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ZAPPIA’S SOUTHERN THUNDER WIN PUTS PRESSURE ON OPPONENTS

John Zappia has closed the gap in the 400 Thunder Pro Slammer Championship with a win at Adelaide International Raceway’s Southern Thunder event, putting the pressure on Paul Mouhayet ahead of the final two rounds of the series.

In an unusual weekend of racing at Adelaide International Raceway that saw late format changes and a shift to eighth mile racing due to high winds, Zappia’s Fuchs/Dananni Hot Shots Holden Monaro was able to defeat Mouhayet’s Ford Mustang in a close fought final round.

Zappia began his weekend as he finished it, with the quickest times of testing before getting into race day.

“Southern Thunder was a strange event for sure, we tested over 1000 feet which is the normal distance at Adelaide International Raceway and ended up on an eighth mile (660 feet),” Zappia said.

“The first test run was a 5.15, straight down the track. After that sighting pass we put the normal timing curve back in and put the horsepower back up. The Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro left hard with a .987 60 foot time and it really got going in second gear, moving a metre left out of the groove and a metre right. We ran a 4.98 on that pass but I guess the important number was the eighth mile time of 3.89, when we were told we would be reducing the race distance because of the wind.

“Most of the teams were struggling to make a full pull but we knew the track would get better as the event went on.”

A format change for Saturday’s racing saw a test session followed by a single race round and then the finals. With Mouhayet on a solo run thanks to his championship lead, Zappia had to make it to the final the hard way, taking on fellow Western Australian Marty Dack.

“In the interests of the teams’ safety we were racing on an eighth mile. We pretty much left it the same as we run it on the quarter mile, we just leaned out the fuel system a little earlier,” Zappia explained. “The good news was the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro was responding to all the changes we were making, with no tyre shake.

“We went 3.85/196mph against Marty for the win and the time was quick enough to get us into the final round against Paul.”

With an opportunity to claw back points, Zappia needed the win light in yet another titanic match up between the pair.

“Paul left first by two hundredths but we knew there was plenty of bite in the first part of the Adelaide International Raceway surface. We were 2.54 to the 330 feet mark which is only four hundredths off our best. We drove around Paul in the middle of the track and crossed the line with a 3.799/196mph to his 3.86/206mph.”

With another 400 Thunder trophy in hand, Zappia is in a surprisingly familiar position despite his 10 national championships in Top Doorslammer and one win in Pro Slammer – as an underdog. Zappia trails Mouhayet by 24 points.

“We’ve been here before, there have been seasons where we have been down 70 points on Peter Kapiris or even four points down on Robin Judd until the final round of the Winternationals. As long as there is a chance, we still fight it out until the end.

“This championship is Moits Racing’s and Paul’s to lose and ours to gain.”

Zappia plans to test some new ideas at Perth Motorplex’s Powerpalooza this Saturday, April 7 before heading to Nitro Thunder at Sydney Dragway in May for the penultimate round of the 400 Thunder Pro Slammer Series.

Get down to Motorplex this weekend for an exciting final meeting which includes drag racing, burnouts, a demolition derby and speedway. Drag Racing starts at 10am and runs until 7.00pm, so get there early to watch all the drag racing action before moving across to see all the speedway action later in the night.

Top Photo courtesy Hayley Turns/Outlaw Images.

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NO ROOM FOR ERROR IN CHAMPIONSHIP AS ZAPPIA TAKES WESTERNATIONALS RUNNER UP

Second might come right after first, but John Zappia knows he needs better for the final three events of the 400 Thunder Pro Slammer Championship following a runner up performance at the MacTrack Westernationals at Perth Motorplex.

Zappia’s Westernationals week began early with an evening of testing at the Motorplex on the Thursday before the event. With many Pro Slammer teams in attendance it was a chance for the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots team to get their preparation underway.

“We wanted an extra run on the set of tyres we had in order to bed them in,” Zappia explained. “Our first run didn’t go that well with a big wheelstand, so we put another set of tyres we had back on and came out to run a 5.74, though the car did wander left and ended up taking out the last three timing boxes.

“We knew we were on the right track and it was good to help us get some confidence back.”

Come race weekend there was much discussion about the possibility of Australia’s quickest ever Pro Slammer field, and it did not disappoint.

“Our first qualifying pass was a 5.70 with another big wheelstand in first and second gear – I don’t think it dropped the front wheels until about 350 feet. The car went nice and straight so we were pretty happy and it put us number one after the first session.”

As the sun set and the night cooled, conditions were becoming nearly perfect for Pro Slammer racing and several teams looked to take advantage in the second qualifying session.

Paul Mouhayet and the Moits Racing Ford Mustang initially leapfrogged Zappia with a 5.67 pass, but the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro struck back with a 5.66 on the following run.

“We were right behind Moits so we watched them make a great pass in front of us. Our car launched really well, keeping the front end down and going through for a 5.66 – it was a thrill for the crowd to see this battle in progress.”

Before session three, Zappia studied the data and believed that there was potential to hit the start line even harder again.

“We took the left lane for the final qualifying session but we overpowered the track and didn’t go anywhere. Paul improved to a 5.62 to take away the top spot from us at the last gasp, but we still had a couple of good runs on the board ourselves.”

The first round would see Zappia take on Darwin’s Matt Abel, who has become a regular five second hitter.

“We measured both lanes and they were both coming up with similar readings so we decided to take the left. The Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro took off nice but at 60 feet we had massive tyre shake, way different to the night before. We were at a loss as to why the left lane came up so different, but we were able to pedal to a 5.86 and get away with it as Matt left a red light on the tree.”

The semi finals would be a tough match up, with Zappia taking on Sam Fenech in The App Shop Camaro, who recorded a new personal best of 5.74 the previous night. The race proved unusual for the drivers.

“As I came into stage against Sam we both put the top light on, then I revved it up and the car jumped in and knocked the top light out – I was in deep and hanging on to the brake. That kind of threw me and he must have got startled by the top light going out because he cut a .4 light and so amazingly my .194 had a two tenths holeshot. We needed every bit of that as I pedalled to a 5.80 to beat a 5.74. Other than that run all my lights had been in the .0s all weekend which was a big step up for me.”

Frustrated by tyre shake, Zappia knew he had to make a change to the set up before the final, where he was due to face Paul Mouhayet.

“This thing was shaking, shaking, and shaking every time. We decided to pull some timing out and calm it down before 60 foot. It was better but not enough, we came out with a .046 light to his .053 but Paul was on stellar runs all weekend and there is no room for pedalling with a 5.66 next to you.

“I made a 5.80 out of the run somehow at 410kmh. The last two runs had 410kmh so we had enough power and in some ways maybe we just had too much power because we couldn’t use it. The car just wanted to shake when we got past 60 feet.”

Zappia felt the Motorplex track surface was definitely at a new level of grip, making it tough to get wheel speed.

“The Westernationals was different to how the Motorplex track has felt to us for the rest of the season, definitely prepped differently. We just need to do a better job of reading the track and deciphering that.

“But all in all it was a pretty good weekend, we qualified second, we ended up second out of 17 cars and we did better than most bar one. Unfortunately now he is 40 points ahead in the championship so it puts pressure on, we have no room for error in the final three events.”

The next round of the 400 Thunder Pro Slammer Championship takes place at Adelaide International Raceway’s Southern Thunder event on March 23 and 24.

“We’ve done okay at Adelaide, I think our best is 4.83 over the 1000 foot distance that we will compete over for this event.

“Each time we go there the track comes up better and better and I have no doubt it will be as good or better there this meeting and I am sure we will see new track records.”

Selected Photos: www.dragnews.com.au

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Zappia race fit for MacTrack Westernationals after Nitro Night runner up

John Zappia’s preparation for the next round of the 400 Thunder Pro Slammer Series at the MacTrack Westernationals has begun with a runner up at Perth Motorplex’s Nitro Night.

Zappia entered Nitro Night to test some ideas in the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro and bed in new Hoosier tyres.

“The first pass saw some driver error where I did a first gear burnout instead of a third gear burnout on new tyres that needed a good scrubbing,” he said. “It still launched well, one of the best of the day actually, but then I missed the shift button to second gear.

“I came out for the compulsory qualifier and it left well for a 5.77, though I used up a bit of the lane when it went left and got out of the groove.

“The third run I think there had been an oildown in front and they had just sprayed the track so it was way stickier than all the other runs. The car rattled and I had to pedal it and carry on for a 5.98 but luckily that was good enough to get into the A Final.”

That final round would see Zappia take on the Dananni Hotshots Ford Falcon of Ryan Moresby, which earlier ran its first five second pass.

“We had another set of new tyres which I thought could work, but they could also cost us the race. It launched good but went to the right and at the edge of the groove it rattled, front wheels in the air, I was steering and nothing was happening. Nine times out of ten it puts the front wheels down but this time it kept the front wheels in the air. I could have pedalled it to try and drop the front but it was a case of could’ve, would’ve, should’ve.

“But still it was an all Dananni Hotshots final round and Stuart Moresby won for Dananni Hotshots in Top Comp too – congratulations to the team on their victories.”

The MacTrack Westernationals is next on the agenda for Zappia, who will be aiming to take back the 400 Thunder Pro Slammer points lead.

Typically a hot and humid event that does not lend itself to record setting runs, Zappia believes a set up that could find consistent 5.7s with the occasional 5.6 would be in a good position to take the win.

“I’m not sure the weather will be kind, but at this stage it doesn’t look ridiculous either,” he said. “The air was really good in Sydney when we ran our 5.601 second pass, but we have also done a 5.65 there with warm and humid conditions so it is possible. At last year’s Westernationals we ran a 5.72 best – it all depends on the air on the day.”

A classy field of 17 cars has entered so far including Paul Mouhayet and the USA’s Frankie Taylor making their first appearances in Pro Slammer at Perth Motorplex.

Zappia said in drag racing predictions can go out the window, because anything can happen and it often does.

“I need to make sure everything is 100% right for this meeting and do my best to try and have a consistent race car,” he said. “The entire field is tough, and most of the cars entered are five second runners, so we could see a low 5.9 second bump spot..

“I’d love all of my fans come to the Motorplex and see the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro at what is going to be one of the all time great Pro Slammer events. Whether you come on qualifying day and see the battle to make the field or race day where there will only be one winner, you’re going to be in for some of the best drag racing in the world.”

Photos courtesy Luke Nieuwhof: Dragnews

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CHAMPIONSHIP STILL THE FOCUS FOR ZAPPIA AFTER SANTO’S SUMMER THUNDER

The 400 Thunder Pro Slammer championship continues the battle between John Zappia and Paul Mouhayet as they went toe-to-toe at Santo’s Summer Thunder in Sydney on Saturday.

After recording two wins and the quickest two elapsed times of the opening two rounds, Zappia earned his final round place against Mouhayet where a big wheelstand in the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro cost him the race and saw the points lead return to Mouhayet.

“We ran a 5.65 in testing the night before race day using our set up from Willowbank and that was what we used for the final,” Zappia said.

“Unfortunately the track was a little different, more slippery early and then really grippy after 60 feet, so we took off with a lot of wheel speed and then it was able to carry the wheels and get out of the groove.

“When I punched second gear it rattled the tyres out of control and turned into a blur. I had to pedal it way too much and I almost gave up on the run entirely but I decided to carry on just in case something happened to Paul.”

While he left Sydney without the win, Zappia was happy overall with this eastern swing which included a win in Willowbank.

“All in all it was an excellent couple of events. We started 28 points behind Mouhayet, we were three points in front and now only nine points behind.

“Moits Racing have shown we can be beaten, the pressure is on, we knew they were going to step it up and know they are capable of more.”

While Zappia was forced to give up the points lead on Mouhayet’s home track, the game will change for round five of the championship Zappia returns to his own home track of Perth Motorplex for the Westernationals on March 3 and 4.

“Paul and Moits Racing have a lot of experience at Sydney Dragway but they have only been to the Motorplex once and that was in their turbocharged Mustang,” Zappia said.

“But that said, they have a lot of talent in their team and will find a way to adapt. We’re going to have to use our extensive knowledge of the Motorplex to get the upper hand.”

Zappia and team will test the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro at the Nitro Night event on February 17 at Perth Motorplex as part of the Direct Mining and Industrial Summer Slam series.

“We will go into R&D mode and see if we can find anything else, then we will go into The Westernationals with our best combination,” he said.

“There’s some great competition in Perth to keep us on our toes, with Kelvin Lyle running 5.75 last weekend with a Zappia Racing engine and Daniel Gregorini getting back into the fives and starting to find his way again.”

And with the battle royal of 400 Thunder Pro Slammer coming for the Westernationals, Zappia urged drag racing fans to turn out in force and support what will be a world class event.

“I’d like anyone who considers themselves a fan of Zappia Racing and the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro to get to Perth Motorplex on March 3 and 4 because this is going to be one of the great events of all time at Kwinana.

“We have to get that points lead back and we want every fan we’ve got out there cheering loudly.”

For more details on the Westernationals, head to www.motorplex.com.au.

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Zappia puts the heat on Pro Slammer championship with New Years Thunder win

John Zappia has returned to the top of the 400 Thunder Pro Slammer series with a textbook performance at Willowbank Raceway’s New Years Thunder event.

As hot temperatures scorched the track surface during the day, Zappia chose to keep the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro and his hard working team under cover during the optional test session before emerging for a first round confrontation against Queensland local Russell Pavey.

“When you have a track temp that is around 150F, what you learn isn’t going to be relative to racing conditions,” Zappia said. “And we have a car that has been going down the track well first pass on nearly any track.”

Zappia clinched his first win of the night with a 5.78/251mph run to defeat Pavey’s solid 6.17/237mph in his 63 Corvette.

Sam Fenech’s App Shop Camaro would be the next target for Zappia as the second round loomed.

“We came back and looked at the data and then got after it a bit more by putting more on to the Boninfante clutch and adding some power back into the Noonan engine,” Zappia explained. “The Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro left well but it got real loose at the top end and close to the centre line so I pulled the chutes just before the finish. We still went 5.73 at just 248mph and with our two wins and solid numbers we were into the final.”

With the two quickest elapsed times of the night and two win lights, Zappia was perhaps a favourite on paper for the final round, but would face Queensland’s hometown hero Ben Bray for another epic match up.

“Ben put a good holeshot on me but we made up the difference between 330 feet and half track to come past him for our quickest run of the day at 5.70/251mph. Ben threw the blower belt off his Corvette, but even if it stayed on we had him covered.

“It was a flawless performance from my crew and everyone involved with our team. We got the win with three great runs and reclaimed the championship lead.The Noonan engine also performed flawlessly and thanks to the quality of the Fuchs Lubricants we had no maintenance and the engine looked brand new.

Zappia said he enjoyed the one day format, with spectators showing their support.

“I think the one day thing suits us. While it is a long way to travel for us for a single day, we generally can come out and run a low 5.7 or 5.6 off the trailer.

“The atmosphere was there, the crowd like it and whether the racers like it or not you can’t argue with the spectator numbers.”

The New Years Thunder win followed on from another victory by Zappia in the Direct Mining and Industrial Summer Slam at Perth Motorplex on December 2, where he defeated Kelvin Lyle – who runs a Zappia Racing engine combination – in a crowd pleasing 5.71 to 5.77 final round.

“We’ve had two very positive events in a row now. In Perth we not only won the event but we also ran our fastest ever speed at 258.64mph, in fact it was the fastest speed by any legal Top Doorslammer or Pro Slammer in the country.”

Zappia Racing are proud to announce they have welcomed a new sponsor to the fold with Boninfante Friction joining the many performance partners on the team.

“The clutch is the secret to getting a Pro Slammer power down the track so we are very happy to welcome a high quality partner like Boninfante Friction Inc. to our team.”

The Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro will next head to Sydney Dragway for Santo’s Summer Thunder on January 20 where Zappia will aim to extend his championship lead.

“We aren’t letting our guard down and we are going to keep the pressure on our championship rivals. Paul Mouhayet was a little unlucky not to be in the final against us at Willowbank and we know they are going to be testing at every opportunity to come back at us.”

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Photo Credit:  Drag Photos

 

 

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Zappia resets national record in Sydney

John Zappia reaffirmed his title as the quickest Pro Slammer driver in the country following the second event of the 400 Thunder Series at Sydney Dragway on Saturday.

Zappia’s scorching second round run of 5.601 seconds was the quickest official pass ever in Pro Slammer, eclipsing his own 5.635 at the same track earlier this year and setting a new national record.

“We didn’t go looking for three hundredths,” Zappia said. “But we knew there was a bit left after the 63.”

With the East Coast Thunder event marking the first time Zappia has raced in Australia since his successful PDRA tour of the USA with Noonan Racing, the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Holden Monaro driver was keen to make a good impression.

The team qualified second with a 5.70 second run, despite being far from a clean pass.

“On my first run the car wheelstood pretty high and went too far to the right so I had to get off the throttle and come back for the next run,” Zappia said.

“Second qualifying session and the car still went right, hugging the centre line and hitting the rev limiter in second gear, but I was able to steer it back after quarter track for a 5.70 at 251mph. We lost about 5mph of speed from hitting the limiter.

“We did some adjustments for the third session and the car went straight but then we had an ignition fault cut the motor out.”

The Zappia team returned to the pit area to go over the electrical system with a fine tooth comb, eventually deciding on putting their old ignition system back on for the first round of racing, where Zappia took on fellow Western Australian Marty Dack.

There Zappia fired the first salvo of his day, with a 5.624 second run to drop his all time best Pro Slammer pass.

“I thought to myself, ‘that was pretty cool,’” a casual Zappia said. “It was running 206mph at half track, so it was making some power.”

Taking on tough Queenslander Ben Bray next, Zappia and the team went looking at the data to see if there were any more hundredths of a second they could discover.

“The 5.62 looked a bit weak in part of the run so we adjusted the clutch and aimed the car a bit better off the line. I had a great .038 light and it stayed in the groove for a 5.601, even losing the blower belt at the finish line so it only went 255mph.”

But in the semi finals, Zappia was again left to rue what might have been following an unlucky moment as a broken blower belt stopped the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Holden Monaro in its tracks against Paul Mouhayet.

“The blower belt didn’t even make it 30 feet before it broke off the engine,” a disappointed Zappia said. “The car launched the hardest it had launched all weekend, the data looked great – but that’s no good when your blower belt is under your wheelie bars.”

In fact, it was the third blower belt ruined in three runs for Zappia and he said the team will be looking for answers before they are next on track.

“In the first round it frayed an 11 run-old belt, we changed it for a new one, didn’t make it to the finish line the next round, and then didn’t even make it to the Christmas tree.

“We’re not sure what is behind the belt issue, maybe something is bent or a misalignment; we need to go through it all and find out why it started happening. Belts normally last 20 runs and then all of a sudden we can’t make one run.

“It was pretty frustrating, I can’t repeat what was said inside the cab! But that is the way it goes, you think you are on top of it, reliable and consistent, then have something like that goes wrong.”

Despite the semi final loss, the championship damage was minimised for Zappia, with incoming leader Gary Phillips missing East Coast Thunder, while Mouhayet lost to the USA’s Frankie Taylor in the final round.

Zappia wanted to sincerely thank his Perth crew members who rebuilt and maintained the race car in his absence during the recent tour of the US – Wilson, Frank, James, Lumpy, Kade, Jason, Ricky and anyone else who popped in to help the boys out.

The Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots team now return home to Perth Motorplex where they will test at the Prestige Lock Services Goldenstates this weekend.

“We are going into test mode to try and rectify the blower belt problem and we will be making some different adjustments to improve performance that we weren’t game to make during a championship round,” Zappia said.

“We will get our reliability sorted and then head to Willowbank for the next round of the championship on January 6.

“We haven’t let the lead get too far from our grasp, there is a long road to go in this championship yet.

“We are hoping to see lots of sponsors and supporters at the Goldenstates for the start of the Direct Mining and Industrial Summer Slam Series and the ANDRA Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series Round 5.”

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Zap’s 80 Day Around the World Tour Nets a World Record

A whirlwind ‘80 day’ USA Tour resulted in excellent results, but John Zappia is not finished yet.  He is about to jump on a plane back to Perth, Australia to climb into his transporter to drive to Sydney so that he can compete at the second round of Pro Slammer at Sydney Dragway.

“We’ve had an amazing time and It’s been a dream come true” said Zappia, “To race the quickest Pro Extreme Doorslammers in the world, to compete amongst the best and to come away with a World Record is pretty remarkable”.

“We put a total of 20 runs on the Jerry Bickel built Noonan 1969 Camaro, and in that time I had to adjust to a left hand drive, adapt to an auto combination (first up), then convert to a Boninfante clutch and B&J 3 speed gearbox.  We had to make a call on the setup for an unknown car. To be in the top half of the field was a big effort from the whole team”.

The Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) World Finals were held at Virginia Motorsports Park last weekend, and Zap was one of 9 race teams (3 Swedish, 1 Aussie and 5 American) to enter the event.

“We made some modifications since running at the last PDRA Drag Warz event in Benson, North Carolina where Zappia ducked out in the semi-finals but ran a PB of 3.62 @ 216.90mph.

After a couple of test passes in Virginia, Zappia made strong qualifying runs with a string of 3.68 ET’s and finishing with a final qualifier of 3.64 @ 214.31 mph, proving he had a consistent race car.

Zappia Racing team members from Australia including John’s partner Rae (who has been with him for the whole time), Freddy, Filomena, Sam, Tracey, Gerry and Diz made the trip from Australia to support Zap, and together with Noonan’s Racing team members Jamie, Renee, Darrell, Lee and Hank the team overcame obstacles involved with a new combination to perform well.

“We won round one easily with a straight and steady 3.651 @ 212.73 mph. The Noonan “Brains Trust” studied the data and to come up with a tune to try to run quicker than the No 1 qualifier opponent in Round 2 – Terry Leggett in his ’71 Mustang, which ultimately we did run quicker and faster than Leggett with a 3.54 @ 218mph but I lost on a holeshot to Terry’s 3.58 @ 216.51 mph.”

The Noonan Racing team watched as Leggett went on to win the final.  Meanwhile the Noonan / Zappia team vowed to come back the following day to have a crack at running the quarter mile. A plan had already been in place for the team to run the full quarter after the finals to demonstrate the full potential of the car, so a time was set for the next day and the team got ready overnight.

The ‘Brains Trust’ hit a hole in one as Zappia set a new Blown Door Car record for ET and MPH in the Noonan Camaro to set an unofficial Supercharged World Record time of 5.424 @ 265.33mph.

“It was amazing pass from the Noonan Camaro – the car really pulled hard in each gear to reset my PB in a big way! The Camaro weighed in at 2405 pounds after the run, and running a C blower at 127% overdrive compared to the Monaro weighing in at 2734 pounds with a D blower and 108% overdrive.”

“We have purchased the Camaro roller from Jamie and Renee Noonan and we will leave it here in the USA for the next season of PDRA racing, providing we can pick up sponsors for the 2018 USA Tour. We will be back to try and go one better. We are in discussions with several parties, but we are open to talking to new sponsors who would like to come on board and help us to take the No.1 Door Car record.”

John currently has the second fastest doored car in the world to Jose Gonzalez’s Turbo Charged Pro Extreme Corvette that run a 5.403 @ 259mph, earlier this year.

Zappia Racing will compete at Sydney Dragway in Australia for the AC Delco East Coast Thunder – The Nationals on 3 – 4 November 2017 where Round 2 of the Thunder 400 Pro Slammer 2018 Championship continues.

“Sixteen cars have entered for the event, which is a strong turnout with some hard hitters amongst those. We will have to be on top of our game to do well – we don’t take anything for granted despite our previous years’ success. Each season is a new one and we currently sit third behind Gary Philips and Paul Mouhayet – with new technology and US tuners appearing regularly, the game has changed in Doorslammer in Australia and that will make it an even better spectacle than it already is.

Zappia Racing once again thanks our sponsors for making the 2017 USA Tour a possibility: Noonan Race Engineering, Fuchs Lubricants, Dananni Hotshots,  Boninfanti Friction Inc, SDS Fuel Systems, B & J Racing Transmissions, and Hoosier Tires and along with our other local sponsors, hope to give them all as much exposure as we can in this Australian season.

Looking forward to catching up with Sponsors and supporters at Sydney Dragway and will also have our merchandise and some new tees from our American tour available.

Qualifying

Psn—Num-Driver, Home Town, Car Type            Qual-ET–Qual-Spd-Top Spd

1 277     Terry Leggett, Pinetown NC, ’71 Mustang            3.549     215.41   215.41

2   6       Mike Recchia, Roselle IL, ’69 Camaro                  3.603     210.50   211.83

3   71      Mattias Wulcan, Linkoping SW,’69 Camaro       3.608     212.69   212.69

4 846     John Zappia, Bibra Lake AU, ’69 Camaro           3.647     214.31   214.31

5 574     Monte Grace, Muscatine IA, ’68 Camaro             3.702     208.36   208.36

6 1130    John Stanley, Hagerstown MD, ’15 CTS-V          3.715     204.42   206.54

7 111     Mikael Lindahl, Vargon SW, ’63 Corvette             3.752     206.13   206.13

8 128     Stefan Holmberg, BillesSW, ’70 Camaro              4.583     128.13   128.13

———— Not Qualified ————

9 F301    Scott Farley, Sellersburg IN,’70 Camaro             4.806     159.34   159.34

 

Eliminations

Round 1

846         John Zappia           0.105 3.651 212.73 Def       574         Monte Grace          No Time

71           Mattias Wulcan      0.169 3.566 213.16 Def       1130       John Stanley          0.066 3.711 208.49

6             Mike Recchia         0.056 3.596 212.19 Def       111         Mikael Lindahl       0.023 3.662 209.95

277         Terry Leggett         0.222 3.541 217.49 Def       128         Stefan Holmberg    0.291 4.540 126.46

Round 2

71           Mattias Wulcan      0.059 3.562 213.64 Def       6             Mike Recchia         0.041 3.789 203.22

277         Terry Leggett         0.074 3.580 216.51 Def       846         John Zappia          0.129 3.549 218.12

Final

277         Terry Leggett         0.129 3.542 214.45 Def       71           Mattias Wulcan      0.062 4.672 91.92


 

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First round win keeps Zappia happy as Noonan Camaro shows it’s competitive

John Zappia earned his first win light in the USA at the penultimate event of the PDRA season in Benson, North Carolina.

After rain ended his race before it began in Tulsa, Oklahoma several weeks previous, Zappia and the Noonan Race Engineering team took the opportunity to make a series of upgrades to their Camaro.

“We came back from the rained out event and put the new Noonan 4.9 engine in along with the Boninfante clutch and a B&J three speed transmission,” Zappia said. “There was a lot of work to do making the headers fit and we basically went out to GALOT Motorsports Park with everything different once again.”

Arriving into the recently renovated venue, Zappia and the Noonan brains trust put their minds together for some calculated guesses on clutch set up, gearing and how much fuel to put into the new motor. Fortunately, a day of testing before the event provided the perfect opportunity to get the tune up into the ballpark.

“The first run it came out and blew the tyres off, we were a bit too fast on the wheel speed,” Zappia explained. “The second one it was a similar thing. We backed the clutch right off and it went 3.81, even though I bumped straight from first to top gear.

“Afterwards we did some modifications to the shift buttons and we tried to set everything up similar to the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro and how I shift it. We moved the B&J transmission shift buttons further into the steering wheel so they weren’t as easy to bump.”

Growing more comfortable with the layout of the cockpit with each run, it was tyre shake, rather than tyre spin, that would afflict the team as qualifying for the PDRA Drag Wars began.

“On our first qualifying run the Noonan Camaro rattled the tyres, went left and gave the wall a bit of a rub,” Zappia said. “It just touched the headers and the quarter panel but we were able to tape it up, put some more stickers on it and come back for session two.”

“We made an adjustment to the tune up but it did virtually the same thing, but this time it turned right in the right lane and I just missed the right wall.”

But like drag racing’s version of the Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the third run was just right.

“Third session we went straight down the middle for a 3.66/212mph which put us into the field at fourth position and took a lot of pressure off.”

With one more qualifying session to come the next day, Zappia again considered the controls.

“I wasn’t happy with the feel of the brake lever so we bled the brakes and got all the air out of the system. When we came out for Q4 I felt much more in control of the car. The brakes were where they needed to be and I could stage properly. We just wanted the car to repeat and that is what it did, a 3.70/212 that was only four hundredths slower in the heat of the day.”

Before long the call went around the pits for the Pro Extreme class to head to their staging lanes for the first round of racing, where Zappia would take on a half-international eight car field that also included three Swedish drivers.

“This was my first eliminations race in America so we gave it a bit of a tune up for some more power in the back half,” he said. “I said to myself that I can do this, this is what I do.”

“I cut a .065 light and the car made it through first gear, I was seeing the shift light, second gear, shift light, top gear, win light. A 3.68/214mph for my first-round win in the USA. That was a pretty awesome moment.”

Things would get tougher for the semi-finals with Zappia to face Swedish top qualifier Mattias Wulcan.

“That car had been running 3.50s, we were running 3.60s, so we needed to step it up big time,” Zappia said. “We threw a fair bit at the Boninfante clutch and the Noonan boys trimmed up the fuel and put some more timing in it.”

“I got a hole shot, but unfortunately it wasn’t a great light. We went 3.62/216.90 to his 3.56/211. I flew past him at the finish line and I didn’t know who got it, it worked out to three hundredths of a second – so close to our first final against the number one qualifier, an awesome achievement.”

Zappia said an entourage of Australians and Americans from across the Zappia Racing and Noonan Race Engineering enterprises made for a great team.

“Everyone worked well together and even though we started with some negatives they turned it into a positive. We are looking forward to going rounds at the PDRA Grand Final in Richmond, Virginia.”

With what the team learned in North Carolina, hopes are high that they can find their way into the 3.5 second zone, especially if the launch can be refined.

“The car went .962 to 60 feet on the last run which is still a bit slow, it was still burning the clutch off and the gearing was on the safe side. The car in Australia is 320 pounds heavier and I have gone .958, and when the opposition are doing .908 60 foots we are giving away lots of time right there so we know where it needs to be.”

“The Noonan Camaro has been as quick as .88 to 60 foot before so we know the setup is there to do it, we just need to fine tune the combination we are running at the moment and get after the tune on on the new 4.9 Noonan engine that has only a few runs on it.”

Zappia is particularly excited by the potential shown in the 4.9 as the team venture into new territory.

“When we first started we had the 4.8 pretty safe and it produced 205 mph, now we are doing 217mph on the 4.9 and we are still not leaning on the engine yet, it is showing a lot of promise. We just don’t know where it will settle out.”

“The top speed of the GALOT event was 218mph, we’ve got the power to run that kind of speed. It would be nice to see a 220mph eighth mile pass at our next event at Virginia on the 20th and 21st of October.”

“I don’t have many shots left so it’s time to throw everything at the setup and tune and get the most out of the car.”

You can keep up to date with all the action via the Noonan Racing and Zappia Racing facebook pages and watch live via SpeedVideo.com http://www.speedvideo.com/live-event/pdra-world-finals-2017/

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Zappia reflects on first USA experience

John Zappia has developed a reputation as one of the most experienced Doorslammer team owner and drivers’ in Australia, but his first race in the USA has seen him coming to grips with a very different experience.

Earlier in the year Noonan Race Engineering purchased a new state of the art facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina USA.  Shortly after, and in order to support their 4.9 borespace engine program, Noonan Racing announced that 10-times Australian Top Doorslammer champion John Zappia would drive the Noonan-owned ’69 Camaro, Jerry Bickel Pro Mod.

The car is the newest of the three Jerry Bickel ’69 Camaro Pro Mods in existence, and Zappia will compete in the last three races of the PDRA for Noonan Racing using the all-new Noonan 4.9 borespace engine. The car and team will be fully serviced and maintained from the Noonan stable, with Noonan CEO, tuner and engine builder Jamie Noonan stating it was an exciting time for the company.

For the 55 year old legend of the sport Zappia, racing in the United States has been a long held dream, one that was realised as he rolled through the waterbox of Tulsa Raceway Park in Oklahoma.

A few things were a little different for the champion. Like most Australian tourists, Zappia had to adapt from right hand to left hand drive – only he had to do it in Noonan Racing’s 3500 horsepower 1969 Pro Mod Camaro.

“There was a lot going through my head at the time,” he said. “I was sitting on the other side of the car, the brake was on the other side, it had a transbrake, and an auto transmission – there was too much going through my head.

“I also couldn’t see that well while staging, so running in the left lane on solo passes for the first few was hard. The tree was coming down and I wasn’t even ready.”

The Noonan team worked on wheel alignment and steering on the Pro Extreme Camaro, working closely to perfect the combination. They were able to finish testing with a 3.69 (eighth mile) run at 204mph, before heading into qualifying for the PDRA event the next day.

“We came out for our first qualifying pass and as I hit the throttle in the burnout, it banged the burst panel, so unfortunately we lost that run. The next run I went a bit easier in the burnout and it hooked up, so the tires were colder than they should be.

“Finally we got after it and it pulled another 3.69 ET to qualify third in the final session. Of course, it being early days, the tune was on the softer side but we had to make it go down the track. Then unfortunately the rain came in and killed the event.”

The team returned back to the Noonan headquarters disappointed with not being able to finish the event, but ready to regroup for the next round of the PDRA series at Galot Motorsport Park in Benson, North Carolina in September.

“The car ran with the 4.8 Noonan engine and we were happy with it and the performance of a brand new team. Now though, we are going to put the new 4.9 borespace engine in the racecar and get ready for the next two PDRA events at Galot and Virginia.

“We will also be putting a B&J three speed transmission in with a Boninfante lock up clutch, getting the car a lot closer to what the (Zappia) team runs in Australia.

“Once I got used to the auto it was okay, but we think there is potential to do as good if not better with the manual and clutch. It’s just something we know and have a lot of data for. We would like to eventually run the quarter mile at some stage and this combination (run at Tulsa) was only geared for eighth mile.

“We have had a massive response to our social media and live coverage of the event and we’re excited to offer advertising and branding opportunities to companies and individuals who want to live the ‘dream’ with us, supporting the dream to potentially expand our program further. Our digital presence will be further ‘turned’ up for fans in both countries, so stay tuned.

“Big thanks to Fuchs Lubricants and Dananni Hotshots for their never-ending support for Zappia Racing.”

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