Zappia fights for Championship in exciting end to season

A dream finish to the season proved elusive for John Zappia and his Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro Top Doorslammer after a first round loss at the ANDRA Grand Finals.

With a championship in his sights, the first goal for Zappia was to qualify well. After a pedalling 5.81 in the Friday night qualifying session, Zappia returned for Saturday’s second session and clocked a 5.761, missing the top spot by just two hundredths of a second.

“Our first run left okay but we had tyre shake and a 5.81 was definitely not where we wanted to be,” Zappia explained. “We only had one more shot to get it right. We stepped the car up to our 5.64 tune-up and took a swing to try and go to number one. The car left hard, but we again had the tyres rattling, and then we smoked a piston which took down our top speed.”

The Zappia Racing team got to work replacing the engine, and then softened the tune-up in an effort to make an A-to-B run.

As night fell, the conditions became tricky for every team to manage. On one hand there was excellent air, allowing the supercharged engines to produce enormous amounts of horsepower, but on the other hand was the cold, which meant traction was on a knife-edge.

“We were up against Stu Moresby, who has shown consistent five-second pace lately. I launched well, my reaction time was a 0.056 which is pretty good for this car, and then we had tyre shake again! My vision was blurred and when I could see again I realised I was way out of the groove and heading for the wall. I tried to recover the run but we ended up grazing the wall and putting us out of the race — and the championship”.

“I did everything I could to save the run, as even with a couple of pedals we can still potentially run fives. The data logger showed I was on and off the throttle four times. I knew I’d let both championships go at that point; there was a lot of pressure on my shoulders.”

Moresby’s Dananni Hotshots Studebaker went on to win the event, and overtake Zappia for the Direct Mining & Industrial Summer Slam championship too.

“Congratulations to both Stu and Daniel on their performances this season. Western Australian Top Doorslammer racing is as competitive as it has ever been, with more cars coming in. I know the fans got a great show, and while we’d always love to come away with the ANDRA gold Christmas trees, seeing the class at such strength is awesome.

“I’d also like to wish Steve Aldridge all the best in recovering from his big crash. We never like to see that in drag racing and we hope we can see him back.”

Zappia now turns his focus to interstate events, including Darwin’s Nitro Up North and potentially the Winternationals at Willowbank Raceway.

“We’ve got some R&D to do over the next month and we’re going to shift our focus to a new season, with some exciting developments to come for Australian Top Doorslammers very soon,” Zappia said. “A big thank you to all our Sponsors, crew and volunteers, supporters and fans for your invaluable support throughout the year. We finished Runner up in both the ANDRA Top Doorslammer Championship and the Direct Mining & Industrial Summer Slam Championship and will set our sights on an even better year in 2022/2023 and give our sponsors the best exposure possible”.

Photos: Phil Reeve and Ian Moore


Qual Runs




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Zappia in thrilling Westernationals final

Zappia in thrilling Westernationals final

A runner-up result at the Westernationals has set up a classic championship fight for John Zappia and the Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro Top Doorslammer.

Zappia had intended to begin his Westernationals campaign with several runs on a Friday test session, but some signs of engine damage on the first pass saw the team press pause.

“We had our number one engine in, and we made a planned half-track shut off,” Zappia said. “When we were turning the car around in the pits, we noticed there was metal in the oil filter. We took a look and we had snapped several main studs in the bottom end. That was the end of testing and instead we had to change to our spare motor overnight.”

Qualifying brought a 5.837 for Zappia, which was enough to qualify second, but he was left to rue what might have been in the final session.

“We had tyre shake on the first two laps and so we got angry with it, and gave it some more power for the last run of the night. Coming into stage my opponent put both stage lights on and then I couldn’t get the revs up quickly and was timed out. The run looked perfect going by the data and it would have been a low 5.7. Daniel Gregorini was top qualifier with a 5.71, so I guess we’ll never know if it would have been enough to pass him!”

Sunday’s first round saw Zappia against Pino Priolo, where a 5.778 did the job against a 6.366. “We thought that was a pretty cool run. It had some room for improvement, but it was a great way to start eliminations,” Zappia said.

The semi finals lined up Zappia with Steve Aldridge. As the track cooled and the traction increased, tyre shake was again a threat to the tune-up. “The Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro left harder but then we hit tyre shake at the end of first gear. I shifted into second and it was still shaking so it needed a big pedal. Steve and I were side by side and our 5.916 just beat his 5.983. We were lucky Steve had some shake as well because we were sitting ducks on that run.”

Zappia had earned his place in the final to race against Daniel Gregorini in what was to be a thrilling showdown. Gregorini’s auto-equipped Camaro got the jump on the start line against Zappia’s clutch transmission and from there the race was on. Gregorini’s 5.730 held on for victory against Zappia’s 5.728, with both drivers hitting impressive 409kmh speeds.

“We backed off the clutch a little for the final to calm our car down and that cost us a few hundredths on the launch for sure,” Zappia said. “That said, the run was super smooth the whole way and the race was amazing. Daniel got us this time.”

Just one round remains for both the Australian Drag Racing Championship and the Direct Mining & Industrial Summer Slam, which will take place simultaneously at the Grand Final on April 8 and 9.

“Daniel is 48 points ahead right now, so scoring every bonus point is going to be critical. If he goes out in the first round (40 points) we would either need to win the event (100 points) or get a runner up (80 points) with low ET and top speed (up to 10 points). If he goes out in the semi final round (60 points), then we will need to win the event and earn the bonus points. It’s not an impossible scenario but I’d certainly rather be in Daniel’s position.”

The Grand Final will be an event not to miss with the Top Doorslammer and Top Bike final as well as the finals for all the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series brackets.

A big thank you to all our sponsors and supporters and hope to see them in the last two meetings of the current season. It was great to have Craig and Nicole from Striker Crushing and Screening / MAX Plant there to give us their support. Unfortunately we weren’t able to deliver a win on the day.

Photos and Videos: Credits and thanks to Phil Reeve and ANDRA, Phil Blondell, Ian Moore, Paul Carey.


























Close race decides Nitro Slam as Zappia eyes Australian Nationals in Sydney

A brilliant side-by-side race decided the House and Land Expert Nitro Slam at Perth Motorplex on Saturday night, with John Zappia having to settle for a runner-up following a photo finish with Marty Dack.

Zappia chose to skip the first qualifying session with his Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro, but emerged for the second session to make a 5.778 top qualifying run. “The weather was incredibly hot, and the reality is there wasn’t much we were going to learn by running on a 140F-temp race track,” Zappia said. “Things cooled down by the second session and we were able to get down the track dead straight.”

While the number one position normally offers some benefits, this time it resulted in a tough opponent as Daniel Gregorini’s Camaro was seeded against Zappia for eliminations.

“Daniel is a tough competitor, who can make some of the quickest runs in the field. This time it wasn’t to be for him as he had a red light and then over powered the track, so we were able to get through to the final with a 5.774.”

Zappia would this time be staging up with Dack’s Ford Mustang, which has made an impressive return to competition this season. “Marty got away from the start line lightning quick with his 0.034 reaction to my 0.106. It wasn’t a bad reaction time on my behalf, but certainly not the best either. He really got moving well early whereas we found our 60 foot time was down; I think we underestimated the improving traction. I was chasing Marty down but we ran out of race track and his 5.890 beat our 5.867.”

Though he was disappointed with the loss, Zappia was happy to see some very tight racing in the Direct Mining and Industrial Summer Slam.“So far this season we have had three different winners from three events. That really keeps things tight in the points and it’s going to be a great show for the rest of the season going forward.”

Meanwhile, in exciting news for Zappia’s east coast fans, he will be attending the Australian Nationals at Sydney Dragway on February 11 and 12, where he will be keen to race on the new racing surface. It might mean a couple of weeks in quarantine on return, but Zappia said the effort will be worth it.

“One of my crew guys said to me, why aren’t we going to Sydney?” Zappia explained. “I said that having to isolate wouldn’t be good for any of the crew. But he said he was in, and so I started to ring around with some of our crew in Sydney and we found we could have enough people. This will be the first time we have been back to Sydney Dragway since the start of 2020. We have missed all of our fans there and we can’t wait to be back there to put on a show, alongside the awesome new Burson Auto Parts Australian Top Fuel Championship. It’s great for our national partners Fuchs Lubricants, Crow Cams, Hoosier Tires, Motec and Muscle Car Warehouse, and hopefully we can leave Sydney with a gold Christmas tree to keep me company in isolation.”

Photos: Phil Luyer High Octane Photos,  Phil Reeve;  Paul Carey and Ian Moore















Zappia races back to form at Nitro Max

John Zappia was able to blast back into the 5.70s and take a runner-up in Top Comp during testing at the Nitro Max event at Perth Motorplex on Saturday.

After a bunch of tyre-shaking runs at the recent Goldenstates Championship in the Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro Top Doorslammer, Zappia went back to basics and came away with the results. “It was clear that we had begun to wander away from our safe tuning zone in recent events,” Zappia said. “Before getting too far off track, we find it is best to go back to what we know and then build up once again”.

Qualifying began with some work to do for the Zappia Racing team, when the motor leaned out on one cylinder and backfired the supercharger off the manifold. “We weren’t pushing the motor hard or anything, but in third gear we found the boom. After looking at the Motec data, we could see that one cylinder had got too hot, and we needed to put a new Cp-Carrillo piston in and change a valve. Then we worked on our nozzling to get the fuel distribution in better shape”.

“Fortunately the next pass saw a quality 5.725 run that lifted Zappia to top qualifying honours in Top Comp, a division made up of both supercharged and turbocharged dragsters, altereds, funny cars and, of course, doorslammers. It was a great run and the best way to say our goodbyes and spread the ashes of long-time fan and supporter Frank Earnshaw who sadly passed away at the track recently”.

“We like to test in race conditions, so when the Direct Mining & Industrial Summer Slam is not taking place Top Comp is a great place for us to get runs in. The indexes mean that we are at a disadvantage against most of the competitors, but we still try our hardest to turn on win lights.” Zappia had a bye run in the elimination round, giving him a chance to prove the consistency of the new tune-up with a 5.748. “I thought the run actually felt better than that,” he said.

“The track was a bit tighter and so the 60 foot was a little slower. But I was hitting the shift points and our speed was up, so the signs were pointing in the right direction”.

”The A Final would take place against Moreno Gullotto’s CC/API class Toyota Soarer, running a twin-turbocharged Toyota V8. Gullotto’s handicap meant he would leave a full second ahead of Zappia. “It’s always a little strange watching another car leave the start line while you wait. My reaction time was pretty good and the chase began. The tyres started to rattle a little and then the Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro turned right, so I needed to shift into second early to settle the car down. I could see I was miles away, and that there wasn’t going to be quite enough distance to catch him. Our 5.790 on a 5.68 index gave it a good shot against his 6.563 on his 6.76 index, which was a great run for Moreno. We would have needed a Top Doorslammer record pass to win!” While there would be no winner’s trophy on this night (with the exception of nephew Brodie Zappia once again taking a Junior Dragster victory), Zappia was happy with the data he learned ahead of the Nitro Slam on
January 8.

“We managed to get a good tune-up on the second NRE engine and to get the car consistently down the track. We are ready for the Direct Mining & Industrial Summer Slam and we will service everything up and make sure it is all where it needs to be.”

“To all our Sponsors, fans and supporters, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy, prosperous and safe New Year and we look forward to seeing you all at the next event on January 8^th2022.

Also the Zapsrat store is stocked with the latest merchandise and only 4 Biante model cars left. And can be found on the (  then hit the STORE Tab.  Do your Xmas shopping now”.

Photo: Phil Reeve

























First round frustration for Zappia at Goldenstates

First round frustration for Zappia at Goldenstates

A promising start to the 47th annual Goldenstates Championship finished with a heartbreaking first round exit for John Zappia and the Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro Top Doorslammer.

Beginning with Friday night’s qualifying, a 5.821 pass in the first session would hold as Zappia’s quickest and place him second out of the eight cars on the property — earning the ever-vital lane choice for race day.

“We had a lot of tyre shake through qualifying, and every run needed a pedal,” he said. “On our final run the car looked set for a number but then I went to punch third and the car wouldn’t shift.  The only thing we could put that down to was an air supply issue, so we installed a larger line from the air tank to the shift buttons overnight.”

Zappia would face Pino Priolo’s 37 Chevy in the first round, with Priolo back for his first event in 18 months at the Motorplex. Unlike the freezing opening round of the Direct Mining & Industrial Summer Slam season a few weeks previous, this particular Saturday was marked by warm conditions in the mid-30s, with the track condition still in the high 40s for eliminations.The Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro came out flying with a 0.997 60 foot time, but then it all came unstuck for Zappia as the car swerved into the opposite lane.

“We felt like we needed to back the car off for the first run of Saturday, so we had a tune-up in there that was similar to the first qualifying pass we made on Friday. We noticed everyone ahead of us was all over the track, so that seemed like the right call. “I got the early jump on Pino but then the tyre shake began and I stayed on the throttle just a fraction of a second too long. My vision got blurred and I got off the throttle, and I could see I was heading for the other lane. I took evasive action to try and get it back to my side and avoid Pino, but there was no question that I was across the centre line and out of the race.”

It was a disappointingly early exit for Zappia, with Daniel Gregorini taking over the lead of the Australian Drag Racing Championship. On the positive side, he was happy to see another Dananni Hotshots racer earn their first ANDRA Top Doorslammer win.

“Of course it is frustrating and you feel like you have let everyone down,” Zappia said. “That said, we always seem to do better when we are chasing down somebody in the points. Congratulations go to Stuart Moresby in his Dananni Hotshots Studebaker, we know it will be a special memory for that team and a great boost for all of them. We were also happy to see Pino Priolo make it to the final on his return to the Motorplex.”

Joining Zappia on track at the Motorplex this weekend was his fiancé Rae Lockwood, who qualified her Zappia Racing-built Super Sedan with a 9.89 and raced to a third round finish.

Zappia will be back for Nitro Max on December 11, with Zappia entering Top Comp for some testing.“We need to try and find out why the tyre shake is back and solve that so that we can come back strongly for the Nitro Slam in January. I have faith in our whole team that we will work it out and return to the winner’s circle.”

Photos: Phil Blondel; Phil Reeve;  Paul Carey and Ian Moore

Q Ladder

Q Runs

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Zappia wins frosty final in Summer Slam

John Zappia’s Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro claimed the opening round of the Summer Slam season in chilly conditions at Perth Motorplex on Saturday night.

Mild daytime conditions allowed Zappia to turn in a top qualifying performance early in the day, as he led the field with a 5.799 at 407kmh in the second session.“We had great air during the day but I was getting a bit aggressive with my launch revs,” said Zappia, who still uses a traditional clutch setup that requires the driver to moderate the throttle while staging.

“On our first run the Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro Top Doorslammer rattled hard, so I pedalled it and punched second gear for a 5.82.“The second run was quite similar, though we had pulled some timing out of the tune up to settle it down. It rattled a bit further out on that run but we recovered and managed to top qualify by a tenth of a second.”

An uneven field resulted in Zappia earning a bye run for the elimination round, giving the team an opportunity to try a new ratio in the B&J transmission. The change appeared to work, as Zappia carded low ET of the event with a 5.751.“We still had some tyre shake, but it was a lot easier to manage. I shifted to second and lifted just slightly off the throttle but was back in quickly for what would be our quickest run of the day.

Zappia’s performance earned him a place in the final against Matt Abel, with the rapidly cooling conditions creating an unpredictable racing surface.“Unfortunately by the time we got to the final it was really cold, I think everyone was shivering!” Zappia said.

“The air was excellent and the track was cold, but not dewy.

Matt and I left with similar reaction times but then suddenly I was pointing right and almost heading into Matt’s lane. I had to get off the throttle big time and straighten back up. As I got back into the throttle I could see Matt ahead, and he was wheelstanding away on every gear change. I didn’t think I had a chance of catching him, but then right before the finish line he got close to the wall and backed off. I shot past but I honestly didn’t know if I had beaten him to the line. I waited to hear from my crew on the radio and they said I got the win.

I really thought I had given the win to Matt, but then Matt gave it back. It was one of those thrilling races where the lead changes and  it keeps fans on the edge of their seats.”

Zappia’s victory was matched by his nephew Brodie in Junior Dragster, who defeated Zara Board in the final. “I think this might be the eighth time we have both won at the same event, and hopefully we can add many more as Brodie is in his second last season in Junior Dragster,” the senior Zap said.

Despite the success, the event did end on a sad note, with the news that one of Zappia Racing’s biggest fans passed away during the night. Frank Earnshaw, also known as ‘The Man With The Sign’, could regularly be seen on the terraces of Perth Motorplex, holding a variety of signs that commended racers on their performances.“Frank was actually the uncle of a former crew member of ours, so we were very sad to hear of his passing,” Zappia said.

“Our sympathies go out to all of his family and friends.”

Zappia Racing will next be on track for the 47th Goldenstate Championships on November 26-27, a round of both the Summer Slam and the Australian Drag Racing Championship for Top Doorslammer and Top Bike, as well as the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series.

Photos: Phil Luyer High Octane Photos and Ian Moore







Doorslammer king John Zappia ready to defend the crown

There is no accolade John Zappia has not earned in drag racing, from championships to world records. But the Spearwood-based driver doesn’t see any reason to slow down yet as a new season beckons at Perth Motorplex.

The Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro Top Doorslammer has been freshened up for the Summer Slam season, which begins this Saturday, November 6, following several events in the Northern Territory.

“After coming back from a great road trip to Hidden Valley Drag Strip and Alice Springs Inland Dragway, we gave the whole car some love so we could be as prepared as possible for the Summer Slam,” Zappia said. “Given the uncertain interstate travelling situation right now, Summer Slam is going to be our primary focus for the season ahead.”

Seven cars have entered for the first event of the season, with Zappia set to contend with Mathew Abel, Steve Aldridge, Daniel Gregorini, Kelvin Lyle, Stuart Moresby and Frank Taylor at the opening event.

Zappia had the opportunity to do some testing at the Shannons Powerpalooza, where he scrubbed in some new Hoosier tyres and clocked a pair of five-second runs.

“We changed tyres between runs, so each pass had a fresh set of rubber,” he explained. “We shook the tyres on our first run and pedalled for a 5.94, while the second pass got out of the groove, so that was also a pedal job on a 5.87.

“We find that our tune up works best with tyres that have been scrubbed in, and the best way to do that is with big burnouts and full runs! So that’s what Powerpalooza was all about for us.”

We would also welcome back our long time Sponsors, Fuchs Lubricants, WA Suspensions, Crow Cams, Noonan Race Engineering, Hoosier Tyres, Muscle Car Warehouse, Shacks Automotive Paints, Motec, Speedflow, Taylor Tyres, Striker Crushing and Screening, K Craft Bullbars, CP-Carrillo, Applied Automotive, B&J Racing Transmissions, Avtrac, Total Seal Piston Rings, and Final Drive Engineering.

As well as giving the Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro Top Doorslammer a shakedown, Zappia Racing also had Rae Lockwood driving Zap’s Holden VP ute on track at Powerpalooza,.

Zappia said his fiancé, “Rae did really well, and after a tyre spinning 10.00 @ 136mph, on the first pass, we pulled some timing off the line and she won the B Final with a 9.89 on her 9.89 dial-in.

“This is a 92 ute that we were getting ready for Street Machine Drag Challenge in Victoria, but with that event being postponed we are going to have some fun at the Motorplex too,” Zappia said, That’s pretty good in a naturally aspirated street car!”

This weekend’s season opener features not just the Summer Slam, but also Jet Dragsters and a full round of the WA Drag Racing Championship. The feature program begins at 5.30pm.



Zappia takes over Top Doorslammer points lead with Desert Nationals win

John Zappia has fired back in the Australian Drag Racing Championship with a Desert Nationals win at Alice Springs Inland Dragway on Sunday.

Western Australia’s Zappia defeated the Northern Territory’s Matt Abel in the final round, 5.853 to 5.960, and took over the lead of the Top Doorslammer points.

The day began well for Zappia as he improved on his Saturday times in Sunday’s compulsory qualifying session. He used a 5.847 in the Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro to not only claim the number one position but to also win the Crow Cams Top Qualifier Award presented by Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks.

“We just crept up on it and put a bit more in for the last qualifying run and it all worked,” Zappia said.

“It did everything it was supposed to do and we managed to get that 5.84 that we knew the track could hold.”

The pass set Zappia up for a first round confrontation against his arch rival Daniel Gregorini, in the Scratch & Match Motorsport Camaro.

Gregorini’s 0.121 to 0.280 reaction time holeshot put him in strong contention but Zappia’s 5.886 was able to sneak around Gregorini’s 6.097 for the win light.

On the opposite side of the ladder, Abel also survived a spirited challenge as his 5.99 came home over a 6.163 from Kelvin Lyle.

“We put a little bit more in it for the race against Daniel,” Zappia said.

“I ended up having too many revs on the start line and was dragging the clutch and it left with our best 60 foot time of the weekend but I had to pedal and punch second gear early.”

That left only the final against Abel, whose consistent form had Zappia looking over his shoulder.

Abel’s black ’57 Chevy got the jump on Zappia early in the run with a 0.113 to 0.170 holeshot, with Abel stretching his lead at the 60 foot timers.

But from there Zappia clawed back for a 5.853 to 5.960 victory, taking the finish line stripe by just over five hundredths of a second in a thrilling final race for the Alice Springs crowd.

“We had a tiny bit more on the tune-up to keep up with the track and I managed to get it down there without needing to pedal,” Zappia said.

“Matt was right there and it was side by side. It was close enough to where any mistake would have seen Matt take it.”

Zappia was able to celebrate his latest win with nephew Brodie Zappia, who won the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series Junior Dragster class on the same day.

“We have doubled up a few times with Brodie now and it is always a great feeling through the pit area when we can both bring a win home,” he said.

In the B Final, Gregorini salvaged some points with a 6.038 to 6.086 win against Lyle. Gregorini’s speed of 255.36mph also proved helpful, granting him some extra bonus points.

The Top Doorslammer teams of the Australian Drag Racing Championship will navigate their ways back home, before heading to Adelaide International Raceway for the third round of the series on October 2 and 3.

Content:  ANDRA

Photos:  Amber Simms Photography






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Zappia’s Top Doorslammer quickest in Darwin before engine drama

Zappia’s Top Doorslammer quickest in Darwin before engine drama

The first round of the new Australian Drag Racing Championship will go down in the what-could-have-been category for John Zappia and his Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro Top Doorslammer.

Zappia’s Top End Nationals weekend began in strong fashion, as he belted out the top qualifying pass in the very first session, a 5.781. The quick run was followed by two more 5.78s to show Zappia had a handle on the changing Hidden Valley Drag Strip track conditions.

“We tried different things and it still came up with a 5.78 every time,” he said.

The only hiccup for the night was when Zappia just barely nudged the Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro into the braking area gravel trap in the final qualifying session.

“At the top end it kept going left towards the wall and I had a quarter of a turn on the steering wheel to keep it off. My left hand was glued to the wheel and I didn’t get the chutes early enough. It was hopping and bouncing through the braking area and I barely put it in the gravel. But there was no maintenance or repairs needed.”

Saturday began with a compulsory qualifying session, where Zappia slowed slightly to a 5.84 – which was still quicker than the competition.

“It was an honour to win the first Crow Cams Top Qualifier Award presented by Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks ever presented in the ADRC,” he said.

The elimination round saw Zappia take on Victoria’s Robin Taylor. Zappia took the lead early and was never halted, but there were problems at the top end with a speed of only 242mph.

“The car launched with a 0.999 60 foot time but it started to rattle further out and needed a pedal. Then at the top end it started to lay over.

“At first I thought there was something going on with the gearbox. Then we looked at the data and realised something was wrong with the number five cylinder. We took a look and saw it had dropped a valve. That meant we had to start changing engines. We were short on crew and weren’t really in a position to do a full change in the time frame we had, but we went for it anyway as much as we could. They waited as long as they could to run the final but in the end it had to go ahead and that was it for us.”

Zappia was disappointed to miss the opportunity to catch an early lead in the ADRC, as fellow finalist Daniel Gregorini claimed the victory.

“We gave it away, we had the quickest car there. But on the upside, it is only the start of the championship and it was a runner-up, so there are plenty more rounds to come.”

The Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers team have put a new Noonan motor into the car ahead of the second round of the championship this weekend at Alice Springs Inland Dragway. Zappia holds the track record of 5.79, which lines up perfectly with what the team have been running in Darwin.

A big thank you to Adrian from Pedders Darwin and Peter Coles for the loan cars and Matt Abel for allowing us to store the transporter on his property for the last month.

“I think Alice Springs will be better than it ever has been this time. It is a different elevation, different humidity, and a different surface. It’s about just reading the track and backing the car down the right amount to get from A to B instead of trying to run a 5.6 there. That said, it’s a flat, smooth track, and there is no reason why we can’t run a 5.6 there depending on how it is prepped and the weather.”

The new ADRC Top Doorslammer series has Zappia excited for what is to come, especially once Australia has COVID back under control.

“We had really good performances by a lot of cars at Darwin, and it can only get better,” he said. “To get a whole team of people and race cars around the country is difficult right now and you have to take it week by week. We will keep moving as best we can to keep the championship alive and as time goes by it will get bigger and bigger.”



ANDRA Points






Zappia win receives huge exposure at Nitro Up North

John Zappia’s northern swing began in the best way possible with a win at Nitro Up North at Darwin’s Hidden Valley Drag Strip.

In the first of three events that Zappia will contest in the Northern Territory, the Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro Top Doorslammer conquered some tricky track conditions at the huge event, which was telecast live nationally on 7 Plus, Fox Sports, Kayo and internationally on Superview live streaming.

“This was V8 Supercars, Australian Superbikes, Stadium Super Trucks, Graeme Cowan’s Outlaw Nitro Funny Cars and Top Doorslammer drag racing all being showcased on the same day, so we had the biggest Friday crowd Hidden Valley has ever seen,” he said. “The Hidden Valley track crew only had an hour to prepare the track, so it needed some runs on it to come good, which it did later in the night.”

The first round saw Zappia paired with race rival Daniel Gregorini, but problems with his Camaro meant the race became a solo.

“We began with a set up that was close to what we run in Perth. It carried the front wheels early before it started rattling and turning right. I had blurred vision from the shake, so I pedalled and steered to the left pretty hard and got it going again. I did a big drift up top and went through for a 6.38. It turned out to be low ET of the first round as everyone else was having trouble adjusting to the tricky track as well.”

The Zappia team made many changes to chase the conditions, including a different ratio in the B&J Transmission and some more downforce on the rear wing.

“We had a live onboard camera capturing everything I was saying before we started the car, giving some fans a behind the scenes look at how seriously we take every run!” Zappia said. “We made a few changes to make sure the car went down the track. We took on Bronte Henning and this time it got out clean and straight, with a 1.02 to 60 feet. I revved it out to the shift points, and was pretty happy when it turned out to be a 5.79/252mph. It was on rails, even though we had a lot of clutch dust coming out of it.”

The two wins were enough to put Zappia into the final against Kelvin Lyle. Zappia made some small adjustments to add power back in, cautious of the improving track surface.

“The track was getting better, we could see the Nitro Funny Cars were getting into the 5.7s and 5.6s. We were due to face Kelvin but unfortunately he broke a quill shaft and couldn’t make the run. We made our pass and we found we didn’t have enough clutch in the tune up but it was still quick with a 5.78/253mph, which was low ET of the event for the Top Doorslammers.”

Zappia was full of praise for the event, which showcased drag racing to a new audience and set new broadcast standards for the sport.

“To be involved in live TV put the pressure on, we had to turn around fast and get out there early, but it was absolutely worth it with massive exposure for our sponsors. The event had over 38,000 people through the gates across the weekend and the whole town was booked out, from hotels to hire cars. That’s what it is all about.”

Congratulations to the combined efforts of the NT Government, Supercars organisers, Graeme Cowin, Matt Abel from Hidden Valley Drag Strip, all the track staff and volunteers, ANDRA, Ray Treasure, Kevin Prendergast and all the media personnel for the effort in making this one of the best Motorsports event in Australia.

The Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro will remain in Darwin for the opening round of the ANDRA Top Doorslammer Championship on July 16-17, before heading to Alice Springs for the second round the following weekend on July 24-25.

“I’m excited for the championship to begin, with our new sponsor WA Suspensions joining us for the ride this season. I think we will be able to return to the 5.6s at Hidden Valley next time, and see if we can reset the track record.”

Photo credit:  Craig Radcliffe