Hot rodder turned drag racer chasing Tamworth glory

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Born and bred in Tamworth, second-generation hot rodder Alissa Munn switched her 1928 Model A Ford Tudor hot rod for a SSV VE Commodore drag racing machine two years ago and has never looked back.

Alissa Munn in action. Photo by Scott Lamb, Lamby Shoots

Along with a host of her fellow drag racing enthusiasts, the 37-year-old parts interpreter for Kosmo Smash Repairs will be chasing glory this weekend at the Tamworth Drag Racing Association’s October 31/November 1 event.

Munn will be cheered on at the Gunnedah Airport drag strip by her partner Stephen, the four children they share between them and her partner’s father Brian, who will also be racing at this event.

“My dad built and owned hot rods over the years, so I grew up around the car scene watching driving events like drag racing and burnouts and I absolutely loved the adrenalin and was itching to have a go myself,” Munn said.

“There is nothing like the noise and feeling the vibrations of a Top Fuel Dragster going through your chest.

“While I eventually had my own hot rod, a 1928 Model A Ford Tudor with a small block Chev which I took to some driving events, it wasn’t exactly built for the driving I wanted to do.

“The SS was my daily driver but a couple of years ago it was in a crash and written off, so we decided to turn it into a drag car. It has a six litre L98 engine with a stage three cam, OTR induction and stainless extractors. It is a six-speed manual which is very much a challenge when drag racing, but I enjoy it!

“We race with slick tyres and Stephen installed a hydraulic handbrake to help me off the line. It also has a heavy-duty twin plate ceramic clutch which was installed by Holland Automotive in Tamworth, because I quickly wore the other one out! We are also planning on installing a nitrous kit that I got for Christmas and to change the gear ratio in the diff to help reduce wheel spin, but I am saving up for that last one still!

“Two years ago, thanks to the Tamworth Drag Racing Association and Gunnedah Airport, I was able to make my debut. During the morning of that first event I had to go to the bathroom numerous times and my family and friends were laughing at me because I was so nervous! But once I staged at the lights and took off, the adrenalin kicked in and it was the most amazing feeling to go as fast as I possibly could to the finish line.”

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Two years on from that debut, there is no questioning Munn’s love of the sport is still burning strong.

“I really love drag racing because of the variety of cars and the speeds they can go and how we all try to nut out how to go faster!” she said.

“I love the sound of the engines, the burnouts and the determination of all of the drivers sharing a common interest.

“I love the competitiveness at the start of the line and the friendly shake of hands at the end when you both get there safely.

“I also love that it is a controlled environment in which we can race safely and the friendly atmosphere of the events at Gunnedah.”

Her family is just as enthusiastic and play their own roles in her drag racing endeavours.

“I am pretty sure my dad is proud because he never came to any of my dance concerts when I was little but he loves to travel eight hours from Queensland to come and watch me race along with my mum,” she chuckled.

“My kids love it too – they like to video my races and collect the time cards for me. They also pick out their favourite cars and cheer for them over the weekend and my eldest son has already started saying he will kick me out of the driver’s seat when he is old enough!

“My partner’s father also races a Datsun with a 351 Ford motor, so it is a real family weekend. We have raced a couple of times against each other – he always beats me because he has nitrous, but it is still a memorable moment lining up together and racing.

“My partner Stephen is the main reason I am able to drag race. He is the most supportive man I could ever ask for and he has put months of hard work into the car to get it where it is today. Without him I could not have done it! Stephen has raced in the past but now enjoys taking a step back and being my pit crew.”

For the October 31/November 1 event, Munn will be focusing on speed.

“My goal is to go faster than I did at the last event in August!” she grinned. “My biggest weakness is my reaction time which I need to concentrate on, but my main goal is to keep my driving consistent and to get to the end safely.

“Ahead of this weekend I really want to acknowledge the members of the Tamworth Drag Racing Association. I think they are amazing – it is an absolutely mammoth effort to run events like they do at Gunnedah and the fact they give up so much of their time to organise, set up and run the weekend is very generous and as a small group they are all very helpful and friendly and very supportive of people who are having a go for the first time.

“I would also like to thank my main sponsor, Stephen’s business Bigbore Industries who got my car up and running; Steve Holland at Holland Automotive for the work he has done on the car; my friends and family who have supported and encouraged me; Steve Jones for teaching me to stage and start in a manual back in the early days and for sharing some helpful pointers; my work for letting me do lots of overtime when I need to save up for more racing parts; and the Gunnedah Council for allowing the events to happen.

“I also want to thank all of the other racers who support the events and to everyone involved in the TDRA no matter how large or small the role is they play.

“Finally, a special thank you must go to Stephen for pushing me to race and being by my side all along the way.”

The Tamworth Drag Racing Association will host two days of action at the Gunnedah Airport this weekend across Saturday October 31 and November 1. For more information, visit TDRA’s Facebook page by clicking here or email

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