Grant O’Rourke top qualifies as wife Debbie bids drag racing farewell

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Darwin’s NT Titles has seen O’Rourke Motorsport’s Grant O’Rourke retain his second place standing in the Top Doorslammer championship, courtesy of a Top Qualifying result and a semi-finals appearance.

In balmy conditions, Friday was the host of some dramatic qualifying, which saw the top spot traded pass after pass between the categories heavy weights.

Grant O’Rourke started off strong with a 5.922 second elapsed time at 246.85 miles per hour to see him on top of the sheets, before the last of three qualifying sessions saw the competitors come out guns blazing.

Reigning champion Zappia emerged first, setting a 5.907 second effort at 248.43mph to take the top of the time sheets, but local racer Matt Abel snatched it back in the penultimate pairing of the evening with a 5.870 second pass at 236.59mph.

Grant O’Rourke however was not yet done, blazing down the track in the last qualifying pairing for the bracket to take the top qualifier spot with a 5.838 second pass at 249.12mph. From there, he would proceed to race day, where he would dispatch fellow Queenslander Ben Bray in round one, before a dropped valve intervened during his semi-final against Peter Kapiris.

“That was a really dramatic qualifying session that was for sure!” said O’Rourke.

“It is a lot more humid and hot here this time around than it was last month, but all of us were in the same boat dealing with that and it made for some intense racing.

“Unfortunately race day took a bit of a turn for us with a dropped valve in the semi-final against Peter Kapiris after we put Ben on the trailer in the first round. All in all though it was a good weekend, we stay second in the championship point’s standings, and we have even more data to play with up here next time!”

While Grant was hard at work in Top Doorslammer, his wife Debbie was taking to the track as part of an exhibition bracket with Aaron Deery and Scott MacLean as she farewelled the sport of drag racing.


The fairer of the husband and wife racing team announced her impending retirement from the sport of drag racing earlier this month – electing to make Darwin’s event her last outing in the O’Rourke Motorsport Top Alcohol Funny Car.

Unfortunately for the racer – the country’s quickest female racer and only current professional-level female drag racer – the match race was ended prematurely with mechanical issues.

“We had a bit of a tough weekend with tyre shake and dropping cylinders, but on the third run of the weekend we were able to run a 5.90 second pass which was rewarding, despite the fact it wasn’t a perfect pass with a dropped cylinder part the way through,” said Debbie O’Rourke.

“That final pass was certainly not what we had hoped for – I dropped two cylinders early and the belt parted ways later in the pass, so we stopped the clocks at 6.154 seconds,” said Debbie O’Rourke. “But despite that, it was still a good weekend at the race track and I was really pleased to be able to get on the track a few more times before saying goodbye.

“The support and well wishes that have been coming through has been a bit overwhelming, and I promise I won’t be going far!”

O’Rourke Motorsport will now head to the 21st Annual Street Machine Supernats, being held at Sydney Dragway across the 19th and 20th of September. Grant O’Rourke will contest the Supercharger V Turbo Cars bracket onboard the OMS Doorslammer. For more information on this event, please go to or visit

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