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A bumper 52nd MACTrack Westernationals at the Perth Motorplex was headlined by round 5 of the Burson Auto Part Australian Top Fuel Championship in conjunction with Australian Drag Racing Championship round of Top Doorslammer and Top Bike plus the ANDRA Grand Finals for the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series.


The was Top Fuel’s second trek to the venue this season after running the Goldenstates Championship last November. That event was shrouded in sadness with the passing of long time crew member for Jim Read Racing, Grant ‘Fozzie’ Foster, en route to the track. As mark of respect on the journey over for the Westernationals, the convoy stopped again at Norseman, WA, the site of Fozzie’s passing to erect a memorial created by Wayne Newby, and paid their respect with a few “brown lemonades”.

In the championship, Damien Harris’ strangled-hold on the championship is now just a loose grip, after a mis-step at the Nitro Champs the door left ajar for challenges and Peter Xiberras with Phil Read have come storming through and back into contention, setting up a thrilling backend to the season.

Qualifying was a battle for adhesion early on with teams either over or underestimating the track in the sea-level conditions. Phil Read was on top of the board after Q1 with a 4.08, with the hard luck award going again to Phil Lamattina who was struck down by a Christmas Tree malfunction for the fifth time this season, costing the Fuchs Lubricants team their lap.

Q2 was a much better showing, Wayne Newby and Peter Xiberras dropped a pair of blinders side by side with a 3.822 an 3.829 respectively to go one and two on the ladder, in the final pairing Damien Harris split the pair with a 3.827 making it an Atlantic Oils RAI one-two. The rest of field could not improve on their first run outing.

Timing problems persisted with the 1000ft time ruled out of action, and after a meeting with teams, a slow motion camera was set up with three officials adjudicating race wins. ET and speed points would be awarded on their half track times.

So with that in mind, Xiberras grabbed the first win light over a tyre shaking Shane Olive, and local hero Kyle Putland smoked the tyres on the hit against Read who recovered from a mid-track pedal to take the stripe first. Harris had a carnage filled win over Lamattina, both drivers had to pedal and leg it to the line, the win for Harris came at the cost of a destroyed supercharger and an engine block light some conrods. Newby earned the solo by way of top qualifier.

A problem with the magnetos kept the LTFR Burson’s Auto Parts machine of Olive in the pits for round two gifting a win to Premiair’s Xiberras, who went 3.04 to half, the quickest of the round. The slow-motion cameras were called on to decide the winner between Read and Harris, the championship points crucial decision fell the way of the Hydraulink team, and they would join Xiberras in the A-Final with a 3.062 half track ET, narrowly outgunning Newby’s 3.066 ET in his win against Lamattina.

Olive rolled out for the D-final on a solo that snapped the blower belt early in the run. Putland who qualified with a career best 4.30 grabbed the win light against Lamattina in the C-Final, capping off a miserable weekend for LTFR.

“This is not who we are or how we represent our fans and sponsors, and we need to be better at what we do,” said Lamattina.

“Yes, we are in a rebuilding phase, but that shouldn’t be an excuse for our performances. We will go back out there and work hard, we will do some testing and put on a better showing at the next event in Sydney. Make no allusions though, we are not giving up for the season and just going out there to test, we will be going after it at every round.”

Emotions of Putland were the opposite end of the scale, going home with a personal best and a round win, with the plan to go on the road with appearance in Sydney and Darwin.

The B-Final was an all RAI affair, with both cars locked together at the strip it took the judging panel sometime to decipher a winner, eventually Harris receiving the thumbs up and valuable points.

“We are still leading the championship and that’s a positive to come out of the weekend,” said Harris. “The meeting has been challenging. We had some dramas on our first pass. There were a lot of damaged parts which is not what you want to see happen. When we raced Wayne in the final, it was very close and it took the judges a long time to decide that we had won. Three wins on the day were good for Junior and the crew.”

What a race the A-Final was! Phil Read displayed one of the best driving performances seen as he wrestled to keep his 11000hp Top Fuel Dragster off the centreline and stay ahead of Xiberras. After several checks with the video replay, the Hydraulink were given the all-clear and points cut the lead to Harris to just 30, with Xiberras another 30 in arrears.

“What a great win!” grinned Crew Chief Bruce Read.

“The team were absolutely phenomenal all weekend long and what an awesome drive job by my brother Phil in that final, he got us that win.

“While things may have been a little more complex than usual with the timing issues, together the entire field did what we do best in Top Fuel and that was put on a show.

“This place was packed, and it never gets old seeing the looks on the faces of the race fans when we get out there and really deliver.

“To be able to come out here and get all the way to the A-Final and then face off against Peter Xiberras in a re-match of Sydney and this time take the win is just wonderful and we are going to be smiling about this one all the way home!

“Speaking of home, our next round – which will be the penultimate round of the title chase – will be back at home in Sydney, so hopefully we can make it three A-Finals and two wins in a row and really make this championship battle interesting!”

The runner-up result keeps the defending champ Xiberras in the hunt of going back to back.

“It was quite the race, and while it didn’t go our way, we have closed the gap to Damien Harris in the championship chase now,” said Xiberras. “This means that with two rounds to go, we are well and truly in the hunt for our third consecutive Top Fuel championship, and you can rest assured, we are going to be doing everything we can do to make sure it comes home with us.

“In the meantime, I want to say thank you to everyone that came out there to the Motorplex this weekend. I love coming here, it is an awesome track and what a crowd – racing is awesome, but to do it in front of a big crowd is even more special.”


The Australian Top Doorslammer Championship is far from decided following the 52nd annual MacTrack Westernationals at Perth Motorplex.

For some qualifying started on a high note, while for others there was devastation. Shane Catalano’s beautiful Valiant Charger put two rods out in the very first burnout of the first session, ending his weekend far earlier than he would have hoped.

“That’s our Westernational campaign over,” Catalano said. “It pretty much sums up our season.” Meanwhile, John Zappia delivered a quick 5.697 to take the top spot. He was joined in the fives by Daniel Gregorini (5.875) and Marty Dack (5.904).

The second session saw almost a repeat of the first in terms of the names at the top. Zappia improved to a 5.675, as did Dack’s Mustang with a 5.865 that shuffled him into second place. Gregorini stayed consistent with a 5.876, but problems with the transmission would rule him out of the final session.

The third and final qualifying session was a beaut with a bunch of exciting passes. Lisa Gregorini completed her licensing earlier in the evening and was able to take a shot at qualifying for race day, which she did with a 6.107 run. Championship leader Kelvin Lyle finally found his groove with a 5.827 to move into second, while veteran Peter Kapiris handed in an early shut-off 6.123 in his Saratoga. But the biggest cheers came for Zappia as the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro rocketed to a 5.614, the quickest pass so far of the 2022/23 Australian Top Doorslammer season.

Race day would use the all-run format with ten cars going head-to-head. The first round opened with Lisa Gregorini taking on Ryan Moresby’s Drive Straight Ford Falcon. In a shock result, Lisa claimed her first win light with a 6.119 pass after Moresby had problems. Her husband Daniel was also in winning form, with a 5.834 defeating Maurice Brennan’s Just Flooring Commodore. Dack won a thriller against Mark Chapman’s Plymouth Fury in a 6.025 to 6.033 race, while Lyle’s 5.877 came up golden against Matt Abel’s 6.740. The round finished with one of the most shocking upsets of the season when Kapiris downed a red-lighting Zappia, whose early-leaving 5.720 would be worthless against a 6.014.

Back in the pits, the news went from bad to worse for Zappia as he discovered engine damage and would need to change out the motor. Time would run out before the second round as Zappia discovered a burned airline fractionally too late, resulting in Lisa Gregorini taking a solo pass for a personal best 6.008 and yet another win light. Chapman got some revenge on Dack, turning the tables with a 6.014 win to Dack’s red-lighting 5.977. Kapiris broke into the fives with a 5.995 to win against Abel, who joined the red light club, as Lyle’s 5.953 secured him an A Final place and defeated Brennan. Daniel Gregorini needed a time better than Kapiris’ to guarantee the other A Final place, and he did just that with a 5.753 win over Moresby.

The final race round would see some racers recover pride, as others took worse turns. Moresby finally turned on the win light with a 6.122 to get by a hapless Brennan who continued to struggle. Zappia couldn’t take a trick, with a transbrake issue seeing him only able to take the beams against Abel. Perhaps that was for the best though, as Abel had no parachutes in the braking area, hitting the sand and barrel-rolling to a stop, with the ’57 Chevy body stripped from the chassis. Fortunately Abel was unhurt, as the car took most of the beating.

In an event to forget for John Zappia, and now has a chase on his hands for the championship, as he reflected back on a night of dramas, “In the final we had a malfunction with the transbrake. We replaced the band of the transbrake on Sunday morning, but then there was an issue and I couldn’t get it into gear. I ground the gears until the car crept into stage, but all I could do was light the beams and turn the car off. It was a hard luck night.”

“In hindsight, we should have had a more conservative strategy, but with running back-to-back 5.6s we didn’t want to change much,” he said.

After a short cleanup, Chapman and Dack had their third confrontation of the night, with Dack getting the bragging rights on a 5.891 win.

That left just the A and B Finals to run. Lisa Gregorini faced Kapiris in the B Final, with her perfect winning record coming to an end as Kapiris put up a 5.923 to her 6.071.

The A Final saw Daniel Gregorini take on Lyle. With Zappia having a horror event, Lyle was aiming to stretch his points lead, while Daniel was getting within sight of second-placed Zappia himself. The final round was arguably the race of the event for the Top Doorslammer brigade, as a 5.752 from Daniel defeated a 5.747 from Lyle on a 0.073 to 0.130 holeshot.

“It was a rematch from Sydney and with Kelvin and I having a history of close races, this one didn’t disappoint,” Daniel said. “To earn my second win this season was great and we are building a great record at the Westernationals now too with four event wins. These Christmas tree trophies are starting to take up some room but I’m not complaining!”

Just two rounds of the season remain, the Nitro Champs at Sydney Dragway in May and Nitro Up North at Darwin’s Hidden Valley Drag Strip in June. Lyle sits first in the points (530), followed by Zappia (448), Daniel Gregorini (434) and Matt Abel (242).


Victorian Rob Cassar retains the ADRC Top Bike point lead after the event after another challenging weekend for the nitrous Kawasaki team.

A monster 11 bike field cements Perth as the home of the breed, with local Ben Stevens signalling his intentions early with a 6.455 in Q1 well ahead of the rest. Cassar chasing his first six was next quickest with a 7.05.

Mechanical problems struck for Cassar, melting a valve in Q2 leaving a thrash again for race day. While Ben Stevens let rip with a 6.445 on the back wheel of his nitro Harley to hammer home his dominance in qualifying of the rest of the field. The more fancied rivals in Chris Matheson and Jay Upton struggled to dial in a tune up, and Mark Drew who was fighting with a mishandling Harley.

“On the first lap we went out we were pretty happy with the result of that,” said Stevens. “We went back to the pits and got the bike all sorted and went through and did our maintenance checks and fired it up. It was idling well to start, but then it all went south really quick.

“We started problem solving and then we found our battery had died during the start-up, so we put a new battery in, started it back up and tuned to the conditions. Then off we went, and we ran a 6.45 which is absolutely awesome and a PB of mine, my previous PB was a 6.54.

“We are just going to head back out there and keep doing what we do, we are not really setting our sights too high, we want to go and do what we do best, and that is just creep up on it.

Stevens lived in the six second zone during the racing round with a 6.55 in a round one solo and a 6.59 win over Ricky Wood in round two. While not pretty, Kevin Gummow aboard his triumph grabbed win lights against Aaron Deery and Upton to find himself an unlikely opponent to Stevens in the A Final.

Upton went 6.68 on a solo in the D-Final with Drew unable to take the green. Cassar knocked off Deery in the C-Final with a 7.19 to 7.69, and the Nitro Voodoo bike of Matheson refused to play the game in the B-Final leaving Greg Durack to solo for the win.

With two round to go Cassar exits the Westernationals on 271 points ahead of Stevens (192) and Mark Drew (168).

“Our trip to WA was once again a little challenging with a melted valve in the second qualifier on Saturday evening,” said Cassar who still leaves the track with the championship lead. “We we’re so grateful to Gavin Forbes, Paul Nieuwhof and Roger Harris for getting us back on the track for round one.”

Gummow threw what he could at Stevens in the A-Final, but to no avail, a 7.07 taking home the winners trophy over a 8.56.

“We have had an awesome day today! We wanted to be conservative this morning so we tamed it down a bit and the first lap was a 6.55. We got the data we needed and pretty much left the bike the same and repeated for the second run, and the track had turned around really well so we probably should have thrown some more power at it, but we still got through the win on what ended up being a solo,” Stevens said.

“In the final, we were out against Kevin Gummow and we went towards the centre line at about 800 foot – now normally I would have ridden out of something like that, but I didn’t want to risk losing the final, so I got off the throttle, got a bit close to the line, flicked the bike across and came through for the win.


The exhibition bracket pitted five Nitro Max machines against each other in wild scenes.

In qualifying, Michael Brooks’ nitro FED smoked the tyres, turned hard left and made heavy impact with wall. After a 5.80 in Q1, Tim Stewart with the Thumper funny car mirrored Brooks, smoking the tyres and turning hard left, but avoided the wall by the fact he started his adventure in the right lane, managing to pull the funny car straight before any damage was done.

Stewart wrapped up the event in the B-Final with a 5.68 to 5.91 win against Shannon Taylors fuel altered, and Nathan Coles soloed to the win in ‘The Gambler’ nitro funny car after James Kemp couldn’t make the call in his altered.


The event was the ANDRA’s Grand Final of the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series, the event moved from The Bend to Perth Motorplex with the South Australian venue not completed in time.

You can read more detailed report about the sportsman results and new ANDRA champions via the links below:


In Competition Eliminator, Michael Buckley’s little RX7 upset new ANDRA Australian Champion Craig Geddes in the final, taking the win home for the sport compact fans.

Adrian Vella completed the double act in Super Stock with some spectacular wheelstanding action, defeating Steve Norman in the final for the event win while also walking away with the ANDRA National Championship.

On two wheels for the index classes, and local Daniel Natalotto claimed the event win over a red-lighting Troy Thompson in the final. The championship would be heading back to NSW in the arms of Joe Khoury.

Kasey McClure was too good for the rest of blown brigade, winning the Supercharged Outlaws final against Norbet Claite. The championship would reside locally with Alan Mahnkoph who travelled the miles with his EH ute to seal the win coming into the event.

It was a come from behind victory of Leon Davies in Top Sportman, the South Australian was fourth coming into the event, and drove his Camaro all the way to the event win over Corey Read, claiming enough points to overhaul the points lead.

Paul Ryan knocked up a win for blown FED fans in Modified after defeating Jeff Acton’s dragster in the final. It was a long nervous wait for eventual national champion Simon Barlow, until his challengers were eliminated after finding himself on the trailer with a -.001 red light in round one.

The famous Zappia name was in the winner’s circle at the Westernationals, but it was Brodie – nephew of John – taking the win in Super Sedan over Glenn Sterkenburg. Lance Larcombe reached the semi final before being beat by Zappia, but would still take home the ANDRA national championship with his Camaro to South Australia.

A well travelled Brian Alvisio from Queensland grabbed the Modified Bike championship, though just fell short of the double, losing out to Chris Fryer in the Westernationals final.

Husband and wife duo Lisa and Paul Garbellini did battle in the Super Street final, it was Paul taking bragging rights home to the dinner table this time. Tommy Turic snatched the ANDRA Australian Gold Christmas Tree trophy however, with his father Vlado going home with the prestigious John Storm Memorial award.

Son of a gun Ross Lamattina claimed the Junior Dragster championship with a round two win after championship challenger Sarah Osbourne was eliminated on the same round. Tyler Jarvis though did the job in the final, defeating Lamattina for the event win.

Report by – Drag News Magazine & Top Doorslammer Australia

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