Barbagallo returns to the scene of the crime

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Willowbank Raceway’s Castrol EDGE Winternationals will host John Barbagallo’s first ‘runs in anger’ at the site of his massive November testing crash.

The popular North Queenslander will be one of an estimated 20 plus Pro Stockers taking part in the season-ending Castrol EDGE Winternationals – the largest drag racing event outside of the US – at Willowbank Raceway on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend (June 10-13).

43 year old Barbagallo was testing on the 26th of November at the Ipswich facility when he suffered a parachute malfunction, which saw the racer lock the brakes past the finish line, turning the car into the wall and a barrel roll.

While Barbagallo was unharmed, his JB Automotive Ford Escort was heavily damaged and extensive hard work was required before it could make it back onto the track.

“On the last pass of our test day the parachutes didn’t open and with some brake lock up, I hit the opposite wall and then the car went over onto its roof, slid down into the grass next to the braking area and dug in and rolled a bit before landing on its wheels,” said Barbagallo.

“The run was fine, it was just afterwards when the chute didn’t come out that we struck trouble.

“When we looked at it I had definitely pulled the chutes, but the cable had become snagged on something which hadn’t happened to us once before in ten years, but we have now changed how they come out to make sure it doesn’t happen again!

“It was just one of those freak things, and it would be our luck that the one time we have a chute problem it ends in a crash, its just the way it happened.”

The incident was the first ever crash Barbagallo had suffered in a drag racing career spanning 18 years.

“It was my first ever crash, and a pretty big one at that – it was pretty scary, when you are on the roof you are just waiting for it to hit something,” said Barbagallo.

“I didn’t think that I would be effected when I came back to it, but the first pass was a bit different, and it probably took me my whole first race meeting back before I was confident running it full power all the way down the track and through the finish line, so it does make a bit of difference to your confidence.

“When we tested at the Top Fuel Champs at Willowbank Raceway it all went well as there was no pressure and I was just going steady, making sure everything was done properly.

“But when I went to the Nitro Champs it was a whole new ball game, and the first pass I did in qualifying the speed got to me a bit, and I pulled out around the six and a half second mark of the run and turned it off.

“By the end of the meeting I was feeling pretty good, we were able to race through to the final so I had seven good runs of it and felt real comfortable, and we will be testing at the Winters Warm-up before Willowbank’s race day, so I am pretty confident for the Winternationals.”

The solid results in Sydney were a good pay off for a whole lot of work for Barbagallo, his crew, and some key helpers.

“It was a big effort to get back on track, the accident damaged a lot of the chassis and we had to do a lot of work,” said Barbagallo.

“Craig Burns of Street Car Fabrication in Sydney was a massive help, as was Peter Wells who totally repainted the car in its new silver – we decided it was time for a birthday!

“It is amazing how you can have something like this happen, a bad accident, and come out of it with some real good new friends, you just seem to find good people in situations like this.

“I really have to thank them, and my crew for all the hard work to get us back on track, and hopefully we can make it a good finish to the year by winning the Castrol EDGE Winternationals!

“It is one of those events that has always been an issue for me, two years ago I was in a position to win the championship but lost it by losing in the first round, its always one of those ones that just doesn’t go right for me – hopefully my luck will change this time around, I think I am due for some!

“We may have a new engine in the car for the Winters, if not it will be ready for next season, either way I think there will be more than 25 cars on track at Willowbank and with the championship on the line, the weather at that time of year and the racers and cars we have in the bracket at the moment – Pro Stock is going to be the category to watch.

“The six second pass mark is there waiting to be broken, before the crash I would have said that I might break it but now I am more focused on running consistently, but it is possible and there are a lot of guys in the class that are right on the cusp of breaking through to that at the moment – I think its going to be a great event!”

Barbagallo and the rest of the Pro Stockers will be joined on track at the season-ending Castrol EDGE Winternationals by the rest of the ANDRA Pro Series ranks – including the 7000 horsepower Top Fuelers, Top Alcohol, Top Doorslammer, Top Bike and Pro Stock Motorcycle, alongside the racers of the Rocket All Stars Racing Series sportsman categories, with in excess of 500 racers set to hit the Willowbank Raceway quarter-mile across Friday June 10 to Monday June 13.

The Castrol EDGE Winternationals is an entertainment extravaganza held annually across the Queen’s Birthday weekend and is expected to provide an economic injection of millions of dollars into the South East Queensland region.

Children aged 13 and under are able to gain free admission to the Raceway during the Castrol EDGE Winternationals, and students with ID are able to gain discounted entry. One-day, two-day and full-event passes are all available – for more information, to purchase tickets and for schedules, please visit

Willowbank Raceway is Queensland’s premier drag racing facility, hosting year-round racing including four ANDRA Pro Series rounds per year including the Castrol EDGE Winternationals. For more information, please visit


Feature racing: Top Fuel, Top Doorslammer, Top Alcohol, Pro Stock, Top Bike, Pro Stock Motorcycle

Also racing from: Lifestyle Floorcoverings Competition, Lifestyle Floorcoverings Super Stock, Super Compact, Competition Bike, Allstar Batteries Supercharged Outlaws, Knijff Earthmoving Modified, Powercruise Super Sedan, Speed Elec/Prime Signs Super Street, Modified Bike, Donnelly Blasting Services Junior Dragster and Super Gas.

(Approximate and subject to change – visit
for updates)
Friday June 10
On-track qualifying action from 9.00am – approximately 7.30pm
Pro Stock Qualifying at 5.00pm

Saturday June 11
On-track action from 8.00am – approximately 8.00pm
ANDRA Pro Series Qualifying from 12.00pm – approximately 5.30pm

Sunday June 12
On-track action from 8.30am – approximately 6.30pm
ANDRA Pro Series Qualifying from 12 noon – approximately 5.30pm

Monday June 13
On-track action from 8.30am – approximately 4.30pm
Opening Ceremonies – 10.30am
ANDRA Pro Series racing at 11.00am, 1.15pm and all finals from 2.45pm

Ticketing – tickets available for purchase from

NB: General Admission = access to the spectator mound and paddock area
NB: Multi-day passes are available for pre-purchase through the Willowbank Raceway website only, no at-gate purchase of multi-day passes will be available

General Admission Tickets:

One-day passes:
Friday June 10 – Adult General Admission- $20.00
Friday June 10 – Student/Concession General Admission (Must show ID) – $20.00
Saturday June 11 – Adult General Admission – $50.00
Saturday June 11 – Student/Concession General Admission (Must show ID) – $42.00
Sunday June 12 – Adult General Admission – $50.00
Sunday June 12 – Student/Concession General Admission (Must show ID) – $42.00
Monday June 12 – Adult General Admission – $50.00
Monday June 12 – Student/Concession General Admission (Must show ID) – $42.00

Two-day General admission pass (available in Saturday/Sunday or Sunday/Monday format):
Adult – $90.00
Student/Concession (must show ID) – $75.00

Three-day General admission pass, including complimentary Friday General Admission:
Adult – $140.00
Student/Concession (must show ID) – $110.00

Reserved seating (price DOES NOT include admission), available for Saturday, Sunday and Monday:
Startline Club – $16.00 per day
Grandstand – $12.00 per day

For information on corporate options at the Castrol EDGE Winternationals, please visit

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