Rising out of the ashes of his Nitro Phoenix Top Fuel Harley team comes Damian Muscat’s reborn – and now banging on four cylinders – Nitro Phoenix Fully Blown Top Fuel Motorcycle team.
Retiring the Nitro Harley in 2017, Muscat has found the passion to ride a fuel bike once again, albeit a much different beast.
“The opportunity arose to sell the Nitro Harley, and at the time I was very busy within my business, Crane Logistics in Mackay, and decided we’d achieved more than we’d ever set out to achieve, so we sold it while we had a buyer,” said Muscat. “I always thought that if I was ever to return to drag racing I’d go for the blown inline 4 cylinder nitro bike, because they are the fastest bikes in the world. But, I had no intention of returning into drag racing.
“However I have recently been crewing for Greg Leahy on his Outlaw Nitro Funny Car, and the smell of the fuel and the great people at the track were all too much for me. I came home and told my wife I think I want another nitro bike, she said, ‘sell the Wall Of Death you have in the front yard and you can get one,’ – the rest is history.
Muscat took the Australian Top Bike scene by storm in a short and sharp career before selling the nitro Harley after just a season and half of racing.
In that time Muscat top qualified and finished runner-up at the 2016 Nitro Champs, won the 2016 Winternationals running 6.351 just shy of Mark Drew’s 6.341 national mark before also winning Nitro Up North in Darwin. Muscat continued his winning streak at the 2017 Goldenstates, Westernationals and Nitro Thunder events where he top qualified at the latter with a new and still standing 6.343 Sydney Dragway track record.
“Overall we won the ANDRA Championship for Top Bike, and come third in the 400 Thunder Championship after missing a round of racing. All this was made possible by my wife, crew and the previous owner of the bike, Damian Cownden from Canada. His mentoring and advise was paramount to our success,” added Muscat.
With the nitro bug back in the system Muscat went about searching for a new nitro steed to tame.
“Once I decided I wanted a specific type of Top Fuel Bike I started combing the web for suitable bikes for sale. It was imperative in my search to find a bike that was capable and proven to have run 5 second passes,” Muscat said.
“After speaking at length with Jay Upton and other riders about the pros and cons of blown four cylinder Top Fuel Bikes, I’d narrowed my search down and decided to get in touch with Sam Wills about his bike. After a short conversation and exchange of a few emails, the deal was done to purchase Sam’s entire racing set up which includes the bike, three complete spare engines, and spares of every major component along with consumables, and everything required to run a top fuel bike professionally and competitively.
“We have all the tools, but talking about racing to getting out there and running some numbers are two different things. The old saying goes, ‘it’s easier said than done.’
For those unfamiliar with Wills’ nitro bike, it has the potential to be a game changer and record holder in Australia.
“The new bike was previously owned by Sam Wills whom I consider to be one of the many pioneers of Top Fuel Motorcycles in the USA,” said Muscat. “Sam is a well known chassis builder of Top Fuel Motorcycles and many other custom motorcycles. His best ET on this bike is 5.88 down the 1/4 at 243 mph, which puts him 11th fastest in the world.
“Sam has made changes to the fuel and ignition system since with the anticipation of going faster, the challenge will now be left to the Nitro Phoenix Team here in Australia to test and tune the bike to hopefully replicate Sam’s prior fast speeds.
“These bikes are a continuous research and development process and can sometimes take years to refine. With mentoring and advise from Sam, and some key people here in Australia, we will do our very best and see how it unfolds.
The freshly announced National Drag Racing Championship is a perfect vehicle for the Nitro Phoenix team to show off their new ride.
“Shipping is underway by Geezers, and we are confident at this stage to have done testing and licensing ready for the start of the much anticipated next season, said Muscat.” It is our intention to race the entire national season. I think Top Fuel Motorcycle and drag racing in general is the healthiest it’s ever been, and the announcement of the new combined series and the TV package is going to be second to none.
“With the crowds at the tracks, and the exposure on TV, it really puts drag racing on a pedestal, and with that will come major sponsors which enables all involved to put on a bigger and better show. I really can’t wait to be a part of it.
While five second performances is the potential of the bike, Muscat knows it will be a process to get there.
“To begin with we will start with getting the bike down the track without hurting parts, and it’ll be up to me to muscle the bike to ensure I keep it straight with the throttle pinned,” he said. “From there we will collect our data, and tune the bike to suit our tracks and climate which are different from the USA.
“Whilst the preferred outcome is to go real fast, I’ll be be happy to go as fast as I’ve been before then keep improving from there and see where it takes us.
Muscat also wants to iterate how much this will be a team effort.
“You’ll notice I refer to ‘we’ and ‘us’ a lot, which often leads people to ask what do I mean by ‘we’ and ‘us’. The answer is, I’m the rider, but like all drag racers we have a team of dedicated mates, crew, and family that either provide support or work on the bike between races, and it takes all of us to make this happen,” he said.
“I’m just the lucky crazy bugger that chooses to throw the leg over this missile and wrassle it down the track while it tries to kill me. So if anyone wants to be apart of our journey in Top Fuel Motorcycle through sponsorship please contact me through email: email@example.com or drop me a line on 0437554409.
“Drag Racing will now be my full time job, which means I can devote my time to be the best ambassador to any prospective sponsor – let’s go racing.