EVENT COVERAGE – APSA Pro Street Grand Final takes off

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The 2015 Australian Pro Street Association (APSA) season for the over-powered under-tyred brigade with the running of the APSA Shootout Grand Final at Sydney Dragway – and as usual there was no shortage of spectacular action.

Thankfully race day was somewhat cooler than the 40 degree days leading up to the event that played havoc with the pre-event test days, and the Pro Street machines and drivers would of certainly appreciated the change in operating conditions.

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Outlaws Extreme was the quickest bracket on the program where pretty much anything goes as long as it has swinging doors. Jeff Wilson using the event as a test session wrangled his ’63 Corvette doorslammer to pole with a 6.17, but this would be the quickest he would go for the day – it would be another Corvette that would steal the show in eliminations.

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Johnny Briscas has been banging on the five second door with his twin turbo Corvette for a little while now and in the first round of racing a 6.007 fired an ominous shot of what was to come. In the next round Briscas again on a solo and nothing to lose punched out a 5.96 at 248mph to herald in another five second turbo car for Australia, and to show it was no fluke backed it up in the final round of racing with a 5.99.

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Both Briscas and Joe Signorelli who seat hopped into the GAS Motorsport Mustang for this event did not contest the final and Neil Maxwell was drafted in with his aspirated big block Pontiac GTO to run the final as a solo. Maxwell with three straight final round appearances also easily wrapped up the APSA championship for the class.

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In Outlaw 10.5 – the flagship class of APSA – a nice 13 entries vied for the event win. The field was bolstered by a number of two stepping Rotary machines that seem to breed like rabbits in Sydney, but all eyes were on the long awaited debut of Mark Hayes’ killer nitrous snorting mountain motored LC Torana. Hayes spent most of the event running the car in without the gas for high sevens, before finally turning on the bottles uncorking a 7.11 at 194mph – sixes are undoubtedly in the very near future.

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Low light of the class and the event was the sickening crash involving Paul Cibotto, fortunately the safety equipment worked as it should and even though Cibotto is pretty beat up – the worst of his injuries being a cracked vertebra – it could of ended up much worse. We will have more on Cibotto and his recovery in an upcoming news story.

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There was no real surprise to see Michelle Davies name on top of the qualifying sheets, she has proven she can steer with the best of them and absolutely drives the wheels off her Torana. A 6.51 was what it took for Davies to top qualify edging out Jeremy Callaghan’s twin turbo Camaro’s 6.71.

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Davies was merciless during the three rounds of Chicago Shootout racing, her blown Torana unstoppable with deadly consistent passes – 6.49, 6.51 and 6.46. Callaghan was the only racer who was able to narrow the ET gap with a 6.61 best but showing an equal amount of consistency, so it would be fitting these two would face off in the final. A classic blower versus turbo final loomed and even with Callaghan edging closer in the ET stakes you would have to bet on Davies taking the trophy. But this is why I don’t bet – Davies went red by a bunch and smoke the tyre to boot, handing the trophy to Callaghan who ran a personal event best of 6.60. Frank Mamone who did not contest the event still claimed the 10.5 championship courtesy of a double points round win at Portland earlier in the year.

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In the last of the outlaw classes – that being Outlaw Radial – another solid field of combatants fronted eager to conquer the tricky quest for traction through a radial tyre with the copious amounts of horsepower at their disposal.

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Tim Cross laid down a boomer of a run in qualifying with his Cortina to head a field of turbo charged machines with a 7.03, just ahead of favourite Dom Luppino whose Mustang sat on a 7.10. The rest of the field still had plenty of class about it with Perry Bullivant and the quickest Snickers bar in world having morphed into Peter Pisalidis’ former Camaro (7.15), son of a Pro Stock icon Marc Leake (7.11) and Danny Busbridge just going quicker on every run in his mint Torana (7.28).

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Terry Seng started to dial in his VC weapon with a 7.60 during round one, Leake also improved with a 7.09 minor upset win over Cross. Round two Leake picked up another win light with a 7.07 to a 7.50 battle against James Horan’s ute, Bullivant earned a solo win with a 7.06 PB and Nathan Farrugia launched his twin turbo V8 RX3 into orbit against Seng – unfortunately re-entry was a rough one. Heading into the final round of racing, Busbridge dropped a 7.28 to out gun Leake’s 7.34, Luppino hit the first six second run of the class for the event with a 6.90 but it would not be enough to see the Mustang through to the final.

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So squaring off in the final it would be rematch of round three with Busbridge taking on Leake in arguably the two best presented cars at the event – if that was even possible to choose from the array of amazing Pro Street machines now on track. Leake left with the holeshot and thundered away to a 7.02 at 209mph, Busbridge looked to have hurt the little LJ in the top end slowing to a 8.33.

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The championship title though would go to one very excited Perry Bullivant.

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On paper Craig Hewitt and his blown Monaro was odds on favourite as the only genuine six second runner in the Pro Street Blown field – but we do not race on paper as they say, and as Pro Street serves up time and time again, anything can happen in heads up racing.

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Hewitt did head qualifying as expected just missing out on a six second ticket with a 7.003, the turbo charged Torana of Tomi Raikko back on track after a freshen up was not far behind with a 7.13.

Raikko could not start in round one, and low ET of the round went to Karl Wicht and his pro-charged A9X Torana – sporting stunning Brock touring car Malboro tribute livery – with a 7.44, however still on the losing end of a holeshot from Hewitt’s 7.48.

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Hewitt picked up the pace with a 7.08 in round two defeating Michael McGrath’s LJ, Raikko flew to a 7.18 with a mid track power-wheelstand against Stef Buccella who experienced a side effect of using nitrous. In the final round of racing Hewitt clicked off a 6.94 against a red lighting Joe Sabato, and Raikko cruised to a win over Andrew Milford as the field started to diminish due to attrition.

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A blower versus turbo final was again set up with both Hewitt and Raikko doing enough to be awarded a final round shot. In the race of the event, Raikko was up on the wheel way quicker than Hewitt dropping almost 0.2 of a second advantage on the Monaro. As the little Torana rocketed towards the stripe, Hewitt began closing the margin, but it was too late, the Torana’s 7.09 holding off a late charging 6.93. Consolation though for Hewitt who competed at every round in the series and would still claim the overall championship.

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As it has done all year Pro Street Unblown struggled for entrants, with just three racers on the qualifying sheet – headed by Tony Nicolaci in his 632ci Torana with a 7.86.

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Nicolaci faced off against Fred Solieman in the final, Solieman was driving Joseph Somma’s Cortina at the event and is no stranger to the car. Unfortunately Nicolaci could not make the start line for the final and Solieman went 8.05 uncontested for the win.

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The championship went to Chris Stevermuer who we are pretty sure has won the title every year in recent memory as he religiously follows the APSA tour.

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Mod Street Blown showed the diversity of equipment in the Pro Street scene with Matthew McCarthy’s twin turbo Bluebird the quickest in qualifying with a nice 7.40. Also in the seven second zone was Brett Benz’s VL with a 7.53, John Habib finally cracked the sevens with a 7.74 and now needs to change his [DOZ08Z] plates, and Craige Lewis in his super tough real street driven Cortina clocking a 7.83.

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The seven second heavy hitters faulted though in the Chicago Shootout format and the final was to be fought out between Ashley Mason’s RX7 and Peter Vallis’ pro-charged Capri. Mason in the uniquely LSX turbo charged RX7 left a light year ahead of Vallis and was never headed in the final with a 8.63 over a slowing 9.37. The event win also crowned Mason the championship title after a tight points tussle with McCarthy going into the event.

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Like its Pro Street counterpart, Mod Street Unblown also has struggled for to compete in the class, and this continued in the final with just three runners also. Michael Brody headed the qualifying with a 8.46 in his Torana over Peter Alexander’s Camaro (8.97) and Jason Bjorkstein’s Torana (9.42). Brody went on to clean sweep the event and the championship with a 7.98 in the final over Alexander’s 8.88.

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Moving into the small tyre restricted classes that are boasting the biggest entry numbers in APSA – we start with X275. Jay Goodwin in the [MENICE] Capri was chasing his first seven but came up short in qualifying though still on top of the time sheet with a 8.12 – however the 8.50 index for the class would come into play for racing.

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For Goodwin though it was about the numbers and he did get his first seven second pass with a 7.89 in round three of racing. The final though would see local Chris Michaloudakis face off with Tony Webb’s Torana sleeper, unfortunately Webb had trouble staging on the bump box, activating the autostart system before he was ready to launch and gifting the win to Michaloudakis, who ran his Torana through to a 8.71 – Webb would have to settle with the championship win as a consolation.

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With the radial racing all the rage a new X235 class has been introduced to APSA for this event. The little FJ20 powered Datsun ute of Sandy Di Pietro went 9.46 in qualifying to be the quickest of the eight car field, however like X275 racing has to be dialled back to an index, and in the case of X235 it is 9.50 seconds. There was action aplenty during racing, Michael Silk was teasing wheelstands all day before ripping off a huge bumper scraping lane-changer in the final round of racing – but they don’t give out win lights for wheelstands. However scoring those win lights were Sam Danaskos and Nathan Ghosn, the Capri racers – and a couple of Sydney Dragway regulars – going head to head in the final.

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The more experienced racer Danaskos had the startline jump on the pro-tree and hit the stripe first with a 9.97 on a holeshot over a rapidly closing 9.86 from Ghosn – a victory in the end of just two hundredths.

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True Street has also struggled for number this season from what was once a booming class, the pace of the bracket taking its toll possibly. Anyway Anthony Visintin dipped into the eights with a 8.94 to lead the three car field in qualifying ahead of Greg Brooks (9.29) and Carolyn Tzortzas (10.08).

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Visintin in his Falcon went on to record three straight wins to reach the final against Greg Brooks’ Torana. Brooks giving up the holeshot to his opponent in the final had little chance of reeling in Visintin who did take the win with a 9.16 over a 9.21. The championship went to Tony O’Connor who was to contest the event but suffered mechanical problems during testing the night before.

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The final class at the event was a Dial Your Own eliminator for anyone that did not fit into any of the Pro Street classes, therefore seeing a wide range of cars and times that was capped off by a 8.25 from Alex Hayward’s 13B Dato ute.

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The final shook down to two locals in Adam Lynch and Joe Gattellari in cars that stand out in the crowd. Gattellari was way too eager on the tree triggering a red light, but Lynch would of been a tough proposition to beat anyway running 9.99 on a 9.98 coupled with a .014 reaction.

Images courtesy of Michael Wyllie (Cacklingpipes.com) Joe Maday (maday@mail2joseph.com) and John Bosher (johnbosher@hotmail.com) – hit these guys up if you are chasing photos.

Check out the event gallery here – http://www.dragnews.com.au/index.php/news-all/features/3152-gallery-apsa-pro-street-grand-final

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