Queensland's Willowbank Raceway has become the focal point for radial-tyre drag racing in Australia, with a group of passionate competitors and promoters developing a series that is going from strength to strength.
The Kenda Tires Radial Series has been attracting strong fields with dozens of competitors, many experiencing heads-up drag racing for the first time. Among them is Brisbane's Simon O'Carroll (above, photo bydragphotos.com.au), who races his Holden Torana in the Gazzard Bros Limited 275 class.
O'Carroll said the work of Scott Harker and Justin Simpson to create the series and nurture its growth is what is behind the radial explosion in Queensland.
“Queensland is the radial state,” he said. “This is where it all started in terms of a radial-only series. Scott and Justin came up with a great formula where everybody has a chance of winning something.
“It's popular with fans because of the diversity of cars and there are are always some pretty wild rides trying to get these cars down the track with so much horsepower.”
O'Carroll's Holden Torana runs a massive 648 cubic inch big block Chev motor that has been purposely built with nitrous in mind. So far he has only been running the motor naturally aspirated, but that will chance for the Kenda Tires Radial Riot on September 1 at Willowbank Raceway when he turns on the nitrous for maximum performance.
“Seeing that we have already run 5.0 second times with the car, I think we are in with a good chance to run mid fours now that we will have the nitrous turned on,” he said.
“I think we will have our work cut out for us against the turbo cars knowing that there are a few of them that can easily run in that zone.”
Horepower is no challenge for O'Carroll – getting it to the track is.
“The challenge of racing on radials is trying to find the happy medium between spinning the tyres when you are trying to get the car off the line and keeping the front of the car on the ground,” he said. “The majority of the cars don’t run wheelie bars.
“We only race to the eighth mile so if you spin getting off the line the race could be over instantly. If you get too much traction the cars will wheel stand and then you are losing time. Some cars that run radials in the states have been known to wheelstand so much that they’ve actually taken flight and flipped over.
“Running on small radials can be a wild ride. Sometimes I’ve had to fight the car all the way down the track to keep it off the wall. The cars move around a lot more on radials compared to slicks.”
O'Carroll has a great team behind him making sure that his runs make the highlight reels for all the right reasons.
“Craig Burns from Street Car Fabrication built the car and is tuning the suspension, Kon Michaladakis from Wollongong Automotive Services is helping with tuning the engine along with Innocent Motorsports' Simon Kryger who is a renowned nitrous racer and tuner,” he said. “I’ll also have my good mates Nick Dawson, Josh Vandertogh, Dereck Logan, Grant Bedrick, Big Steve and Al Bundy helping me with the car as always. And my wife Lisa who straps me in and makes sure all my safety gear is in place.”
Kenda Tires Radial Riot will feature a massive pool of cash and prizes totalling $35,000 for those who can tame their cars and bikes over the eighth mile (201 metre) distance of Willowbank's superbly prepared track. Classes will include Classic & Muscle Car Imports 660 Radial Rebels, Gazzard Bros Limited 275, Phantom Performance & Dyno Outlaw 235, Simon O’Carroll Swimming Pools 660 Radial Renegade, All Over Plant Hire 660 Radial Rumble and Pro Cycle Dyno 660 Radial Rockets (Radial Pro Street Bikes).