Few events in the world are as tough on man or machine as Hot Rod Magazine’s Drag Week challenge, held annually in the United States.
It’s been turning hardcore drag racing enthusiasts in to household names for years, bonding racers the world over through a mutual respect for anyone who can survive the week-long torture test where entrants must race at four tracks over five days, linking the race tracks with over 1,600km of on-road driving.
It’s turned men like Jeff Lutz and Tom Bailey in to verifiable legends amongst their peers, however in a sport where there can be only one winner no man’s name appears more often on the Drag Week Honour Roll than Larry Larson’s.
Named by Hot Rod Magazine as the ‘King of Drag Week’, Larson is the world authority on the planet’s fastest street cars and thanks to Willowbank Raceway he’ll be heading to Australia with his world-famous Chevy Nova to race at Outlaw Armageddon over the New Year’s period. The events will be held on December 30th, January 1st, January 4th and during the New Year’s Thunder event on the 7th of January which will also feature Top Fuel.
“Larry is a five-time Drag Week Champion, what he’s achieved in that area of the sport is unsurpassed,” begins Willowbank Board Member and the driving force behind Larson’s Australian tour, Greg Leahy.
Leahy goes on to explain that the Outlaw Armageddon event marks an important shift for the track, with a focus on engaging enthusiasts who’ve rekindled their love of racing off the back of TV shows like Street Outlaws and the Grudge Racing movement sweeping the US by storm.
“We’re trying to employ that orientation as it’s without a doubt the most popular style of racing nowadays, so we went straight to the top with Larry… when it comes to Grudge Racing he’ll be bringing his A game!” Leahy adds.
More than just shipping in a driver with credentials, Willowbank will also be packaging Larson’s incredibly-engineered 2-door Chevy Nova for the event, giving Aussie racers a unique opportunity to test their skills against one of the fastest driver/car combos on the planet.
It was behind the wheel of the Nova that Larson forged his five-year winning streak. Entirely steel-bodied, the car boasts the usual street car niceties like working head and tail lights, a working stereo and perhaps more interestingly, a twin turbo 565-cube Moran Motorsports motor backed by a Lenco 5-speed that earned him the accolade as the first-ever 6-second pass at Drag Week all the way back in 2010.
“It’s a very popular car. Everyone knows the car and will have seen it at some stage in a magazine or on the internet, but this is a chance for them to get up close and appreciate the car in the flesh as well as admire it in action,” Leahy explains. “It’ll be racing in the Outlaw Unleashed category – 1/8th mile, lights out – which suits that car perfectly.”
Racing against Larson at the Outlaw Armageddon events will mean pre-qualifying at Willowbank on both November 5th and December 3rd. The Outlaw Unleashed class, in which Larson will be entering his Nova, will see drivers race off a Pro Tree to the 1/8th mile with no time boards or time slips – true Heads Up.
In keeping with Larson’s street car status, the class will only be open to self-starting vehicles and entrants will need to drive to the staging lanes, as well as back from the end of the track – Larson won’t be using a tow car, and we’ll be holding Aussie racers to these high standards, too.
From the two qualifying events Willowbank will compile the Top 11 cars in Outlaw Unleashed. These cars will make up ‘The List’ and, in a first for Willowbank and in a format unique to Outlaw Armageddon; every single racer on The List will have their chance to race against Larson at least once.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to run a five-time Drag Week Champion,” enthuses Leahy.
“Larry is incredibly excited about the trip to Australia. It’ll be his first time in Oz, he’s over the moon that we’ve asked him to come out and race… he’s viewing it as the trip of a lifetime, and is obviously very focused on the logistics of getting his car in transit,” explains Leahy, who goes on to add that Larson hasn’t even had time to do his research on the local car scene.
“Especially on the 1/8th mile, we’ve got some very competitive cars to race against him,” Leahy says, tipping his hat to the hotly-contended Australian Drag Racing scene.
Drivers wanting to try their hand at outrunning one of the world’s fastest street car racers will need to register their intentions for both qualifying events. Pre-registration will open on Friday 14th October on the Willowbank website, www.willowbankraceway.com.au.
For more information on the Outlaw Armageddon events, including other exciting events happening in 2017, keep your eyes on the Willowbank website.