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



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!


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

J. ZAPPIA 6.013 DEF P. PRIOLO 11.473

J. ZAPPIA 5.744 DEF M. BELLERI 5.944

J. ZAPPIA 5.713 DEF S. MACLEAN 5.918


Photo courtesy Drag News Magazine (high resolution image available here)

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

Zappia wins Australian Nationals and extends lead in ANDRA Championship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


1.          J ZAPPIA HQ MONARO 4.911 @ 221.74MPH

2.          B BRAY CORVETTE 5.020 @ 220.98MPH

3.          MARK BELLERI 5.070 @ 220.91MPH

4.          PAUL CANULLI 5.076@ 219.51MPH

5.          SAM FENECH 5.121 @ 215.79MPH

6.          VICTOR BRAY 5.301 @ 214.86MPH

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











Photos from Michelle Porobic at Bright Design

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Zappia leads Championship after Round 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Photos from Michelle Porobic at Bright Design






















Zappia Resets Track Record at WA Champs

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

Zappia Takes Lead in ANDRA Top Doorslammer Championship

The second leg of the “Northern Swing” was held last weekend at the Alice Springs Desert Nationals held by the Central Australian Drag Racing Association, where Round 2 of the ANDRA Top Doorslammer Championship was run over the eighth mile.

The event was a clean sweep for 9 times Champion John Zappia – Top Qualifying and winning the event, while picking up Low ET and Top Speed and resetting the track ET and MPH records.

“I feel like I am living the dream after this weekend” said an elated Zappia, “After a tough month of racing the Zappia Racing team finally got back to our winning ways. This weekend was all about managing horsepower and getting down this regional track, and we have plenty of data to draw on from years of regional track racing – and luckily we got most of our settings right”.

“The people of the Northern Territory have been great hosts, and we have thoroughly enjoyed the racing, fans and friends. The fishing is pretty good too, with a treasure chest of mud crabs in the transporter”.

Zappia now leads the ANDRA Championship on 184 points, followed by a re-vitalised Ben Bray on 154 points, Mark Belleri driving the Maurice Fabietti Monaro on 131 points, Gary Phillips who surprisingly failed to qualify on 126 points, and Grant O’Rourke on 114 points as he bows out of competition for the time being.

“We are on track for our goal of winning ten straight championships – a testimony to all the hard work of our crew, team and supporters have invested over that period. The win was great for Fuchs, who are our Naming Rights Sponsor, and great supporters of our team and drag racing in general”.

“A special mention must go to our long time sponsor Southside Engine Centre. I turned up at their Myaree workshop with a ute full of damaged parts from the Winters and Kelly and Craig set about carefully bringing them back to race condition”.

“The Darwin and Alice Springs meetings are the first time we have run a Noonan’s Ultimate Race Engineering block to compliment the Noonan heads, and the performance and potential is exiting for Zappia Racing going forward. We will do more R & D with this combination and testing with full power at the better tracks should show us what it can do”.

Qualifying was on Saturday and Zappia headed the field with a 4.07 @ 187.50mph, followed by B Bray 4.11 @ 184.43 and O’Rourke on 4.13 @ 183.67. Round 1 saw Zap go slightly quicker in the Fuchs Monaro 4.009 @ 189.87 by defeating local Darwin resident Matt Abel 4.274 @ 179.28 in his Chev Belair. Newcomer Fenech 4.299 disposed of Victor Bray 4.489 @ 174.42, O’Rourke 4.142 put away Perth local Mark Chapman 4.261 @ 174.42, and Ben Bray 4.106 @ 183.67 snatched the big one by putting Belleri 4.285 @ 183.67 on the trailer.

“We didn’t really change much on the Crusher, just finessed the tuning a little and the setup. The car ran almost identical times 4.009 @ 189.87 to defeat Fenech 4.274 @ 179.28 in the semi. We could see by the mph that we had the horsepower advantage, we just had to be sure not to overstep the mark. Ben Bray won his semi with a 4.089 @ 185.95 over O’Rourke 4.367 @ 172.41 – which set up a dangerous final. Ben is pretty sharp on the lights, so we had to get the tune up right to make sure we could drive around him”.

The final saw Zappia and Ben Bray go head to head. Long-time rivals and ultra-competitive racers. “Benny got the hole shot on me – I had a bad light on that one. But the overall winning margin was 25 thousandths of a second, so there was not much in it at all at the finish line but we come away with the only three second pass for the weekend – the track record for ASID on the eighth mile, and also the overall speed record of nearly 194 miles per hour for this track.”

“Fantastic win for the team and a real morale booster. This new track was really coming around, and one we would like to come back to. It is one of the straightest and flattest tracks in Australia and will be even better when more meetings are run on the track to get the racing surface smooth and full of rubber”.

“Many thanks to our crew that travelled to this remote track, and all our great sponsors who make this all possible with their ongoing support”.

Zappia Racing will now take a short break, have the annual sponsors and crew party, then get the car and engines ready for some testing and R & D before the next round of the ANDRA Top Doorslammer Championship to be held at Adelaide International Raceway on 3-4 December 2016.

Photos courtesy Mark Cuffe from





2016_Desert_03 2016_Desert_04












Track Record 5.750 and semi finish for Zappia in Darwin

On the first leg of the “Northern Swing” through remote Northern Territory in outback Australia, Champion John Zappia had a semi final finish in the opening round of the ANDRA Top Doorslammer Championship held at Hidden Valley Drag Strip in Darwin.

Zappia struggled to get the quick Fuchs Monaro to stick to the tricky track in humid and hot conditions. In a dramatic qualifying scenario, the champ only just snuck into the eight-car field by 0.05 seconds.

“We entered with a new Noonan engine and a had few unknowns to deal with,” said Zappia, “We had the new Noonan block, and I was keen to see what this new package has to offer”.

“Qualifying was a struggle with tyre shake and other dramas, and the best I could manage was a pedaling 6.317 @ 239.40. We went over everything on the car and came up with what we believed was a good tune and setup for Round 1”.

“The car launched hard and ran sweet at full throttle the whole pass and grabbed a convincing win with a 5.750 to O’Rourke’s 5.937. The run was under the track record, previously a 5.770 that was set by us last visit”.

Belleri, Phillips and B Bray managed wins to get through to the Semi Finals in front of a huge Darwin crowd. The Nitro up North event attracted the fans; with four Top Fuel cars in attendance reeling off mid four second passes.

“After the wheel standing 5.75 in the first round the Fuchs Monaro pulled up in good condition. We decided to take the left lane again in the semi, but during the burnout the motor revved up and I got crossed up just after 60ft – I knew the track was a bit off”.

“I launched hard but it went into tyre shake and I pedaled a couple of times, but couldn’t get it to stick and Belleri went through for the win”.

Phillips defeated Belleri in the Final to take home the ANDRA trophy and lead the Championship.

“We are happy with the new Noonan engine, and will service the car and do some fishing before heading to Alice Springs for the second event in our Northern Swing – Round 2 of the ANDRA Top Doorslammer Championship at the Desert Nationals on 15-17 July 2016”

“I would like to thank Greg Gower from Alky Pro Software. After running our fuel components on his flow bench, we were able to input the correct data into the Alky Pro software on the bench, enabling us to run the 5.750 with the Alky Pro software at the track acurately”

Zappia ends up fourth in the Championship points after the first round for the semi finish and Low ET of the event:
Phillips           106 points
Belleri             89 points
B Bray             67 points
Zappia            66 points
O’Rourke        48 points
V Bray             45 points

“Looking forward to improving our position in the Championship in Alice Springs on the 17th-18th July – a first for Alice Springs Inland Dragway, by having their first ever Group 1 event”.

O’ROURKE PONTIAC FIREBIRD 5.871 @ 249.72; B BRAY 79 CORVETTE 5.876 @ 246; PHILLIPS   53 STUDEBAKER 5.903 @ 247.16; V BRAY 57 CHEV 5.991 @ 238.85; BELLERI 06 MONARO 6.099 @ 253.04; FENECH 68 CAMARO 6.108 @ 241.24; CHAPMAN 59 PLYMOUTH FURY 6.144 @ 243.63; ZAPPIA  HQ MONARO  6.317 @ 239.40

GRADDEN 59 PLYMOUTH FURY 6.367 @ 239.4; TAYLOR 68 CAMARO 8.094@ 107.93: GOONAN 70.5 CAMARO 8.255 @ 112.75

Round 1:
ZAPPIA HQ MONARO 5.750 @ 252.24 def O’ROURKE PONTIAC FIREBIRD 5.937@ 248.84.
BELLERI 06 MONARO 5.953 @ 252.57 def V BRAY 57 CHEV 6.121 @ 246.26
PHILLIPS   53 STUDEBAKER 5.837 @ 249.30 def FENECH 68 CAMARO 6.343 @ 227.96
B BRAY 79 CORVETTE 5.941 @ 244.29 def CHAPMAN 59 PLYMOUTH FURY 6.058 @ 246.80

Semi Final:
PHILLIPS   53 STUDEBAKER 5.870 @ 249.21 def B BRAY 79 CORVETTE 6.119 @ 195.17
BELLERI 06 MONARO 5.945 @ 253.23 def ZAPPIA HQ MONARO 6.369 @ 204.42

PHILLIPS   53 STUDEBAKER 5.949 @ 245.36 def BELLERI 06 MONARO 6.473 @ 165.76



Zap and Graham Jones enjoy the local mud crabs in Darwin

Photos courtesy Mike O-Niel


Zappia Wins First 400 Thunder Championship at Winternationals

The 2016 Winternationals has been run, won and gone for another year – but National Champion John Zappia is still licking his wounds after a bruising time at the big event.

Zap ended up Top Qualifier for the event, and got to Round 3 to finish equal third overall with Grant O’Rourke. But it was all the drama in the Zappia Racing pits that pushed Zap and the crew to the limits all weekend with two complete engines changes, a piston, rod and liner change and the final straw was a clean break of a brand new blower belt.

“It was a tough weekend for a lot of teams, and some having heart ache like us. Russ Pavey and Stuart Bishop both had bad crashes that put their cars out of action. Ours was engine damage that kept us busy, and eventually halted our Winters effort”.

“We came out in Q1 and laid down a nice 5.82 @ 246.70mph after I had to pedal – but as I lifted through the finish line the engine let go. That run put us at the top of the field with Belleri closest with his 5.86.”

“The air was very good at Willowbank. I think it caught a lot of teams out with their tuning – certainly caught me out”.

The Zappia Racing crew replaced the engine complete overnight and presented for Q2 where the Fuchs Monaro ran 6.11 @ 248.89mph to stay at number 1 – with Grant O’Rourke jumping to No 2 with a 5.84.

“We had an intermittent ignition fault on that run from the same mag that failed to start up in Adelaide – despite being sent away, tested and told it was ok. Was misfiring in first gear, but cleared for the rest of the run. We changed the mag back to our previous original one and was ready for the final qualifier with a tune up to go quick”.

“The car launched hard and carried the wheels for ever – it was really pulling hard when at the 1,000ft it laid over and I knew something had let go. Turned out a piston burnt and a valve had let go. We still went 5.77 @ 237.50mph to Top Qualify ahead of the 17 car field”.

“Back in the pits the engine was pretty sad with bits of rod, piston and gudgeon pin all through the motor. So we had another complete engine change to carry out. Our second spare engine was installed – one we haven’t run since 2012. We set that engine up ready to go in a hurry and went out for round 1”.

Round 1 Zap drew No 16 qualifier Mark Harris in the Willy Coupe, and had a lucky break after Harris was pushed back after the burnout. 300 ft out Zap popped the blower burst panel and coasted through for a 10.28 second pass for the win.

Round 2 saw one of the biggest runs of the weekend with returning local hero Victor Bray running Zap. After two big smoky burnouts it was Zap who came out victorious with a 5.857 @ 243.81mph to Victor’s 5.963 @ 243.63mph.

“I had to pedal early on that run as the car rattled hard. Turns out we melted another piston, so the crew where busy pulling the blower and heads off, changing a liner and piston and back out again for the next round”.

“The Semi final was representative of four quickest cars in the field – Belleri vs O’Rourke, and we drew Ben Bray. The car started up in the pits fine, but on the hit in the burnout the brand new blower belt snapped – putting an end to our Winter’s battle.  That’s the second time this season I had to watch the race in front of me sitting in a silent car. It was symbolic of the whole weekend really, and nothing seemed to go right. Hopefully we have got that bad one out the way and we can regroup for the start of the next season”.

Belleri and Ben Bray got through to the final, with Mark taking the well deserved win 5.796 @ 243.63mph to 5.860 @ 244.52mph.

“That was a quick final pass by Belleri – congratulations to the team. The event was one of the hardest we have done in a while – the pit looked like a Top Fuel pit area with engines and carnage everywhere.  We have had so many meetings where we just put plugs and oil in and sit around waiting for the next race – but with this class anything can happen – on and off the racetrack. Big thanks to the crew for their dedication and effort at the Winters and throughout the season”.

“That ends another season for Zappia Racing, and with an inaugural 400 Thunder Pro Slammer Championship under our belts, we must thank our naming rights sponsor Fuchs Lubricants who have backed us all the way this season again. We are proud to have given them another Championship that helps promote their great products we use in the race car, and get such good performance from”.

“Another big thank you to all our Major and Supporting sponsors and all our extra supporters who really get involved with the team with their specialist knowledge and products. So many good and talented people are in our inner circle brains trust, and it makes my life easier to bring it all together”.











Zappia ready to go quick at Winternationals

John Zappia is all setup at Willowbank International Raceway ready for this years City of Ipswich Winternationals, and is excited about maintaining his stranglehold on the class.

“With both Championships wrapped up for the season, the pressure is off compared to seasons past”, said Zappia “We can just concentrate on getting the Fuchs Monaro to go as quick as possible and hopefully take the win”

The event is the final 400 Thunder Championship Round, and the Top Doorslammers are classed as Pro Slammers, and a sixteen-car field is offered to the 17 teams entered.

Zappia has a strong history at the Winternationals event, Top Qualifying at seven of the last nine events. He is the quickest door car in Australia, and definitely the one to catch.

The table below is an interesting overview on the progress of the class over the last ten years – with elapsed times falling three and a half tenths (0.352) in the period.


No Year Q ET and MPH Zappia Place Zappia Event Result Zappia Event Low ET
9 2015 5.730 @ 253.37 Top Qualifier Winner 5.693
8 2014 5.763 @ 253.33 Top Qualifier Winner 5.763
7 2013 5.745 @ 252.24 Top Qualifier Rained out 5.745
6 2012 5.750 @ 250.78 Top Qualifier Round 1 5.750
5 2011 5.914 @ 234.78 2nd Qualifier Rained out 5.914
4 2010 5.866 @ 241.07 Top Qualifier Winner 5.805
3 2009 5.901 @ 238.98 Top Qualifier Winner 5.909
2 2008 6.020 @ 239.49 3rd Qualifier Semi Final 6.020
1 2007 6.082 @ 230.89 Top Qualifier Winner 5.996

“In our first season we had a basic Hemi with a Whipple blower, and a new chassis that we were still setting up. Over the years the horsepower has increased dramatically with new technology, and we learnt what makes a Doorslammer go quick with lots of testing and laps”.

“A five six is definitely on the cards. We have run three so far, and the track here at Willowbank is always top notch, and we are able to go after ET with aggression in our tune up. We are also aiming for some sort of consistency to go rounds. The Zappia Racing Team are all looking forward to it, and to give back to our amazing sponsors, supporters and friends that back our efforts”.

“We have a new range of merchandise, with the sublimated shirts selling like hot cakes – so we recommend fans get in early to get their signed memorabilia”.

The Winternationals starts for Pro Slammer on Friday 10th June with qualifying.

Q1      Friday                3.33PM EST

Q2      Saturday            10.42AM EST

Q3      Saturday            1.22PM EST

Eliminations start on Saturday with four rounds of racing.

R1      Saturday            3.23PM EST

R2      Sunday              10.57AM EST

R3      Sunday              2.07PM EST

F        Sunday              4.42PM EST

The event is being covered live by Drag News Australia via their website at



Two Championships for Zappia wrapped up as Winternationals Approaches

Australian 9 times back to back Top Doorslammer Champion John Zappia – the quickest doorslammer driver down under – just made history by winning his second championship for the season after a finals finish in the 400 Thunder Nitro Champs at Sydney Dragway.

The finals finish gained him 103 points to reach 570 points total – 139 points clear of Grant O’Rourke and enough points to win the inaugural 400 Thunder Pro-Slammer Championship with the Winternationals round to go at Willowbank.

Zap had earlier wrapped up the ANDRA Top Doorslammer Championship at the Grand Final event in Adelaide – his ninth consecutive championship.

“We are proud of our achievements this season” said the laconic Zappia, “We have been beaten, and had a few failures this year but at the heart of it all, the Fuchs Monaro is still the quickest doorslammer in Australia and is the car the beat at every track”.

“We are looking forward to the Winternationals this year. We made a clean sweep of last seasons Fuchs Winternationals – Top Qualifying, Winning the Final Round, gaining Low ET and Top Speed for the meeting, resetting the National Record to 5.693 and winning our eighth back-to-back Championship. We hope this year can go as well and the Fuchs Monaro can go even quicker”.

The Nitro Champs in Sydney saw Zappia top qualify in the 8 car field with a 5.72 to set new Track Record ahead of Ben Bray with a 5.87 after only two rounds of qualifying.

“Round one I had a win over veteran Gary Phillips with a big pedal and running a 5.97, round two we had a bye due to Rob Taylor breaking a diff and ran a tyre shaking 6.61, and the final against Cannuli we lost due to massive tyre shake again and a wild drifting ride down Sydney Dragway’s left lane”. The track seemed to give every racer problems at the 80-foot mark with bad tyre shake even during the burn out.

“We really struggled with the track at Sydney in eliminations. The dreaded tyre shake was back with a vengeance, causing me all sorts of drama trying to keep the Crusher in my lane. It just goes to show that we can be beaten, and getting down the track is not just a matter of revving it up and dropping the clutch in doorslammer. Best wishes to Paul Cannuli and his crew for that thrash and win. That never give up attitude is all too common with drag racers”.

The Winternationals is the largest drag racing event outside of North America on 9-12th June, and features all Group 1 brackets, including Pro-Slammer, the wildest doored cars on the planet. John Zappia will venture off across the vast Australian continent from Perth to Brisbane in the team transporter, driving 4,200km (2,600 miles) across four states to Ipswich, just out of Brisbane, with the crew flying in to join him a few days later.

“The Winters is just such a big event, and with the killer track it is the place to set records and the event to be at – and we will be going after it now we have the championships wrapped up. Fans can be guaranteed the Zappia Racing Team will be there to go as quick as possible, and provide a good show for the huge crowd normally in attendance”.

“With eighteen Pro-Slammers entered, including my old mate Victor Bray – the competition for eight spots will be tight and the racing will be intense”.

“A big thank you to our Naming Rights Sponsors Fuchs Lubricants, and all our other Major Sponsors, Speedmaster, Dannani Hotshots, Noonan Race Engineering, Southside Engine Centre and Hoosier Tires, and Supporting Sponsors Crow Cams, Reid Rockers, Santhuff Shocks, B&J Transmissions, Appealing Signs, Taylor Tyres, Bravo Resources, SDS Billet, Final Drive, K Craft Bullbars, Engel, Aurora Bearing Company, Avtrac Maintenance Tracking and CIC High Performance Ceramics for all the support this season”.

“Huge thanks to the Zappia Racing crew, both east and west coast, for their enormous amount of time and effort, travelling and taking time off from their jobs. The crew are volunteers in our team – not paid crew like in the US – so all the more impressive is their loyalty and dedication by all involved”.

“The new 2016/2017 ANDRA season starts off in Darwin on the 8/9 July with the Nitro Up North event at Hidden Valley Drag Strip followed by Alice Springs Inland Dragway for the Dessert Nationals on the 16/17 July. Top Doorslammers will compete at both events and should be two fantastic race meetings that we are all looking forward to due to the Northern Territory hospitality”.