‘Just f’n send it’ might as well be the unofficial calling for Australia’s wildest drag racing event. Grudge Kings was back for 2023 at Sydney Dragway, where any engine denomination, and whether it’s blown, turbo, nitrous or just the most cubic inches money can buy, it will feature at this event.
Aside from the on-track crazy, there was a sweet car show with plenty of beauties on show.
Into racing and Pro Mod was the headline act, the Grudge Kings race format now more traditional than the original incarnation of chip draws, 1/8th mile and no amber starts of the past. With a mix of turbo and blown sedans, it came down to the consistency of Peter Lovering in his ‘Shoebox’ 55 Chev. Lovering ran a personal best 5.85 in qualifying then rode that tune up into the final with a 5.87 that turned into an unfortunate solo. With a new lighter carbon-fibre body on the way for the 55, we will see more performance gains in the near future.
Lovering’s opponent was meant to be Rob Campisi, the Pro Street legend was having a horror of an event, the twin turbo Mustang misbehaving with transmission problems and brake pad issues of all things. After managing a 5.78 during racing he did find himself in the final, however the converter decided to give up in the burnout.
In the same but different Pro Modified class Steve Athans had his twin turbo on a string with mid to high six second passes all event, he faced a tough match with Jay Sadek’s potent 20B RX3 in the final, and needed every bit of a 6.58 after giving up the tree to drive around Sadek’s 6.83 for the win.
Pro Street experience a fair share of mechanical mayhem, none more dramatic than Damian Ferraro’s wild ride when fluid escaped his new blown big block combination. In final ‘Pistol’ Pete Pisalidis hung on in freezing conditions to post a win against Ivan Tesic’s strike me pink LJ Torana.
Over in Pro Elite, a class set down for the imports. George Haramis came to the fore in racing with the quickest ET and PB for his new 2JZ Supra, punching out a 6.71 at 212mph, but couldn’t rack up the win lights to reach the final. Rodney Rehayem with his record-setting 13B RX8 fronted against Moe Ibrahim’s 20B BMW in said final, with win going to the PAC team in an unflattering race in the cold.
A strong field of machines in Outlaw that hosted all kinds of engine configurations. Adam Rogash stole the show with a wild wheelstand in testing to his first six-second pass (6.91 at 199mph) during racing, a tough first outing from a brand new build that features a 596ci BBC slipped into one stunning looking Capri. At the end of the night Lee Docherty was supposed to square off against Sal Sabato’s Torana in the final, unfortunately the Torana was no-show and Docherty took his 13B MX5 to the win on a solo.
There was a radial tyre class for on offer as well for those so inclined. The R275 class delivered wheel hiking action, none bigger than Kevin Aouad’s sky scraper with his 20B RX8. Riccardo Pontonio delivered some blistering mid seven-second performances in his VK, and what is a genuine streeter, running full street trim. Pontonio ended the event with the winner’s cheque also after a solo in the final when Ayhan Cetinay could not take the green with his Supra.
A huge Small Tyre Fighter field was broken up into two classes – heads up pro tree and DYO. Michael El Khouri ripped the win in the heads up class, his blasphemist 2JZ powered RX7 knocking off Dom Perri’s RX2 in the final – 7.33 to a 7.91.
In the Dial Your Own group, Pat Firriolo with his traditionally powered 350ci Chev powered HQ one tonner faced Phil Penny in the final, who’s 2JZ turbo Honda S600 sits at the other end of the race car spectrum. Dialled in at 7.80 Penny had the chase, but a 8.06 could not rein in Firriolo’s 10.07 (9.96DI).
Street Outlaw came down to the pairing of Sydney Dragway regulars Martin Stevenson and Craig Warren. Stevenson now has his small-block Sandman on the giggle gas, and Warren turned up the startline torqueing LJ that was dipped into the nines. The holeshot went to Stevenson, and the panel van held the advantage to the stripe for the event win.
Two wheel terrors where also on the program with the antics from the Extreme Bike brigade. Leonard Azzopardi rocketed to a 6.85 at 213MPH in qualifying. But in the final it would be Alex Borg and Brendan Miglionico battling bot aboard turbo Hayabusas, Borg narrowly snatching the win with a 7.42 to 7.47.
That’s a wrap of Grudge Kings 2023 edition, we are looking forward to next year’s event already.
Photos by Cackling Pipes and Joe Maday.