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EDITION 11/2015






Get inside the head of some of the Crew Chiefs of ANDRA Drag Racing.



RACING 12 DRAG SET TO SHINE 8 GARYMIOCEVICH The tributes roll in for an ANDRA Hall of Famer





BUZZARD John Baremans reflects on Joe “Buzzard” Gatt

Ref: 0833-Oct14

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Welcome to Issue 11 of Fastlane. It seems as though lately we’ve had a lot of sad news as first Joe ‘Buzzard’ Gatt passed away just after Issue 10 had been printed, and most recently ANDRA Hall of Famer Gary Miocevich passed away as this issue came together.


Appropriately our cover story this issue features Joe and the Gatt family who are legends of our sport and we hope you will enjoy reading it as much as we did. Thank you to John Baremans for assisting and pulling the story together.

RIP Joe and Gary.






On a less solemn note we have enjoyed a great start to the 2015 ANDRA Championship Drag Racing season with events in both Perth and Portland. As I write this all three events were very successful with good crowds and great racing. Stand out performances were John Zappia’s unbelievable 5.683-second pass at the opening round of Top Doorslammer and Craig Glassby’s world record Top Alcohol Funny Car pass of 5.410. Congratulations to both teams. We have also seen the successful debut of Top Sportsman and the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series has kicked off in style as racers and members have immediately begun to see the direct benefits of Summit Racing Equipment’s involvement in ANDRA Drag Racing through incentives and the elevation in professionalism our Sportsman Series has enjoyed so far with much more to come.



With the 6 month season there was discussion regarding end of season payouts, some thought it only relative to a 6-month period and therefore half the payments. After discussions with Summit Racing Equipment and other stakeholders we have decided to honour the full season payouts - a great result for all Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series.

As sportsman racers have continuity and surety for end of season rewards, we move even greater attention to growing and stabilising the Group One categories. Our intention is to add value to the championship and support racers and venues in achieving their goals and aspirations. With a number of new and renovated venues coming on line in the next 6-18 months there will be a flurry of interest both in regional areas and major cities.



As mentioned Gary Miocevich unfortunately passed away the day after the 44th Westernationals at Perth Motorplex and as we compiled this very issue. Unfortunately we were unable to pull together a similar feature to that of the Gatt family in such a short amount of time but that by no means diminishes Gary’s contribution to the sport of Drag Racing around Australia and we thank him for all he has done over the years.

Just over $50k will be distributed to Summit Sportsman racers along with many thousands of dollars’ worth of Snap-on tools, Summit vouchers and importantly cash.





2015/16 CALENDARS 20

With both the ANDRA Drag Racing Series and Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series hitting more venues than ever before we look forward to an exciting and developing 2015. Malcolm Bulley CEO







Fastlane is produced by the Australian National Drag Racing Association LTD.

Editor: Tim Baker ( Design: YBI Creative ( Photography: Banks Brotherz, John Bosher, John Baremans, Cackling Pipes Photography,, Dragpix, Fred Dwyer, Jon Gall Photography, High Octane Photos, Joe Maday, Outlaw Images, Bob Taylor, Steve Thomas, Jon Van Daal


CEO: Malcolm Bulley Accounts: Donna Jantke Business Manager: Jackie Mills Business Development Manager: Jennifer Harrison Competition Manager: Brett Stevens Licensing and Membership: Leanne Wright Media & PR Officer: Tim Baker Reception: Belinda Whittaker Technical Officer: Colin Brassington THE OFFICIAL OIL SUPPLIER FOR ANDRA DRAG RACING


Michael Fotheringham (SA) - Chairman Terry Jongen (WA) Phil Parker (VIC/TAS) Robin Judd (WA) Shayne Homes (QLD)

Contact Details

Phone: 08 8271 5355 Fax: 08 8721 6988 Email: Street: 11 McInnes St, Ridleyton SA 5008


ts r o p e R Round , Perth

ro Slam t i N 2 ortland 3 P , 1 d R rstman Perth , s 34 - Spo l a n o i sternat 36 - We FASTLANE I 3

staging stagingla ANDRA NEWS

2015 ANDRA Divisional Elections – Nominations Invited During 2015, elections are due for ANDRA Division Directors in Northern Australia, Victoria/Tasmania and Western Australia. Nominations are hereby invited for the various positions, from Full Members of ANDRA. They must be lodged with the ANDRA Office no later than 12 noon (CDST) Tuesday, March 31st, 2015 on the appropriate form. It should be remembered that Division Directors will be eligible for appointment to the ANDRA Board. The following table shows those positions due for election in 2015, highlighted in grey. • Alternate Division Directors carrying out the senior position and any Delegates appointed to the Divisional Council by the Delegates over the past year must stand for election at this time.

Promotional Opportunities Our most recent trip, sending us across the Nullabor for preevent activations ahead of the 44th Westernationals at Perth Motorplex, was a HUGE success where big crowds gathered at the Australia Day Skyworks spectacular in Langley Park and further successful displays at Perth Harley Davidson in Cannington, Armadale City Shopping Centre and Fast Eddy’s Café in Morley. Free 44th Westernationals children’s passes provided by Perth Motorplex were handed out resulting in multiple direct conversions at the gate and adding to what was a great atmosphere and an exciting event. A huge thanks goes to Perth Motorplex, Kerry Gamble at the City of Perth, Alicia Naylor at Perth Harley Davidson, Ann Vinci at Armadale City Shopping Centre and Barry Emery at Fast Eddy’s Café for their support as well as all of our display participants: Gordon Crawford, Shane Weston, Michael, Brayden and Mikey Naylor, Mark Drew, Shane Holmes, Simon Cope, Dale Gummow, Tracey De Jager, Nick Gardiner, Andy Kahle and Kathy Regan.

South Queensland

Northern Australia


Shayne Homes (DD)

Division Director (DD)

Phil Parker (DD)

Ron Newton (Alt DD)

Nathan Peirano Alt DD) **

Peter Pisalidis (Alt DD)

Wayne Downes

Ross Bryant

Peter Kapiris

Tony Gooderham

Peter Peirano

Darren Parker

Lawrie Moore

Aaron Stibbs

Bill Caris

Alex Buxton

Rod Scanlon

Paul Rogers

If you would like to become involved in promotional displays prior to events in your state, visit > Competitor > Vehicle Displays to register your interest.

Simon Isherwood

Ross Lemberg

Wayne Cartledge

Together we can take ANDRA Drag Racing to the people!

Glen Anderson

Alan Flanagan

Douglas Anderson

Shaun Kinnane

Stephen Crook

South Australia

Western Australia

New South Wales

Howard Browne (DD)

Terry Jongen (DD)

Lyle Gilmore (DD)

Timothy Reidy (Alt DD)

Andrew Frost (Alt DD)

Paul Stephen (Alt DD)

Peter Brown

Geoff Chaisty

Margaret Hartill Law

Andrew Favotti

Nick Gardiner

Jim Rowley

Frank Intini

Ian Jenkins

John Ward

Johnny Kapiris

Alan Hudson

Frank Cannistra

Harry Harris

Peter Glover

Darryl Stephen

Bob Sherry

Mike Naylor

Sharon Ward

Murray O’Connor

Rhett Cooper-Fowle

Tyron Begg Nomination Forms are available by contacting ANDRA on or (08) 827155355 Full details of the election process may be found in the ANDRA Constitution companyconstitution281012.pdf


A big thanks also goes out to all of our activation participants over the past 12 months.


stag ANDRA race numbers available

Page updates to Top Sportsman (page 91), Motorcycle Helmets (page 247) and underwear (balaclava) meeting minimum safety AUSTRALIAN IMPORTERS requirements (page 249) & have been uploaded to the DISTRIBUTORS ANDRA website.

For just $25 you can order your official ANDRA Drag Racing race numbers from Mprint Industries.

2015 - 2016

Rulebook Page Updates


Each set consists of decals (pre-cut) to suit 2 x racecar, 2 x bike and 2 x mini decals (suitable for toolbox, helmet etc)


To order please email

Dennis and Jeff Gatt offer for sale their: Supercharged Outlaws T Bucket Altrerd, 526 Kieth Black hemi, 1471 supercharger, enderle injection, 36-volt remote starter, battery pack and charger, all our spares go with package. Best ET 6.82 at 197 mph. Also included fully enclosed trailer, with electric brakes and winch, fridge, microwave, fuel jug racks and benches. Contact Dennis on 0246283706 w/h or 0433843077.


Updates can be found under Technical > Rules > Rulebook Page Updates or alternatively: w w w. n t t y r e s . c o m technical/rules/rulebookPh. 08 8113 0600 page-updates.html



2015 2016

Call Crow Cams now for a special deal! From Off Street to Top Fuel, Crow Cams Next Gen camshafts and valve train components deliver world-class performance and reliability. “Our new computer profile modelling and advanced CNC cam grinders produce the most accurate camshafts that generate maximum power and torque for race winning performances like 7 times Top Doorslammer champ John Zappia.” For no obligation camshaft recommendations call Crow Cams on (03) 93570469 or visit us on line at Mention you are an ANDRA member for a special deal.

Hi-Tec Oils now available in leading auto stores

Important notice regarding counterfeit product Counterfeit devices have been obtained by Simpson Performance Products and the matter is under investigation. If you have a non-carbon head and neck restraint device labelled Hutchens Hybrid Pro with a 2013 SFI 38.1 label, this device may not be genuine. If this device does not have “box X” stitching on the tethers, it is not genuine. See the pictures below. There are other differences between the counterfeit device and a genuine device that trained inspectors can identify. If you suspect that you have such a device and you are currently attending a racing event, immediately present the device to technical officials at the event. Or, present the device to Simpson Performance personnel at the event. If you are not at an event, contact Simpson at one of the phone numbers listed at as soon as possible. Warning: usage of any device that is counterfeit and does not have appropriate SFI labelling could result in serious injury or death. Counterfeit products have not been tested by SFI and there is no way to know whether such products meet SFI standards.


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As this issue came together we received the sad news that ANDRA Hall of Famer Gary Miocevich passed away. Gary’s contribution to Drag Racing was monumental from a competitor to Divisional Council member and roles on the ANDRA National Control Council, National Executive Committee, the Australian Drag Racing Promoters Association and of course his role in the development of Perth Motorplex. Our thoughts continue to go out to his family and we thank Gary for his work, his passion and his legacy. Tributes flowed in from the Drag Racing community across social media once news broke after the Westernationals. Here are just some of those tributes: “Gary’s vision, passion and energy are the reason the Perth Motorplex exists today. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Gary have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Gary leaves behind a motor sport venue that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of the Perth Motorplex. Our thoughts go out to Gary’s family, who were by his side at his home when he passed away. - Perth Motorplex”

“We are very sad to hear of the passing of Australian drag racing legend Gary Miocevich. A giant of our sport and in particular the West Australian drag racing industry, Gary played an important part in the stories of both ourselves and our fellow drag racers as well as within our greater


community – he will be sorely missed. Our deepest condolences go to Gary’s family and friends during this tragic time.” – O’Rourke Motorsport “Today is a very sad day for the drag racing world but most of all his family. Gary Miocevich was the greatest friend drag racing ever had. Gary was a drag racer, promoter, inventor and most of all a wonderful mentor for Rhiannon. He gave Rhiannon the chance to live her dream and for that we will always be truly grateful. Gary will always be thought of with the highest respect as a Legend of Drag Racing. To his family our condolence, prayers and thoughts are with you. Rest in Peace Gary.” – Dannolas Racing “RIP Gary Miocevich - Thank you for everything you have done for Australian Drag Racing.” – Chaisty Motorsport “Some sad news today... Gary Miocevich, the man behind so much of what we take for granted in drag racing in Australia has passed away. His contribution to the sport is unmatched. The photo here is one of the last times Gary piloted a race car, driving Gravity Storm in January 2007.” – High Octane Photos “We are saddened to hear that ANDRA Hall of Famer Gary Micoevich has passed away. His contributions to Drag Racing are legendary and he played a key role in the development of the Perth Motorplex. Our thoughts are with his family at this time, RIP.” – Hidden Valley Drag Strip Willowbank Raceway is greatly saddened to hear of the passing of Gary Miocevich. Willowbank Raceway President Tony Wedlock said Miocevich’s contribution to the drag racing community was immeasurable.

“Gary’s contribution to the success of drag racing, a sport that he loved so much, cannot be accurately measured by mere words,” said Wedlock. “One only has to look at what was achieved under his stewardship, to see the immense impact he has had on our community over the years. “I had the great pleasure of knowing Gary as a racer, as an ANDRA board member, as a promoter, and most importantly, as a friend – he excelled at all of those things, and I will miss him greatly, as I know many will. “At this sad time we think of Gary’s wife and family, his brothers, and his close friends – including Kevin Prendergast who was by Gary’s side through much of his success – and on behalf of myself and Willowbank Raceway I would like to extend our deepest condolences to them for their loss. “Gary was a visionary, who in the modern era of our sport I personally feel really had no equal – he will be sorely missed.” – Willowbank Raceway “Today is a very sad day, Gary Miocevich Team boss, mentor and friend passed away this morning due to his illness he has been battling. Gary was such a strong man no matter how sick he was or down he was feeling he made sure he came to my licensing day in day out, he would still come to the jet shop even if he had to get someone to drive him down he wasn’t giving up! And he still managed to be positive and remain the best team boss we could ever ask for! Gary our jet dragster event in 6 weeks will be for you! Were going to put on the show you have being dreaming for and repeat everything you have taught us! All the little coaching notes and advice you gave me I will never forget and I will be following those steps, I will never forget after I licensed how happy and proud you were and the giant hug you gave me. Fire those jets up there Gary, you will never be forgotten. Deepest condolences to Gary’s lovely wife Anne, son Daniel, his daughter Mel, brothers Mark, Brad and Greenie” – Rhiannon Allison

Very sad day today. The sport of Drag Racing in Australia has lost a great man in Gary Miocevich. Gary has contributed so much to this sport and must never be forgotten. I have had the great pleasure working with him over the last 20 or so years as a racer, a showman, a business man and a colleague. From losing a wheel on the Jet Truck at Calder Park to breaking windows at Surfers Paradise at the drag racing demonstrations, to all the hours spent on the phone and in meetings with ANDRA, Drag Ltd on the sports professional development, to his ultimate success with the Perth Motorplex, Gary was always the consummate professional and his contributions to our sport will be sadly missed. Our thoughts go out to all the staff at the Motorplex, Veem Engineering, his family and his brothers and their families. RIP Mate. – Steve Bettes

– Willowbank Raceway


“We are heart broken to hear that Gary Miocevich has passed away earlier today. Gary was an inspiration, an innovator and an ANDRA Hall-of-Famer. Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family, friends and everyone at Perth Motorplex for their loss. For those of us who knew Gary, he was not only a all-round good bloke, but a true legend of the sport. We feel honoured to have spent time with him. Farewell Gary, may you rest in peace.” – Sydney Dragway

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HOWARD BROWNE Division Director

Growing up in Sydney, Howard’s first memories of drag racing come from the late 70’s at Castlereagh Drag Strip.

South Australia Divisional Council

“I can remember a guy running a 70’s Celica with a 454 in it and thinking that he was crazy - I think his name was Jock McLeod,” says Browne.

9 Donegan Rd, Lonsdale SA 5160 Ph: 0448 326 464

“After Castlereagh was Eastern Creek Raceway and experiences that included parking my Harley in a Group One racers garage when one of my mates was his clutch mechanic.


“It was great to be able to experience drag racing from inside a top racer’s garage. I then met a drag bike racer who was very talented but very unorganised. I started spending a lot of Saturdays working on his bike with him and documenting changes made and the results they achieved.” Soon after those days, Sydney found itself without a drag strip so Browne began travelling to Willowbank and Calder Park to race while attending meetings regarding the building of a new track in Western Sydney. “One of the highlights of this period was participating in the 2000 World Top Fuel Bike Series event at Calder Raceway. To see Top Fuel Harleys doing sideby-side 200 mph passes was awesome. “I was then transferred to Adelaide with my job and was excited to be living in a city with a drag strip again. That only lasted 1 meeting and then AIR was closed. “WSID was then finished and I flew up to Sydney to attend its first major meeting as a spectator.”

DIVISIONAL COUNCIL MEMBERS Howard Browne (Division Director) Tim Reidy (Alternative Division Director) Peter Brown Andrew Favotti Frank Intini Johnny Kapiris Harry Harris

Howard has spent time racing all over regional SA and Victoria including Whyalla, Mildura, Portland and Coonawarra after forming his own race team with his son. Unfortunately an accident in 2011 put a halt to his racing career for a time leading to a stint as the starter at Steel City Raceway in Whyalla and eventually reviewing proposed rule changes as a bike riding representative on the SA DC. It was another good experience to see a different side of drag racing from the starter’s perspective,” says Borwne. “I was then asked to review proposed rule book changes as the SA DC had no bike riders on it. Soon after I found myself on the SA Davison Council and am now the SA Division Director. “I also run an automotive repair workshop and my son and I are putting a car together for him to race.”





10,915,305 Total of people who watched ANDRA Drag Racing in 2014 on SBS Speedweek, mobile, online and around the world on MAVTV and Motors TV.

5.410 The new world record Top Alcohol Funny Car ET recorded by Craig Glassby at the 44th Westernationals


The quickest Top Doorslammer pass made in Australia by John Zappia at Nitro Slam in January

200 Percentage of TV audience increase on the previous year in 2014


Number of ANDRA Drag Racing hours scheduled to air on SBS HD in the six month 2015 season

The number of Drag Racing clubs affiliated with ANDRA across Australia



RACEWAY Steel City Drag Club, Whyalla is home to the oldest 1/8th mile track in South Australia.


What was once a dirt track is now a full 1/8th mile concrete track and the Club is still going strong with continuous upgrades not only for the racers but the spectators alike.

under 2 meters ___________________________________________

Over the last couple of off seasons the Club has managed to finish the concrete walls with thanks to the “Great Wall of Safety Campaign” and thanks must go out to everyone who donated or bought metres of wall. The dedicated team of helpers continues the maintenance and upgrades as required. With 4 – 5 main races held each season between October and May the many changes are welcomed by all. The club thanks it’s continued sponsors particularly gold sponsors Max Crane & Equipment Hire and Hi-Tec Oils. Overnight camping with showers and a great atmosphere are available. 12 I WWW.ANDRA.COM.AU

Mullaquanna Road, Whyalla; South Australia ___________________________________________ Altitude:

Timing System: Tracks Own System, full seeding ___________________________________________ Racing Surface: 1/8th mile concrete track ___________________________________________ Braking Area: 366 metres of braking area with a combination of concrete and bitumen and 140 meters of emergency braking and sand trap ___________________________________________ Track Record: 4.03, A1 Racing Team: Greg Brown (Owner), Gary Busch (Driver)


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5 Simon Barlow


SUPER COMPACT 1 Domenic Rigoli








Late last year when the news that Joe “Buzzard” Gatt had passed away peacefully after a long illness, the sport of drag racing not only lost a pioneer, but we all let out a collective sigh and shed a tear because we also lost a mate. No matter whom you talked too, no one had a bad word to say against Joe. He was genuine, authentic, family orientated, a true blue Ford character and always had that huge grin. I was one of the lucky ones to know Joe as a friend and I will always remember his warm smile and caring nature. He was genuinely ‘interested’ in you and would drop everything to help out, whether you asked or not. There aren’t enough pages here to celebrate Buzzard’s life from cover to cover, so I will try and condense it down as best I can. I had an opportunity to sit down with Ben Gatt recently and talk about family, cars, drag racing and life, with and without Joe. It started with Mum and Dad - Paul and Nina Gatt who originated from Malta. Paul wanted a better life for his growing family and had an interest in Australia. He arrived by boat in 1949 and it wasn’t long before he knew that this was the country he wanted to spend the rest of his days. Mum Nina was pregnant at the time and stayed behind to look after her siblings Joe, Benny, Carmen, Jane, Tony and Violet. Ben said, “Mum and Dad always loved the idea of a big family. They started young so it was quite a normal thing back in their day, and really it was neat having so many brothers and sisters around. No


by Dave Missingham (Pro Stock). The car made its debut in 1988 and has remained in the Gatt family for the past 28 years. Must be time for long service! The XA is certainly a keeper for Benny and is probably the car that most Aussie drag racing fans associate with the Gatt’s name, especially in the early days of Wild Bunch. It was a win at the ’91 Nationals that created one of Benny’s most memorable career highlights, however it was the EA Falcon that gave “Buzzard” his biggest highlight.

one complained and we all knew our place and what jobs needed to be done”.

The all-Australian built racer was impressive in so many ways. While it set a path for a new category - Top Doorslammer, it was taking the world record for a Fordpowered vehicle from the Yanks in 1994 that stood as the crowning moment in Joe’s drag racing career. He really had a bond with that car.

racing, so it wasn’t long before the pair went to work on a ’34 coupe. The following year (1965) the pair headed back to Riverside for the first Australian Nationals, and by now they were well and truly hooked on drag racing. With help from good friend Gordon Davidson, Joe stepped up to a side-valve dragster called “Sundowner” but this combination only lasted about a year. Joe got married and started working with the late Bruce Phillips in the P&R Performance shop at Homebush (behind American Auto Parts) doing cylinder heads. As the workload increased Benny joined his brother and they formed Super Flow Heads. Joe decided he wanted to ‘work’ on cars rather than drive, which moved Benny into the drivers seat. Ben’s first racer was a T-Bucket. He then drove the only Holden of his career – an FJ called ‘Aborigine”. Then came a Ford Anglia called “Lil Abo” before stepping up into the wild world of ‘NITRO’.

In Malta Paul had a love for pigeons and fishing, but in Sydney his interest expanded to cars. He was in his late 20s when he started tinkering with early Fords. When he was old enough to get a licence in the late 1950s, Joe Gatt started to drive around in his dad’s ’39 Sedan. It wasn’t long before the front and back yards were filled with more cars, ranging from tourers to coupes, and of course, the pigeons. Benny recalls, “At one stage we had about six cars on our property and it wasn’t unusual for the Police to knock on the door, wanting them removed from the footpath.” At the time, Joe was an electrician but he was also good with his hands mechanically. However, it was a meeting with Bob Dunn that really got the ball rolling. Bob painted one of Joe’s cars and it wasn’t long before he was working for Bob. In the early 60s Joe helped startup the Gladiators Car Club with a few mates and the interest slowly shifted to a new sport called Drag Racing. In 1964 Joe and Benny took the drive south to Melbourne, with Ben in the dicky seat of the ’36 coupe, to catch some drag racing action at Riverside. On the way home they talked nothing but drag


It was the influence of Funny Car racer Bruce Phillips and Norm Oakey (American Auto Parts) that saw Joe decide on building a Funny Car. In fact the rumor was that Bruce allowed Joe to drive his Torana (with no licence mind you) that ultimately turned the page for the Gatt brothers in the early 70s. The Ford Capri started with injection before moving to a blown Hemi with 50 percent in the tank. However while racing at Adelaide in the mid seventies, the engine exploded (as Funny Cars did) and had a big fire that left Benny char-grilled. That was the end of nitro for the Gatt boys. Then came a Super Stock Ford ute, followed by another Ford Capri. This version was injected and potent enough to snap up a few national records and a Super Stock championship. It wasn’t long before Joe wanted more power and did what any drag racer did - put a blower on. The pair headed to the strip for testing, however the combination saw a very green looking Benny in the deep end following a run that saw the little Capri try to turn itself inside and out. Joe agreed it was time for a new car. That turned out to be an XA Falcon that had raced earlier by Peter Pulford (Super Stock) and then

The all-Australian built racer was impressive in so many ways. While it set a path for a new category - Top Doorslammer, it was taking the world record for a Ford-powered vehicle from the Yanks in 1994 that stood as the crowning moment in Joe’s drag racing career. He really had a bond with that car. And while Joe never spoke much about it, Benny knew that Joe was disappointed somewhat by the lack of local recognition. Another member of the Gatt clan was “The Bus”, something that has also racked up some long service. As Benny said, “If only this bus could talk, man it would tell you some stories.” I threw Benny the question – Where did “Buzzard” come from? “Well its pretty obvious how I got the nickname “Gonzo”, laughed Benny, but in Joe’s case he loved his food. And whenever we were on the road and stopped for a feed Joe would always make us feel bad if we didn’t finish our meals. He was never wasteful and would pickup any left over food (like a buzzard) and keep it for later.” While none of the Gatt sisters shared any interest in hot rods or drag racing, younger brothers Dennis and Jeff certainly did. First drive for Dennis was the Super Flow Heads Falcon ute, then a Modified Fiat Topolino in partnership with Russell Reading. Dennis and Jeff teamed up with a trick T-Bucket Altered for Modified before stepping up into Supercharged Outlaws with another beautiful Altered. The brothers took turns behind the wheel and only recently put their car on the market. This now leaves nephews Darryl (Super Gas) and Paul Stephen (Supercharged Outlaws), and Joe’s grandsons Dale and Paul who will steer the rebuilt EA into the future and continue on the Gatt Dynasty. Joe “Buzzard” Gatt passed away on December 3, 2014 at the age of 73. His funeral was held on the startline of Sydney Dragway, a fitting venue for a man who spent so much of his time at the drag strip, surrounded by family, racers, friends and fans. It was a privilege to sit down and talk to Benny and hear first hand the stories he had to say about Joe and the Gatt family’s journey in drag racing. It was very obvious that Joe left some huge footprints on the hearts of all that loved him. He helped shaped the lives and set the course for both past and future racers. On that note the sport is better for having Joe in it.

MEMORIESOF OFJOE DENNIS GATT – “I first remember Joe working on his ‘32 Ford coupe fitting a big block Ford engine into it in our family garage at Fairfield. I was about 7 years old passing him tools as he worked on it.

A Ford Capri it was that we raced in Super Street for about two years before Joe said one night on a trip to Willowbank “Bout time you stepped up from that Capri isn’t it” he told me.

Our father Paul started Joe, Ben, myself and Jeff into cars and his love of pigeons had Tony, Louis and Chris race them.

He had spoken to one of his friends in Canberra about a Cortina and a couple of weeks later we picked it up.

Funny enough we were Australian champions in both our sports. I would have to say Joe influenced my direction in life when he purchased the cylinder head side of P/R Performance, and so started the company Super Flow Heads. At that time Ben and myself were working at the Datsun dealership Capital Motors and we would finish work there and go to Homebush to work with Joe until about 10.30 at night! Ben and I eventually went to work there full-time. Today I work at Ultra Torque Heads and love what I do. So to you Joe, thank you for everything you have done for me throughout my life. Four days before Joe passed he said to me, “Dennis I have had a good life, a good wife, good children, good grandchildren and great friends. I would not have changed anything”. My reply back to him was our whole family is so very proud of you.

JEFF GATT – “Growing up as the youngest Gatt was like having a team of superheroes for brothers and Joe as the leader of the pack. Throughout the 70’s, with a nitro Funny Car in the garage at the family home, Joe would weave his magic, tuning them to make as much horsepower as the weather would allow. His enduring record shows how talented he was. A keen teacher, Joe loved to talk fuel injection systems and how to get the most out of them, to any willing student. From the time Dennis and I raced our first fuel injected altered through to our current Outlaws blown Keith Black Hemi, the first thing he would say after every pass was “Show me the spark plugs!” Teaching me how to read a methanol spark plug was only one of many gifts this great man bestowed upon me and for all of which I am eternally grateful. He is and will forever be truly missed.

DARRYL STEPHEN – “Joe was my uncle and from as long as I can remember he devoted his life to his family and drag racing.

After running the Cortina for about four years, I decided to surprise both Joe and Ben when I secretly bought back their original Capri that had won their first Australian Super Stock Championship with. It brought a tear to their eyes to see it again. Joe and Ben built an engine for it to run Super Gas, and then it was time to step up again so along came the Probe. Joe was beside himself when he saw it and said “This thing is gonna kick some ass”, and it did. We recently spoke about how many finals and Gold Christmas trees the Probe has won as well as numerous divisional championships and a National championship. We estimated 27 finals in 6 years, not bad Joe said. I could go on for hours about the trips away and the talks Joe and I had while everyone was sleeping at all hours of the morning but I wont. I will cherish those moments as quality time with one of my uncles who took the time to take an interest in my life. Without Joe and Ben I would not be drag racing and would not have achieved the heights I have in the sport. For that I thank them. To sum up uncle Joe for many, I think he was a pioneer in his chosen sport of drag racing; he reached the top with winning an Australian Championship with the Capri in Super Stock and achieved a life long dream of building the fastest Ford in the world. But for me he was just Uncle Joe who took the time to be involved in my life and supported me to the point where I could experience a little bit of what he experienced in winning that Australian Championship. It just would not have been possible without him and again I thank him and will not forget him.

PAUL STEPHEN – “Some of my early memories were playing in the “Sundowner” dragster in the back yard at Fairfield Heights when I was about five or six. I didn’t really know what it was, but I knew it was cool. Later on in my early teenage years uncle Joe would sometimes let me help start the Capri by squirting fuel in the injector stacks. He would always say, “Take your time, and relax. They won’t go without us.”

As a kid I used to travel with both Joe and Ben to the drags whenever I could, but as soon as I was old enough to get a drivers licence Buzzard said to me “Ahhh well you will be buying a Ford”.

He was the coolest person I’ve ever seen on the start line. “Just calm down, take your time,” he would say. You only have to look at some of his students - Darryl, Wardy, Dennis, Jeff, JB, even Dearne.

He was right, a Ford Escort it was.

When Dearne and I finally went blown, it was made so much easier with uncle Joe & Ben. He was my hero, my inspiration my mate.

But during those trips away racing I used to sit up front with uncle Joe in the bus while everyone else was sleeping. We used to travel at night and it wasn’t long before Joe asked me when I was getting my own drag car?




JANUARY 9-10, 2015 – NITRO SLAM, PERTH MOTORPLEX Top Doorslammer Round 1, Top Fuel Motorcycle Round 1 JANUARY 30-31, 2015 – 44TH WESTERNATIONALS, PERTH MOTORPLEX Top Alcohol Round 1, Top Doorslammer Round 2 FEBRUARY 28-MARCH 1, 2015 – NITRO MAX, PERTH MOTORPLEX Top Fuel Round 1 and 2, Top Fuel Motorcycle Round 2 and 3 MARCH 14-15, 2015 – PRO SERIES 1000, ADELAIDE INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY Top Alcohol Round 2, Top Doorslammer Round 3, Pro Stock Round 1, Pro Stock Motorcycle Round 1 APRIL 4, 2015 – SANTOS SUPER 3 EXTREME DRAG RACE, WILLOWBANK RACEWAY Top Fuel Round 3, Top Alcohol Round 3 MAY 2-3, 2015 - NITRO CHAMPS, SYDNEY DRAGWAY Top Fuel Round 4, Top Alcohol Round 4, Top Doorslammer Round 4, Top Fuel Motorcycle Round 4, Pro Stock Round 2, Pro Stock Motorcycle Round 2 JUNE 4-7, 2015 – WINTERNATIONALS, WILLOWBANK RACEWAY Top Fuel Round 5, Top Alcohol Round 5, Top Doorslammer Round 5, Top Fuel Motorcycle Round 5, Pro Stock Round 3, Pro Stock Motorcycle Round 3




JULY 17-18, 2015 – HIDDEN VALLEY DRAG STRIP Top Alcohol Round 1, Top Doorslammer Round 1


SEPTEMBER 26-27, 2015 – SPRING NATIONALS, ADELAIDE INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY Top Fuel Round 1, Top Doorslammer Round 2, Top Fuel Motorcycle Round 1, Pro Stock Round 1


OCTOBER 17-18, 2015 – CALDER PARK Top Alcohol Round 2, Top Doorslammer Round 3, Pro Stock Round 2 NOVEMBER 6-8, 2015 – AUSTRALIAN NATIONALS, SYDNEY DRAGWAY Top Fuel Round 2, Top Alcohol Round 3, Top Doorslammer Round 4, Top Fuel Motorcycle Round 2, Pro Stock Round 3, Pro Stock Motorcycle Round 1 NOVEMBER 27-28, 2015 – PERTH MOTORPLEX Top Doorslammer Round 5 and 6, Top Fuel Motorcycle Round 3 & 4 JANUARY 23-24, 2016 – CALDER PARK Top Fuel Round 3, Top Doorslammer Round 7, Pro Stock Round 4, Pro Stock Motorcycle Round 2


FEBRUARY 5-6, 2016 – 45TH WESTERNATIONALS, PERTH MOTORPLEX Top Alcohol Round 4, Top Doorslammer Round 8


MARCH 5-6, 2016 – PERTH MOTORPLEX Top Fuel Round 4 and 5, Top Fuel Motorcycle Round 5 and 6


MARCH 12-13, 2016 – ADELAIDE INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY Top Doorslammer Round 9, Pro Stock Round 5, Pro Stock Motorcycle Round 3


MARCH 26, 2016 – SANTOS SUPER 3 EXTREME DRAG RACE, WILLOWBANK RACEWAY Top Fuel Round 6, Top Alcohol Round 5 APRIL 29-MAY 1, 2016 – NITRO CHAMPS, SYDNEY DRAGWAY Top Fuel Round 7, Top Alcohol Round 6, Top Doorslammer Round 10, Top Fuel Motorcycle Round 7, Pro Stock Round 6, Pro Stock Motorcycle Round 4


JUNE 9-12, 2016 – WINTERNATIONALS, WILLOWBANK RACEWAY Top Fuel Round 8, Top Alcohol Round 7, Top Doorslammer Round 11, Top Fuel Motorcycle Round 8, Pro Stock Round 7, Pro Stock Motorcycle Round 5






Outside of the acknowledgement and thanks from a driver after a win, loss or even an accident, Crew Chiefs are largely the unsung heroes of Drag Racing. Sure, everyone knows they are essential and without them life at the track is just that much more difficult but outside of their office is the pits, the spotlight in on the driver while the humble Crew Chief goes about their business. Here, Fastlane gets in the head of just some of the best Crew Chiefs in ANDRA Drag Racing to find out what makes them tick.



(co-Crew Chief with Mark Brew)


Kapiris Bros Racing

Lamattina Top Fuel Racing



Bracket: Top Doorslammer Co-Crew Chief for Peter Kapiris

Well my job was never intended being a Crew Chief. In the early days PK was doing the street car thing and showed me a magazine with a blown Chev Barretta, he said; ‘I’m building one of these, do you want to come racing?’ My reply was I don’t know, what do I have to do? He said I don’t know (laughs). So I said I would come along and my job was to clean the car at the races and at home. Then after some years Peter realised business would suffer with too much time on the race car so I was put on wages, no more forklift for me! Then my job was driving a truck and trailer and light maintenance on the race car. I was very fortunate to work with some switched on guys, John Taverna, Ian Cleland, Greg Gower and of course currently Mark Brew. So whilst working with Ian I started to branch out to engine maintenance clutch etcetera, then over the years I became interested in computer also and welding and what ever makes these cars go. Mark Brew has been a mentor to me. Peter says he has two Crew Chiefs, I think he means two pains in the butt! At the end of the day I’m still learning because every meet there’s a new curve ball. WHAT ARE YOU RESPONSIBLE FOR BETWEEN/ DURING EVENTS? First and foremost clean the workshop, clean the race car, strip race car down, any repairs, welding etcetera. Clutch, gearbox, electrical, organise transporter, I do flights for the crew and motels, rental cars. WHAT GOES INTO PREPARATION BETWEEN AND DURING EVENTS? Apart from the above, many mornings drinking coffee looking at data and on the net looking at the latest in technology. EXPLAIN WHAT GOES ON BETWEEN ROUNDS ON RACE DAY: We have the best race team, everybody has their jobs. After a run I will pull data Mark and I will analyse whilst guys an gals do their thing i.e. tappets, valve spring check, oil, fuel, clutch change every run. That’s on a good run, anything out of the ordinary Mark and I pitch in. After qualifying the engine comes apart to see how the ol’ girl has been running, Mark is very fussy with his engine and will spend hours on every aspect. HOW MANY HOURS WOULD YOU SAY YOU SPEND WORKING ON THE CAR? If Peter is reading eight hours (laughs). Some days its not on the car itself, its everything around it that makes it tick. WHAT SORT OF ANALYTICAL PROCESSES DO YOU HAVE? WHAT SORT OF INFO DO YOU CAPTURE AND HOW DO YOU ASSESS IT? I guess it comes down to our data on our race car the more the better. Even video I often see coaches watching replays over and over, same deal with the race car and team and also other teams you always keep one eye on. WHAT IS IT LIKE WHEN THE CAR JUST DOESN’T GET DOWN THE TRACK? Oh man Mark and I feel the pressure. I have a saying when I drove a forklift for a living, the forklift never came home with me so imagine thinking, planning, scheming, innovating then it turns pear shaped. It’s very frustrating at times working on this as a full time gig, you have to bring it and unfortunately sometimes it doesn’t get down the track.

Bracket: Top Fuel Crew Chief for Phil Lamattina

I always crew chiefed my own alcohol cars as well as driving, I stopped racing when our workshop was broken into and two months later I got a random phone call from Phil Lamattina asking if I’d be interested in the job as his current crew chief was going to move on at the end of the year. One race meeting later the existing crew chief quit and I was tossed in the deep end. As for weather I’d rather drive or work on the car, I love to drive but I always said if I had to choose I’d rather tune a car then drive. WHAT ARE YOU RESPONSIBLE FOR BETWEEN/ DURING EVENTS? Obviously I’m responsible for the tune up on both cars at the race, but outside of that, I run and manage all the crew guys, I do all the parts ordering, review a ton of data between races to see where the cars can improve and when I can I try and get hands on and do some of the manual work on the cars as well, mainly in the block and head repair departments, but ill jump in and do whatever needs to be done in the shop. WHAT GOES INTO PREPARATION BETWEEN AND DURING EVENTS? At the race preparation is setting up a small city which we call the pit, it takes about 20 people around 4-5 hours to completely setup our two trailers and the corporate area, including unloading the cars and bolting on accessories like wings, wheelie bars and some other parts we don’t leave attached while traveling. We try to do all the engine, clutch and car preparation in the shop rather than at the track, all our cylinder heads are serviced and built, blowers serviced, chassis crack tested, rear end checked, trailer is re-stocked, clutch parts all ground and packs assembled, engines all built etcetera. This allows for a much more organised and slightly more relaxed time at the track where we can just concentrate on running the cars and not finishing off small jobs. WHAT GOES ON BETWEEN ROUNDS ON RACE DAY? For me between rounds is really busy. First thing I want to do when I get back to the trailer is check the weather station and take note of the air we just ran in, then once the car is back I guide the car into the pit area for the crew guys. As soon as the car is stopped in the pit I plug in and download the data, I usually spend the next 15 minutes studying it as much as I can and then start trying to make decisions on what to do for the following run. I will then run out and inspect the parts that have just come out of the car, looking for any damage or anything that may help me to adjust the tune up for the next run, computers will only tell you so much and the rest you will see by inspecting your parts. I then return to the trailer and start checking the weather again and try to predict if it will change before the next run so I can give the crew head gaskets and blower pulleys that I want to run for the next pass. While the boys reassemble the car I will continue to read through what the computer is telling me and compare to other runs in similar conditions, trying to make a list of adjustments that I will make to try and run faster than the previous lap. Lastly we re-fire the car and complete a warm up where I make a few checks and adjustments so we are ready to go.

WHAT SORT OF ANALYTICAL PROCESSES DO YOU HAVE? WHAT SORT OF INFO DO YOU CAPTURE AND HOW DO YOU ASSESS IT? We capture a lot of info in a very short period of time (4.5 seconds), some from the computer and some from physical measurements of parts out of the clutch and engine. The computer tells you, wheel speeds, engine parameters, boost, oil, fuel pressures, fuel flow, engine rpm, there is some sensors on the clutch as well plus many more. By monitoring wheel speed you can assess weather you are spinning the tyres or shaking at any point in the run and this gives you an indication how aggressive you can be with the clutch. By inspecting the engine side of things in the computer you get an idea on how well your engine is performing power wise, you can look for signs of damage to the engine without even having to view it. Many of the sensors on the car aren’t there so much for tuning but just so you can monitor if that part is working correctly. When you step out of the trailer you can then measure bearings and pistons to see if the engine is in trouble and on the verge of breaking, also you measure how much your clutch is wearing during a run which these days is a very important number to aid in making clutch tuning decisions. All crew chiefs have run sheets which we make a lot of notes on the setups put into the cars before a run and then the outcomes the run, everyone has a different way of doing this and everyone will record different info that they believe is important. At the track I try to compare what I’m doing to previous runs I have made at the same track or similar conditions, we overlay graphs from one run to another to see any places we can improve or if we are trying to find any issue with the current setup. Away from the track I try not to look at the computer too much, unless we have a major problem. I believe you can look at the computer way too much and get yourself very confused, you can come up with so many different scenarios in your head that by the time you are at the racetrack you have no idea where to start or you can get way too far from where your baseline is. As much as we couldn’t run the cars without computers these days sometimes you just need to use your head, look at your parts and watch the car closely on the track. HOW FRUSTRATING IS IT WHEN THE CAR CAN’T GET DOWN THE TRACK? IS IT TOUGHER FOR YOU WATCHING ON? It’s very frustrating at times, Top Fuel has the highest highs and the lowest lows of any class I have ever raced in, obviously when it’s someone else’s car and money it’s even more pressure to perform so that can make it real tough when things aren’t going to plan. Last year I learnt more than any other season yet, you cannot stay stationary as far as tune-up is concerned with these cars, parts are always changing and you have to try and keep up with those changes, mainly in the clutch department, you have to be willing to make large changes and not always just stick with what has worked before. As far as being tougher watching on not really, its very rare that the car doesn’t go down the track because of a driver so its tougher I think for the crew chiefs making all the decisions, because when it doesn’t go as planned everyone comes back to the pit looking to you for an answer to that all important question WHY?





Luke Crowley Racing






The same way everyone else does I suppose, by working on various vehicles and teams, learning how stuff works, asking heaps of questions, working your way up.

After years of working on my parents’ alcohol cars, I earned Dad’s trust, which he allowed me to call the shots on Mum’s dragster. Then when the opportunity of a full time job in Drag Racing came available for Stuart, I jumped at it.

Bracket: Pro Stock Motorcycle Crew Chief for Luke Crowley

As far as working on or racing the bike, the answer is easy. I’d crew any day; I’m not stupid enough to get on anything without a roll bar! WHAT ARE YOU RESPONSIBLE FOR BETWEEN/DURING EVENTS? My responsibilities between events are pretty minimal due to the fact I live in Darwin, 4000km away from where the bike is stored in Ipswich, but I will usually come to Brisbane a week before the next round, help prepare and load the bike and then Luke and I will share driving the transporter to the race. During the event I usually do the maintenance side of the turn around while Luke handles the engine tune up WHAT GOES INTO PREPARATION BETWEEN AND DURING EVENTS? It’s reasonably minimal with the bike. Basically if it broke, fix it and the rest is just preventative maintenance. And remember the 5 P’s. Prior preparation prevents piss poor performances. EXPLAIN WHAT GOES ON BETWEEN ROUNDS ON RACE DAY: On a good weekend we’ll bring the bike back after a pass, pull the clutch out. That way we have a visual inspection of the inside of the engine. Luke will download the data and we’ll make the changes we think are necessary to win the next round. This usually includes clutch weight, ignition timing retard and fuel burn. On the other hand if it all goes wrong we can be changing a whole engine! HOW MANY HOURS WOULD YOU SAY YOU SPEND WORKING ON THE BIKE? At a race meeting we’re working from the time we get up till well past the last run of the day, Maybe 16hrs a day WHAT SORT OF ANALYTICAL PROCESSES DO YOU HAVE? WHAT SORT OF INFO DO YOU CAPTURE AND HOW DO YOU ASSESS IT? We have two forms of data. The first is the data logger, the main things we’re looking for on this are: rear wheel speed, clutch slip, air to fuel ratio and shift points - this is how I know if Luke is doing his job properly. The second form is me. I keep a record of everything that goes into a run. From what time of day it is right through to what the bike looked like on its pass. There’s about 50 different items I log after every pass. WHAT GOES THROUGH YOUR HEAD WHEN THE BIKE CAN’T GET DOWN THE TRACK? The bike is a little different to a car as far as getting down the track is concerned. We only have around 330 horsepower and we still have a 10” tyre so it’s really hard for us to over power the track. That said when we have a mechanical failure it can get a little frustrating. At the end of the day if the bike doesn’t run well due to tune up we only have ourselves to blame, everyone there is racing on the same surface.


Bracket: Top Doorslammer Crew Chief for Stuart Bishop

Driving is definitely fun, but then it can be difficult to tune and drive. I believe focusing on only one job helps to have a successful team. WHAT ARE YOU RESPONSIBLE FOR BETWEEN/DURING EVENTS? Everything from getting crew shirts washed, getting truck and trailer repairs to building and servicing the engine and driveline. WHAT GOES INTO PREPARATION BETWEEN AND DURING EVENTS? Making sure everything is in perfect condition. Engine, transmission, converter, diff are all checked and serviced. Analyse the data and hopefully make improvements.

Bracket: Top Fuel Motorcycle Crew Chief for Chris Matheson

First met Chris in the 2004 Dry Lake Racing at Lake Gairdner in South Australia. We were pitted alongside each other, Chris was racing his Hayabusa and I was racing my exPro Stock big block XD Falcon. Chris was on his own and I helped him unload his bike and gave him a few pointers on Salt Racing. In 2006 Chris brought his ex Nascar Thunderbird to the lake and I helped him with the tune up and setup of the car. I was still racing my 600 cubic inch Falcon. August 2006, Chris took his Thunderbird to Bonneville to race and USA Speedweek. He asked me if I would like to come with his team and I jumped at the opportunity to race in the USA. The car was very successful running multiple 200 mph passes, recording a best of 214mph, after some tuning adjustments.


In 2010, Chris had just bought the Nitro Voodoo Top Fuel Bike and was short of crew so I helped out. I have crewed on the bike ever since.

After each run, the valve train is checked, oil and breather tanks are drained, filters checked, cool the converter, parachutes packed, fuel/oils filled, an overall spanner check, and then we may make some necessary tune-up changes to trans ratios, converter, suspension, fuel system etc.

As we are waiting on parts for the Nitro Voodoo 4 cylinder bike, Chris decided to run the Jack Hammer Nitro Harley. With my previous experience in running the Nitro Voodoo bike, Pro Stock Drag Racing and Land Speed Racing, Chris asked me to take over the role as Crew Chief.

HOW MANY HOURS WOULD YOU SAY YOU SPEND WORKING ON THE CAR? It can vary, depending on damages, testing, upgrades etcetera. Very difficult to put a figure on it. WHAT SORT OF ANALYTICAL PROCESSES DO YOU HAVE? WHAT SORT OF INFO DO YOU CAPTURE AND HOW DO YOU ASSESS IT? I’ve got sensors checking sensors... I love my sensors, you can never have too many. It helps to diagnose issues earlier and help to understand what is actually happening on the car, so you can make a more calculated guess to improve. HOW FRUSTRATING IS IT WHEN THE CAR CAN’T GET DOWN THE TRACK? IS IT TOUGHER FOR YOU WATCHING ON? When everyone else has done their job right, and it’s up to you to do yours but you just can’t figure it out is frustrating. But we all want that success, and it’s that determination for success that can dictate how much frustration or disappointment we feel when it doesn’t quite go to plan.

WOULD YOU PREFER TO RACE OR WORK ON THE BIKE? I have always enjoyed working on motors and love trying to achieve their maximum potential, whether on the drag strip or on salt. I also like the racing side. I enjoy the battle and pressure of racing at the top level. The friendships I have made through racing are very special to me. WHAT ARE YOU RESPONSIBLE FOR BETWEEN/DURING EVENTS? Between rounds with Chris’ input - service bike, rebuild engines, clutches and gearboxes. Keep track of parts inventory and parts requiring replacement and reordering. Machine parts as required. Grind clutches. During events - service and tune engine. Read data and make adjustments to tune up. Change engine and tyres. Check and bleed brakes, change brake pads. Set clutch and cannon. Service gearbox.

EXPLAIN WHAT GOES ON BETWEEN ROUNDS ON RACE DAY? As soon as the bike is towed back to the pits, connect starter and clear engine of Nitro. Put bike on stand and change oil. Do cylinder leak down. Download data and review. Check tyre, chain, engine and brakes. Reset clutch gap and cannon. Refuel and new spark plugs Start bike check engine running okay. Clear engine. Fuel bike and fill air tanks. Check bolts and fittings are all tight. WHAT DIFFERENCES ARE THERE IN TUNING NITRO BIKE? Forget everything you know about normal engines. Once you put nitro in the tank it becomes a completely different animal. The tuning window is very small and nitro is very unforgiving. Errors in tuning usually have serious results with broken engines and possible injury to crew, rider or other competitors. HOW MANY HOURS DO YOU PUT IN? Usually one week before meeting to finish servicing bike and make sure everything is ready for the upcoming meeting. After meeting, approximately another week servicing engines, clutches and gearbox. Also fitting and balancing new tyres. WHAT SORT OF ANALYTICAL PROCESS DO YOU HAVE? All runs are logged on a RacePac data logger and tied to track and weather conditions. After each run I have a quick look at the data to ascertain tune up for the next run and check that everything functioned on that run, as it was supposed to. After the meeting I have more time to analyse data in depth. A change in one of the tuning parameters has an effect on the rest of the tune up. First priority has been to set the bike up to get down the track without turning the tyre, or grenading the engine. Once the bike is launching straight and not dropping cylinders we can start to run the bike a bit harder. I make small gradual changes taking into account track and weather conditions. How frustrating is it when the bike can’t get down the track? Very frustrating if the bike doesn’t get down the track because it means I have missed something in the tune up for the track and weather conditions. Occasionally some of these things are out of your control, such as undetected oil/liquid spills.

CHEYNE PHILLIPS GARY & DEBBIE PHILLIPS RACING Bracket: Top Alcohol / Top Doorslammer Crew Chief for Gary Phillips

HOW DID YOU BECOME A CREW CHIEF? WOULD YOU PREFER TO RACE OR WORK ON THE CAR(S)? Obviously, I’ve been around the cars my whole life (first race was at 2 weeks old), and have always worked on them, gradually building up more responsibilities before finally getting to make tuning decisions. Having always had an aptitude for computers, Dad saw that as a valuable asset to our racing program, especially when data acquisition really took off. When NHRA released the first PC game (back in the late 90s/early 2000s) that had integrated Racepak software in it, I would sit there for hours after doing my school work, and make changes to the car set up, and would look at the data to see how it would change. That was a big help in understanding that side of it, and he used that as an incentive for me to eventually tune the cars. I would love to drive, that is my dream, but working on them is fun too because of the mental challenge. It’s like working on a hard puzzle for a long time, and then when it gets solved, it’s very rewarding. The hard work pays off. WHAT ARE YOU RESPONSIBLE FOR BETWEEN/DURING EVENTS? Between Mum, Dad and I, we do all the work on both cars by ourselves. When we turn up to a race, they are 100 per cent ready to go. At the race, one of my responsibilities is working on the Funny Car clutch, changing it every run, doing the bearings on both cars when needed, and changing the Doorslammer clutch after qualifying, as well as packing parachutes, and making tune up calls. I also service the clutch discs for both cars on our disc-grinding machine. Basically if anything needs doing, it gets done. WHAT GOES INTO PREPARATION BETWEEN AND DURING EVENTS? Between events, both cars are completely maintained from front to back. One or the other has the heads off after most events, and clutches and bearings are always serviced, along with transmissions, occasionally rear ends and chassis. The single biggest job would be clutch maintenance. Dad grinds the clutch floaters, and dislikes it with a passion, because it takes so long to get them within our strict tolerances. Everything has to be perfect; otherwise it doesn’t go in the cars. Quality control is our main focus, and Lucas doesn’t pay us to blow up stuff. After all, their motto is “Keep That Engine Alive”.

HOW DIFFICULT IS IT WHEN PREPARING TWO CARS IN TWO DIFFERENT BRACKETS? Racing just one Group One car is hard, two is indescribable. While we try to use the same parts and pieces between both of them, they both require a different tuning approach - to a certain point. We have to look at how each performs every run, and make tuning decisions based on what it wants. You can’t make a decision based on how the other one does. As I said previously, because the cars are in different brackets, we spend quite a while waiting in the staging lanes, rather than in the pits working on the cars. WHAT SORT OF ANALYTICAL PROCESSES DO YOU HAVE? WHAT SORT OF INFO DO YOU CAPTURE AND HOW DO YOU ASSESS IT? There are many things at my disposal to help analyse the performances of the cars each run. The most important would be the data logger. It’s the go-to for everything that happens with each car. Both cars are equipped with many sensors that can record data from engine, driveshaft and clutch rpm, individual cylinder temperatures, oil, fuel and blower pressure, just to name a few. In addition to this, I have also created many math channels to help me further analyse the data. I also rely on what I’ve seen and heard at the time, and always think about this before even looking at the data. While five seconds doesn’t seem like a long time, after standing on the start line for so long, you can pick up a lot. We also have four video cameras at different angles and various recording speeds, to help analyse the actions of the cars every run. While it may seem excessive, you can never have too much data. There may be one thing picked up on just one camera, that none of the others did. It’s surprising what can be missed. Tuning decisions also depend heavily on what Dad tells me he felt, heard or saw on the run. I am in a great situation by having one of the best and most experienced drivers out there telling me what’s going on with the car. There is no substitute for good record keeping, and I find myself looking back at past notes and old computer files to find what tuning decisions were made with similar track or weather conditions. Obviously this is only good for so long, as the components change on the car so often that we are constantly evolving the tune up.

Because the two cars usually run at similar times during the event, I actually spend a lot of time in the staging lanes, and a lot less in the pit area.


When the first car runs, our crew guys will pick it up from the shutdown area, and take it back to the pits and begin performing the routine maintenance. This involves cooling the clutch and motor, draining oil, refill fuel, adjust the clutch and valve clearances. Mum, Dad and I are in the staging lanes with the other car and crew waiting to run. Once that happens, we come back to the pit area and I look at the data for both cars and make decisions on where to proceed. I’ll then go and run my ideas past Dad and make the changes before getting in and changing the clutch in the Funny Car. This all gets done just before its time to warm up both the cars and take them back out for the next run. The total time spent in the pits between each run is around one hour.

It’s extremely frustrating. The worst part is when we’ve changed absolutely nothing on the car, and normal tuning calls just don’t seem to work. Drag Racing is very humbling in that respect, because as good as the tune up appears to be, cars will always find a way to change that. Yes it’s tough on me watching from the outside, but the upside is that it’s not my body going through the occasional brutal tyre shake.



This time is extremely hectic for us when running both cars at the one event. It takes a big team effort to make it all happen smoothly.

Finally, data isn’t everything. Looking at the physical evidence is a great way to tune the car. I’ve learned from Dad’s old school ways that spark plugs, bearings, head gaskets, pistons and valves don’t lie, and they often tell you something the computer hasn’t. We don’t run our cars anywhere near the ragged edge to run fast, because there is no benefit, and they will slow down if you’re too lean and mean, more times than not.

Hopefully on a great race day it happens three times for each car plus trying to qualify. It’s a lot of work, and we’re all exhausted at the end of it, but hopefully the results have made it worthwhile.






Bracket: Top Fuel Crew Chief for Peter Xiberras

Bracket: Pro Stock Crew Chief for Emilio Spinozzi



My first tuning opportunity was with Steve Read when he brought out the Spirit of Las Vegas car. Before that I was always a crew member, I started out with the Bailey’s with the nitro stuff. Before that it was Super Sedan and Modified working my way up the ranks. But first tuning gig was with ‘Pommie’ Read where I was actually allowed to make big calls.

From when I started with Pete (Xiberras) it’s probably about 60 hours a week just staying on top of everything. And it’s hard because I’m the only person working on it full time.

The outside of the car is all I’ve ever known but I would like to one day at least do a burnout and a launch just to have an understanding of it. Does that present it’s own challenges having always worked on the car and not driven to get the right tune? No I don’t think so. It might give you more of an understanding about what the driver might go through so when you’re picking on them for not doing something. Sometimes you could say to the driver; you probably should have pedalled that and when you look at the data you’re talking less than a second. WHAT ARE YOU RESPONSIBLE FOR BETWEEN AND DURING EVENTS? Pretty much everything. I’ve been responsible for a fair bit of work on the trailer getting it up to scratch. I’m responsible for all the race car stuff and maintenance. We have a crew that usually comes in Saturdays and Wednesday nights that do their bit but there is basically nothing on the car that I don’t service at some stage. I’m also responsible for all the ordering of parts and running around to get stuff done at machine shops and everything else that needs to be done. WHAT GOES INTO THE PREPARATION PRIOR TO EVENTS? Everything needs to be looked at. If you start at the basic car, all the panels get inspected for any cracks on the chassis. The rear end comes apart, oil comes out every meeting, we check the gears, the wheel studs – that’s got to be checked religiously. Whatever blowers we use need to be serviced. At the moment I’m trying to keep it to only a couple of blowers per meeting. We quite often re-strip one after qualifying and try and get a handle on the tuning side of things to understand that better. We will try and run cylinder heads for two laps before we pull them apart and look at them. Normally after a meeting if we go to a final we have three pairs of heads to service. Everything needs to be stripped. We strip all the motors, all the crank gears, cam gears are crack tested, input shafts are crack tested. Honestly it’s just hours and hours. I come from a trade background doing my own stuff contracting where you would work hard days. With this deal I wouldn’t say it’s hard work but it’s long hours just because it’s so tedious and so much to do to try and keep everything safe and correct and not doing dumb things. I pride myself a lot on not putting oil on the track so that’s one of the reasons we try do all that stuff is to cut out the dumb stuff.


The other guys come in and volunteer whether it’s pulling apart a motor or the heads or a blower but nine times out of ten whatever they start I’ll have to finish. There’s a lot of talk about how we’ve got a lot of experience but the bottom line on that is there was only one person to come across from the BTP deal, everyone else has never worked on a Fuel car before. WHAT SORT OF ANALYTICAL PROCESSES DO YOU HAVE? You’re biggest thing with data is experience. Obviously when you’re starting out you’re dealing with a lot of squiggly lines. You’re trying to work out what they’re telling you. As time goes on, even up to this car it’s a completely different car to run than the BTP car. We’ve had times when we’ve looked at the data and we’ve come up with pros and cons either way. Sometimes you’ve got to pick a direction to go in and see whether it works or doesn’t work. I’m very big on basics, the first time I look at a run the first thing I look at is engine rpm and driveshaft just by themselves to make sure the engine is doing what I want it to do and the driveshaft speed is where it’s supposed to be. The driveshaft is what I’m really looking at for the first 100 feet of the racetrack and once I’m happy with that side of it I go looking further into the data side of it to work out how to go faster. HOW DO YOU GET THROUGH THE FRUSTRATION AND CHALLENGES WHEN YOU CAN’T GET DOWN THE TRACK? With Peter I know the first time we went out there we did six laps and pretty much all six were smoke on the hit of the throttle or shake its brains out. The first time we actually ran a four second pass it was around 12 or 13 laps. When we got to a race meeting we’ve gone okay. Honestly we really are still struggling with the car, we’re not getting it to run the way we want it to run. But in the testing side of it we’ve really had some struggles and it’s been disheartening especially when you’ve got a bloke that’s new to it all. They want to go A to B, they spend a lot of money to be there and when you come away from two days testing without getting past 100 feet under power you think hopefully this guy sticks with us. You get disheartened and I tried to explain it to him a lot beforehand before we even went out to the track. I told him straight out that sometimes it takes 15-20 laps before you get the car to do what you want it to do. He bought the car from Graeme Cowin but we didn’t get any data or run logs so we had to start from scratch again with what we thought was right, pick a starting point and go from there. We (PremiAir Racing) haven’t been shocking but by my standard I would have preferred to be a lot better off than what we are and especially in qualifying. In qualifying we have not had out act together at all. Once we sort that out and get better, it just takes laps. Every time we do a lap we’re getting more information.

HOW DID YOU BECOME A CREW CHIEF? Becoming a crew chief is a roll you grow into overtime, after gaining experience in most aspects of the sport. I raced Pro Stock in the late 80s early 90s. We were the youngest team racing at the time. I have a mechanical trade and have worked in the performance industry most of my life. I own Flow Tested Cylinder Heads, which is a cylinder development business and this has given me reasonable knowledge from the engine perspective. The car set up and chassis experience has been ongoing however I have focussed on that more in recent years. WOULD YOU PREFER TO RACE OR WORK ON THE CAR? These days I enjoy working on the car and working with the team. However the team does nearly all the work. They all have their specialised areas whilst still keeping an overall knowledge of all areas. Driving Pro Stock these days is very precise we have a great driver in Emilio. I don’t really think about driving these days and still get great satisfaction doing what I do. WHAT ARE YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES? Between events I constantly talk with the team. Our engines are built and developed at RC Performance in Adelaide. I like to keep up with what they are doing for us. How the power levels are coming on. They have their own dyno test facility and that helps us a lot. Everything they gain has a direct effect on every part of the car. Team Co Owner Adamo Spinozzi looks after the clutch so we work together on that side. The suspension is a lot more work than most people would think, especially when we race on flat straight surfaces in a straight line. Emilio and I tend to talk and work on that area together. It’s about constantly planning what we need to do next and analysing the data we currently have. WHAT PREPARATION GOES INTO BETWEEN AND DURING EVENTS? Between events we work on the hardware side. We may have some shock development work going on as an example. We send our shocks to Menser Shocks in the USA. We have to deal with all the freight and time logistics. During an event we tend to make finer changes, make decisions regarding the track and the weather. The Race meeting side is where our sport is very much a team sport. I don’t think the public recognise this as much as they should and that is part of our responsibility as Drag Racers to help educate our race fans. The team have to turn the car around in the allocated time, make the right decisions and fix any unexpected issues. EXPLAIN WHAT GOES ON BETWEEN ROUNDS ON RACE DAY: The car comes back and we get feedback from our driver Emilio, everyone starts on their areas. I look at the data and at the same time the team are reporting back to me with what they are finding. When I started with Spinozzi Racing they gave me the opportunity to do whatever I felt should be changed, so initially it was very much my decisions. The faster we have gone the more collective we are becoming which I believe works best. It’s a great team because we are all working together and we all have input.


ANDRA Drag Racing is home to many fantastic families and friends coming together to race at drag strips up and down the country. While each competitor and family has their own unique experience working on one or several vehicles across multiple brackets, there are just too many to compile here while doing them justice. That said, we turned to Geoff Chaisty, a two-time Australian Super Stock Champion as a driver who led his son Jake to the 2014 Super Stock title as a Crew Chief and team owner to share his experience in the Sportsman ranks.


Bracket: Super Stock Crew Chief for Jake & Jamie Chaisty HOW MANY HOURS WOULD YOU SAY YOU SPEND WORKING ON THE CAR? I am based in a small country town in Western Australia; the team are based in Sydney. I would still say I spend at least 2 to 3 hours a day on Pro Stock. When I’m in Sydney we all put in 16-hour days. WHAT SORT OF ANALYTICAL PROCESSES DO YOU HAVE? WHAT SORT OF INFO DO YOU CAPTURE AND HOW DO YOU ASSESS IT? I am going to be very bias here. Data is everything. I knew that the only way I could do this properly was to have a better way of analysing and reporting on data. I own and built Motorsport Database. We enter everything into it from every run. It has the ability to generate reports. Many successful teams now use it; it is more work in the beginning however I feel the results and the way it makes you think easily outweigh the work. I have had some interest in my program from the USA. I am currently building a sportsman version. From an analytical point of view, the one thing I would say is it’s important to look at the overall effect that any one change will have. In my opinion it’s easy to get too focused in one small area, I often see people do that. DOES IT GET FRUSTRATING WHEN THE CAR JUST WON’T GET DOWN THE TRACK PARTICULARLY AFTER A GOOD RUN? It’s really frustrating and extremely tough. We ran a 6.97 on the first qualifier at this year’s Winternationals. It was the fastest pass in the history of the sport. In the first round of eliminations the car took a hard left turn right off the starting line. I was absolutely devastated as was the team. Drag Racing is a great equaliser; it always brings you back to earth. That’s why it’s so important to enjoy your successes without forgetting what can happen the next time you make a pass.

WOULD YOU PREFER TO RACE OR WORK ON THE CAR? If you mean on race-day do I prefer to race or crew, that’s a bit of a hard question as I do really enjoy both. However if I had the choice of either driving only and having no input at all into the race car as opposed to not driving and tuning/developing the car, driving is great but I would choose tuning/developing and making the car go down the track as best it can, this is very satisfying with lots of challenges and mental stimulation WHAT ARE YOU RESPONSIBLE FOR BETWEEN/DURING EVENTS? Between events I make sure all maintenance is done and any repairs needed are carried out before next event, organise parts, fuel crew, stocking trailer spares etcetera. During events, I oversee that all between round work is done by the rest of the crew, gather feedback from the driver/crew and data, then look at any engine/chassis tuning or driver changes to be made. Me personally I mainly just look after the engine and engine tuning between rounds and maybe any assistance with suspension adjustments if I’m needed. EXPLAIN WHAT GOES ON BETWEEN ROUNDS ON RACE DAY: On the H/MSA car before we make a run we would do the following: Put engine oil heater on. Flush fuel system and then fill tank. Prime oil system. Warm up engine and transmission on jack stands. Swap over to race plugs from our start plugs. Check valve lash, adjust if required. Top up fuel. Charge battery. Check chute. Check fluid levels. General car check over. Drain all liquid overflow containers. Check tyre pressures. Look at the weather compared to last run made in the car and make any tuning changes required. Then restart engine, check for leaks etcetera after work done. On the H/MSA car between rounds we would do the following: Place the battery on charge. Download data from logger. Refuel. Repack chute. Debrief driver. Enter timecard info/ weather data and all run observations in our Motorsport Database. Recheck valve lash, look over valve train, and we normally check valve spring pressures after qualifying. Check all liquid overflows containers again and drain if required. Pump up rear tyres a couple pounds (so we can adjust down if required in lanes prior to run). Then go over data logger overlaying with previous runs. Then look in detail at Motorsport Database run increments and ET splits and look at how the run compares. Based on what

we see from the data logger and our Motorsport Database information we then carry out any changes required. Restart engine again. Then depending on ambient temperature we may put engine heater on again. Monitor engine coolant temp and cool down if required. HOW MANY HOURS WOULD YOU SAY YOU SPEND WORKING ON THE CAR? The maintenance on our H/MSA is a little less than some other N/A Super Stock or Competition cars, it mainly depends on rpm. And being Auto Trans it requires less work than clutch cars, but with the level everyone is at these days in Group Two the car still requires a reasonable amount of maintenance plus /MS and /MP cars are harder to work on than full a chassis sedan or open wheel comp car, so there are pros and cons overall between different classes. Between events in total, between regular maintenance, repairs and upgrades or changes made, plus in-depth review of data etcetera, I estimate average 15 to 20 hours, if anything major happens it can end up in days not hours. As we build and develop our own engine, we invest literally hundreds of hours in engine design/building and development, but this is mainly done during the off-season which in WA is about 6 months. During the race season we focus mainly on maintenance and race car chassis and engine tuning but as we run nine National level events in WA during the relatively short season it is still pretty full on and plus any interstate travel. WHAT SORT OF ANALYTICAL PROCESSES DO YOU HAVE? WHAT SORT OF INFO DO YOU CAPTURE AND HOW DO YOU ASSESS IT? Analysing, recording/logging everything possible about car, engine, the actual run, weather, track conditions, driving style, and every change made right down to undie colour and trying to then optimise as much as possible at the time with car/engine and driver is the key. The Motorsport Database program that we use is a vital tool for doing all this, the amount information it allows you to log and then review at ease really is fantastic.

engines compared to say a Pro Stock car (also 6.5lb per cube) of say 20 years ago, which even then had much better cylinder heads and induction equipment, racers have learned how to use the equipment they have at disposal much better, not only in regards to making more power but more so in using what they have at hand much better. I feel that everything to do with any racecar or race engine in any motorsport is a compromise in some way to some degree, nothing is ever perfect, everything can always be improved upon no matter how good it is and you have to except that, so then it’s all about optimising the compromises as best you can and working out which areas of the car/ engine/driver package give the best return for time or money spent to get the desired result. We log record, and analyse as much as time allows. HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO WORK ON MULTIPLE CARS AND HOW DO YOU MANAGE THE LOAD? I really only work on our race car at the track, but do get involved with helping in tuning advice on few other cars, and only occasionally I get hands on if things are desperate. Way back at first I was involved with several street and Super Sedan cars. The first serious racecar I crewed on was Michael Marriott’s Pro Stock Camira around 1987 -1988. This was a great learning experience; time between family commitments was the only real challenge on this one. I then raced my own cars mostly from then on, but had the odd season off, I crewed with several mostly Group Two cars when not racing. Certainly when working with other teams it can be a challenge working with not only different types of race cars with different power levels and set up requirements but also working with different personalities, how they go about their racing, how committed they are and to what level they happy to race at, everyone has different levels of commitment. I mean commitment in terms of time and money, however you always learn something from everyone in terms of how they balance their commitment to racing and family and work.

When you look for example at how fast say a 6.5lb per cube G/GA car goes these days with very limited FASTLANE I 27






Roger Clark, from Sydney, is one of Australian drag racing’s unsung and leastknown heroes. Although he has never fought it out on the 1320 he has recorded more ETs and speeds than anyone else in the country. You see, Roger Clark is an historian. A very different kind of historian. He is unique in that he records the times and speeds of every Australian drag racer. He’s a quiet, unassuming man but get him onto his subject and his unbridled enthusiasm explodes, wiping away that quietness in an instant and the longer you talk to him, the more infectious that enthusiasm becomes. Roger attended his first drag meeting in 1976, at Castlereagh and, like the rest of us, was hooked after watching his first run. He began taking a pad and pen to the track from then on, writing down every time and speed of every racer as soon as they were given over the PA system. The magazines could only give a few of the ‘more important’ details and Roger thought, “But what about the other racers. They should be recognised as well.” He began collecting and borrowing earlier magazines when he could find them and started writing down the details of runs made at other tracks around the country. As the number of competitors and their runs grew, Roger realised he needed to design a specific template for his records, one that he wouldn’t need to change again. The result is an encyclopaedia set out in the sport’s brackets, showing the driver’s name, race number, car, class, race date, best reaction time between 0.000 and 0.099, quickest et and fastest speed at the meeting and, if applicable, whether they had a win or runner-up. Roger also has a listing of virtually every national record ever set, at his fingertips. As you can imagine, Roger could easily fill an exercise book on just one particular racer who has raced for decades, such as Gary Phillips, Jim Read, Graeme Cowin etc. In 1983 Roger decided to approach Castlereagh’s management to organise receiving a list of runs after each meeting. General Manager Dave Andrew was on holidays and Jim Read was filling in at the time. When he saw what Roger was doing he was blown away and said, “What a shame this doesn’t go back to Day One.”, the same feeling that Roger had held for so many years. This was really the start of Roger going all-out to find those earlier results. He knew he couldn’t do all the necessary research without full sets of magazines so, armed with his trusty lists, he went to

see Dave Cook at the Dragster Australia office in 1987. Dave was quite interested in the whole concept and ran an article on Roger. They did a deal, whereby any time Dave needed any info Roger would supply it and in return Dave went through his vast stock of magazines and if he had more than one of any issue, he gave one to Roger. In the case of having only one copy, Roger would go to the office with his folders and spend as long as needed to transcribe the necessary info. He insists that racers must have an official ANDRA race number to be included and, as a result, he doesn’t keep records of street meets. He does, however, have a folder he calls ‘One Hit Wonders’ for racers who come out for a meeting or two and then disappear again. If they re-appear at a later date, at least he has a record of their initial meetings. Since 1994 most tracks have been more than happy to send Roger the full run sheets from every meeting, including most of the eighth-mile regional tracks. John Henman, at Sydney Dragway is in charge of a back-up set of all of Roger’s records and Roger is now the back-up for Sydney Dragway’s track records verification. The Australian Nostalgia Fuel Association (ANFA) relies on Roger for info on each racer awarded the Pioneer status at the Annual ANFA Pioneer Awards at Sydney Dragway and for a very reasonable cost racers can receive the full list of their runs from Roger. The amazing thing is that up until joining the computer age in 2004, Roger’s records were all hand-written and kept in folders. Even today the results from Sydney are hand-written as well as being put onto the computer. During my interview with Roger he asked, “How many different racers do you think I’ve recorded?” I began thinking and before I’d even had a chance to get a figure of maybe 9 or 10,000 his eyes lit up and he was like a kid with a new toy, blurting out, “More than 17,000 different racers.” That’s an easy figure to believe when you consider his records now go back as far as 1963. When asked why he did this he replied, “I’ve always enjoyed doing this, although it does get a bit heavy at times, especially when I have a few meetings to go through at the same time.” There is a real need for our history to be recorded for the future and there are numerous people around the country recording various aspects of that history. There are also many racers with so many behind-the-scenes stories which need to be written down, but there is nobody who can come close to the kind of history being preserved by Roger Clark, drag racing’s unsung hero.



O’ROURKE TEAM: O’Rourke Motorsport BRACKET: Top Alcohol PREVIOUS BRACKETS: Competition

Westernationals (2000, Competition Eliminator)

first and only woman to compete in the highlevel professional bracket in a Funny Car. O’Rourke soon cemented her place amongst drag racing’s elite with a five second pass in December of 2009, and has since gone on to race in multiple semi finals ever since in her quest for a first ANDRA Drag Racing Series Christmas Tree.



Eliminator, Supercharged Outlaws, Super Sedan


Santo’s Super 3 Extreme Drag Race, Top qualifier on two occasions

After catching the quarter-mile bug with her husband Grant in 1993, Debbie climbed into the driver’s seat herself in 1996. Back then she ran the O’Rourke’s Super Sedan Torana running a best of 9.75 at Calder Park during the Australian Nationals. O’Rourke’s star first began to rise in the Australian drag racing scene when she licensed her supercharged small block Torana late in 1999, achieving a 7.34 second result at 201 miles per hour on her first ever full distance pass. She would later go on to race in the AA/ GAS category in the O’Rourke’s wild PSI Supercharged LC Torana running 348 cubic inches. On 1st April 2000 in Adelaide, she became the World’s quickest and fastest female driver of a small block sedan, running 6.82 seconds at 214 mph. She took her first major race win in 2000 at Ravenswood International Raceway’s Westernationals in Competition Eliminator. After starting out in the sportsman classes, O’Rourke has been concentrating on a Top Alcohol career since mid-2011, becoming the


Caught the quarter-mile bug with husband Grant in 1993.



Well I do not wear green undies but I guess it is just doing the same thing every time. I have found over the years I have become a lot more relaxed, a lot of it is a mental preparation specially in the staging lanes. I go though the run in my head trying to focus on some of your driving weak points and really watching what is going on from a track point of view. It can become hazardous if you over think it.


I had already had a few sedan cars and whilst I loved driving them it was during the time we where teamed with Damien Harris and his Funny Car and I got to see a lot of what was involved with a Funny Car and how to drive one from Damien’s perspective so I became quite keen from there and I liked the idea that I could be in the middle of the car.

I have mostly flown by plane as I have had to work full time during our drag racing career so I haven’t got too many of them except last year bogged in the middle of the Nullarbor plains across two lanes. Probably wasn’t funny at the time but trying to get it bogged and letting down the airbags was pretty crazy so that is the closest I have ever got to having a major event. I now have my HR truck licence so may have some good ones in the near future.



Because it has no suspension at all when you have full on tyre shake it really catches your breath and your eyes go fuzzy and it is difficult to see the track. You can try to get rid of the shake by shifting gears etc but you always know at the other end particularly how bad the shake has been because when I have really bad tyre shake I can have an instant headache by time I get out of the car at the other end of the track.

Between working and racing we do not really have much spare time but we do like to explore different places when time permits.




SLAMME John Zappia and Chris Matheson earned early season points at the opening round of the ANDRA Drag Racing Series at Perth Motorplex.

Zappia laid down one of the most impressive runs in the history of Top Doorslammer with a 5.683 second recording, the quickest ever for the category. The amazing pass came during qualifying night at the Home Group WA Nitro Slam and eclipsed the previous best time for the division of 5.745, which was also set by Zappia. He was unable to back up that stunning pass but took home the win regardless with a close 5.86 win in the final. Opponent and number two qualifier Maurice Fabietti put a holeshot on Zappia and was leading past the 1000 feet marker until the motor in the Holden Trade Club Monaro went away, blowing a burst panel and allowing Zappia to sneak past for victory. “It was pretty even early, as soon as mine rattled (shook the tyres) Maurice pulled a car length ahead,” Zappia recalled. “I started to run him in but

I don’t know if I would have had enough track if he didn’t pop the burst panel. I’d say he probably would have had me.” Zappia’s course to the final saw him take out Pino Priolo in round one and Marty Dack in the semi finals. Zappia said the team were struggling with a car that is on the edge. “For the final we put a lazier gearbox in it to try and get through the tyre shake area and it shook worse,” he said. “It wants to be on kill, every time I try to back it down it shakes. “We haven’t got the answer, we don’t have the consistency we are looking for at that power level.” Zappia will leave with the full set of points including for the win, top qualifying, low elapsed time and top speed of the event. Chris Matheson might be a three times ANDRA Top Fuel Motorcycle champion but he was the unlikely winner of the final when Mark Drew mowed down the timing boxes at the finish line, disqualifying him from the race. Drew had the clear performance advantage following a quick 6.39 second pass in the semi final but was unable to bring the bike back from the centre line in the final.

“We were lucky Mark crossed the line but you have to be there to be lucky,” Matheson said. “For the final we turned it up a little bit and it took off. It got a bit out of shape down the other end but we got through.” Matheson was riding his new bike ‘Jack Hammer’, a nitro v-twin that is a completely different ride to his four cylinder ‘Nitro Voodoo’ machine. The ease of maintenance left Matheson very relaxed for the event. “It’s refreshing not throwing a whole heap of stuff at it,” he said. “It is more enjoyable.” Matheson is planning to continue to use ‘Jack Hammer’ for the 2015 season. “We will try and keep all these other blokes honest and have a bit of fun,” he said. Matheson’s road to the final took him past two riders making their pro race day debut. He eliminated Wayne McGuinness in round one in a race decided by less than one tenth of a second, followed by a defeat of Ben Stevens. “Perth has been very welcoming to us and it is great to see a big field,” Matheson said. “In particular young blokes coming out and having a go on these big bikes gives me a bit of ticker for the future of the sport.”

Final Results TOP DOORSLAMMER John Zappia 5.864 def Maurice Fabietti 6.023 TOP FUEL MOTORCYCLE Chris Matheson 6.446 def Mark Drew 6.464 (crossed centreline)









STARTUP 2015 A cold and wet morning greeted Fuchs South Coast Raceway for race day of the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series opener but that didn’t stop the team of volunteers from having the track race ready by the scheduled 10am start. Similar air and track temperatures from the previous day had presented the field with great track conditions, which followed through to eliminations on raceday. The track crew are to be congratulated for putting the show on and keeping it at the high standard Fuchs South Coast Raceway is known for. Racing would not have been possible without the great support from ANDRA volunteers, Summit Racing Equipment, St Johns Ambulance, the local firefighters, and most important every single volunteer behind the scenes who made it happen. After getting to grips with the vehicle setups the class was making headway to great results after qualifying. Round one winners were Dom Rigoli over Sam Preece, Louis Svingoes on a bye run, Daniel Camilleri over Peter Deguara who red lit by just -0.007 and Peter Pisalidis over Ambesi’s. Pisalidis had broke the wheelie bar in qualifying but was saved by Andrew Sanders who donated his time to repair the damage over night. Round two saw Dom Rigoli with his Mitsubishi Eclipse put down the fastest pass of the weekend with a 4.494 at 152.92 mph also taking the win against Louis Svingoes. Peter Pisalidis scored some luck when paired with Daniel Camilleri who he had problems paving the way to the final. The final pairing pitted Pisalidis against Rigoli with the win going to Sydneysider Rigoli at the start line after Pisalidis red lit by -0.062. Rigoli was again setting records for his class; scoring ET and mph. The new Top Sportsman class was a big hit and with the average dial in during eliminations of just 5.1 seconds across the field it ensured tight racing. Local Chassis builder Brett Henley was paired with drag racing veteran Stuart McBain in their beautifully presented race cars where McBain dialed in with a 5.23 and ran a 5.257 at 131.53 mph after Henley red lit back the start line handing the win and the first ever Top Sportsman ANDRA Christmas tree to McBain. Supercharged Outlaws champ Doina Day got her title defense off to a perfect start pairing up in the final with Ryan Van Dyk. Once again reaction times decided the


outcome as Day posting the quickest reaction time. Day was joined in the winners circle by daughter Jasmine Ryan in Modified when the 1/8 mile expert met Chris Farrell in the final. Ryan had the better reaction of 0.024 from Farrell’s 0.161 sending her on the way to the win. Ryan also took the win in style as her team was awarded the Summit Racing Equipment and YBI Creative Best Presented Award. Local Warrnambool racer Stephen Griffin in his Holden 355ci LJ Torana took home the tree for Super Sedan against Jason Arbery in the final. Griffin set a dial in of 6.16 and ran an almost perfect 6.162 ET at 111.37 mph while unluckily Arbery snagged a red light by just -0.011. Elsewhere in Super Sedan, Dave Yanko picked up the Perfect Package Award with a .000 reaction time on the way to a 5.714 ET on a 5.70 dial in. Malcom Luff is no stranger to Fuchs South Coast Raceway however with strong Modified Bike entries it brought national champions who are regular winners across the country carrying vast amounts of experience in tricky conditions. But that didn’t stop Luff from making it into the finals with seasonal rider Nathan Stone. With a dial in of 7.30 Luff broke out by -0.008 however it didn’t matter as the race had already been handed to Luff when Stone red lit by -0.032. The trip over the border from South Australia paid off for Harry Harris in his Holden Commodore pairing up with fellow South Aussie Enzo Clemente in the Super Street final. Harris managed to win on a tight race when Clemente ran a 7.376 on a 7.33 dial in while Harris recorded a time of 7.314 on a 7.31 dial in. The 0.092 reaction time was the winning ticket for Harris taking the win with a 0.057 margin of victory. Red lights littered the Junior Dragster ranks as tomorrow’s next stars pushed their dragsters to the limit in every round. Josh Baker reached the final only to turn on the red himself giving the win to Jordan Spencer at the start line by -0.082. Two-time Super Gas champ Matt Forbes was at it again in Portland giving his opponents a case of the runner ups. Forbes’ Corvette Roadster was on song again taking him him through the field to the final pairing with Graeme Spencer. While both were off the 6.30 index it became a pedal fest to the finish line where Forbes came through with the goods in his quest for a championship three-peat.

Final Results SUPER COMP Domenic Rigoli 4.490 (4.68) def Peter Pisalidis 4.517 (4.74) SUPERCHARGED OUTLAWS Doina Day 4.422 (4.40) def Ryan Van Dyk 4.507 (4.44) TOP SPORTSMAN Stuart McBain 5.257 (5.23) def Brett Henley 5.247 (5.23, red light) MODIFIED Jasmine Ryan 4.994 (4.97) def Chris Farrell 4.725 (4.71) SUPER SEDAN Stephen Griffin 6.162 (6.16) def Jason Arbery 5.586 (5.55, red light) MODIFIED BIKE Malcolm Luff 7.292 (7.30) def Nathan Stone 5.379 (5.35, red light) SUPER STREET Harry Harris 7.314 (7.31) def Enzo Clemente 7.341 (7.33) JUNIOR DRAGSTER Jordan Spencer 9.002 (8.79) def Josh Baker 9.493 (9.30, red light) SUPER GAS Matt Forbes 6.424 (6.30) def Graeme Spencer 6.565 (6.30)




ROUND REPORT John Zappia made it two from two in the ANDRA Drag Racing Series Top Doorslammer Championship following victory in the 44th annual Westernationals at Perth Motorplex, while Gary Phillips returned to the winner’s circle in Top Alcohol but not without a serious challenge.


Zappia took the finish line stripe in one of the most thrilling Top Doorslammer finals ever seen. A holeshot at the start line allowed Kapiris to get an early lead but Zappia clawed it back piece by piece until snatching away the trophy in the 5.78 to 5.81 contest. The margin of victory at the finish was just 0.007 of a second. Zappia said it was awesome to see his Fuchs/Striker Monaro alongside the Kapiris Saratoga throughout the race. “I knew they (Kapiris’ team) were going to step up,” he said. “Craig from Striker Crushing (one of Zappia’s sponsors) called me up and said you’re on fire, just leave it alone, don’t touch it - and that’s exactly what we did.” For Zappia it is a turn around from the usual form he starts championships with, where he has typically fought back from poor beginnings. Zappia has dropped only a single point for the season so far and said he is looking forward to taking the show on the road. “Now we go to Adelaide, it might be a tricky track but we have always had the advantage there,” he said. “And we are real excited to go Sydney and Willowbank. “I thought 5.80s was the limit, but now we have made a big leap and I don’t know if there is much more to leap after this. There is probably a 5.65 in the car on a perfect run. “We are that close to being able to run flat 5.70s or 5.69s consistently, but I don’t know how long it will take to happen. It could take 18 months to make it happen.” Zappia’s road to the final took him past Wayne Keys in the first round, then Daniel Gregorini in the semi finals before eliminating Kapiris. Meantime in Top Alcohol, Phillips got to add yet another gold Christmas tree to his exceedingly large collection by defeating Craig Glassby in the final. Glassby created headlines of his own in the semi finals when he unleashed a 5.410 second time, the quickest pass anywhere in the world by a methanol fuelled funny car. Phillips route to the final took him past Robert Ambruosi in the first round and Rob Pilkington in the semi finals, with the car never leaving the 5.4s Phillips said the field had stepped up to match the pace his Lucas Oils Funny Car has had for years. “It’s like 5.40s are easy now,” he said. “We were trying to run a 5.30 in the final, it never quite got there, we were trying to

get the record back. “Number one qualifier, win the race; that is a good start to the season and we have something we can work on now.” Phillips said his focus is now on lowering his times and he doesn’t care if it comes at the expense of future wins. “We’re about performances, the winning is a bonus,” he said. Lucas (Oil) is about keeping that engine alive and we didn’t put a bearing in it at all.” Both Top Doorslammer and Top Alcohol next head to Adelaide International Raceway on March 14 and 15 for the Pro Series 1000. The second round of the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series saw Western Australia’s best drag racers taking on more than a few interstate rivals for ANDRA Gold Christmas trees and valuable national points, with the action coming thick and fast. Competition eliminator’s national champion Al McClure proved unbeatable again in his BB/FCA, taking a win over friend and rival Kyle Putland. McClure’s 6.404 on a 6.65 index was close to the national record and was able to run away from Putland, whose AA/A had clutch issues that saw him out of the throttle early. “He’s a good boy, but I deserve the gold trophy,” laughed McClure. Despite the victory, McClure said it came the hard way, thanking his wife Natalie for putting up with his antics under stress. “I have been a real b*tch this weekend, the car hasn’t been going good and I’ve been taking it out on her,” he said. “We had transmission changes overnight and big problems after round one but the crew were able to dig in and get it done.” Putland was left disappointed, but acknowledged he was facing one of Australia’s best in the final. “Not a lot really went our way,” he said. “There is not tougher person to race than Al, I still haven’t managed to beat him yet, but that is why he is number one in Australia.” Top Sportsman was on the agenda for the first time in Western Australia, with a tight field of racers ensuring the large crowd was treated to some spectacular competition. Lorenzo Gullotto’s Holden Camira put a holeshot on Goran




OUT Kojic and then backed it up with a 7.988 on a 7.94 dial in against Kojic’s 8.554 on an 8.49. Gullotto said he and the team enjoyed the fresh new category, with the top qualifying medallion and Summit Racing Equipment pack also going his way. “The class is pretty cool and being able to do burnouts past the start line is the thing that tops it off,” he said. “We will see if we can keep going with it and see how we go.” The Gullotto family are big supporters of drag racing in Western Australia and Lorenzo said it was a family effort to get the car to the win. “My brother Sam had the dial ins bang on all night,” he said. Across the rest of the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series there were many racing stories with ‘good vibes’ including plenty of first time Westernationals winners. Brett Glover took one of the biggest upset wins, defeating multi time WA state champion Allen Puglia in the final with a 7.593 pass on his 7.82 index, a slightly better reaction time helping him cross the line first against Puglia’s 7.253 on a 7.48 index. Glover’s turbocharged Mazda RX7 overcame its recent handling woes and among his other scalps was a red-lighting Jamie Chaisty, driving his family’s national championship winning Holden Commodore. Ross Smith meanwhile surprised no one with his Competition Bike win, his fourth in a row at the Westernationals. Smith ran an 8.220 on an 8.50 index to eliminate Phill Paton, who was somewhat of an unexpected finalist. Donald Freind took home the trophy and the points in Supercharged Outlaws, his 7.182 on a 7.16 dial in able to get past Tracey de Jager, who until that time was enjoying a dream weekend, finally getting past the first round of a Westernationals after years of a monkey on her back. Modified is the domain of lady racers in Western Australia and the final of the Westernationals was no different with Michelle Osborn and Alesha Adamos facing off. A narrow 7.744 on a 7.76 break out from Adamos gave the win to Osborn with her safe 7.150 on a 7.09 dial in. It was Osborn’s first ever victory in Modified and naturally her first Westernationals trophy.

Final Results TOP ALCOHOL Gary Phillips 5.435 def Craig Glassby 6.684 TOP DOORSLAMMER John Zappia 5.784 def Peter Kapiris 5.814 COMPETITION Alistair McClure 6.404 (6.65) def Kyle Putland 7.615 (7.09) SUPER STOCK Brett Glover 7.593 (7.82) def Allen Puglia 7.523 (7.48) COMPETITION BIKE Ross Smith 8.220 (8.50) def Phill Paton 9.551 (8.90) SUPERCHARGED OUTLAWS Donald Friend 7.182 (7.16) def Tracey De Jager 7.117 (7.00) TOP SPORTSMAN Lorenzo Gullotto 7.988 (7.94) def Goran Kojic 8.554 (8.49) MODIFIED Michelle Osborn 7.150 (7.09) def Alesha Adamos 7.744 (7.76, breakout) SUPER SEDAN David Yanko 9.231 (9.14) def Paul Downe 13.303 (9.05) MODIFIED BIKE Ian Read 10.402 (10.20) def Edgell Mallis 9.444 (9.45) SUPER STREET Lee Watson 11.338 (11.30) def Kirstie Wroe 11.209 (11.12) JUNIOR DRAGSTER Bailey Ferguson 8.547 (8.53) def Matthew O’Connor 8.022 (7.97)

David Yanko wrapped up one for the Victorians with a win in Super Sedan against local Paul Downe. A 9.231 on a 9.14 dial in did the job against an ailing Paul Downe, who slowed to just a 13 second time card. The Victorians were not so lucky in the final of Modified Bike, with Edgell Mallis suffering a heartbreaking 9.444 break out on his 9.45 dial in, which saw the win go to an overjoyed Ian Read. Flashing red and blue lights are normally a bad sign at speed, but for the ‘Beat the Heat’ Pontiac GTO of Lee Watson, it meant he was in the final of Super Street. Watson and the team promote safe drag racing across Western Australia using the police-themed vehicles and on this night they did their marketing no harm with an 11.338 win on an 11.30 dial in against Kirstie Wroe. Last but not least, Bailey Ferguson claimed the win in Junior Dragster, running an 8.547 on an 8.53 dial in to get by Matthew O’Connor’s close 8.022 on a 7.97 dial in. Along with all the race winners, there were also off track honours handed out. Greg Gibson won the Summit Racing Equipment and YBI Creative supported Best Presented Award, Adrian Geary won the Best Engineered Award and Grant and Debbie O’Rourke took the Longest Distance Travelled Award. The Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series now moves on to Adelaide for the Pro Series 1000 on March 14-15.

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