Eighteen year old Daniel ‘BatDan’ Carranza has been coming to South Coast Raceway since he was eight years old and will enjoy his first national-level event in the senior ranks at the venue this weekend following years of competing there in Summit Racing Equipment Junior Dragster.
Carranza will be on track at the Portland venue alongside 165 other racers for the South Coast Nationals – featuring the latest round of the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series – across Saturday December 2 and Sunday December 3; lining up in Modified in his 2021 Worthy Dragster which boasts a 615 Big Block Chevy engine.
While the apprentice plumber is still relatively new to the Modified bracket here in Australia, he backs up what experience he has gained in Australia so far this season with licensing and racing in US – including going all the way to the semi-finals against some big names of the NHRA drag racing scene.
“We had purchased a Super Comp dragster in California at the tail end of the worst of COVID-19 and there wasn’t much racing going on in Australia at the time, so before bringing it over here we decided as a family to take advantage of an invite to head over there and licence in the NHRA while testing it out,” Carranza explains.
“Little did I know that I would pass licensing, test the car, and then go on to actually enter an event, running all the way to the semi-finals! It was a dream come true.
“And we didn’t stop there. I took the opportunity to try and take in all I could, following up the racing I did at Bakersfield in California with competing at Pomona in California at the World Finals event, and also at the Vegas Nationals in Nevada.
“Transitioning from a Junior Dragster to this kind of dragster has been challenging as we learn how the car operates and what needs to be done to get what we need, but once we started picking up on how the car was performing it has been more straight forward from there – there is always something to learn with this new technology though!
“Racing in NHRA Super Comp was extremely tough, especially when going up against the best of the best including former world champions, divisional champions, and real legends of the sport. While challenging, it also doesn’t get any better than that!
“It is safe to say that I am very proud that at the age of 17 I was able to compete in the USA and NHRA in Super Comp, it really was an incredible thing, and has set me up with such a great start to my senior-level racing here in Australia.
“Just being able to be there and take it all in was incredible, but to go all the way to the semi-finals at Bakersfield in my first ever event in my very own dragster was very special, and I am just so proud of myself and my family for what we were able to accomplish over there in the States.
“I have been very excited to bring the car home and get onto the track in Australia since, and while we have a long way to go, things are looking good so far!”
Carranza made his Aussie national-level senior debut at the Dragway at The Bend’s grand opening Spring Nationals event.
“Dragway at The Bend as a venue is fantastic with a great racing surface and I am looking forward to heading back there,” Carranza said.
“Racing in front of such a packed-out crowd feels really good; you can feel the noise from the crowd through your helmet and the atmosphere makes you want to keep getting back out there and doing passes to put on a show for the fans.
“It was our first event in Australia, so a big part of that event for us was just to keep the car clean and in one piece from A to B, while gaining as much knowledge of the track and gathering as much data as possible.
“Now we head to South Coast Raceway for the South Coast Nationals, and we can’t wait.”
For Carranza, Portland’s South Coast Raceway is a place of many memories.
“I have been going there forever – I have made a few final round appearances, and of course many, many passes down the track,” he said.
“This year actually marks 10 years of attending South Coast Raceway for me, with my first event there coming when the Top Doorslammer SlamFest series came to Portland when I was just eight years old, and I have attended every event I can there since then.
“I am hoping we can run pretty fast in the Modified dragster as we learn more about it.”
Carranza already has a gold ANDRA Christmas Tree to his name and states it would mean the world to him to be able to add to his collection of ‘Trees’ this weekend.
“It was a real highlight of my junior drag racing career when I won my first ever Gold Christmas Tree, I was over the moon to realise a childhood dream of mine that I had been holding even before I started racing at eight years old,” Carranza said.
“Hopefully we can have a few race wins this weekend, and perhaps even an event win – that sure would be nice!
“At the end of the day it is all about seat time and getting more knowledge of the car, but of course, it would be great if we can take a win and we will be trying our best as always!”
As he looks ahead to this weekend’s Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series racing in Victoria, Carranza has a list of people he would like to thank for their support.
“I would like to thank my parents for all their hard work and for supporting me in my racing, and also my crew: Rob and Ann Camilleri, Brandon Zito and Dom Zito, for helping me get my car up to scratch,” he said.
“I would also like to thank Thomas Bayer over in California who believed in me and licensed me in NHRA and let me steer his dragster in many events in the USA. He has taught me, and still is teaching me, so much. We have plans for me to head back over there next year for some more racing with him, and I am really looking forward to that.
“Thank you also to my major sponsors who have been by my side from the get-go: Penrite Oils, Lee Meehan Roofing, Tile.co, Costanzo Automotive repairs, JTR Fabrications and Draftmode Designs; as well as Vinyl Wraps and Graphics and also Camprint for their great work to always make us look great out on the track.”
To learn more about BatDan Racing, please click here.
The South Coast Nationals, featuring the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series, will be held at Portland’s South Coast Raceway across Saturday December 2 and Sunday December 3, 2023. For event information, visit www.southcoastraceway.com.au