Australia's biggest radial tyre event is coming to Willowbank Raceway on Saturday, September 1 when the Kenda Tires Radial Riot brings some of the toughest drag racing machines in the country to South Queensland.
A massive pool of cash and prizes totalling $35,000 will be on offer for those who can tame their cars and bikes over the eighth mile (201 metre) distance of Willowbank's superbly prepared track.
Sydney's Craig Hewitt will be one of the leading contenders in the Classic & Muscle Car Imports 660 Radial Rebels class, styled on the famed Radial vs The World format found at the likes of the massive No Mercy and Lights Out events in the USA.
Hewitt's Holden Monaro is one of the few cars choosing to use a mechanical supercharger, with most teams preferring nitrous or turbocharging. A radial tyre requires progressive application of power and with so much horsepower on tap right from idle, Hewitt needs to be a master of controlled chaos.
“It is very tough to control a roots-style supercharger off the hit but we are getting plenty of data every time we go up to the start line,” he said. “Once we find that fine line we will give these turbo and nitrous boys a real shake up. It's a tricky combo to sort but I'm not a turbo guy and we can't all have turbos - we need diversity!”
The Monaro is equipped with a 14-71 Kobelco supercharger prepared by the USA's Jan-Cen Motorsports. The Westend Performance-built, 521 cubic inch (8.5 litre) Keith Black V8 uses cylinder heads supplied by Queensland innovators Noonan Race Engineering. Wollongong Automotive Services handles the tuning while a Pro-trans Turbo 400 three-speed transmission gets the power to the back wheels.
“The biggest challenge we face is getting the power to the track. We have only had 32 passes on a radial tyre (versus slick tyres). We ran a personal best time during testing for Radial Riot last year with a 4.44 second pass. We also went 4.45 at the Winternationals in June which was very encouraging.”
The Kenda Tires Radial Riot is expected to be one of the biggest street-car style events ever held at Willowbank Raceway. Hewitt believes the fan appeal of road-going machines is what draws in spectators.
“All cars racing were at some stage a street car and people connect with that,” he said. “There are so many different classes for people to enter as well.
“Scott Harker and Justin Simpson started up the Kenda Series and Willowbank recognised that radial racing is going to be a large part of drag racing in Australia.”
A fierce group of contenders will be aiming to take out the event as well as the Kenda 660 Kombat tournament, where the top 16 cars of the Kenda Series will run off for a championship belt.
“We would love to win,” Hewitt said. “But our main goal at every meeting since we put on the radial tyres is to improve our personal best time and try and stay with the lead pack.
“We are very confident that we are going to see some good times come up in the next 12 months from our combo.”