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ZAPPIA’S SUMMER SLAM DOMINANCE CONTINUES

John Zappia’s new Noonan engine combination paid off immediately at Perth Motorplex on Sunday as he wrapped up the win in the Summer Slam bracket as part of the ANDRA Grand Finals.

Zappia’s Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro qualified second with a safe 5.770, before stepping up for a 5.724 win against Frank Taylor in the elimination round and then a 5.760 pass to win the final, after opponent Daniel Gregorini left before the green light with a mechanical issue.

Zappia finished second for the Summer Slam championship overall, despite missing two events of the seven round series. He made the final of every event he attended and won three of those five finals. In fact, Zappia has made the final round of every single Summer Slam event he has attended since the series begin in 2016 – thirteen in total.

“The national series was our priority if there was a clash of dates with the Summer Slam series we opted for the national series. The Summer Slam series has been a great initiative in Perth thanks to Kelvin Lyle and his company Direct Mining and Industrial for sponsoring the series and hopefully it will be bigger and better next season” he said.

“You only have to look at the numbers the field are running. The opportunity to go racing so much is giving everyone the data they need to go fast.”

After a 1000 feet shut off pass to perform a systems check on his first qualifying run, Zappia returned for a 5.77, where he battled tyre shake in what has been a constant theme for the team at Perth Motorplex this season.

“We worked our butts off for two weeks to put together two new Noonan motors,” Zappia said. “We were still finishing them off on Saturday morning before leaving for the track to setup.”

“With the ANDRA Grand Finals being a two day event, we did our maintenance overnight and were able to go over everything closely for race day where we were due to take on Frank Taylor.

“Unfortunately Frank had some problems after his burnout and we had to take the solo. The car got through first gear without rattling the tyres which was fantastic, though I short shifted at 8900rpm. The Noonan horsepower took over from there and we were able to take the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro to a 5.72 win light, which was low ET of the event.”

The impressive run secured a finals spot for Zappia, where he would take on Daniel Gregorini.

“The final against Daniel was a strange one. As all the stage beams came on, Daniel rolled the beams with a mechanical issue. I was distracted to the sound of the early launch or the red light. Not sure, but it messed up my own staging routine. I was carrying about 1300 revs more than normal and the car crept forward, so as I went to launch the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro it moved further forward and had too many revs for our normal launch. The additional revs created too much wheel speed so I had to pedal it to drop the front end and punched second gear for a 5.76/255mph, which was our best speed of the weekend.”

Zappia said the team was taking a conservative approach with a new engine, though the track and air conditions were outstanding.

“There was 5.60 potential in that air and we are starting to figure out how to make it go through without shaking. We’ve struggled at Kwinana with tyre shake but showed a lot of improvement in eliminating the tyre shake issue we have had,” he said.

“The air was killer. I didn’t do the air justice because we were just taking small steps with the engine to bring the performance back in.”

With the Perth season now at a close, Zappia Racing will focus on the 400 Thunder Professional Drag Racing Series, where Pro Slammers will next compete at Sydney Dragway for Nitro Thunder on the 3 – 4th of May.

“It will be a great opportunity to catch up with our East Coast Sponsors, fans and supporters and hopefully achieve finals success in what will be a hotly contested event.”

Photos thanks to Haley Turns

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ZAPPIA TESTS NEW IDEAS IN SUMMER SLAM

John Zappia has turned mad scientist recently with his Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro, testing a variety of theories in the Summer Slam Series at Perth Motorplex on Saturday.

Using his third-in-line spare engine, Zappia reached the final of the Summer Slam before a lean condition in one cylinder resulted in a blown burst panel, allowing Mark Chapman to come around the outside for victory.

Zappia said the third spare engine was one that hadn’t been used for three years and there was a learning curve to update its tune to new components. The team also decided to test a four speed B&J Transmission.

“There was definitely a learning curve at this event,” he explained.

“On our first qualifying run we had a major air leak and we ran out of air before it got to the finish line, slowing to a 5.86.

“We fixed that, came out for the second run and it had quicker increments to the eighth mile going 3.79, but then it burned a spark plug and banged the burst panel. I pushed the clutch in and rolled through and we settled for qualifying second with our first pass.”

The elimination round saw Zappia take on Frank Taylor. This time the troubles seemed to be over with just a quick pedal needed to get through slight tyre shake and a 5.72/254mph appearing on the timing boards.

“The previous best we had done with this engine was a 5.75 at 250mph. We were pretty impressed and knew we were heading in the right direction,” Zappia said.

“We had put more fuel into cylinder one to solve the lean issue and we got a great pass in for the win.”

The performance came at the right time, granting Zappia a spot in the A Final against Chapman. There the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro left well before the number one cylinder came back to haunt the team.

“For the final we left with a very quick 0.962 60 foot time and the car went dead straight. It only just rattled and I pedalled to shift early. All was going good until it melted the number one spark plug again and popped the burst panel. I tried to hang on to the finish line but Mark got around me with a slightly quicker 5.94 to our 5.97.”

With the team able to test many different setups on the car at the last few events, Zappia will return at the ANDRA Grand Finals in just over a week with a brand new Noonan engine to combine horsepower with the four speed B&J Transmission.

“We are quite excited to come out with the new Noonan motor for the Grand Final,” he said. “We are starting to get a handle on the four speed as well, so hopefully we can take the next step and aim for consistency and added performance.

“More gears seems to be the way to go but we need to put more laps on it. When we were running for a championship we didn’t want to risk trying the four speed as we hadn’t done enough passes in testing. As we are in R&D mode we want to test as many different things as possible and hopefully we will find something better to take with us to Sydney for Nitro Thunder in May.

“We are really building our parts depth so both our number one and number two engines will be Noonan engines with Noonan cylinder heads. We can also service the motor we ran on the weekend and have it go back to being our third spare, knowing what it needs to be happy.”

Zappia Racing is looking forward to seeing as many sponsors, supporters and fans as possible come out to the Perth Motorplex on April 6 and 7 for the Grand Final event, featuring the finals of the Summit Sportsman Series with many of the top eastern states sportsman racers competing against local racers for the championship.

Photo: Jay Treasure

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ZAPPIA RUNNER UPS IN THRILLING FINAL AT WESTERNATIONALS

John Zappia will remember the 2019 Westernationals at Perth Motorplex as ‘the one that got away’ after a close fought final round.

The Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro qualified in the number one position with a 5.72 second time, but the performance was throttled by tyre shake, which Zappia was trying to fend off both in the tune up and from the driver’s seat.

“The Noonan engine was making plenty of power but we had this dreaded rattle of the tyres at the top of first gear on every run,” he said.

“Pedalling the car isn’t the end of the world because it only costs somewhere between five hundredths and a tenth of a second, but we weren’t seeing the true potential of the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro.”

Zappia’s path through eliminations saw him take on Marty Dack in round one, taking a 5.75 to 6.07 victory. That was followed up by a 5.72 win over Steve Aldridge’s 5.96, setting up a final against Daniel Gregorini’s Camaro.

“Daniel was running career-best times and we were only three hundredths of a second apart, so if we left the tune where it was and pedalled it, it was going to be very close,” Zappia explained.

“With that in mind, we decided we had to try and fix the shake and so we make changes to the tune up to smooth out first gear. The change actually worked, but then I made a driver error and anticipated tyre shake instead of feeling it, and pedalled the car. If I had held my foot flat we would have been fine!

“That was all Daniel needed. He had the better reaction time and that gave him the edge, even though our runs had nearly identical ETs.

“Congratulations to Daniel and his team. They had a consistent car and we came up 0.028 seconds short. We had Parry Bitsikas from Muscle Car Warehouse over from Sydney and unfortunately couldn’t take out the gold Christmas tree for him.

“We had a dream weekend mechanically. The Noonan engine in combination with the Crow Cam, Reid rockers, CP Carrillo rods, B&J transmission and the Boninfante clutch and plates was running strong with a best speed of 257.48mph. We had a fresh set of Hoosier tyres on and we haven’t had an issue.”

The runner up result was still good news for Zappia, who moved into equal fifth position for the Summer Slam Series overall, despite missing two events.

“The Summer Slam Series is becoming ultra competitive, everyone in the field has run a five second pass now,” he said.

“We will see if we can’t get rid of this tyre shake and be back in the 5.6s.”

Zappia will now compete in the final two rounds of the WA Summer Slam Series, taking place at Perth Motorplex on March 23 and April 6-7.

Photos: Jay Treasure

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Perth offers redemption for Zappia with Summer Slam win

John Zappia has taken out his second Summer Slam event of the season at Perth Motorplex, striking back from a horror Sydney trip.

Zappia had his spare motor in the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro for his home track after breaking the crankshaft of his main engine at the Santo’s Summer Thunder event last month. With virtually identical parts there was no shortage of Noonan horsepower on board.

“The Sydney deal saw a broken crankshaft do a fair bit of damage,” Zappia said. “The vibrations broke and shook loose a lot of parts around the engine area. The Zappia Racing crew did a great job of rebuilding the car and getting it into tip top shape.

“We had a new Aeromotive fuel pump aboard, a fresh Boninfante clutch from the USA Noonan Camaro, our spare motor and spare blower.”

The first step during Nitro Night was qualifying and the team approached the first session with a safe tune up with so many forced changes to their normal setup.

“We had a lot of stuff that was different in the car so we started off safe and rich,” Zappia said. “It was a bit weak on the first one and it rattled the tyres. We pedalled for a 5.87 with an early shut off, because it was really windy and we were gun shy about releasing the chutes into the headwind.”

Zappia and his expert team fine tuned the motor for the second qualifying session and found improvement.

“We trimmed it up a bit and it went a 5.83 in the compulsory qualifier, which qualified us second behind Daniel Gregorini’s 5.78 personal best,” he said.

Eliminations beckoned, where Zappia took on Frank Taylor’s Chevelle.

“We stepped it up and found some more performance after finding some things in the pits that were slightly out from where we would normally run them,” Zappia said.

“Frank got a little jump on me at the start line but we clawed it back and ran a 5.73 at 255mph into a stiff headwind – we were very happy with that speed given the conditions. But again, like every pass before, it was rattling the tyres and needed a small pedal.”

The win saw Zappia into the final of his second Summer Slam event of the season, where he would face top qualifier Gregorini.

“We had lane choice by five hundredths of a second and in our preferred left lane we were hoping to be back in the five sixties,” Zappia said.

“The car left hard with the wheels up and it barely went into tyre shake. I still gave it a small pedal and we went through for a 5.70/256mph, which is the quickest we have run while pedalling. Considering our quickest pass at Perth Motorplex is a 5.66 it goes to show the Noonan power we have on board right now.”

Unfortunately Gregorini received a red light on the start line, denying what would have been an entertaining final round.

Zappia will be back at Perth Motorplex in just over a week for round six of the WA Drag Racing Championships where he will compete in Top Comp.

“We have good speed at the moment so hopefully we have an event without a headwind and we can really see what the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro will do,” he said.

“It was a relief that the motor was in excellent condition at the end of the Nitro Night on the weekend. We will see if we can tune the last of the tyre shake out of this thing and make some full runs in the 5.6s.”

Photo: Jay Treasure

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Right runs but not the right rounds for Zappia

John Zappia was left to rue what might have been for the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots team at Sydney Dragway on Saturday.

The team’s event began on Friday where they took part in two test sessions in difficult conditions but mustered the quickest times of the category.

“There was a heatwave in Sydney and with 4000 feet of air density and 100 water grains the conditions were about as bad as it gets,” Zappia explained. “But we managed to come out with a 5.76/251mph which was two tenths ahead of anyone else.

“We stepped it up for the next one and went 5.73/252mph.”

Another test session was held on Saturday before racing began and Zappia made another full pass, albeit having to put some work in on the steering wheel.

“We put a bit more in it for the Saturday but we staged crooked, The car went left and got out of the groove but I got it back for a 5.76/254. That showed there was some pretty stout horsepower in the Noonan Hemi.”

The team prepared for the first round of racing where they took on Michelle Davies, who recently became Australia’s quickest woman in a Pro Slammer.

“Michelle’s Mustang has been running regular five second passes lately, so we needed another clean run,” Zappia said. “We got out well but then the car seemed to have a misfire and we only put a 5.79/250mph down. I knew we had an issue.”

The Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots crew replaced all the electronics before round two where Zappia faced Ben Bray. But the problem reared its head once more.

“As soon as I dropped the clutch the car had a shudder in it and it didn’t have power. I got to 900 feet and it started vibrating and I knew we had kicked rods or something.”

When the team opened the motor in the pits they discovered a broken crankshaft, four broken valves and a host of other damage caused by the intense vibrations.

“The crankshaft only had 24 runs on it, so we have no idea why it broke,” Zappia said. “That in turn damaged the clutch, shook the fuel pump loose, shook the blower off the manifold and even broke the injector hat.”

The injector hat proved the fatal blow for the team.

“We changed the engine and the rain gave us more time, but it only takes one part you haven’t got to put you out and for us that was a spare injector hat. Ours is unique and needed welding.

“With so much damage we really wanted to check the whole car out and find the problem. We needed to make sure the transmission was okay as well, because when you break a crankshaft it can cause damage throughout the drive train.

“There were no holes in the block thankfully, just a big dent in the oil pan. It looked alright from the outside, but it didn’t look pretty when we pulled it apart.

“It’s not good for our points chase but at the end of the day we couldn’t risk any more damage with such a catastrophic failure. We need to go over everything at home, then come back out at the Motorplex and continue with our R&D program.

“It was great to have Parry Bitsikas from Muscle Car Warehouse join us at the event and unfortunately we weren’t able to produce our best for him.

“Also a big congratulations to Sam Fenech and the JSS Racing team for an outstanding performance all weekend and we were glad to see that Sam was okay after his horrific accident in the final.”

Zappia will next be on track for Perth Motorplex’s Nitro Night on February 2.

There has also been some exciting news on the model car front recently with a second version of the Biante diecast set to become available.

“We are taking orders now. You don’t have to pay the money up front, we just want to know how many Biante should make as they create them to order,” Zappia said.

Interested fans can email zappiaracing@ozemail.com.au to place an order.

Photo: Drag News Magazine

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Mixed fortunes for Zappia after class best of 5.64

A mixed weekend at Queensland’s Willowbank Raceway has seen John Zappia predicting a Pro Slammer championship that may well come down to the wire later this 400 Thunder season.

Zappia took two wins from three rounds as part of the New Years Thunder event on Saturday, but a wild run in round two saw the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Holden Monaro cross the centre line and give up a potential final round place against eventual winner Paul Mouhayet.

Changing track conditions proved a challenge for the team, who tested positively before the event before taking on race day.

“We started off a bit too stout in testing, taking some timing blocks out on out first run after going 3.76 to half track,” Zappia explained.

“We came back for another shot and blew the tyres off early, then backed off the clutch to get down for a 5.64/254mph late in the night. We were pretty happy with that, so we decided to sit out the hot 2.30pm sighting run on race day and come out ready for the first round.”

Zappia took on Paul Cannuli for round one and made it through for his first win light of the day.

“We backed it off a bit more for the first round of racing but not enough. I had to pedal and it shook, so I punched second and it kept shaking. We went 5.89/252mph and got the win fortunately.”

Zappia next took on relatively new Pro Slammer racer Emilio Spinozzi, whose consistency has been paying dividends. The track conditions were tricky as Zappia searched for the right path down the famous Willowbank Raceway quarter mile.

“We did all our testing in the left lane but on race day we found there were a lot of bald spots (areas of thin or no rubber) near the start line so lane choice for most teams seemed to be the right lane. We had to stage the car carefully to make sure we had the optimum path of rubber.

“We kept the car staged slightly left against Emilio and when we launched it ended up going more and more left and before I knew it I saw a timing block coming. I crossed the centreline and that was the end of the second round and our finals chances.”

Disappointed to give up the win, Zappia had to regroup for the third round against old nemesis Ben Bray.

“We didn’t touch the car’s set up and came back the next round against Ben Bray. As I went into stage I looked up and I had double bulbed myself (gone into full stage immediately). I had no startline revs up, so I tried to reverse and back up a little but that didn’t work. In fact it got worse because the car went forward a little and now I was in very deep stage. Ben’s staging lights came on and I got on the revs, I took a guess and dropped the clutch and got near to our launch RPM. The time card shows a 1.08 60 foot because of the deep stage but fortunately our 5.80 was enough to scrape by.”

With a 39 point deficit to Mouhayet, Zappia knows there is much work to do in the final three rounds of the 400 Thunder Pro Slammer Championship.

“Two of the meetings to come are all run formats where it is hard to claw back points. For us to chase down Paul we will need to be perfect and it may be one of those championships that all comes down to the final round at the Winternationals.”

The Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots team next head to Sydney Dragway for Santo’s Summer Thunder on January 18 and 19. Zappia commended Sydney Dragway’s track preparation at recent events and says even in the heat, the times will likely be quick.

“We would love nothing more than a race track where we can run a string of 5.60s. It’s only a matter of getting this car to go down the track without needing a pedal.

“We have to claw some points back so we need superior performance and consistency to be able to do that.”

Zappia also wished to pass on his best wishes to fellow Pro Slammer racer Kelvin Lyle, who had a nasty accident during racing.

“We’ve had a close relationship with Kelvin and his team over the years, supplying the ZR1 horsepower in his awesome Ford Mustang,” Zappia said. “It was a rough accident and we wish Kelvin all the best in his recovery and we know he will be back quicker than ever once he is up and about.”

Photo: dragphotos.com.au

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Zappia beats WA’s best in Top Comp tussle at Perth Motorplex

John Zappia and the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro have kept a perfect season at Perth Motorplex in tact with victory at the third round of the WA Drag Racing Championships on Saturday.

After winning the opening round of the Summer Slam Series in November, Zappia had a different challenge – Top Comp. This drag racing division is unique to Western Australia and combines Top Doorslammers, Top Alcohol Dragsters and Funny Cars, plus supercharged Comp vehicles on a variety of handicaps.

After skipping the first qualifying session, Zappia came out for the compulsory qualifying session where a pedalling 6.34 second run that would leave him in sixth position for the 12-car field.

“We over did it a bit on that run,” he said. “But everyone else was having some trouble too so we actually qualified okay in the order.”

Zappia was seeded against Frank Taylor’s Top Doorslammer Chevelle for the elimination round. There the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots team returned to the form they are renowned for running a 5.68 at 253.94mph for the win and a spot in the A Final.

“We backed the tune off a little bit and down it went for the 5.68,” Zappia explained. “The car performed really well, and we knew that was the run that counted to get us into the A Final.

“(The 5.68) actually came easily. It rattled the tyres early and I short shifted, but it still put a good time up on the boards – so there is plenty left there.”

For the final round Zappia faced one of WA drag racing’s most experienced drivers, Wayne Keys. While Keys and Zappia would normally go ‘heads up’ and get the green light at the same time, Keys’ Chev Camaro is eligible for the AA/AP class and benefited from an easier handicap.

What was building to an entertaining match up became a foregone conclusion when Keys left a red light on the tree.

“I saw Wayne’s red light, I was sure I saw it and had the win so once I saw my amber lights come on I was out of there,” Zappia said.

“We ran a 5.76 on our 5.72 handicap while Wayne went 6.08 on his 6.03 handicap, so had we seen some green lights on the tree it would have been a very close race.

“That’s two wins in a row at Perth Motorplex now so we’d love to try and shoot for a perfect season at our home track.”

With the team race ready, Zappia and crew are now preparing for New Year’s Thunder at Willowbank Raceway on January 5, the third round of the 400 Thunder Pro Slammer Championship.

“Willowbank in January is a different kettle of fish to Willowbank in June when the Winternationals are held,” Zappia said. “In hot conditions it is a different surface to deal with and obviously trickier to get down the track.

Zappia currently sits second in the championship, 15 points behind fellow Western Australian Kelvin Lyle.

“Kelvin’s first win in Sydney was great to see. We didn’t have much luck there so hopefully we can turn our fortunes around in Queensland.”

“Looking forward to catching up with our East Coast Sponsors, Crew and fans to celebrate Christmas and the New Year.”

Cover photo thanks to Perth Motorplex and Phil Luyer from High Octane Photos

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Summer Slam a power victory for Zappia

John Zappia more than made up for a forgettable Sydney trip as he blasted to the winner’s circle at Perth Motorplex during the WA Drag Racing Championships.

Zappia and his Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Hotshots Monaro took out the first round of the Summer Slam, a local series for Top Doorslammers that has proved increasingly popular with competitors and attracted ten entries on the weekend.

With conditions cool and the track tight, Zappia qualified on top of the field with a pedalling 5.77 before belting out a 5.664 second pass in the elimination round against Ryan Moresby’s Dananni Hotshots Ford Falcon.

That set up a final round against Daniel Gregorini’s Camaro, where Zappia was able to clinch a 5.703 second win despite some tyre shake.

“We knew the performance was there from our recent runs in Sydney,” Zappia said. “We put the Noonan engine back in and it performed flawlessly. In the final round we ran one of our best speeds ever in Perth, at 256.88mph – into a head wind! We were pretty impressed with that, as was Parry from Muscle Car Warehouse who surprised us with a visit at the track.

“The handling has been a lot straighter, making the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro a lot easier to drive, and we keep it away from the centre line or the walls.

“Our three qualifying runs all had tyre shake but the 5.66 was perfectly smooth. We put more power in for the final but it rattled at the top of first gear and lost some time, though the car performed really well in the back half of the track.”

Though pleased with the times on the readout boards, Zappia said his home track still holds some secrets.

“It appeared to get better with more laps on it and we were probably a little soft with the clutch for the final,” he said.

“We’ve still got a bit more to work out with the Perth track. The track is only going to get better with more events and given we were able to run 5.66 at the first event of the season, there is a lot of potential for quick passes during the season.

“My next meeting will be December 15 and I believe the surface will be primed by then.”

Photos: Luke Nieuwhof from Dragnews

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Zappia top qualifies but battery failure causes rare first round loss

John Zappia was left to rue what might have been at the second round of the 400 Thunder Pro Slammer Championship in Sydney on Saturday.

Zappia top qualified with a strong 5.66 pass in tricky conditions, earning himself a first round match with New Zealand’s Trevor Smith. After a normal burnout, Zappia noticed the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro showing some odd behaviour.

“I started backing up from the burnout and the Motec dash went black,” he explained. “I thought to myself, ‘Ooh, that is not good.’ But I could drive without it, I didn’t need the shift light and would just listen to the motor.

“But the dash going black was a sign that the voltage in the battery that runs the systems in the car was low. As I went into pre-stage the engine stopped.”

With a reputation for reliability, it was an unusual event for Zappia Racing. Zappia believes that a few factors snowballed into the failure.

“We didn’t have our full crew here this weekend and we changed an engine between qualifying and racing, working until 2.30am. We finished off the rest before racing and we did a lot of warm ups to get the timing right, all of which wears down the battery. We had a spare one fully charged sitting in the tow vehicle and it is one of those things we should have checked, but it is what it is.”

The silver lining for Zappia was that the championship points damage was limited, with rival Paul Mouhayet going out in the second round.

“It would have been the perfect opportunity to pull away and get some more points, especially with Kelvin Lyle taking Paul Mouhayet out in the second round.

“Congratulations to Kelvin on his first win – I’d rather it was Kelvin than anyone else. I’ve been working with him for three years and helping him with his set up.

“There were a lot of upsets and all four teams that made the semi finals had never won an event before. That’s great for the class and shows how exciting the racing is right now.”

New sponsor Parry Bitsikas from Muscle Car Warehouse was unable to attend the meeting due to ill health and we hope he has a full recovery and is able to catch up with the team in the new year when returning to Sydney.

The Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro will be rested for only a few short days before returning to action at Perth Motorplex as part of the Summer Slam at the WA Drag Racing Championships. Ten teams have entered for the Summer Slam, which provides a domestic series for WA racers.

Zappia is hopeful that the sea level air and some recent knowledge gains will help produce a new Pro Slammer track record.

“We are going to Perth Motorplex to give it a real good shot with the local championship and see what we can learn over the next three meetings before we head to our next 400 Thunder round at Willowbank.

“We have always struggled to go real fast in Perth, our best is a 5.66 I think. But with what we have learned and the way the car is handling right now we have a good chance of getting into some low sixties in Perth in the sea level air. If it is not too hot it is possible to crack into the 5.5s, but we will see.

“We will have new ’11x’ merchandise available, and we look forward to seeing our fans and sponsors at our home track for the first time this season.”

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Zappia ready for sweet sixteen at East Coast Thunder

Two days of testing have prepared 400 Thunder Pro Slammer points leader John Zappia and the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro for competition at East Coast Thunder, taking place this Friday and Saturday.

Zappia carded the quickest time of any Pro Slammer during testing, recording a 5.64 second pass on Monday after a 5.68 in tricky conditions on Saturday.

“We were originally just testing on Saturday, but when we realised that (crew member) Wilson was flying out Monday night we decided to do more testing on the Monday,” he said. “That’s when we went 5.64 off the trailer.

“We attacked harder on the next run and found some more time to 60 feet, but then rattled the tyres further out.”

Zappia has reason to be confident coming into East Coast Thunder. Last year’s event saw Zappia’s quickest ever run, a 5.601 that remains the quickest Pro Slammer pass in official competition.

While heatwave conditions will make early qualifying sessions tough on teams, Zappia predicts the third and final qualifying session on Friday night will be a great show for fans, before an intense four rounds of competition on Saturday thanks to a 16 car field.

“Everyone will have a baseline from the first two runs, good or bad, and then come out firing for the last qualifying session,” he said. “With the number of 5.7s being run during testing it makes for a huge challenge with at least eight of the big hitters capable of top qualifying. The scene is set for a huge battle expected to go to the wire in one of the quickest Pro Slammer fields in history.

“From there it is into 16 car eliminations – a rare event in Pro Slammer. The winner will have to make four winning passes in a row which isn’t easy in this bracket.

“We want to be in that winner’s circle for our fans and sponsors. This will be our first time at Sydney Dragway since Muscle Car Warehouse joined our team; they are based at Kogarah and will be coming to check out the action at East Coast Thunder.”

Since Zappia’s win in Darwin at the opening round of the 2018/19 400 Thunder Championship, the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro has been freshened up with new CP Pistons and has received a few suspension adjustments.

The Zappia Racing transporter has also been getting a freshen up, with Zappia saying the new wrap is a ‘work in progress’ that will emulate the look of the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro.

Pro Slammer qualifying sessions take place on Friday at 2.16pm, 4.51pm and 7.40pm. Eliminations begin with round one on Saturday at 12.25pm, with following rounds at 3.06pm, 5.19pm and 7.20pm. Fans can follow the Ovo Mobile live feed at www.ovo.com.au, or via the Ovo: Live streaming + mobile app.

Photos www.cacklingpipes.com and www.dragnews.com.au

ECN

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