Steffens heads west for Nitro Funny Car battle

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Western Australian Mark Sheehan will have a new opponent to face when he returns to the Nitro Funny Car battlefront at Perth Motorplex this Saturday as Queensland’s Christine Steffens brings the car known as the ‘Croc’ across the Nullarbor for the first time.

Steffens will be taking on Sheehan in a best of three match race and she said that while Sheehan might have the outright performance advantage, her team will be chasing consistent and clean passes to get them over the line.

“Mark has done way more passes in a Funny Car than I have but we both are at the mercy of the nitro in the tank,” she said. “I will be really ecstatic if we can run three side by side passes with the flames over the body of these awesome creatures.

“I will be trying to get there first of course and a win would just be the icing on the cake. I am sure he will be trying hard as I have discovered over my racing career that no male racer likes to be beaten by the girl – the battle of the sexes lives on in drag racing.”

Steffens, a two times Australian champion in Supercharged Outlaws, said it had been her ambition to race at Perth Motorplex ever since she moved into Nitro Funny Cars. After racing at Queensland’s Willowbank Raceway, Sydney Dragway, Melbourne’s Calder Park and Adelaide International Raceway she will now get that chance.

“I have been working 12 to 15 hour days just to come to Perth and I have goose bumps at the thought of being able to live my dream of running our Nitro Funny Car at the Motorplex,” she said. “This is what I have always wanted to do.”

Steffens’ personal best time in the ‘Croc’ is a 5.26sec. with a top speed of 453kmh. The car’s nickname comes from the unique paint scheme that adorns the side of the Camaro body, making it look like the head of a crocodile.
Steffens hopes that some good track conditions at the Motorplex will allow her to improve on her bests. Husband and crew chief Ricky Steffens is no stranger to the venue, having raced a Nitro Funny Car there himself.

“I personally love the last half of the track when hopefully he (the car) is heading straight and just keeping on pulling,” she said. “That is one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. The ‘Croc’ has the gear on board to run 4sec. times but no recent track time makes that hard for the tuner.”

Steffens’ last competitive outing was against another Western Australian in Anthony Begley, taking place in New Zealand. Since then the team has done a full tear down of the car to a bare chassis to ensure perfection.

The mechanical spectacle of a nitro car being overhauled in the pit area between rounds is almost as exciting as the racing for fans, believes Steffens.

“What really amazes the people you talk to is that we have so much stuff that is a consumable on this car that most race vehicles would use for a season,” she said. “When you start explaining that you are pulling the car apart between rounds and replacing all the pistons, maybe the cylinder heads, all the clutch plates and floaters, all the spark plugs and the oil, people just look in wonder at the monster.”

The first Nitro Funny Car clash will take place at 6pm on Saturday. The event also features the third round of the state drag racing championship.


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