on the tree and took a safe 7.59 (7.50) hole shot win over Smith's 7.21 (7.18), claiming his fourth Sydney Dragway track championship. The event was still to be decided and Dearne Stephen drove the Double Trouble altered around a sideways Ward in the final with a 6.99 (6.89). Wild Bunch consumed all the blown sedans while also running on a handicapped pro tree but in a three round, points based, Chicago Shootout format that throws back to the 90's. Ben Gatt and Troy Papadopoulos traded blows all season in wins, but unfortunately for Papadopoulos missing the first round would come back to haunt him and the title went to the veteran Gatt. Craig Hanley would arise with three wins from three starts in the Craig's Automatics Holden Ute to trump everyone else and take the win for the round. In Top Sportsman multiple time track champion Neil Constantinou fought off a late season charge from rookie Ronnie Palumbo to keep a grasp on yet another championship. Switching to a Ford Mustang from his customary Super Sedan Holden Torana, Constantinou survived by just one round of racing after red lighting in round two. Palumbo went on to win the event over Brett Balfour's Nova, finishing his rookie season with three straight finals appearance and winning the last two. Defending Modified NSW Champion Peter Brown had to drop 50 valuable points to leader Tim Nielsen going into the final round, making the task of repeating extra difficult. As eliminations panned out Brown's dragster was on the trailer after round one, losing to Jenny Petrie's altered. The Modified championship would go to the Shire Drag Racing Team. That was fortunate for Nielsen who red lit in the next round against Junior Dragster forefather Joe Princi, now racing his own dragster. Princi would continue on and win his first event as a driver, defeating the dragster of Sydney Dragway's former CEO Graham Elliot in the final. The points reshuffle after the dropped round in Super Sedan locked the championship fight up between another Shire Drag Racing Team racer, Jim Denaro and country-sider Andrew Little. In round two Denaro hit a roadblock with his Cortina in the form of John Kabboura's Torana and Little continued on courtesy of a red lighting Brad McKie, the win securing the championship. Little was unrelenting, reaching his fourth final of the season where he overcome Matt Cantwell and in total accumulated three wins from those final appearances to be a worthy champion. Modified Bike was hotly contested with Harley Destroyer riders Brett Curnow and Andrew Donaldson sharing the points lead and Australian Nationals champion Matthew Hunt was brought back into contention for consecutive NSW Championship Series titles once lowest round points were deducted. Donaldson exited with red light fever in round one and destiny called for Hunt with a must win semi final ride off against Curnow who was on a roll with consecutive round wins coming into the event. Hunt was in the zone with a .020 RT and a perfect 9.340 (9.34) to
advance to the final where the must win scenario still remained if the Kawasaki rider wanted back to back championships. A sluggish .144 RT from opponent Wally Hosta would all but seal the win for Hunt who was too experienced, rolling off the power and safely keeping Hosta at bay. Hunt was declared the NSW Track Champion. Commodore racer Michael Walsh had another Super Street title locked down after three wins during the season and only needed to attempt eliminations, that was fortunate as he was bundled out in round one by Luke Griffiths' Mopar. Next closest assailant Stan Nikitaras fought hard to win the event over a red lighting Brad Smith but the Capri racer would still be 30 points short. Five final rounds and three wins left Roy Romeo in total command of the Super Gas championship and a first round loss would not stop the Romeos adding another title to the trophy cabinet. The event did end bizarrely with both Anthony Panetta and Joe Catanzariti leaving what looked like before the tree activated in the final. Though both were shown red lights, it was clear that Catanzariti did jump first so the decision was made to award Panetta the win. There was at least six Junior Dragster competitors in with a mathematical chance for their championship especially if Bianca Humphreys fell early. Bradley Bishop granted the challengers that wish in round one. Oscar De Main and James Hazzard were also eliminated in round one leaving just three who could pinch the title. The new national champion Toby Austin bounced out Caitlin Zammit in round two and Emma Hazzard picked a cherry in round three against other contender Dylan Panetta. Panetta now needed to just reach the final for the championship and in a twist of fate his semi finalist would be Bishop who ousted Humphreys in round one. Panetta uncorked a 8.002 on a 8.00 dial in and he was headed to the final as the new NSW Track Champion where he added the icing to the championship cakem defeating recently crowned Australian champ Austin. Belinda Welch had the perfect Street Fighter swan song going back to back with track championships with two wins from four finals. The points haul also earned her the emotional Coral Dyer Memorial trophy. Welch went way red in the semi finals sending Danny Stadelmaier to final against Brett Hampton where the Commodore of Hampton was too consistent with a 16.128 (16.12) for the event win and second in the championship. The Street Bike class wrapped its second season and Matt Lisle has finished champion for both of them. Evan Murray had an outside shot at it this year but that ended abruptly with a first round loss. The final was a battle of the big men on their Harleys, Travis Anderson cut a .005 light only to have his 12.73 (12.65) fall short of catching Ron Welch's 13.63 (13.60) lap. The HAMBster class is truly unique to Sydney Dragway at least in a championship sense, with the majority of machinery powered by early model flat head V8s or inline six bangers. Peter Grant and Jeff Danglmaier were in a tight tussle for the title, neither racer made an impression in the round robin format and Grant nabbed the championship. The event final was decided between veteran Alan Odgers and Joe Danglmaier, both racers were way off their dial ins with Danglmaier doing enough for victory.
From top: Dylan Panetta claimed a Junior Dragster track championship in a fierce last round tussle. Michael Walsh was thankful for wins earlier in the season that allowed him to claim the championship in Super Street despite a first round exit in the final event. Belinda Welch will step up to Super Street next season after earning another Street Fighter title. Centre: Matthew Hunt needed to win the event in order to win the Modified Bike championship and he did just that.
THE CROC BITES BACK Christine Steffens scored victory at Perth Motorplex's November 29 Nitro Funny Car event but it came at a massive cost when a supercharger backfire sent her on the wildest ride of her life. Steffens had a 2-1 series win wrapped up against Mark Sheehan when he abandoned his pass early, but it was then that the drama started for the Queenslander as she got on and off the throttle to straighten the car which was followed by the nitro-fuelled, 6000 horsepower motor virtually exploding in her face. "It was on a real mission and it just exploded," Steffens said. "It was instanteous. It must have got a bit skatey at the top end so I did a little pedal (getting on and off the throttle)." A piece of shrapnel from either the motor or the supercharger then pierced one of the front tyres, meaning Steffens was coming down from 400kmh with very limited steering as well as a smashed windscreen. "I was trying to keep it off the wall and I had trouble," she said. "It was almost exactly like when you lose a tyre on a street car, it felt like going over a corrugated road. "It felt like just a little rub against the wall from inside the car, but I ripped the side out of the body." Footage of the incident showed a large fireball around the car but Steffens said the cabin kept most of the fire out. "I knew that I had a backfire and I knew I had popped the blower or done something," she said. "I was annoyed
because I hit the wall and knew I had done body damage. When I came to a stop and saw the fire I pulled the fire bottles it instantaneously went out. "The firies (on the safety team) knew I was okay because I was telling them what to do." With the amount of damage to the car, Steffens is unsure if she will be able to return to racing, running the team on a tight budget. "It was probably my last pass in a Nitro Funny Car, unless I can talk my husband around," she said. Frustratingly for Steffens, the car was probably on a personal best pass before the backfire. With the Perth Motorplex racing surface in prime condition the team knew they had a chance to run their quickest ever time. Steffens' 5.42 pass was just .14 slower than her best ever time â€“ and that was on fire for the last one hundred metres of the track. "It was hauling, it was going straight, it was doing what it was supposed to do," she said, lamenting what might have been. Horror ending aside, Steffens at least had the win over Sheehan to return to Queensland with, though the always unpredictable Funny Car breed tested her in early rounds. "On our first run the car turned right straight off the hit and I had a couple of pedals, then it floated left and I had to get it on full (steering) lock to try and go straight, Mark just beat me across the line," she said. "On our second pass a brand new blower belt went, that's probably only the second or third blower belt we've ever lost. It was on a mission and next minute I had nothing."
BY LUKE NIEUWHOF. PHOTOS BY GREG FIELD.
VIDEO STILLS THANKS TO PERTH MOTORPLEX.
John Zappia took the victory in Top Comp, running a new track record for Top Doorslammers in the process. Zappia ran 5.776 in the final to defeat Daniel Gregorini's and clinch his second win at Perth Motorplex this season, following on from the Top Doorslammer state title a fortnight previous. The new aerodynamic package on the rear of the car shows little sign of hampering Zappia's chances at an eighth Top Doorslammer title next year. Wayne Keys continues to hold on to the lead in the championship chase with the missed first event holding Zappia back despite two wins on the trot. David Dequen was a master of consistency in Super Comp, running a E/AA 7.39 (7.50) to defeat Errol Quartermaine's DD/GA 7.78 (7.86). The struggle for entry numbers continues with just six cars in eliminations. The finals appearance allowed Quartermaine to ever so slightly extend his championship lead over Colin Mortimore. Having similar woes is Competition Bike, also with just six competitors getting to racing. Ross Smith was only just off the national record with a C/AB 8.34 (8.80) in the final to knock out Daniel Natalotto's B/SB 9.33 (9.52). That makes it two wins and one runner up so far this season for Smith and already he has built an 85 point lead. A red light in the final of Supercharged Outlaws by Vince Belladonna handed the win to Jon Ferguson's Funny Car, running a close 6.659 (6.64) to seal the deal. The points chase has now tightened up with Ferguson within just a handful of points of Belladonna. Sam Treasure was back in form in Modified, the reigning champion executing a .007 light and 7.701 (7.66) in the final to stave off Matt George. Jamie Nelmes' semi final appearance allowed him to draw even with points leader Alesha Adamos, who was a surprise first round exit. Paul Downe won a narrow contest over Kevin Hort in the final of Super Sedan with just a couple of hundredths at the finish line. Hort earlier enjoyed a race against son Ethan in the semi finals. Martin Mirco remains in the points lead despite a second round loss, followed by Clinton Carameli and Kevin Hort. Darrin McDonald cherried in the final of Modified Bike to give Tom Gartrell a victory on one of the few turbocharged bikes running in the class. It was very helpful for Gartrell's championship chances, as he gained 30 points on Brett Allen, reducing the lead to 20. Paul Garbellini produced a solid .058 light and 11.287 (11.28) to defeat Chris De Bruin in the final of Super Street. It was Garbellini's second straight victory but a first round loss at the opening event is haunting him somewhat as he still sits third in the points behind leader Ashleigh Wroe and second placed Craig Caton. In Junior Dragster Bailey McClure wound out an astonishing .020 package in the final to defeat Jaymii Karapetkov. McClure was .012 on the tree and .008 on the dial! Katrina Bowman remains in the lead with a runner up and two semi finals appearances keeping the tally ticking over. On exhibition runs for the night was a group of four Top Fuel Motorcycles. Terry Burnett had consistency back on his side and with a 7.09 in the final defeated a 7.47 from Greg Durack. The next round of the Perth Motorplex track championship is at Jet Car Max on December 28.
From top: Sam Treasure was back in the winner's circle of Modified. Daniel Gregorini came away with a runner up against John Zappia. Terry Burnett finally got some of the consistency he has needed back.
SPRINT FINISH BY LUKE NIEUWHOF. PHOTOS BY DENNIS ALLEN.
Adelaide's three round Sprint Auto Parts Track Championship finally wrapped up on December 7 after being postponed due to rain on its original November 22 date. A solid 96 entries turned up to compete across the ten championship brackets. Dimos Stefanopoulos was the only entry in Super Comp, as he has been for every event this season. It was thus no surprise that he was the championship winner in a bracket all his own. Hopefully next season sees more Group Two racers participate. Supercharged Outlaws was far healthier with eight entries turning out for the final. David Thornton took the win in the Poppy Dave Racing altered over Larry Basile. Steven Walker's front engine dragster was the overall series winner with a win and two quarter finals
proving to be enough. Simon Barlow earned victory in Modified, knocking out Gary Busch in the final. Busch was driving the old A1 Racing semi-streamliner altered, a little more casual than the Top Alcohol Funny Car he has become accustomed to. Busch won the war however, with two finals appearances over the series sealing the track championship. Super Sedan continues to be one of the strongest brackets since the return of regular drag racing to Adelaide International Raceway, with 20 entries coming out. Local legend and former Top Fuel pilot Bob Sherry enjoyed a popular win over Larry Piscioneri. Brett Matthew took the championship despite not making it into the later rounds of the event. The Super Street championship was a nailbiter with Bill Hondros going all the way to the win, earning himself just
enough points to overtake Harry Harris. Michelle Donnelly enjoyed a great day out in Junior Dragster, going home with trophies for both the championship and the event, defeating series rival Blake Hayes in the final. Three drivers turned out for Super Gas, with Bruno Romeo claiming the win against Johnny Ienco, though Ienco got to go home with the championship trophy, a reward for being the only team at the first two track championship rounds. Mario Buslijeta needed to win the final of Street in order to get his hands on to the championship trophy, but it was not to be as Robert Flego handed him a defeat and allowed a nervous Mick Aston, who went out in the quarter finals, to breathe a sigh of relief. Finally in the Street Bike category, Ivan Dudacek did the double with a win and a championship, defeating Sven Stalp.
Centre: Simon Barlow won Modified at the Sprint Auto Parts Track Championship final. Right from top: Bob Sherry was back in the winner's circle in Super Sedan. Gary Busch had the wind in the face again in the altered. Johnny Ienco took out the Super Gas championship.
PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT AEROFLOW WHEELIE BAR WHEELS
Aeroflow’s billet aluminium wheelie bar wheels are machined from a solid piece of billet aircraft grade 6061-T6 aluminium. A solid polyurethane band is then bonded to its circumference as a tyre. This acts as a strong shock absorber and when coated in wheelie bar chalk leaves a readable contact reference. Wheels are available in natural or black anodized and are sold individually. Dimensions are 4” in diameter, 1 5/8” hub-to-hub, and a 3/8” through hole diameter, but can be drilled to 1/2”. For more information on all Aeroflow products and your closest stockist visit www.aeroflowperformance.com.au.
AEROFLOW PARACHUTE RELEASE CABLE KIT This kit streamlines installation of a cable release system for a parachute. The kit includes a black 18 feet (5.48m) Teflon lined, Felsted cable, clip type cable with exposed .070” diameter wire on one end (may be cut to preferred length), black anodised CNC machined lightweight aluminium lever/handle, rod end and cable mounting hardware. The unique feature in this kit is a billet cable end to eliminate the cable from fraying and causing parachute bag damage. You can also purchase an Aeroflow parachute safety flag to make sure the pin stays safely in the parachute during the burnout and is removed before your run. For more information on all Aeroflow products and your closest stockist visit www.aeroflowperformance.com.au.
Would you like to feature your product here? Become an advertiser in Drag News Magazine. firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to Mr Yes and Mr No. This month our anonymous contributors debate if turbochargers should be brought into Top Doorslammer.
The world of drag racing is one where innovation has reigned supreme, but it seems these days innovation is something to stifle rather than encourage. Such is the case when it comes to bringing in turbochargers for Top Doorslammer. It is very possible that this may be the 'better mousetrap', or at least one that is just as effective. Allowing turbochargers into Top Doorslammer will be the boost (pardon the pun) that the category needs to really propel it forward. Entry numbers have plateaued and to be honest, have probably even dropped in recent years. Allowing a new group of racers with new enthusiasm for the sport of drag racing into the category can only be a positive. I will say that turbocharged cars should meet Top Doorslammer body regs, as a lot of teams in the ANDRA series have spent time and money following that ruleset. But when it comes to what device you are strapping on to the engine to make your horsepower, I say have at it. A new group of fans can be brought to Top Doorslammer with this added variety, making them more marketable again to sponsors. Turbocharging is the power adding technology of choice for all modern manufacturers as well, so dare we say there may even be some room for manufacturer support? I really can't see a downside. So the cars make a different noise, is that really a major issue? They are just as wild, if not more so, they pop flames on the start line and for fans who are really into their superchargers well guess what, those supercharged cars will still be there! In fcat I can see the potential for a great rivalry that will be promotional gold for those teams and tracks who take advantage of it.
Top Doorslammer has been a success story for Australian drag racing and the old adage comes to mind, if it ain't broke why fix it? It enjoys the strongest fields in the pro ranks and has delivered very tight racing in recent years. Part of that is thanks to having the same ruleset for everyone. No need to constantly tweak rules to have parity. I fear that if turbocharging is introduced we will see constant complaints on both sides that the rules are not fair. When looking at other successful motorsport formulas, they typically all have the same ruleset. Formula One, V8 Supercars, NASCAR, you build to a formula and then you race against cars of that same formula. That is what we have in Top Doorslammer. The racers enjoy racing against similar cars to their own. If turbocharging is your thing then it is time to push forward and develop the critical mass of cars needed to get your own pro class going. At the moment there are very few teams who could sustain the pressure of a whole season, in my opinion. Quite frankly we have a good thing going. Why should it be messed around with now?
High flyer: This drone was capturing footage for the Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Car TV program. Its pilot required a full CASA licence and was more qualified to pilot jets! Image: Luke Nieuwhof
And the fans goes into a frenzy. Image: cacklingpipes.com
Jimmy Prock was not the most popular of people in the pits at Pomona, especially with JFR fans. Image: Luke Nieuwhof
CHUTES OUT 78
Want to help Drag News Magazine get off the ground? Be one of the first to take out a place in our business directory for just $200 for 12 months and we will throw in a free subscription! email@example.com
Race car fabrication, composites and CAD design. Sydney, NSW Phone: 0422 1 57 622