John Zappia racked up a new track record of 5.585 seconds, his first 260mph pass in Australia, an event win and got to watch nephew Brodie Zappia take out the Junior Dragster bracket in a massive day for the Zappia family at Perth Motorplex on Saturday, January 4 2020.
The attack began early when Zappia stunned onlookers with his first 5.5 second clocking during the first qualifying session for the Summer Slam, in warm and sunny conditions. The pass was on a ragged edge of traction which proved just perfect for the Zappia Racing Monaro.
“We changed the B&J gearbox to a safer gear so we could get the car down the track, but we left the tune up and clutch pretty much the same as our 5.63 run recently,” Zappia explained. “We had tried to settle it down for the hotter track conditions and a few cars before us were overpowering the track. When I took off it headed a little left and was spinning the wheels but not by much. As I shifted second we still had lots of wheel speed and it did a bit of a fishtail, but then I got it back into the groove.
“After I got the parachutes out my crew member Gerry got on the two-way radio and said it was a 5.58 at 419kph! I was doing the maths in my head and thought that was probably 260mph and it was, at 260.35.
“The pass blew me away because it didn’t feel that fast. The car was loose, the track was loose and it just hung on enough to keep going.”
Zappia backed up the 5.58 with a 5.615 in the compulsory qualifying session, earning him an elimination round race against Stu Moresby’s Studebaker. Zappia took the race in 5.617 seconds but there was a wild finish when Moresby’s parachutes failed to open, seeing him fly past Zappia and then lock up the brakes before hitting the wall at the end of the braking area.
“As the track was getting tighter we were trying to keep up, we had more clutch in it but it wasn’t enough, but running 5.61s is a good problem to have,” Zappia said.
“I crossed the line ahead of Stuart but he came flying past and I could see he was in trouble. It was a real shame for their team and I hope they can rebuild and be back out for the rest of the Summer Slam season.”
The final round saw Zappia set to race Daniel Gregorini, whose Camaro was in career-best form.
“In the final we went back to the right lane where we ran the 5.58, after our two 5.61s in the left lane, and we changed the first and second gear ratio in the B&J gearbox to try and get the 60 foot time back again.
“Daniel and I left pretty evenly, neither of us had great reaction times.
Our 60 foot came back but we had a lot of wheel speed in second gear and I shifted third early. That probably robbed us of a couple of hundredths but we still went 5.622 to Daniel’s 5.653 in a great race for the fans and one we were very happy to win.”
The victory marked Zappia’s fourth event win in a row at Perth Motorplex and was the quickest side by side Top Doorslammer race ever in Australia.
“The Zappia Racing Monaro was a good car to drive, and once I knew the car would go down the track and I could really concentrate on driving well. The Noonan power in combination with our precision Crow Cam, Reid Rockers, Cp-Carrillo pistons and conrods, Total Seal Rings, Victory Valves and all lubricated with Fuchs top quality lubricants gives us a very reliable combination and were lucky enough to not hurt any components. We also got to try a couple of different B&J ratios and we did minimal adjustment to the Boninfante clutch; the car ran like clockwork.
“We have done a lot of R&D and found a lot of stuff that doesn’t work. We could have sat still and been happy with more 5.6s but we have pushed and pushed. We have made mistakes, learned some stuff and we now have the car consistently fast.”
It was great to have Danni and Ross from Dannani Hotshots to support us and witness our record breaking runs. Also for supplying Dannani Hotshots merchandise to help with the fund raising coordinated by Michelle and Liz for the fire victims.
Adding to the celebrations on the day was a win from Zappia’s nephew Brodie in Junior Dragsters. With John’s brother Richard doing double duty on both the Top Doorslammer and the Junior, it was a great reward for the effort.
“Richard keeps busy at the track and he managed to excel in both departments,” John said. “They just switched to a new car and are learning what it wants but they got the job done. Brodie is just 14, so who knows how good he will be when he is 18!”
Zappia now heads to Summer Thunder at Sydney Dragway, though his route will depend on what roads are open as the bushfire crisis continues to grip Australia.
“If the roads aren’t open the normal way we may have to go through Katherine and Townsville, and instead of 4100km it ends up at 8000kms. But one way or another we have to get there, maybe we need a supercharged big block boat to go by water!”
John will have his merchandise and new Biante model car for sale at Western Sydney Dragway, so head down and check out what’s available. Looking forward to catching up with East Coast sponsor Parry Bitsikas from Muscle Car Warehouse and any other sponsors who can make the meeting.
Photo – Phil Luyer