2017_USA_Top

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.”

2017_USA_08

2017_USA_07

2017_USA_06

2017_USA_05

2017_USA_04

2017_USA_01

2017_USA_03

bbe58d40-6a57-4f62-9eb4-5aa3d619ff3c

Zappia crowned king of the desert

HQ Monaros and the Australian outback make for an iconic combination and John Zappia only further spread the legend with a dominating performance at the Desert Nationals in Alice Springs on the weekend.

The Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro set a new track elapsed time record of 5.79 seconds, a new track speed record of 249mph and won the event over runner up Matt Abel.

The week leading up to the Desert Nationals was a busy one, with John and brother Richard returning to Perth to attend their mother’s funeral after the previous weekend’s Nitro Up North event. Back to Darwin on Wednesday, the Zappias hotfooted to Alice Springs Inland Dragway to set up at what could be regarded as Australia’s only high altitude race track.

“Alice Springs has very similar conditions to Las Vegas, very dry air at a high altitude, or at least high by Australian standards,” John said.

“We checked out the track and it was pretty good, we knew the concrete launch pad would have a lot of grip and then we would just have to control the transition to the asphalt.”

The Top Doorslammers in attendance included not just Zappia, but also fellow Western Australians Kelvin Lyle, Pino Priolo and Mark Chapman, Queenslander Grant O’Rourke, Victorian Rob Taylor and the Northern Territory’s own Matt Abel. The field would get two qualifying sessions on Saturday before a shootout-style race on Sunday.

“Our first pass rattled a bit and still went 5.97 with a pedal, the first ‘five’ by any vehicle in Alice Springs,” Zappia said.

It was Saturday’s second pass that would bring the house down.

“For the second run we knew the track had heaps of bite early so we threw more at it (the startline) than we probably have anywhere else in the country. I punched second gear and it held, going through full throttle for a 5.79 and almost cracking 250mph.”

Expectations were high for Sunday’s racing and the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots team expected the quality of the track surface to get even better.

“We hit the tune up even harder again and it rattled the tyres and went a bit to the left, so it required a bigger pedal to straighten the car up and resulted in a 6.06 in the first round solo,” Zappia said.

“We tried the left lane for the second round and the car went out a bit straighter, we got through for a 5.94/245 which would be enough for us to make the final round.”

Keen to set another track record for the passionate Alice Springs drag racing fans, Zappia backed down the clutch a little and found the sweet spot for the launch with a .988 60 foot time, but the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro had other ideas and made a move to the right, requiring a big correction by Zappia. With opponent Matt Abel having problems and Zappia having eyes only for the finish line, the team was surprised to hear the familiar pop of a supercharger burst panel.

“It looks like the fuel shut off rattled partly closed, enough to lean out the motor and bang the burst panel,” Zappia said. “That’s not the ideal way to end a run but a win is a win.

“The track came up in leaps and bounds this year compared to last year by using the special tyre machine to prepare the surface and a few racers donated some tyres so they could make it happen.

“The Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro now owns another track record, so we have every ET track record in Australia where we have raced.”

The northern swing was a memorable tour for Zappia and team, as they enjoyed the best of the local cultures and plenty of great support. Special thanks went to Chris Kershaw from Northern Van Repairs for his hospitality in Darwin and the 30 dozen oysters he organised for the team in Alice Springs.

“The weather was perfect and I can see both the Desert Nationals and Nitro Up North as growing events. Hopefully next year it is a full on points round again in Alice Springs; I am sure the track will step up to the next level and we will see some really good numbers.

“A huge thanks to my crew for their tireless efforts in maintaining the race car and getting the transporter repaired in my absence.”

Zappia Racing’s next event will be at ACDelco East Coast Thunder at Sydney Dragway on November 3-4, 2017.

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.

Photo credits: Drag News

IMG_4950

IMG_4949

IMG_4970

 

2017_Darwin_Top

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.

IMG_4926

IMG_4917

IMG_4916

IMG_4910

BrightDesign

Photos below courtesy Michelle Porobic from Bright Design

ANDRA Nitro Up North @ Hidden Valley SAT 22 July 2017 Rnd 1 (3023)  ZAPPIA RACING TD 846

ANDRA Nitro Up North @ Hidden Valley SAT 22 July 2017 Rnd 1 (3015)  ZAPPIA RACING TD 846

ANDRA Nitro Up North @ Hidden Valley SAT 22 July 2017 Rnd 1 (2686)  ZAPPIA RACING TD 846

ANDRA Nitro Up North @ Hidden Valley SAT 22 July 2017 Rnd 1 (2685)  ZAPPIA RACING TD 846

ANDRA Nitro Up North @ Hidden Valley SAT 22 July 2017 Rnd 1 (2683)  ZAPPIA RACING TD 846

ANDRA Nitro Up North @ Hidden Valley SAT 22 July 2017 Rnd 1 (2680)  ZAPPIA RACING TD 846

ANDRA Nitro Up North @ Hidden Valley SAT 22 July 2017 Rnd 1 (2594)  PRESENTATIONS ZAPPIA RACING TD 846

ANDRA Nitro Up North @ Hidden Valley SAT 22 July 2017 Rnd 1 (2591)  PRESENTATIONS ZAPPIA RACING TD 846

ANDRA Nitro Up North @ Hidden Valley SAT 22 July 2017 Rnd 1 (2590)  PRESENTATIONS ZAPPIA RACING TD 846

ANDRA Nitro Up North @ Hidden Valley SAT 22 July 2017 Rnd 1 (2507)-2  ZAPPIA RACING TD 846 CREW

ANDRA Nitro Up North @ Hidden Valley FRI 21 July 2017 Rnd 1 (2241)  ZAPPIA RACING  TD 846

ANDRA Nitro Up North @ Hidden Valley FRI 21 July 2017 Rnd 1 (2017)  ZAPPIA RACING TD 846

ANDRA Nitro Up North @ Hidden Valley FRI 21 July 2017 Rnd 1 (2009)-2  ZAPPIA RACING TD 846

ANDRA Nitro Up North @ Hidden Valley FRI 21 July 2017 Rnd 1 (1972)  ZAPPIA RACING TD 846

ANDRA Nitro Up North @ Hidden Valley FRI 21 July 2017 Rnd 1 (1967)  ZAPPIA RACING TD 846

ANDRA Nitro Up North @ Hidden Valley FRI 21 July 2017 Rnd 1 (1965)  ZAPPIA RACING TD 846

ANDRA Nitro Up North @ Hidden Valley FRI 21 July 2017 Rnd 1 (1656)-2  ZAPPIA RACING TD 846

ANDRA Nitro Up North @ Hidden Valley FRI 21 July 2017 Rnd 1 (1656)  ZAPPIA RACING TD 846

ANDRA Nitro Up North @ Hidden Valley FRI 21 July 2017 Rnd 1 (1654)  ZAPPIA RACING TD 846

ANDRA Nitro Up North @ Hidden Valley FRI 21 July 2017 Rnd 1 (1653)  ZAPPIA RACING TD 846

ANDRA Nitro Up North @ Hidden Valley FRI 21 July 2017 Rnd 1 (1652)  ZAPPIA RACING TD 846

c0ef86e4-92ea-4a05-a687-9176c0a58b28

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.

AE4R1635

56655ca3-5d0c-46f7-ae79-6e93b70ab086

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.

AE4R1635

2017_Nitro_01

Photo credits: Drag News and Cackling Pipes

20170408zappia

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.

GoldenStates at Perth Motorplex

Slam_2017

2017_Final_top

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.”

2017-Final_07

2017_Final_01

 

2017_Final_02

2017-Final_03

2017-Final_04

2017-Final_05

2017_Final_06

 

johnzappiaten

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.

Westernationals at the Perth Motorplex

IMG_4138

d71e73d6-9972-42b5-b38d-e4fab2cb8bbc

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
——————————–Bump Spot———————————–
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)