Victorian Top Alcohol Funny Car racer Rob Ambruosi might have taken 12 years to return to Perth Motorplex after his first trip west, but is excited with the potential his new ride has going into the opening round of the ANDRA Top Alcohol championship at the 44th annual Westernationals this Friday and Saturday at Perth Motorplex.
Ambruosi was out testing on Wednesday ahead of Western Australia’s ‘big go’ and said given he has only returned to the sport recently from an eight year break, it was vital to get runs under the belt.
“Seat time was the biggest thing, I need some because I have been out of it for so long,” he said. “Plus we have a tune up in there but it is still not 100%. We are trying to get around the car and the track and get it right.
“We have heaps of horsepower, but just putting the power to the ground is the big one. If we can do as much testing as we can, that is what we need to do.”
Ambruosi said when he first joined Top Alcohol running low and mid sixes might have seen you been able to play on race day, but with the pace taking off in the early 2000s he needed to step away for some years and redevelop his operation.
“It was okay for the first few years but it got to a point where everyone stepped it up and to run low sixes wasn’t going to do it,” he said. “We were killing everything and I couldn’t afford it.
“We decided to give it a break, build a truck and trailer and I thought one day I would come back out. It took eight and a half years, working two jobs for 11 and a half years to pay for it all, and today we have just as good a car as any other top team.”
Ambruosi said he would love to qualify for the field and would be ecstatic with a round win, but as long as he and his family, including Junior Dragster racing daughter Monique, have some fun and don’t break too many parts they will return across the Nullarbor with smiles on their faces.
“I love Funny Cars, I love Top Alcohol. It is a fantastic class, but a very hard class,” he said. “Just because we have the gear we have doesn’t mean we are going to win it.
“The goal this weekend is to qualify and go faster than my best of a 5.96. If either one of those things happen I will be happy. I raced for six years and never ever got past first round, so if I could go past the first round that would be great.
“Whatever happens, if we don’t hurt too many parts and we get out there and mix it up with the big boys that is the thing for me.
“If Monique can do the same thing and make some moves in this sport that she loves that is good too.”
Ambruosi is part of an 11 car Top Alcohol field that includes the likes of countless times national champion Gary Phillips, last year’s event winner John Cannuli and crowd favourite Debbie O’Rourke as well as the local heroes Anthony Begley, Aaron Deery, Stephen Del Caro, Craig Glassby, Adam Marchant, Rob Pilkington and Shane Weston.
Qualifying for the Westernationals begins Friday with eliminations on Saturday.