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Typical October weather, warm enough during the day to trick you, when the sun drops to the west, the temperature soon plummets! Saturday October 28 saw the first major Drag Racing event of the season at the Perth Motorplex, with 114 teams entering into the WA Drag Racing Series Opener.

For most of the teams, it was a relief to be able to get their super fast machines back down the track after a long and cold winter off-season.

Race for a Cause – Charity Challenge
A fantastic race spectacle created by Andy Kahle of Therapy on Wheels, and Mike Pearson of Beat The Heat WA and their respective teams and crews. 5 rounds of racing, 2 charities – 1 winner!

You can read about the Race for a Cause charity challenge and donate here: The challenge will be running across the Perth Motorplex season.

Andy Kahle, piloting the ‘Mamas Toy’ Dodge Hellcat powered Mercedes – racing for Breast Cancer Care WA was able to draw first blood in the opening round, beating Lee Watson in the ‘Tango 2’ Pontiac GTO, racing for Careflight in front of an excited pre-show crowd. Watson responded in round two with a perfect reaction time to win after Andy left the EGT Startline slightly too early with a red-light disqualification.

Round three came in front of the main event crowd, and as the temperature began to drop, the cars started to make more power – seeing both Kahle and Watson running quicker than their dial-ins in a double breakout! Andy securing the win on account of a smaller breakout margin, and Lee Watson running the Tango 2 GTO to another personal best ET.

Round four was make or break time for the Beat The Heat team to try and tie the scores heading into the fifth and final round. The nerves must have sunk in slightly for Watson – as it was his time to pluck a red light DQ – handing the win to Andy Kahle for round four, and the overall win for the event going to the Therapy on Wheels Team!

The final round would see redemption for Lee Watson and the BTHWA team, clawing back a win to partly console their overall loss to Kahle in the Merc and the Therapy on Wheels crew.

Overall, the winners of the inaugural Race for a Cause – Charity Challenge would be Andy Kahle and the Therapy on wheels team, taking out the winners share (60%) of the total donations for their chosen charity – Breast Cancer Care WA. Beat The Heat WA wont walk away empty handed however, with the remaining portion of the donations being passed on to Careflight.

In total, these two fantastic teams raised a total donation pool over $6,200! Congratulations to both teams and everyone involved in making the first Race for a Cause – Charity Challenge such a success.

Record Performances

Despite some cooler than ideal conditions, the track surface was producing plenty of grip for the teams to try and stick their runs down the racetrack – with two track-record setting runs, both being thrown down in the Friday’s SeaDoo & Can-Am Competition Bike bracket.

Ross Smith pushed the envelope further with his A/AB combination, racing to a new track record of 7.949 at 263.80 km/h during the first round of Chicago shootout. Eclipsing his own track record of 8.054 at 262.47km/h set at the 51st Annual Westernationals in March 2022. Ross went on to use this to his advantage, taking out the top spot in Comp Bike over Rebecca Archer.

Also in Competition Bike, Gwyn Garland raced to also reset his own D/AB track record during qualifying, dropping the ET record from 8.757 to 8.752 in the third qualifying attempt.

Business as Usual…for some
A pattern began to emerge during the event, as fans witnessed multiple defending champions kick off the title defence with wins in the opening rounds! Including Alby Bakranich taking out Top Sportsman, Moreno Gullotto taking the win in Top Comp and Steph Gullotto winning Super Street on the first night of the season.

Some upsets and celebrations rose through the ranks throughout the night however.

Luke Seaton rose through the eliminations of Perth & Rockinham Harley Davidson to defeat defending champ Simon Garbutt in the final.

Brodie Zappia rode the highs and lows of drag racing in the Specialized Tilt Tray & Towing Supercharded Outlaws bracket, after a mammoth journey across the Nullabor and back with his new Procharged Chevrolet Camaro and many late nights attempting to prepare the car during the week leading up. Brodie experienced a parachute failure during the non-compulsory qualifying round, but kept the Camaro steady in the braking area to safely arrest the car. A frantic repair in the pits took place and the Camaro was ready to race the second qualifier at 5.30pm. Brodie returned and immediately threw down a career-first 6-second pass, running 6.975 at 333km/h to seed into the field at the #2 spot.

Brodie raced on to defeat the defending series champion Kasey McClure in eliminations, setting him up to face-off against top qualifier Frank Taylor in the A-final. An incredibly close race came at the end of the event, with Brody dropping a 0.007 reaction time to defeat Taylor by a margin of less than 0.2 seconds at over 300km/h – securing his first career win in Supercharged Outlaws, and his first 6-second pass both in the same event.

Matthew Puglia started his day in Super Comp by simply attempting to gain his licence with the Puglia Family Ford Probe. After ticking that box, the team decided to continue racing, which paid off dividends. Puglias took home three round wins during the night and claimed the overall defeating Todd Stacy with the DD/SC RX7.

In Super Sedan, Luke Guppy wheeled out his freshly rebuilt Chevy Vega, qualified at #2 with an 8.791 and drove it all the way to the event win, after an uncharacteristic red-light from Martin Mirco in the final showdown.

Angel Bakranich proved the off-season upgrades to her Junior Dragster, with a fantastic sounding ‘2-step’ on the startline, Angel raced through the night, defeating #1 qualifier Brock Ferguson to face off against young Nathan Townsend in the A-final, Angel taking the win after an incredible double red-light against Townsend – who red-lit first.

Modified saw a newcomer storm through the field, none other than a past Australian Super Street Champion, Paul Garbellini. Despite qualifying 5th, Paul claimed three round wins to face off against Michelle Morrison into the final. Unfortunately Morrison had a differential failure in the final, whilst Garbellini raced to an exciting win on debut in the Modified bracket – with the same LS engine from his ANDRA National Championship winning Super Street Commodore.

Full results can from the WA Drag Racing Series Opener can be found HERE.

-Perth Motorplex

Photos courtesy of Phil Reeve.

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