‘Lucky break’ keeps Panagopoulos in WA Modified championship hunt

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There’s a saying in life that you can be doing everything right, but sometimes the wheels just fall off. Modified drag racer Nick Panagopoulos was perhaps contemplating that statement after a bizarre final round of the WA Drag Racing Championships at Perth Motorplex.

Panagopoulos had cut his way through the field to face Jim McQuade in the final when a series of events conspired that saw him lose the race, but maybe keep his race car from a big accident.

“I pulled up to the water box for the burnout and I realised the car was in top gear which was odd,” he said. “I did our normal top gear skid and when I was backing up I found the air shifter piston was jammed out, preventing me from selecting first gear.

“I pulled up to the start line in top gear, But I forgot the trans brake wouldn’t operate in top. When I released the foot brake the car rolled the staging beams and put on the red light. So I shut the car down and then as the track staff started to push me back the front left A-arm snapped off the chassis! I guess someone was looking over me that night, because it would have been catastrophic had it happened during the pass.”

Keen to chase a Modified championship after transitioning from Super Sedan, Panagopoulos will be working hard to repair the damage to the chassis before the WA Drag Racing Championships Super Sportsman Showdown which takes place this Saturday, December 14.

“We’re flat out trying to get the car fixed in time for next meeting. We are still learning and fine tuning so that will continue. We’ve run personal best times each event out with fine adjustments, so we plan to continue that and remain consistent.

“We’re only two rounds in with seven to go, and having raced for a while now I know anything can happen and there is still a long way to go. That being said we’re not here to make up numbers.”

This is Panagopoulos’ first season in a Modified Altered, which uses the engine from his Chev Monte Carlo Super Sedan.

“I’ve always loved Altereds and I wanted to go faster so an altered with my Super Sedan engine was the way to go,” he said. “It’s a 23 T-bucket with 540 cubes, and has had a ground up restoration which was started back in January. So far my personal best time is 7.88 with a best speed of 168mph.

“It’s an exciting car to drive. They move around a lot and you’re driving it every pass. You’re got to have your wits about you and be switched on all the time; it’s much more fun to drive compared to a sedan.”

Panagopoulos will be one of the many drivers on show this Saturday for the third round of the WA Drag Racing Championships. Qualifying begins from 11am with the feature program commencing from 5.30pm.

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