Whyalla to host debut of ‘The Goblin’ this weekend

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This weekend’s opening round of the Whyalla Steel City Drag Racing Club Championship will host not only the first competitive passes of the season for the club, but also the debut of Peter O’Connell’s new drag racing machine.

Alissa Munn in action. Photo by Scott Lamb, Lamby Shoots

O’Connell’s ‘The Goblin’ front engine dragster is powered by a 427cc small block Ford and was picked up by the 50-year-old in Brisbane just before the impacts of COVID-19 started to be felt in this country.

“My first race car was a little 1969 HB Torana with a six-cylinder, 250cc cross flow Ford Motor which ran high elevens and was called Muttley,” Peter explained.

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“After a couple of seasons of fun in Super Street with Muttley, I bought a front engine dragster running a 302cc Windsor which ran high nines. Built in the early 70s in Whyalla, we named him El Diablo.

“We then decided to step up to a faster front engine dragster earlier this year, but we haven’t had the chance to run it as yet due to COVID-19. We have named this new car The Goblin and we expect it will run in the high eights eventually.

“This season will be all about setting up The Goblin; getting him going as fast and as consistently as possible. That will all start this weekend at round one of the club championship and we are really looking forward to this event, as we have really missed everyone!”

Adelaide-based racer O’Connell – an Assistant Manager for a Actrol Refrigeration wholesaler – is not done yet when it comes to his car collection either.

“Just quietly, I also have my eye on another nostalgic car which has been racing for 50 years in South Australia,” O’Connell grinned.

Peter O’Connell at the wheel of ‘Muttley’. Photo by Darren Shaw Photography.
Peter O’Connell at the wheel of ‘El Diablo’. Photo by Darren Shaw Photography.

Like so many of his racing compatriots, O’Connell’s love of drag racing was sparked by his family.

“Drag racing is in my blood really,” Pete explained. “My grandfather Ron raced at Brooksfield in the late 60s and my dad, Laurie, raced at Brooksfield and Adelaide International Raceway and was also involved with the formation of ANDRA – so really, I had no choice,” he laughed.

“I ran several cars at street meets in my early twenties, and then about six years ago I purchased Muttley and the rest is history as they say.

“For us drag racing is genuinely a family sport and we have made some great friends, met a lot of interesting people, and had some great fun.”

For O’Connell and his family, the racing, atmosphere and support offered by regional racetracks is a real drawcard.

“Steel City Raceway has supported the O’Connell Family Racing team since our very first competitive event five or six years ago and we are very grateful for all of the help they have given us over the years,” he said.

“Steel City is one of the oldest continuously operating tracks in the country and a credit to the local community. With the continual improvements being completed, the track has a great future ahead.

“I love the feel of regional tracks and I think the ANDRA-backed regional tracks are absolutely fantastic and the club members and volunteers are simply the best.

“I am proud to call both Steel City Raceway and Mildura’s Sunset Strip our home tracks – in fact, we have been travelling to these regional tracks for the last 20 years just to spectate! We base our whole season around these two favourite tracks of ours.”

From Super Street to Modified Eliminator to Nostalgias, O’Connell and his family are all about the camaraderie between racers.

“I feel it is super important that we help new racers and support grass roots clubs. We are always more than happy to help so if anyone out there has questions or needs a spare part at an event where we are competing, I say to them – please come and ask us – we will always help if we can!” he said.

“I compete in both Super Street and Modified Eliminator and for us, one of the best parts of the classes we run is that you don’t have to be the fastest with the biggest budget to be competitive.

“I also really enjoy getting to any nostalgia events I can – I love the atmosphere of those events as they are relaxed and full of characters with plenty of history-rich cars.”

While he may enjoy the relaxed and friendly atmosphere, that does not mean O’Connell is without his fair share of achievements.

“My first competitive meeting at Whyalla was a real highlight. I have also been fortunate enough to win a few nostalgia events, and to make it to the final of a Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series event with a margin of just 0.002 between myself and the winner at the finish line,” he explained.

“Most important to me of all has been my winning of the Charlie Dennis Memorial Club Championship and the Glen Tozer Memorial Trophy, as part of the Whyalla 2019/2020 season.”

Unsurprisingly, O’Connell has a long list of people he would like to thank for the parts they have played in his racing journey.

“I really need to thank my whole family and in particular, Mum and Dad, for all of the help they’ve given me,” he said.

“There have also been a few sponsors that have helped us along the way; so, my thanks goes to Advance Headers, AutoOne Clovercrest, MFC Refrigeration, DC Anodising, BB Autoglass and Bridgestone Golden Grove for their support.

“And of course, none of this would be possible without ANDRA and the support from Summit Racing Equipment.

“Finally, I would like to send a special thanks to my crew chief Kieley for keeping me safe and only breaking Muttley a few times since she’s taken over driving him,” he laughed.

This weekend’s action at Steel City Raceway will include the Riverland Nationals on Saturday the 31st of October followed by round one of the Whyalla Steel City Club Championship on Sunday the 1st of November. For more information, visit www.steelcitydrags.com

For more from ANDRA, visit www.andra.com.au

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