There were many headlines made in the sport of Australian drag racing across 2017 – we’ve put together a list of the ten biggest news stories from our site based on the hits received.
If there was one racer to leave the 2017 Gulf Western Oil Winternationals with a new fan club it was Top Bike rider Damian Muscat. The Nitro Phoenix team had a constant surrounding of visitors to their pit area after a spectacular pair of runs during Saturday qualifying for the event, where Muscat carried the front wheel of his nitro Harley all the way to the finish line and produced speeds of 253mph and 249mph. Such recordings generated a lot of comment on the achievement but unfortunately they could not be considered legitimate. However, the reason why showed just how extreme a sport drag racing is.
Definitely one of the most controversial stories of the year, Top Fuel team owner Santo Rapisarda threatened to leave drag racing in Australia if Top Fuel did not shift to the 1000 feet format. Considering Rapisarda fields three cars at most rounds of the championship, this would have been a massive hit to the sport and so 400 Thunder elected to change to 1000 feet racing for this season.
The most popular new car article of the year was when Paul Aitkenhead’s awesome Outlaw 10.5 Holden Monaro was unveiled at ET Chassis and Race Cars in Queensland. The Monaro is a full tube chassis with carbon fibre body and interior and is an entirely Australian built product. The LS engine continues to have a massive following, and fans loved seeing it tied up with an Australian body.
On a record breaking weekend for Pro Slammers in Australia, John Zappia shown he was still the king of performance in the Fuchs Monaro, with a 5.635 second pass on a revamped track surface. It was the quickest class legal doorslammer pass in the country at the time by half a tenth, an incredible margin in the tightly contested bracket.
Puerto Rico is sport compact crazy and when they invaded Willowbank Raceway for the Jamboree, drag racing fans knew they were in for a treat. There the Mech Tech Scion became the quickest sport compact car in Australia with a 5.83 pass, while the cult favourite El Humilde broke the world three quarter chassis record with a blazing 5.94. Finally, the Rafaelito Racing 13B RX8 hit a 6.77, smashing the Australia 13B record on a less than clean pass. And this was all just in testing!
When Kelly Bettes was announced as the driver of the Lamattina Top Fuel Racing dragster, it was only a matter of time before she would leap to the top of the performance charts. Her licensing passes were some of the strongest ever seen in this country, with a time of 4.66 seconds and a 326mph speed. Given the shift to 1000 feet racing now in Top Fuel, it is likely those performances will never be topped.
Paul Mouhayet stunned the Pro Slammer world when he clocked a 5.58 run in testing at Sydney Dragway. The run marked the first time in years someone had been quicker than John Zappia in a blown doorslammer in Australia. While Moits Racing still have to repeat the performance in competition, we’re not going to put it past them to do it by the end of 2018. A five speed Liberty transmission made a big difference and was responsible for another high-hitting story.
Daniel Miocevich experienced a terrifying 440kph Jet Dragster crash at Perth Motorplex’s April Grand Final event. Amazingly he clambered out of the cockpit seconds after it had come to rest over the braking area wall in a true testament to drag racing safety.
The spectacular vision and uninjured driver helped make this one of the biggest stories of the year. The cause has since been put down to a change in rear tyre diameter, that ever so slightly shifted the tail pipe angle to reduce downforce.
When John Zappia took the Noonan Racing Camaro to a stunning 5.42/265.33mph second pass in Virginia, USA, he became the quickest and fastest blown methanol sedan driver on the planet. The car was running in PDRA trim and unbelievably may have been even quicker as it crept through the staging beams a little.
This was perhaps the saddest story ever in Australian drag racer. Eight year old Anita Board lost her life in a tragic accident while licensing her Junior Dragster at Perth Motorplex. While the incident made sensationalist headlines around the world, we preferred to take a step back away from the hysteria and examine the concept of acceptable risk in our lives. This editorial was written with a heavy heart and aimed to resolve the feelings Drag News Magazine editor Luke Nieuwhof felt about the incident.