John Zappia took some convenient luck to win the opening round of the WA Summer Slam Series on Saturday at Perth Motorplex.
After a supercharger backfire during qualifying, Zappia had to get his Holden Monaro Top Doorslammer back into racing shape for the first round of eliminations, where a 5.73sec. run earned him a finals appearance against Daniel Gregorini, who had earlier shot to a 5.70sec. personal best time. Gregorini wasn’t the only one running PBs on the night, with Steve Aldridge hitting a new best of 5.78.
Unfortunately for Gregorini, some mechanical problems prevented him from making the call to face Zappia, who took a solo for the win. Zappia’s luck continued as he made a wild run, crossing the centre line, which would have resulted in disqualification had Gregorini been in the other lane.
“We came out with a 5.63 tune up on the first run of the day and didn’t really back it down, so with a 118 degree racetrack we didn’t have much luck,” Zappia said.
“With the Zappia Racing Holden Monaro backed down for the compulsory qualifier it took off well and shifted into second gear automatically as it is meant to do, but I also made a shift and so it jumped to third gear. That pulled down the engine and it banged the blower. That was my fault as a driver with old habits!
“Once we knew Daniel was broken we threw some more clutch at it to see what it would do. It launched hot with a 0.971 60 foot time and picked the front wheels up. I punched second gear hoping it would drop the front wheels down and I could regain control but it didn’t, and we crossed the centre line.
“Solos aren’t the way we want to win races and we would have loved to have taken on Marty and Daniel. It was a wild night at the Summer Slam with a few racers giving the wall a rub and lots of action. There were ten cars there who all had a shot and it bodes well for the strength of the series for the rest of the season.
“The air was really good, we should have gone really fast but we just didn’t capitalise on it. We had 28 water grains, which is really low, and the air ended up 700 feet of density altitude. There was a lot of power out there, which we saw with a couple of teams running personal best times.
“We have a bit more power now and we need to learn how to use it more effectively. We were going to sit this event out and target the next round of the Summer Slam in January, but I think December 14 will give us a chance to try some stuff and see if it works better for us.”
There was none of the same luck for fellow Top Doorslammer racer Stu Moresby, who made contact with the safety barriers at over 300kmh when an oil line came off the motor. Moresby then struggling to get the car to a safe stop, spinning in the braking area and narrowly avoiding even more damage from the walls.
The strange night continued in the Modified final, where Nick Panagopoulos had a front wheel collapse before he even got to the start line to take on Jim McQuade, who took home his first event win.
Thankfully there were less problems among the Nitro Funny Cars, which saw Matt Abel taking on Andrew Katavatis in a best-of-three match race. Katavatis turned on two win lights for the overall victory, though Abel was left satisfied with a 5.574sec. pass, the quickest of the night only just ahead of Katavatis’ 5.588 shot.
Getting his nitro licencing underway was Brodie Pilkington, in the ex-Emma Begley Outlaw Nitro Funny Car. Pilkington is no stranger to Funny Cars, having driven father Rob’s alcohol version, but this is all new!
Wayne Keys survived a war of attrition in Top Comp, emerging victorious with a run of 5.95sec., a new best time for his self-built Chevy Camaro that had the team working hard all night with various suspension/chassis issues.
In other results for the night, Errol Quartermaine took out a small Super Comp field, Phill Paton continued to dominate Comp Bike, Greg Gibson sent his dragster to a Supercharged Outlaws win and Yvette Gregg earned the Top Sportsman victory with a set of stunningly consistent wheelstanding runs.
Outlaw Radial saw several teams make their debut runs, though it was category regular Kevin Boulton ending on top with an 8.17 to 8.42 win against George Kelly.
Kyle Higgins went home with the big trophy in Super Sedan, Daniel Natalotto scored big in Modified Bike, Motorplex veteran Mark Reaney took a popular win in Super Street and Cooper Moresby took out his first Junior Dragster win.
Here are some of the video highlights of the evening:
Check out more images from the event below thanks to Phil Luyer at High Octane Photos. Jump on to his website for some awesome Christmas gifts for the drag racing fan in your life.