The 400 Thunder Professional Drag Racing Series will welcome a familiar face in a not so familiar class back to competition this weekend, as Emilio Spinozzi makes his Pro Slammer debut in the Speedmaster Chevelle.
Spinozzi will take on some famous names as part of the Gulf Western Oil Nitro Thunder event, including John Zappia, Ben Bray and Paul Mouhayet.
After some two years out of professional competition, Spinozzi said he would just like to be present in the moment, with many runs to enjoy thanks to the all-run format.
“If we could run a high 5.9 second run I think we would be extremely happy,” he said. “We're not expecting too much, for us this is about being there and getting our groove back.
“The all-run format is perfect for us, with testing on Friday and three rounds of racing on Saturday giving us a great opportunity to continue our learning.”
The Speedmaster Pro Slammer, built by Australia's own SCF Racecars, produces some 3000 horsepower - three times as much as the Pro Stock car Spinozzi formerly drove. The result is a far angrier, and faster, race car.
“The Pro Stock car is more refined in terms of the gear shifts, but the Pro Slammer you can aggressively drive. If it gets out of shape on the track I can pedal (get on and off the throttle) and recover, whereas in a Pro Stock car you would push in the clutch and that would be the end of the run.
“The biggest challenge so far has been the braking area, that is where the party starts. This car is doing 200mph (320kmh) halfway down the track where our Pro Stock car was doing that at the finish line.”
As far as the driving experience goes, Spinozzi said the Pro Slammer is a far more sensory animal.
“I'm still not used to the noise,” he said. “There are so many things to get your attention. There's fuel coming out the exhausts past the window, clutch dust coming out of the can right next to your legs. I'm sure all that will be normal within a few more runs!”
It's not only the driver needing to get used to a new car, with the Speedmaster pit crew also learning about turning around a 3000 horsepower, supercharged Pro Slammer between rounds.
“Our guys are doing an awesome job,” Spinozzi said. “Mark Brew from Proforce has built us a great engine and the Speedmaster boys are getting their head around everything.
“Our crew chief Michael Marriott has gone from a lifetime of Pro Stock to being thrown into the deep end of Pro Slammer. Everyone is starting again in some way.”
Marriott said he is aiming to put the team's Pro Stock lessons to good use on the Speedmaster Pro Slammer, despite the changes in horsepower.
“We are coming towards this car with a different approach based on our Pro Stock experience and we want to see if we can gain anything from that first,” he said.
“There is a different philosophy with these cars around not just the power you can make, but also how you can adjust that power on race day. With a Pro Stock car you might be able to adjust power by 2-3% at an event, while you could pick up perhaps 10% more power with the tuning calls on a Pro Slammer. The effect that then has on the chassis and clutch is dramatic.”
Spinozzi thanked the many partners of the team for continuing their association.
“Our great sponsors Speedmaster, Hitachi Construction Machinery, Nicsons Concrete, Torco Oils, Terra Civil, LJ Hooker Commercial Campbelltown, Soligo Concrete, Sloanebuilt Trailers, Pasta Italia, Optimum Fire, Al’s Race Glides, Smithfield Diff and Gearbox, Race Teknix, VP Racing Fuels, Corfield Media Solutions, Planned Signs, Kemps Creek Mitre 10, Leanders Clutch, Western Filters, Alky Pro and Speedflow have all have kept with us in our off period so we thank them for sticking with us. We hope to reward their loyalty with some strong performances in coming events as we get on top of this new challenge.”
Spinozzi will be hitting the track for official test sessions from 5pm on Friday night, before the 400 Thunder racing gets underway from 3.30pm on Saturday.
- Media release courtesy Spinozzi Racing