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Vote for the top 15 moments in Sydney Dragway's 15 year history ahead of Santo's Summer Thunder and WIN some great prizes!

Just select your 10 best moments in Sydney Dragway's 15 year history from the list below by completing the poll at the bottom of this page. For a chance to win the prizes you will need to be logged into the Drag News Magazine website.

First prize is a Startline Experience For Two at Summer Thunder thanks to Sydney Dragway. There will also be five lots of double passes for Summer Thunder courtesy of Sydney Dragway to be won for entrants, and a separate 12 issue Drag News Magazine E-Mag subscription courtesy of Drag News Magazine up for grabs for one lucky entrant.

REMEMBER TO LOGIN TO WIN - Get voting now!

*Disclaimer - Sydney Dragway prizes are offered by, and will be claimable to Sydney Dragway for the winners, and do not include transport to the venue. Winners of the major prizes are final and at the discretion of Sydney Dragway. Prize winners will be drawn on January 7th. Unclaimed prizes will be redrawn on January 14th.

8th February 2004
2004 Summernationals – First major event at Sydney Dragway 

After an 8 year drag racing absence in Sydney, the drought was broken spectacular fashion at the opening event at (as it was then known as) Western Sydney International Dragway (WSID). With 423 competitors and over 50 thousand spectators over three days (despite 40 degree heat on each day), the importance of this event for Drag Racing as a whole could not be underestimated. Despite the heat, 7 National Records were set with 1827 paired runs made over the course of the weekend.

The first ever winners at Sydney Dragway were : Johnny Cowin (Top Fuel), Dean McClennan (Top Alcohol), Ben Bray (Top Doorslammer), Tony Wedlock (Pro Stock), Jay Upton (Top Bike), Daniel Peatey (Pro Stock Bike), Paul Turner (Competition), Bruno Cavallo (Super Stock), Danny Grotto (Comp Bike), Brian Martin (Modified), Terry Agland (Super Sedan), Marty Searle (Modified Bike), Paul Doeblien (Super Street), Robert Adams (Junior Dragster) and Stuart McBain (Super Gas).

 JohnZappia 846 180905 03

18th September 2005
2005 East Coast Nationals - John Zappia records the first 5-second Doorslammer run

With $10,000 on the line for the first 5-Second Top Doorslammer run, all eyes were on Perth’s John Zappia as he took on Gary Phillips in the final round. With Zappia having gone as quick as 6.01 earlier in the weekend, expectations were high. At the green light Phillips strapped a massive holeshot on the wheel standing Zappia, but the HQ Holden stormed home to a 5.967 at 241.97mph to become the first legal door slammer to run into the 5 second zone anywhere in the world. On board cameras captured the immortal quote from John as he stopped the car in the turnout area – “if that wasn’t a f***ing 5 ……!”

 BobShepherd 282 First4Celebration 100206 06

11th Feb 2006
2006 Summer Nationals - Bob Shepherd first 4 second run

The lovable larrikin of Australian Top Fuel achieved one of his career highlights as the perennial underdog raced to his first ever 4 second run, a 4.97. Later in the event, he backed it up and proved that it was no fluke with a 4.99. To say that the crowd was enthusiastic is an understatement. A standing ovation greeted the “¼ Mile Smile” as he and his team journeyed back down the return road in front of their home crowd having achieved a milestone moment.

 DanielPeatey PSM 26 010906 01

2nd September 2006
2006 East Coast Nationals - Daniel Peatey, Pro Bike, sets records

One of the most impressive performances of the first 5 years of Sydney Dragway was Daniel Peaty in Pro Stock Bike at the 2006 East Coast Nationals.After running under the Elapsed Time (ET) record, and over the Speed Record on all three qualifying passes, he eventually finished up with the national records for both at 7.094 at 187.29mph. The ET Record Stood for 11 years until it was Broken by Brad Lemberg in 2017, and it was the first Pro Bike Run over 300kmh in Australian History.

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26th December 2006
2006 Boxing Day USA v AUS Top Fuel Showdown

The Kalitta Motorsports tour featuring Scott Kallitta and Dave Grubnic would go down in history as one of the most significant events in Australian Drag Racing folklore. In the warm night air on his final qualifying run Scott Kalitta drove the Santo Rapisarda owned car to a 4.517 @ 332.84 mph. This stood as the quickest and fastest run ever in Australian drag racing by more than and the ET stood for more than six years. The speed was the second fastest world wide of 2006.

The speed was backed up later in the weekend and was verified as a national record, but amazingly the ET was not backed up within the required 1% - despite Kalitta recording a string of stunning performances throughout eliminations in the 4.6 and 4.5 second zones, on-route to winning the event for the second year in succession.

Tragically, Scott Kalitta was killed in a racing accident in 2008 whilst racing a Nitro Funny Car in the NHRA. He was later honoured in December 2008 when Hillary Will -Kalitta’s teammate - won the inaugural Scott Kalitta Memorial Trophy at this venue – with the same tuner, Jim Oberhofer, who tuned Kalitta to the incredible performances 2 years earlier.

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3rd May 2008
2008 Nitro Champs – Martin Stamatis wins Top Fuel on 3 wheels

After Qualifying Number one with a 4.57 with an early shut off 300mph, martin Stamatis was in the box seat to take a popular victory at the 2008 Nitro Champs. In the Final, against team mate Phil Read, Stamatis crossed the finish line first but as he let off the throttle, the right rear tyre exploded in spectacular fashion – sending sparks high into the Sydney sky as he battled to stop the car safely. The car eventually came to a rest in the sand trap and Stamatis was fine – despite twisting his ankle in the gravel as he exited the car!

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13th Sept 2008
2008 Australian Nationals- Steve Read stuck throttle

One of the most frightening accidents witnessed on an Australian race track happened to “The Pom” Steve Read during Top Fuel qualifying for the 2008 Australian Nationals. Armed with a new injector hat for the event, the Spirit of Las Vegas team had their eyes set on putting on a good performance. In an earlier qualifying pass, the throttle had hung open momentarily but the team (or so they though) had rectified the issue for the night time session.

The car left the start line and was on a mission – and continued on the mission with the header flames high until well after the finish line. The stuck throttle eventually resulted in the engine exploding in a fireball, but more importantly Read had to stop the car from an estimated 340mph with less than half of the braking area left. As it entered the gravel trap, those on the start line lost sight of the car until a fireball from the exploding fuel tank illuminated the dust cloud leaving an eerie silence as the crowd held their breath waiting for word on “The Pom’s” condition.

Amazingly, Read escaped serious injury from the crash with only a broken finger the result. What probably hurt more was that the timing system failed on the run, meaning that one of the most memorable cars in Australian Top Fuel was destroyed on what was potentially it’s quickest ever run.

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1st May 2009
2009 Nitro Champs - Jay Upton Top Bike crash

The Race to the illusive 5 second run on 2 wheels is a battle that was at its peak in 2009. With Chris Matheson and Athol Williams being Jay Upton’s key rivals in the nitro fuelled arms race, he debuted a new chassis 2 events earlier to gain an upper hand in the battle. It was showing promise when disaster struck.

Something in the rear end of the bike broke, sending it into an uncontrollable lean at over 320 kph. The bike was already out of control as it crossed the finish line on a 6.35 pass, shortly after which Jay bailed out off the bike just before it slammed into the wall.

Despite a fractured pelvis and heavy shoulder abrasions, Upton emerged from the accident without any lasting injuries and a steely resolve to return, and re-appeared on his previous bike at Willowbank Raceway only 3 months later.

 

26th February 2010
Full Throttle Friday–The racing rabbit

Sydney Dragway has always had it’s fair share of wildlife, but none were quite as entertaining as the rabbit which appeared on the racetrack near the finish line and proceeded to run the entire length of the racetrack back towards the tower. With golf carts and scooters in close pursuit, the rabbit put the sidestep of his life on more than one startline official, to the delight of the crowd. The racing rabbit was eventually caught and put out to greener, slower pastures.

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21st August 2011
Testing - Gone in 5 Seconds for Campisi

Before the Turbo revolution that has swept Australia, there were a few campaigners at the cutting edge of the big cube, V8 turbo movement. One of these was NSW local Rob Campisi.

While testing on a Sunday afternoon, Campisi made history by logging a 5.97 to become the first non supercharged car into the five second zone outside of North America. Less than a month later, Campisi would go on to record the fastest speed for a sedan of any type anywhere in the world at 260.31 mph – the first run over 260mph by a car other than a funny car, dragster or altered.

PeterRidgeway PRO 523 040512 23

6th May 2012
2012 Nitro Champs - First six second Pro Stock run

The six second Pro Stock run was considered to be one of the last great milestones in the current era of professional drag racing. There was plenty of competition to break the barrier, but it was the team of Peter Ridgeway and John O’Kearney who took the mantle with a 6.99 second pass in the second round of eliminations.

It was only fitting that the man that first broke the seven second barrier 17 years earlier, and signalled a new era of competitiveness for the modern era of Pro Stock.

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4th May 2013
2013 Nitro Champs - Anthony Begley on fire in Funny Car

The 2013 Nitro champs saw the return of the big show nitro funny cars in the form of an exhibition pass between Christine Steffens and Anthony Begley. Steffens shut the car off early, but the fun was only just beginning for Begley. Just after half track, the car erupted into flames that intensified as the car burnt off both parachutes.

With no vision, limited oxygen and no chutes, Begley did a sensational job to stop the car. A collective sigh of relief was hear around the venue when Begley appeared from the escape hatch and exited the car into the arms of the waiting fire crew (who were on the scene before the car had come to a complete stop.

A frightening moment, and fortunately he escaped with no serious injuries other than superficial burns. He has since returned to Sydney Dragway on many occasions with the Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Car series.

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17th August 2013
Testing - Paul Mouhayet Records the first 5 second pass on a 10.5 tyre

Moits racing had made no secret of the fact that they wanted to stake a claim on the emerging 10.5 tyre class. With hitters like Frank Mammone & Michelle Davies flying the flag for the supercharged cars, Paul Mouhayet fired a clear shot that was heard around the world. The Moits mustang raced to a 5.99, the first run on a 10.5 tyre in the country at a world record speed of 252.95 mph.

In 5 short years, the team has continued on their winning ways through to the Pro Slammer category in the 400 Thunder series,and are the 2017 / 18 Champions in their first season in the category.

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3rd Nov 2013
2013 Australian Nationals - John Zappia wins 6th straight title

Peter Kapiris entered the final round of the 2012/13 season with a 76 point lead in the Championship over the reigning 5 time Champ, West Australia based John Zappia, and was in the box seat to take home his first national series title since 2002.

The first chink in the Kapiris armour appeared when Victor Bray opened the door for the West Australian, eliminating Kapiris in round one. Zappia and Bray fought their way through to the
final round – which became a must win forZappiaif he was to take the title. In the end, he did it with relative ease, racing down the quarter mile in 6.071 seconds to Bray’s 6.204 to take his sixth consecutive title.

Perhaps the most gut-wrenching moment was captured on the live stream as cameras watched Kapiris as his championship hopes disappeared alongside his crew – in stark contrast to the scenes of jubilation on the start line for Zappia’s team.

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24th November 2013
First Ever AONFC Event

Originally slated for Saturday 23rd November, predicted bad weather forced the postponement of the brand-new concept of the Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Car Series. It was the brainchild of Rocket Industries owner Graeme Cowin, and was built around packaging an affordable, entertaining nitro show that could be taken to regional tracks and major markets alike.

The first AONFC race featured the largest gathering of nitro funny cars ever in Australia (14), all with unique car names and distinctive body styles. It was run on a 3 round, Chicago Shootout style format with points tallied at the end of the day to determine the first, second and third positions (also a first in Australian Drag Racing). It also had the wheelstanders and the draw of a US based superstar in Ron Capps, driving the famed “L.A. Hooker”.

After the dust settled, the winner of the first race was “Nitro Express” driven by Rick Gauci. More importantly though, the series has soaredto great heights drawing big crowds and delivering great side-by-side racing – and it all started at Sydney Dragway with a rain delay!

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2nd Nov 2014 –
2014 Australian Nationals – Top Alcohol thriller

When Championship leader Gary Phillips failed to qualify for the final event of the season, the door was opened for an unlikely championship victor in the form of Queensland’s Steve Ham.

With it all on the line in a must win semi-final against Wayne Price, Ham pulled out a miraculous perfect reaction time to win the race and the championship on a holeshot – a 5.64 beating a 5.57.

And to cap off one of the most unusual race weekends in history, Ham won the event despite crossing the centreline – usually an instant disqualification – because his opponent in the final Steve Reed had tagged the wall first!

LeeBektash PRO 401 311014 15

2nd Nov 2014
2014 Australian Nationals – A historic weekend for the Dodge Boys

Lee Bektash probably had no idea just how big his weekend would be at the 2014 Nationals. All eyes were on Bektash as he was creeping up on the first 200mph run for the Pro Stock category, but
it was during the first round of eliminations that Bektash recorded the quickest Pro Stock pass in Australian Drag Racing history with a rapid 6.877 ET at 199.85 mph during a solo pass – the first 6.8 second run for the class.

He backed the 6.87 up for a new national record with a 6.91 win over Emilio Spinozzi in the semi-finals, which set up the first all dodge final round in Australian history against Nino Cavallo. It was on that run that Bektash smashed his way through the 200 mph barrier with a 200.14 run on his way to the event win, capping off a memorable weekend for the Factory Mopar Team.

CoryMcClenathan TF 796 071115 50

7th & 8th November 2015
2015 East Coast Nationals - The First 400 Thunder event / Rapisarda Autosport goes 4 up

The newly formed 400 Thunder Series’ first event was history making for several reasons; not the least of which was Rapisarda Autosport International becoming the first Top Fuel team in the world to campaign 4 cars at a single event. Driven by Damien Harris (who would go on to win the first 400 Thunder Top Fuel title later in the season), Wayne Newby, Dom Lagana and Cory McLenathan and with legendary US tuner Lee Beard in their camp, the strategy obviously paid off with McLenathan taking the win in the inaugural event.

Other Winners included Steve Reed (Pro Alcohol), John Zappia (Pro Slammer), Mark Drew (Top Bike), Aaron Tremayne (Pro Stock) and Scott White (Pro Bike).

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5th May 2018
2018 Nitro Thunder –Ladies leading the way

Kelly Bettes was already a rookie sensation in Top Fuel, having recorded consecutive wins at the Santo’s Summer Thunder (Sydney Dragway) and the Santo’s Super Thunder (Willowbank Raceway), leaving her only 2 points adrift of championship leader Damien Harris coming into the second last round of the series at the Nitro Thunder.

Top fuel made history at this event for several reasons; It was the first all-female Top Fuel Final in Australian History (Kelly Bettes & Rachelle Splatt); In winning the event, Kelly Bettes became the first female to lead the Australian Top Fuel championship; and it also marked the first time that a female driver had recorded 3 consecutive wins in any professional category.

With Ashley Sanford also racing in Top Fuel and Michelle Davies in Pro Slammer, this event proved what drag racers have known for years - that gender means nothing when it comes to talent behind the wheel.

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