John Zappia was left to rue what might have been for the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots team at Sydney Dragway on Saturday.
The team’s event began on Friday where they took part in two test sessions in difficult conditions but mustered the quickest times of the category.
“There was a heatwave in Sydney and with 4000 feet of air density and 100 water grains the conditions were about as bad as it gets,” Zappia explained. “But we managed to come out with a 5.76/251mph which was two tenths ahead of anyone else.
“We stepped it up for the next one and went 5.73/252mph.”
Another test session was held on Saturday before racing began and Zappia made another full pass, albeit having to put some work in on the steering wheel.
“We put a bit more in it for the Saturday but we staged crooked, The car went left and got out of the groove but I got it back for a 5.76/254. That showed there was some pretty stout horsepower in the Noonan Hemi.”
The team prepared for the first round of racing where they took on Michelle Davies, who recently became Australia’s quickest woman in a Pro Slammer.
“Michelle’s Mustang has been running regular five second passes lately, so we needed another clean run,” Zappia said. “We got out well but then the car seemed to have a misfire and we only put a 5.79/250mph down. I knew we had an issue.”
The Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots crew replaced all the electronics before round two where Zappia faced Ben Bray. But the problem reared its head once more.
“As soon as I dropped the clutch the car had a shudder in it and it didn’t have power. I got to 900 feet and it started vibrating and I knew we had kicked rods or something.”
When the team opened the motor in the pits they discovered a broken crankshaft, four broken valves and a host of other damage caused by the intense vibrations.
“The crankshaft only had 24 runs on it, so we have no idea why it broke,” Zappia said. “That in turn damaged the clutch, shook the fuel pump loose, shook the blower off the manifold and even broke the injector hat.”
The injector hat proved the fatal blow for the team.
“We changed the engine and the rain gave us more time, but it only takes one part you haven’t got to put you out and for us that was a spare injector hat. Ours is unique and needed welding.
“With so much damage we really wanted to check the whole car out and find the problem. We needed to make sure the transmission was okay as well, because when you break a crankshaft it can cause damage throughout the drive train.
“There were no holes in the block thankfully, just a big dent in the oil pan. It looked alright from the outside, but it didn’t look pretty when we pulled it apart.
“It’s not good for our points chase but at the end of the day we couldn’t risk any more damage with such a catastrophic failure. We need to go over everything at home, then come back out at the Motorplex and continue with our R&D program.
“It was great to have Parry Bitsikas from Muscle Car Warehouse join us at the event and unfortunately we weren’t able to produce our best for him.
“Also a big congratulations to Sam Fenech and the JSS Racing team for an outstanding performance all weekend and we were glad to see that Sam was okay after his horrific accident in the final.”
Zappia will next be on track for Perth Motorplex’s Nitro Night on February 2.
There has also been some exciting news on the model car front recently with a second version of the Biante diecast set to become available.
“We are taking orders now. You don’t have to pay the money up front, we just want to know how many Biante should make as they create them to order,” Zappia said.
Interested fans can email email@example.com to place an order.