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Track record a highlight up north for Zappia

A new look for a new season welcomed fans of John Zappia at the opening round of the 400 Thunder Professional Drag Racing Series in Darwin last weekend – Nitro Up North.

Australia’s winningest doorslammer is now known as the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro with the WA-based trucking firm joining Fuchs Lubricants who been supporting Zappia Racing for over 10 years. The rear wing also reflected an upgraded partner, with Crow Cams stepping up as a major sponsor after many years of support.

The Zappia racing team were racing with a heavy heart over the weekend after the passing of John and Richard’s mother and a severe accident involving long time crew member Mal Wilhelm, who is fighting for life in intensive care.

Able to focus on the task at hand, it was the same Zappia in the hot seat as he hit a new track record in qualifying of 5.69 seconds to lead the field, just ahead of Gary Phillips’ 5.72.

“The first run left really well but then it started to shake from about 60 feet onward,” Zappia said. “I pedaled it to calm it down then muscled it back into the groove for a 5.81.”

“We looked at the data and with Gary having run his 5.72 in the left lane which we had for the second session, we went in with confidence.”

The second qualifying session proved unusual for Zappia, with a Christmas tree malfunction seeing him shut down after the burnout.

“I was nearly going to walk away from the run as the time went on and the tyres cooled down. But we came back again and it was worth making the pass as we netted a 5.69 at 254mph for the track record ET and speed.”

“We almost decided to sit out the last session, but we had enough time to turn around for the third one. Again it rattled to the right and I got it back in. We didn’t improve but we were staying pretty consistent running a 5.74 at 253mph.”

Overnight the team went about their routine maintenance, putting in a new set of CP-Carrillo rods ready for racing and onwards to Alice Springs. The first round saw Zappia facing Mark Chapman.

“For the first round we adjusted the suspension and the car went dead straight this time for a 5.72 against Mark,” he said. “We never take Mark lightly, they are innovators and their Plymouth Fury is definitely capable of some big numbers.”

The next round saw a crowd pleasing face off between Pro Slammer newcomer Paul Mouhayet and Zappia Racing. While he might be a rookie in the 400 Thunder series, Mouhayet and Moits Racing are far from rookies in drag racing.

“Moits Racing have the best of everything and we knew they would go for it against us,” Zappia said. “I needed to make sure I was on the ball with the lights. I got psyched up and left on them with a .048 to a 0.141 light, my best in a while, but as soon as the car launched it was vibrating.

“The Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Holden Monaro had dropped a cylinder because of a dead spark plug. The lack of power caused the car to shake and I punched second gear, but I was dead in the water.

“We still managed a 6.23, it might have gone a 6.0 if I hadn’t pedalled, but it wouldn’t have quite been enough regardless. We need these things to be running on eight cylinders, not seven.”

There were many positives for Zappia to take away from the event, with stablemate Kelvin Lyle running a personal best time of 5.81 seconds at 253mph to set him up as a genuine contender in the class.

“That Mustang is definitely a weapon and is starting to go down the track more and more,” Zappia said.

Zappia’s nephew Brodie Zappia scored a runner up in Junior Dragster which left the family with a smile on their face ahead of Alice Springs, where John will be exhibition racing against a bunch of other doorslammer drivers.

The pressure of Darwin didn’t surprise the veteran champion.

“There were a few people who didn’t qualify this meeting you would normally expect and some of those guys might struggle to get back to the top of the field this year with all these new guys coming up.

“Everyone is bringing Americans over to try and knock us off and it is getting more and more intense. People are throwing more money, more knowledge, more talent and more laps at it, but at the same time so are we, we never stop.

“We are off to America next month, racing with Noonan Race Engineering, to have a race in Pro Extreme and maybe I can learn something there to help me back here – plus it’s just one of those bucket list type things.

“As far as Alice Springs goes, I am looking forward to trying to get that track record. We will basically be going as fast as possible – we don’t want to slow the car down.
“If they can bring the condition of the track up a level then we won’t be surprised to see 5.7s there. The conditions are looking good, warmer than last year which felt like ice! I think this year we will see respectable times down the track and we are really looking forward to it.”

Zappia Racing wishes to thank co-naming rights sponsors, Fuchs and Dananni Hotshots, major sponsors Striker Crushing and Screening, Speedmaster 79, Southside Engine Centre, Noonan Race Engineering, Hoosier, Appealing Signs, and Crow Cams as well as supporting sponsors PPG, K Craft Bullbars, Santhuff, B & J Racing Transmissions, Engel, Avtrac Maintenance Tracking, SDS Billet, Legend Boatbuilders, Advantage Tyres, Kounis Metal Industries, Bravo Resources, CIC High Performance Coatings, Reid Machine, Final Drive, Motec, CP Carillo, Speed Flow, Biante, Aurora Bearings and Aeromotive.

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Photos below courtesy Michelle Porobic from Bright Design

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Few predictions from Zappia for wild Winternationals

An unusually cautious John Zappia is approaching the 50th annual Winternationals at Willowbank Raceway, with one eye on his Fuchs Monaro Pro Slammer and the other on the Queensland sky ahead of the event.

With some wet weather possible, Zappia said goal number one is to make a clean pass to get into the field and follow it up with consistency, as all out performance takes a back seat.

“Every time I say I will go real fast our runs turn to a mess, so for us the Winternationals will be all about consistency and we will let the performance come,” he said.

“We don’t want to be the ones to go too hard in the first qualifying session and miss making what is likely to be an extremely tough field. I think weather will be a factor, but it is only Tuesday so hopefully that forecast will change. At the moment it is a survival strategy: get qualified and get into the eight car field.”

The Fuchs Pro Slammer team has an amazing amount of data from thousands of runs down the quarter mile and it is this knowledge resource they will draw upon at the Winternationals.

“We will read the engine, read the data and track and creep it up accordingly,” Zappia said.

Seventeen high quality entries from across the country will make up the Pro Slammer bracket, turning out in force for the final round of the 400 Thunder Series.

Many of those drivers have recently found new pace, with Ben Bray, Gary Phillips, Scott MacLean and Stuart Bishop among those to recently descend into the 5.7 second zone.

“Sometimes you’ve got to run as fast as you can just to stay where you are and that is what we are seeing in Pro Slammer right now,” Zappia said.

“A 5.7 would have been a guaranteed top qualifying award in the past, but it’s a very likely scenario that someone might run a 5.7 second time in qualifying this weekend and not even get lane choice for round one – that is how much the pace has stepped up in recent months.”

“We know we have what it takes to be at the pointy end, we just need to not overdo it and get ourselves into the show where we can then put on a great showing for Fuchs and all our other sponsors.”

But ultimately, Zappia admits that drag racers make poor fortune tellers and the only statements worth anything will be those made on the day at the famed Willowbank Raceway surface.

“I didn’t predict the numbers we ran in Sydney and I don’t think anyone else thought they would be setting personal bests either. This is one tough field and not to be taken lightly – who knows what we will see? You’ll just have to be there to see the Fuchs Monaro and over 500 other awesome drag racing teams.”

The Winternationals begins from Thursday, with the first Pro Slammer qualifying session being held on Friday, followed by two more qualifying sessions on Saturday and eliminations on Sunday.

“We would like to see as many of our sponsors, supporters and fans come out and visit our pit area and get the latest merchandise celebrating our 10 straight championships,” Zappia said.

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Zappia resets national record at Sydney Dragway

On a record breaking weekend for Pro Slammers in Australia, John Zappia has shown he is still the king of performance in the Fuchs Monaro.

Nitro Thunder at Sydney Dragway was a feast of incredible numbers, with a revamped track surface proving it could hold anything thrown at it by the best doorslammers in the country. Personal bests came thick and fast but there was one run that stood out.

Zappia’s 5.635 second pass, coming in Saturday’s qualifying session, was the quickest class legal doorslammer pass in the country by half a tenth, an incredible margin in the tightly contested bracket.

“We put more into the tune up as the track measured up better than before and with excellent air conditions off it went,” Zappia said. “The car launched hard carrying the front wheels, I punched the next gear and it moved out of the groove a little bit but I got it back. It really revved up to just before the finish line where it started to misfire and I pushed the clutch in and pulled the chute a little bit early.

“When they told me over the radio it was a 5.63, I had to ask them to repeat. They said, ‘FIVE-SIX-THREE.’ I was dumbfounded.

“The Crusher was misfiring at the top end and never got the proper speed, but the time card had really good increments early. Our half track time of 3.72 at 205.98mph was our best by a long way. It should have gone 258 or 259mph at the top end, but the misfire knocked 400 rpm off the motor.

“We tried to fix the misfire and thought it might be hitting the rev limiter, so we raised the limit to try to avoid a repeat of the problem.”

The pace was on Zappia’s side come the race rounds, but the electrical gremlin would be back to haunt the team.

Matched up against Mark Belleri in the tough ACDelco Holden Monaro for the first round, Zappia needed every bit of performance but the Fuchs Monaro started to misfire really badly as soon as it launched. I pedalled it and it went clean back on eight cylinders and zoomed out the back end going 254mph, but a 5.84 would not be enough to take down Belleri’s 5.82.

For the second round Zappia was matched against Rob Taylor. “We thought we would throw more at it on the start line, but the track was hotter and the air got a little worse. We launched with a 0.958 sixty foot and carried the front wheels but veered right towards the wall which required a peddle to straighten the car and continue and run a 5.75 at 252mph which was enough to take the win.

The final round would see Zappia take on Ben Bray. Some changes were made to the suspension and the team loaded a killer set up into the Fuchs Monaro before heading to the staging lanes. The weather would then factor itself into the equation with a brief rain shower making Zappia nervous.

“I decided to back the Crusher off as the track was cooling. It launched with a 0.961 sixty foot, I shifted second, drifted left a little bit and I made a hard turn to get it back into the groove. I short shifted top gear which lost a little bit of momentum and I could see Ben’s car alongside me, but by the finish line I could see he had just got me.

“We both drove it out the back door and the motor was screaming, I had never revved it that hard before. Ben won on a holeshot and went 5.70/256 to my 5.65/255 backing up my earlier run of 5.635 and setting a new national record.”

Despite being one from three in race rounds, Zappia was pleased with his progress at the Nitro Thunder event.

The new CP-Carrillo pistons and rods and the Total Seal rings came out like brand new after five runs.

“It was a good weekend and we learned a lot. The Hoosier tires in combination with a great track preparation worked really well and this suited a lot of cars.”

With other teams figuring out how to go quick and closing the performance gap, Zappia said the Fuchs team still has some Noonan Ultimate Race Engineering horsepower improvements to fine tune.

“It will be an intense competition at the Winternationals in June 8 to 11 and we can’t wait to race at the biggest drag meeting in the southern hemisphere.”

Zappia Racing wishes to thank Naming Rights Sponsors Fuchs, Major Sponsors Striker Crushing and Screening, Dananni Hotshots, Speedmaster 79, Southside Engine Centre, Noonan Race Engineering, Hoosier, and Appealing Signs, as well as Supporting Sponsors PPG, K Craft Bullbars, Santhuff, B & J Racing Transmissions, Engel, Crow Cams, Avtrac Maintenance Tracking, SDS Billet, Legend Boatbuilders, Advantage Tyres, Kounis Metal Industries, Bravo Resources, CIC High Performance Coatings, Reid Machine, Final Drive, Motec, CP Carillo, Speed Flow, Biante, Aurora Bearings and Aeromotive.

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Photo credits: Drag News and Cackling Pipes

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John Zappia adds Top Comp title to awesome 2017

John Zappia and the Fuchs Monaro’s successful start to 2017 has continued with the team earning the WA Top Comp Championship at Perth Motorplex on Saturday night.

In a field containing some of the toughest blown alcohol racers in the country, the feat was never going to be easy and while some hurdles were thrown at the team they eventually proved good enough in a critical race against chief rival Adam Marchant. It was Zappia’s first Top Comp championship since 2010.

The best air conditions of the season greeted teams at the Motorplex, but a cooling track would prove challenging throughout the night.

Zappia’s first qualifying pass was a pedalling 5.84, with the car doing a spectacular wheelstand, owing to the extra horsepower from the conditions and the tight track.

Running late in the compulsory qualifying session after some oildown delays, Zappia was able to improve to a 5.78 to qualify second but some sparks from underneath the car indicated all was not well.

“We didn’t know where the sparks were from initially but we figured the clutch would be a good start,” he said. “We started changing the gearbox ratio when we got back and we missed inspecting the inside of the clutch can properly. We then realised late that the clutch had broken a lever and we had a race against Adam Marchant coming that was going to decide the championship.”

With the clock counting down, the team made the decision to run the clutch with just five levers and hope it would be enough to take out Marchant’s tough Top Alcohol dragster.

“We watched Pino Priolo take out another of our rivals, Steve Aldridge, ahead of us, so then I knew it was up to me,” Zappia said. “It shook the tyres because it needed more clutch but we got the job done with a 5.91, which secured us the Top Comp championship and a place in the B Final.”

Arriving back in the pits and with turnaround time limited following more delays, Zappia and the team made a rare decision to withdraw from racing.

“Had we been in an A Final we might have given it a shot, but we knew we had won the championship and we didn’t want to risk running the car with the clutch below its best,” he said.

“The good news was that by us withdrawing, our almost-team mate Kelvin Lyle got to race in the B Final and run another five second pass, adding on to his earlier 5.92 personal best which was great to see.”

While Zappia expected some record times might have be available, the margins were thin for quick performances.

“The car performed well engine wise, but we didn’t get a full clean pass – we were making horsepower, we just couldn’t use it. The cold air combined with stoppages meant the track was colder and trickier than we are used to here in Perth.”

As always, Zappia was looking at the positives of his mechanical troubles.

“It was good to find the problem. You run valve springs and con rods for so long, but you run clutch levers forever and they do a lot of work. Everything has a life and the consistency this team has involves working out what the safe life is for a part.”

The Fuchs team will now run their maintenance on the car and do some close checks before loading up for Sydney’s Nitro Thunder event in May and the Winternationals in June.

“Thanks to all our local supporters and sponsors, to add a Top Comp championship to ten ANDRA championships, it doesn’t get much better than that.”

John Zappia was also the 2016/2017 Summer Slam Series winner on 482.5 points, ahead of Steve Aldridge on 357.5 points and Priolo on 352.5 points. The series ran five specialised Top Doorslammer meetings, with twenty teams involved – with twelve local WA teams proudly presenting for the series.

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Winning Streak Intact, Zappia looks for records

John Zappia wrapped up the ANDRA Top Doorslammer season in fine style at Adelaide International Raceway on Saturday with another victory for the Fuchs Monaro.

The performance took Zappia’s ANDRA Top Doorslammer winning streak to five events and 15 rounds, putting him within sight of Ben Bray’s 24-race streak.

“This was a nearly perfect season for the Fuchs team with our last race loss being way back at Darwin in July 2016,” Zappia said.

“Since Alice Springs we have been pushed really hard by our opponents but each time my crew has found the extra performance we need to stay in front.

“Fifteen round wins in a row is really something. We have gone to 21 rounds in a row before we crashed the car at Willowbank so we are excited to try and better that mark, along with Ben Bray’s long standing 24-round streak.”

The event began well with Zappia recording a strong 4.89 in the opening qualifying session on Friday despite a pedal being required. The time would stand as his quickest for the day as the team threw more power at the car for the second session.

“We tried a bit harder and it rattled hard and got really sideways (in the second session),” he said. “It was getting cold towards the third session and we thought we would sit it out and save the car for the next day.”

Zappia had the luxury of a solo run in the first round, an opportunity to back off the tune up and find a setting that would produce some consistency. A pedalling 4.94 wasn’t quite the number being chased.

“We needed to throw more clutch at it. The track was getting better throughout the event.”

A semi final match up against Rob Taylor’s new Camaro saw Zappia returning to pace with another 4.89 enough to get past the tough Victorian team. That set up a final round confrontation that had the crowd on their feet as Zappia faced Victor Bray.

Staying with his favoured left lane, Zappia ran his quickest pass of the weekend, a 4.86, to claim the ANDRA Gold Christmas Tree and also win the battle of the oils.

“We left the tune up alone for the final but the air was incredibly good, getting to 198 feet below sea level. Thankfully the humidity didn’t come in so there was no dew on the track and the Fuchs Monaro was making a lot of power and ran the fastest run of the weekend.

“We had an eighth mile time of 3.80 at 200mph and if the pass was on a quarter mile track it would have been a mid 5.7 second run.”

New rods supplied by CP-Carrillo proved to be a winner with the Fuchs Monaro singing sweetly throughout the event in South Australia.

“The Noonan Engineering engine combo ran very well and coupled with the superior lubrication qualities of the Fuchs oil, we didn’t hurt any parts apart from a couple of valve springs,” Zappia said.

Zappia was also presented with the ANDRA Australian National Championship Gold Christmas Tree and a Number 10 cake (thanks to ANDRA) to celebrate 10 back-to-back national championships. One of the greatest achievements in drag racing, the streak equals the record for major drag racing championships held by John Force in the NHRA.

Congratulations to all the winners and finalists from the team and special thanks to Mark Hunt, Paul Topping and Frank Intini for their assistance over the weekend.

Currently in transit across the Nullarbor with his two Christmas Trees, Zappia will be back racing in just a few days at the Perth Motorplex season Grand Final.

Competing in the Top Comp bracket, Zappia has shifted his focus from round wins to outright performance for a night that shouldn’t be missed for fans of the team.

“We will be chasing an Australian best time. We have a track record of 5.683 and 256.7mph and we will be trying to push those boundaries,” he said.

“To be honest, we are looking to go really fast. Everything is running really well lately and we are keen to see how far we can push it on the quarter mile with the good air that is traditional for this time of year.

“Top Comp has 20 entrants in it so it should be a really good event to finish off the Perth season and see how quick we can go before we head east again for Nitro Thunder at Sydney Dragway and the Winternationals at Willowbank.”

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Decade of thrills: Zappia takes tenth ANDRA Top Doorslammer championship

John Zappia claimed an unprecedented tenth ANDRA Top Doorslammer Series title with his Fuchs Holden Monaro on Sunday at Perth Motorplex’s Westernationals, adding to his record of dominance in one of Australian drag racing’s most competitive categories – and winning the Westernationals on his home turf was an added bonus.

After qualifying in top position with a 5.74, Zappia knew he had a good shot at wrapping up the championship during Sunday’s eliminations if points rival Mark Belleri went out early in the ACDelco Monaro. But when news came through that Belleri had hurt an engine and would not make it to round one, the championship was done and dusted much earlier than thought.

“To wrap up the title with one event remaining is a real accomplishment for the Fuchs team and ten straight championships feels great,” Zappia said. “It is good for my crew, my sponsors, all the people who help us do what we do and contribute in any way.”

Putting his number of titles into double digits was definitely on Zappia’s mind, right from the start of the season.

“There has been a lot of events on this season in the ANDRA Top Doorslammer and 400 Thunder Pro Slammer series. We were focused on the ANDRA championship because we were after those ten in a row and we didn’t want to spread ourselves too thin. It was too big of a milestone not to concentrate on.”

The Westernationals was an unusually tropical weekend for Perth, with high heat and humidity at a venue normally renowned for excellent air conditions.

“It was one of the hottest, most humid weekends we have ever raced at. The air started around 4000 feet with 85% humidity and it dropped a little bit over the day but was still pretty bad.

“We went out with the 5.71 tune up from the Goldenstates for the first pass in qualifying but we knew we really should have backed it off, and sure enough it rattled hard and bounced the back wheels clean off the ground. I pedalled and went 5.98 to put us in third spot after the first session.

“For the second session we put a different set of Hoosier tyres on and backed the clutch off a little bit and sent it out there and went 5.74 at 251mph. It went a little bit to the right and used up a bit of the track but it was fast and surprised us for the weather conditions.”

One thing contributing to the pace might have been a little bit of weight loss thanks to adopting Speedflow’s new light weight crimped hoses.

“Before the event we replaced all the hoses on the car which lightened it by four pounds and they worked a treat,” Zappia said.

The third session was postponed to Sunday morning due to oildowns taking the track to curfew. Zappia elected to sit the session out, with improvement unlikely on the warm track.

“We decided to sit on the 5.74 and do our maintenance ready for eliminations. It was warm out there but it wasn’t too bad and Scotty MacLean got in the show with a 5.87, bumping out Kelvin Lyle.”

As well as doing his own maintenance, Zappia was helping Lyle (Top Doorslammer) and Russell Taylor (Top Alcohol) with their tune ups too. When the news came through about Belleri withdrawing, Lyle was back into the field and had a first round confrontation with the Fuchs Monaro.

“I worked with Kelvin and looked at the data and put a tune up in to get him into the fives for the 7.30 shootout for non-qualifiers. Then after that we had a phone call saying Belleri had pulled out and Kelvin was in. I talked to Kelvin and said he was running me and was he happy with the changes, did he want to throw more at it and try and beat me? He said he was happy with what we had given him.”

Neither racer took it easy in the first round. Lyle got the jump with an excellent .040 reaction time to Zappia’s .073 and it took all of Zappia’s 5.77 to get around a personal best 6.000 from Lyle, just missing his first five second pass. Zappia’s team was pleased not just with the win but also a new personal best speed of 256.7mph – though it may have had something to do with the long way Zappia took to the finish line.

“The car launched and went to the right and I punched second gear, missing the centre line by four inches. It was a bit too close for comfort!”

The semi final turned into a non-contest when Paul Cannuli had difficulties starting in the Sean Mifsud Duster, Zappia running a 5.79 with a slightly early shut off after he saw something spraying on the windscreen.

With the final round imminent, some last minute changes were made to the suspension to keep the Fuchs Monaro in the centre of the track and stepping up the horsepower to match the improving track, where the final round would see Zappia against Frank Mamone.

“It went to the right a little again but nowhere near as much and we got the win with a 5.72. There is a bit left in the car yet, we had everything on the safe side as we did some engine damage the week before. But we didn’t lose much performance for the gains in reliability, especially considering the weather.”

Zappia will next head to the ANDRA Grand Finals at Adelaide International Raceway, before returning back home for the Motorplex Grand Final.

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Goldenstates win a rocky road for Zappia

John Zappia is continuing his charge towards a tenth ANDRA Top Doorslammer Championship on the back of a challenging but rewarding Goldenstates at Perth Motorplex.

Zappia and the Fuchs Monaro won the event from the Northern Territory’s Scott MacLean, but it followed problems that began right from the first qualifying session on Friday.

All seemed well until around half track when a lean condition in one cylinder caused a chain reaction of events leading to a supercharger backfire.

“The lean cylinder melted the spark plug, so the spark plug was glowing and that caused the backfire, which broke the blower studs and the burst panel,” Zappia explained. “The motor seemed okay but on further inspection we found a bent rod in that cylinder.”

By the time the problem was discovered, the Fuchs team were left with no time to make it out for the second qualifying session which would mean a do-or-die pass in the final qualifying session to make it into the eight-car race day field.

“Being on the outside looking in for the final session is never a nice feeling but we put more fuel into that cylinder and more fuel across the motor generally, went back out and hit a 5.70 at 255mph,” Zappia said.

That pass was Zappia’s second fastest speed ever and the quick elapsed time put the Fuchs Monaro to the front of the field, destined for a match up against Pino Priolo in round one.

Servicing the engine overnight, the team discovered a slightly bent exhaust valve, but were able to have the motor ready for action by the next day.

The first round race against Priolo appeared to be decided early when the Budget Forklifts Chev spun the tyres early in the run, but Zappia had his own problems when he lifted the supercharger in another backfire.

“That run had by far the fastest half track speed we have had at 204mph but then shortly past half track it banged the blower off and we rolled through with the chutes out for a 6.01,” he said. “Needless to say this time we got straight into the motor and sure enough the rod was bent again, so we went for a new rod and piston and we only just got the work finished in time to make it back for the semi finals.”

There Zappia would face Mark Belleri in the ACDelco Monaro, the two top contenders in the points going head to head. Belleri took the holeshot but Zappia fought back quickly for a 5.74 win to a 5.94.

“The crew worked their butts off just to make that run happen and we were surprised by how quick it went given how much more fuel we put into the tune up,” he said.

“In the mean time we watched Scott MacLean run a personal best 5.78 with a .000 reaction time and it was like ‘woah’. We needed to find something extra.”

The Fuchs team returned to the pits and leaned the tune up off a touch, careful not to move back into the supercharger-busting zone, while making the clutch a little more aggressive. Zappia was cautious not to push too far.

“We knew they (the MacLean Motorsport team) were going to throw a tune up at it and go somewhere they hadn’t been before so we had to go where we were confident,” he said.

MacLean was again strong on the reaction times with a .014 to Zappia’s .088 and the early advantage was with MacLean until he got out of the groove and the Fuchs Monaro was able to take the lead.

“From the crowd’s point of view it looked like it was neck and neck, I probably went past about mid track,” Zappia said of the final run.

“The final was great for the fans and everyone was pretty excited. Scott is getting on to it and cutting exceptional lights that we haven’t seen anyone else cut. To go .000 and then .014 is pretty scary, normally times like that are reserved for automatics but he is doing it with a clutch. That is something we need to be aware of and I need to improve my reaction times. It’s half me and it’s half in the car set up, I just need to get a bit more aggressive in the car off the line and hopefully that will end those holeshots.”

Zappia, who is looking for a co-naming rights sponsor to join Fuchs on the side of his record setting Holden Monaro Top Doorslammer, is now eyeing the Westernationals where he could potentially win his tenth championship if results go his way. The team will focus on making sure every cylinder in the motor is happy on the track.

“We were pushing the engine harder and we were close to the edge of not being happy,” he said. “We need to find out why all the cylinders aren’t happy and adjust things to make it reliable for next meeting. We learned a lot on the weekend and we think that will convert to quick times in the future.”

The Westernationals will take place at Perth Motorplex on March 4 and 5. Zappia Racing looks forward to seeing their fans at the track for the long weekend, where they will have a surprise waiting in the pits!

Results

QUALIFYING
1. J. ZAPPIA 5.708
2. S. MACLEAN 5.825
3. G. O’ROURKE 5.871
4. M. BELLERI 5.909
5. D. GREGORINI 5.942
6. S. FENECH 5.979
7. S. ALDRIDGE 6.089
8. P. PRIOLO 6.143
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9. K. LYLE 6.164
10. R. MORESBY 6.252
11. F. TAYLOR 6.475
12. P. CAREY 10.625

ELIMINATIONS
ROUND 1
J. ZAPPIA 6.013 DEF P. PRIOLO 11.473

ROUND 2
J. ZAPPIA 5.744 DEF M. BELLERI 5.944

FINAL
J. ZAPPIA 5.713 DEF S. MACLEAN 5.918


 

Photo courtesy Drag News Magazine http://www.dragnews.com.au (high resolution image available here)

ANDRA Australian Nationals @ Calder Park Raceway  Saturday 28 JAN 2017  (74416)

Zappia wins Australian Nationals and extends lead in ANDRA Championship

Top Doorslammer Champ John Zappia showed who was boss this weekend at Calder Park Raceway in Victoria with a commanding performance of tuning and driving in the ANDRA 2017 Australian Nationals.

Eight teams entered for the event run over 1,000 feet instead of the full 1320 feet (1/4 mile) – but only seven presented for qualifying on the Saturday. There was plenty of interest in the event outcome, with the high profile teams battling it out for points, trophies and bragging rights.

Zappia racing were sporting signage from new supporting sponsors Motec, CP Carillo, Speed Flow and Biante – manufacturer of an 1/8 scale model of the Fuchs HQ Monaro soon to be released.

On the Saturday Zappia – the only team to manage a four second pass, and a tenth ahead of the pack – dominated qualifying.

“We made three passes all pretty similar – 5.00 @ 223mph with a pedal, a fish tailing 4.91 @ 222mph, and a 4.91 @ 221mph on the second gear rev limiter to Top Qualify. The crew and I were pretty happy with that”.

The Round 1 matchup was against old rival Victory Bray – fresh from a runner up run at his previous event. The Fuchs Monaro was way too strong for the Chevy and Zappia progressed to Round 2. Ben Bray and Paul Canulli had good wins in the other matchups.

“There were a lot of accusations from a certain team that I had some sort of computerized traction control in the car and was challenged to run the next pass without the Motec computer dash and expander. ANDRA’s competition manager was given the Motec computer and Expander to hold while we ran our solo semi-final without any electronic devices. I was to make the semi-final pass without my Motec dash/computer – no tacho, no shift lights or any possibility of illegal electronic control. I wanted to put this long-standing rumor to bed”.

Zappia silenced his critics with a 4.919 @ 223mph on his solo without any aids – driving and shifting by sound and feel.

Canulli got himself a finals berth by putting Ben Bray away in the other run of the round after Bray crossed the centerline and hit the timing cones.

“We were really keen to set the speed record for Calder 1,000 feet, as we already have the Track ET Record. The car was really strong but as we didn’t get any data from the previous two runs – one due to computer malfunction and the other due to running with all electronics removed from the racecar in the semi. We made a slight clutch adjustment based on our previous 60 foot time and faced off against Sean Mifsud’s Plymouth Duster driven by Paul Canulli. Paul has beaten us before, so I was on guard and pretty focused”.

The final was a race of two cars in the same class but very different in their setups. The Fuchs Monaro is a screw blown car using a clutch, whereas the Duster is a roots blown car with a converter. Both having different driving characteristics and performance when on the track.

Zappia managed the win with a 4.903 @ 225.33mph – just short of the track record – to Canulli’s 5.118 @ 219mph.

“Great win for Fuchs and all our sponsors. With the win, Top Qualifying and Low ET we picked up 113 points to stretch our lead in the Australian Championship to 117 points ahead of Mark Belleri, with three rounds still to go”.

The Zappia Racing Team now head back to Perth for the Goldenstates at the Perth Motorplex this weekend, the 3rd – 4th February, where a healthy twelve teams have entered the ANDRA Championship event and complimented by Top Bike.

This will be followed with the Westernationals – also at Perth Motorplex on the 4th-5th March – where we are expecting an even bigger field of Top Doorslammers and complimented by Top Alcohol and Top Bike.

“Get down to the Perth Motorplex for both these events and bring the kids to enjoy the racing, meet their hero’s, buy signed merchandise and to have fun in the kid’s zone”.

QUALIFYING

1.          J ZAPPIA HQ MONARO 4.911 @ 221.74MPH

2.          B BRAY CORVETTE 5.020 @ 220.98MPH

3.          MARK BELLERI 5.070 @ 220.91MPH

4.          PAUL CANULLI 5.076@ 219.51MPH

5.          SAM FENECH 5.121 @ 215.79MPH

6.          VICTOR BRAY 5.301 @ 214.86MPH

Robin Taylor in his new 68 Camaro did not complete a full pass under power so was not able to compete in eliminations.

ROUND 1

P CANNULLI PLYMOUTH 5.079 @ 219MPH DEF M BELLERI 06 MONARO 5.245 @ 216MPH

B BRAY CORVETTE 5.098 @ 221MPH DEF S FENECH CAMARO 5.984 @ 132MPH

J ZAPPIA HQ HOLDEN 4.890 @ 224MPH DEF V BRAY CHEV 5.405 @ 199MPH

ROUND 2

P CANNULLI PLYMOUTH 5.164 @ 218MPH DEF B BRAY 5.340 @ 194MPH

J ZAPPIA HQ MONARO (SOLO) 4.919 @ 223MPH

FINAL

J ZAPPIA HQ HOLDEN 4.903 @ 225.33MPH DEF P CANNULLI PLYMOUTH 5.118 @ 219MPH

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Photos from Michelle Porobic at Bright Design

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Zappia leads Championship after Round 3

The Zappia Racing crew traveled to Adelaide last week and attended the ANDRA Championship Dinner before Round 3, and Zap was presented with his Top Doorslammer Championship Gold Christmas Tree for 2015/2016 – his ninth back-to-back championship.

“Many thanks to ANDRA for supporting racers and Group 1, and Snap-on for the vouchers. This Gold Christmas Tree is prestigious and I am so proud of what we have achieved as a team together for this Championship. It means everything to me as a racer and team owner – drag racing is our life. I presented my ANDRA Championship Jacket this year to longtime dedicated crew member Frank Cook, who works so hard for the team”.

Adelaide International Raceway hosted the SA Summer Nationals, which included Round 3 of the ANDRA Top Doorslammer Championship. Four Top Doorslammer teams entered over the 1,000 feet distance. Zappia was back hoping to win the round and improving his chance for another championship, the Fabietti team with Belleri driving nipping at his heals, O’Rourke appearing out of retirement, and the Chapman brothers traveling from Perth in their immaculate Fury.

John Zappia set the pace during the meeting with skillful driving and tuning of the “Crusher” HQ Monaro.

“We were confident we could lead the others based on our previous runs here” said Zappia, “The Fuchs Monaro has the power, and we had good data from previous meetings to go on”.

Qualifying on Saturday saw some wild driving and on-the-edge performances from these monster door cars – the quickest in the nation. The track really challenges drivers, and adds to the already adrenalin pumped driving experience with unpredictable behavior.

“Things can get out of shape pretty quick here with the horsepower we have and the way we launch. Gearing and clutch selection and getting the car balanced for the conditions are critical”.

After three rounds of qualifying over the 1000 ft distance it was the champ Zap on top with a blistering 4.996 @ 205.01 mph in his HQ Monaro, followed by Grant O’Rourke on 5.137 @ 206.23 mph in the all black Pontiac. Mark Belleri was third on 5.175 @ 212.36 mph in the AC Delco Monaro, and Mark Chapman managed a 5.282 @ 211.56 in the Fury.

Unfortunately Mark Chapman smacked the wall, had parachute issues and ended up in the sand damaging his front end. Hopefully it won’t be long until he is back pushing the limits in his Fury.

“First pass the car left hard, rattled on the 2nd gear shift and moved around causing me to pedal and run a 5.04 @ 216 mph. We stepped up the tune for the second run and it left harder but still rattled and a pedaling 4.99 @ 205 mph won us Top Qualifier position. I got disoriented not knowing where the 1,000 feet finish line was, and got off too early on both those runs. The sun had gone down for the third pass and the track temp was down, so on the 1-2 shift the Fuchs Monaro darted left and hit a cone – so I got out of that one. What a wild ride”.

Sunday morning saw rain and blustery winds set in for the day so the meeting was cancelled at 11;00am. 40 points were awarded to all qualifiers, with Zap taking Top Qualifier and Low ET, and Belleri taking Top Speed.

Zappia leads the 2016/2017 ANDRA Top Doorslammer Championship on 237 points, with four more rounds to go. Belleri (182 points), O’Rourke (161) and Ben Bray (154) are within striking distance with a lot more racing to decide this year’s champion.

“We are really concentrating on winning this Championship for Fuchs and all our team, sponsors and supporters”.

Next meeting for the team will be the Night of Fire on Boxing Day at the Perth Motorplex, where the Fuchs Monaro will present for some local Top Doorslammer racing. The night will feature 4 Jets, Summer Slam, Freestyle MotoX, fireworks sky show and kids fun zone in the pits.

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John Zappia accepts his 2015/2016 ANDRA Top Doorslammer Championship Christmas Tree

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Photos from Michelle Porobic at Bright Design

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Zappia Resets Track Record at WA Champs

The Perth Motorplex hosted the first round of the new Summer Slam series for the growing number of Western Australian Top Doorslammer teams in Perth, and the WA Drag Racing Championship event this weekend saw eight teams compete for the coveted title.
 
Zap ran a wheel standing and pedaled 5.881 @ 405.12 km/h (251.73mph) off the trailer in the non-compulsory qualifier run in beautiful sunny conditions with an 8 knot headwind.
 
In the compulsory 6pm qualifier, Zap top qualified with a 5.855 @ 403.83 km/h (250.93 mph) – ahead of new “5 Second Club” member Mark Chapman on 5.972 @ 378.82 km/h (235.39 mph), returning Daniel Gregorini on 5.997 @ 389.77 km/h (242.19 mph), the improving Steve Aldridge on 6.151 @ 385.39 km/h (239.47 mph), Pino Priolo on 6.218 @ 386.81 km/h (240.35 mph), and Ryan Morseby on 6.543 @ 313.24 km/h (194.64 mph).
 
Two new Top Doorslammers graced the Perth Motorplex – the stunning Mustang of Kelvin Lyle, and smooth looking Cheville of Frank Taylor were both in attendance going through licensing with their first runs. Both managed half passes that would have pleased their respective owners and crew. Also licensing was the returning Tracey De Jager with a new engine combo in Nitrous Nana.
 
First round winners in the three match-ups were Zappia with a pedaled 5.794 @ 408.67 km/h (252.69 mph), Chapman with a 7.079 after both smoked the tyres on the hit, and Gregorini with a powerhouse 5.896 @ 390.00 km/h (242.33 mph).
 
“The Fuchs Monaro had some serious power today with the weather being so cold and good air” said Zappia, “The car has been wheel standing a lot in first gear, then will start to tyre shake, and I had to pedal on each run including the 5.794 run – pretty amazing really to go that quick with a pedal.”
 
The B Final saw Mark Chapman back up his earlier “first five” with another – defeating Steve Aldridge’s 6.086 @ 389.54 km/h (242.05 mph and PB) with a 5.990 @ 390.04 km/h (242.36 mph). Both teams were delighted with their results.
 
In the cool conditions Zappia met rival Gregorini in the A Final, and it was a good match up of Perth’s top doorslammer racers. Gregorini had the advantage on the light with a 0.058” reaction ahead of Zap’s 0.094”, but Gregorini overpowered the track only to see Zappia disappear ahead of him, stunning the crowd and fellow competitors with a powerful performance to win the final and reset the track speed record with his 5.717 @ 412.6 km/h (256.38 mph).
 
“The car shook the tyres at the top of first gear – so I did the quickest of pedals with the throttle and shifted gears. I could feel it pulling so hard. The shift light came up very quickly in second and again in third and I knew it was on a mission.”
 
“Such a great win and huge speed tonight for the team and a credit to Southside Engine Centre, and Bravo Resources for their machining and welding. This is also only the second race meeting with a new Aeromotive fuel pump feeding the screw hemi fuel system.”
 
“I have been away in the USA for the SEMA Show, meeting up with our USA Sponsors and watching some Pro Mod racing at Las Vegas. At the show I was able to meet up with sponsors Speedmaster, Aeromotive Inc. (Serious Fuel Systems), and Aurora Bearing Company. I then paid a visit to Reid Rockers before heading to the NHRA Finals at Pomona – catching up with Hoosier Tires, B&J Racing Transmissions and Noonan Race Engineering.”
 
“Also at the NHRA finals was Greg Gower from Alky Pro, showing some of the US racers the upgraded Alky Pro software with integrated weather station and phone app. This setup has made our tuning and keeping on top of the changing weather conditions much easier with no manual input required.”
 
“Also a big thank you to all our local and interstate sponsors who have been with us for many years – Striker Crushing and Screening, Dananni Hotshots, Southside Engine Centre, Crow Cams, Santhuff Shocks, Bravo Resources, Avtrac Maintenance Tracking, Appealing Signs, Advantage Tyres, PPG, Engel, Final Drive, CIC, K Craft Bullbars, Kounis Metal Industries and Legend Boatbuilders.”
 
“We are also assisting Kelvin Lyle with his new Top Doorslammer setup and tune, and it looks like there is potentially another really quick car here in Perth, and on the national circuit. Look out for this car.”
 
“My crew were on song this weekend – mature, experienced and steady. Gave me confidence to tune both cars on the day and drive knowing the Fuchs Monaro is always presented for racing at championship standard.”
 
“Big thanks to Fuchs Lubricants for their sponsorship here at Zappia Racing – we have been able to stay number one with their amazing support and highest quality lubricants. We look forward to representing them at Round 3 of the ANDRA Top Doorslammer Championship at the Summer Nationals at Adelaide International Raceway on 3-4th December. Let’s hope the big power of the Fuchs Monaro can bring home the win.”
 
“We would also like to thank Perth Motorplex management and staff who delivered a good race track and worked tirelessly to keep the event flowing and exciting.”
 
“Our next Perth meeting will be on Boxing Day (26th Dec) at the Perth Motorplex. We hope to see lots of our friends and supporters come down and watch us race and celebrate Christmas as we prepare for the upcoming Golden States and Westernationals meetings at Perth Motorplex in February and March.”
Photos courtesy Drag News www.dragnews.com.au
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