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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”.

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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 www.dragnews.com.au

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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”.

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Zappia talks about his Ninth ANDRA Championship

Reigning back-to-back Top Doorslammer Champion John Zappia talks to Zappia Racing Media Manager and fellow drag racer Paul Carey about his ninth ANDRA Championship.

How did qualifying go in Adelaide at the ANDRA Grand Final event?

“First pass we put a similar tune up to the 4.88 (1,000 feet) we did previously in Adelaide – and off the trailer the car launched hard, wheel standing strong and ran a track record 4.83 (equates to a 5.75 – 5.78 quarter mile time). We were pretty happy with that.

Second pass we added more clutch, and the car wheel stood higher – it rattled in 2nd gear so I pedaled and the car went sideways. I got back on it not knowing my competitor in the other lane O’Rourke had ventured into my lane and was set to collide had I stayed off. That was a relief in hindsight.

Third pass we set the tune back to the first pass tune up and ran a dead straight 4.84. We managed Top Qualifier for the event ahead of Grant O’Rourke”.

Round 1 was an easy win – what ended up happening in round 2?

“The car launched well in round 1 but lost power in second gear – I pedaled and it tossed the belt. We got the win with a 5.33 against Carbone.

We went back to the pits and changed the belt – started the car and all was fine. Unfortunately the car would not start in round 2 – an earth wire on the magneto was at fault, so the meeting was over for the team. I suspect it was a problem on the second run – but we are all over that wiring fault”.

Nine ANDRA Championships in a row – how does that feel?

“It feels good. Relief actually. We were under a lot of pressure to do well. It was a good achievement for the team, and we kept the championship by 61 points with things going wrong in the last few rounds”.

You are 87 points ahead in the 400 Thunder Championship – what events are left and is there a chance you can win two championships in one season?

“We have Sydney Nitro Champs and the the Winternationals left in that series. It is what it is – we will race wherever the opportunities are to give our sponsors the best possible exposure, but to win nine in a row plus one extra will be a bonus. We need to be at our best to keep O’Rourke, Belleri and Kapiris from gaining points on us and hopefully win this championship as well.”

It is obvious you have a quicker car in the field – sometimes by two tenths. Can you explain that?

“Attention to detail and experience pays huge dividends. The number of laps per year, quality crew and quality sponsors providing excellent machine work and products. All the 1% factors come together to add up to an advantage. We are full time professional racers – have been for nine years now, and would like to thank Craig Pedley from Striker Crushing and Screening for the opportunity and support he has given us over those nine years.”

In US Pro Mod the qualifying order has cars pretty close in ET – what are the US teams doing that your fellow Australian Teams are not?

“US teams are much wealthier – either cashed up with sponsors or with their own businesses. It’s hard to compare to the Australian scene. There is more experience there, more engine dynos, more chassis builders and more money. The crews are paid and shift around a lot, so knowledge is shared among the field. They also have 32 cars qualifying for a 16 car field”.

Do you run the same equipment as other Australian Teams?

“In a lot of ways we do. We run the B&J transmission versus the Lenco and we see that as a big advantage.  We run NRE heads, Reid Rockers, Santhuff Shocks, Crow Cams and of course Fuchs Lubricants oils that are second to none. I think you will see the field tighten up next year with new equipment purchased by other teams and a few more cashed up players entering Top Doorslammer”.

How do you sum up this six meeting season – the highs and lows?

“Winning Darwin was great in front of that huge crowd.  But winning the Calder Nationals was the highlight and running 5.74 – coming back after all those years and winning.  Running the 5.68 record in Perth was also a highlight. Lows would involve crossing the centerline and losing at Calder at the March round. It was a freak happening and cost us the round. The Fuchs Monaro not starting in Adelaide for the 2nd round was hard for me. To sit in the car after a successful startup in the pits, and not start in the staging lanes is very stressful. You feel out of control, and took away the chance to win a round after winning the championship. It was hard watching racers get through without being able to challenge them”.

How did you manage the season financially as a professional with your sponsorship? Other teams have dropped off the circuit.

“Well winning pays more – so that helps. We have a great bunch of sponsors that allow us to sell their products in my spare parts business. We are distributors for Fuchs Lubricants, Speedmaster, B&J Transmissions, Santhuff Shocks and a lot of blown alcohol parts and with all our racing contacts we supply and support a lot of race teams. We have good contacts in the US and are able to bring in the best parts for resale”.

What do you see as the future of Top Doorslammer next season – what are your team goals?

‘We want to win ten ANDRA Championships. It’s been a long-term goal, and the reality of that is dawning on us, so we will heavily invest our efforts to make that a reality. We aim for consistency at a higher performance level and to do that we need the best parts and attention to detail to make sure that little things don’t trip us up.”

What developments have you seen in the Monaro this season that gave you an edge?

“Nothing really. Getting the settings right on the Santhuff shocks and with minor adjustments to the clutch has proved a winner this season. We have been running five sevens for a while now – it’s just been a little unpredictable with tyre shake, but the suspension settings have settled that down.”

You have a large and very experienced crew working with you – do they give you advice on how to set up the car, or do you do the research and direct them?

“I do the research and direct them. My crew is very experienced and give me good feedback – we do confer. Some are very experienced in their field and are no slouches. We have great loyalty amongst the crew – nobody has gone off and shared our technology with other teams like in the US. We run two alternate crews to cater for away meetings. With crew holidays, shifts etc – we float two crews in and out of the various meetings. I am very grateful of the support of the crew over the years and the sacrifices they have made to be a part of Zappia Racing”.

How is sponsorship looking for next year?

“It’s looking good – Fuchs Lubricants and Dananni Hotshots (Haulage) are set to go for next season. Some other major sponsor deals are yet to be signed off but hope to get them on board to make our tenth straight championship a reality. Our supporting sponsors are very keen and loyal and we are grateful for their continued support”.

What’s the best advice you were ever given?

“Run your own race and not worry what others are doing. Focus on your own goals”.

Do you have a saying or a motto that you live your life by?

“If it’s too hot in the kitchen, get out onto the porch. You don’t live forever – so make the most of each day”.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

“Look I live and breathe drag racing. I think about it 24/7 and every living moment. I am always thinking about ways to improve. I follow a lot of US racers and see what’s going on at the elite level. When the budget is good – we do some R & D.  We take risks at local meetings that do not affect our championship points. We try to concentrate on the main race meetings with a consistent package.”

Anything else you would like to share?

“We enjoyed some extra racing activities this year – the APSA meeting in Perth was good. There was a lot of pressure for our blown car to beat the turbo guys. We did that, and if sponsorship commitments allow, we will look at more APSA battles, Jamboree, Lights Out and Outlaw meetings that encourage tough competition and help bring the crowds in”.

Photo credits: Michelle Probic Bright Designs

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Zappia Lining Up Ninth Consecutive Championship

Zappia Racing heads off to Adelaide this week to contest the final round of the 2015/2016 ANDRA Top Doorslammer Championship on 9-10 April at Adelaide International Raceway – ahead in points enough that only qualifying is needed to wrap up nine consecutive championships.

“We are going to Adelaide prepared as always” said Zappia, “The last few meetings have shown us how tough drag racing can be – so we have to prepare as best we can and bring our best effort to this event.”

Zappia (472 points) leads Grant O’Rourke on 382 points, Mark Belleri on 342, and Kapiris on 325 – forming the top-performing group in Top Doorslammer.

“We would like to express a huge thanks To Fuchs Lubricants who are again our Co-Naming rights sponsor for the 2016-2017 season and the support they have shown us for the past 8 championships”.

In February at the West Coast Nitro event at Perth Motorplex, Zappia top qualified with a 5.705 @ 254.81mph but had their No 1 engine break several rods after the finish line. An engine change got the team going again to win round 1 and get an A Finals run. The 5.7-second win was thwarted in the weigh-in back at Scrutineering when the Crusher was found to be approx. 2 pounds underweight – handing the win back to Daniel Gregorini.

“That was a tough loss – and we got caught out with the engine change being a lighter engine than No 1 engine where we run the weight a little close to 2700 pounds – and we must have used more fuel than normal. We packed up and travelled to Victoria for Round 5 of the ANDRA Championship hoping for a better result”.

“At Calder we struggled in qualifying – managing only fifth with a 5.356 (1,000 foot racing) and after running a 4.98 in the first round, the Fuchs Monaro darted sideways at 950 ft and crossed the centerline, taking out the finish line blocks, handing the win to DeFelice. The track was always going to be a challenge for these evil, monster blown door cars – in fact the final was called off as O-Rourke and Belleri decided the track could not hold the power in the conditions”.

“Those were hard losses for us as a team, after three huge wins in rounds two, three and four. But we hope to bounce back after some good hard thinking and analysis, and we will give it our best shot at Adelaide”.

“We are not going to Adelaide just to qualify, but hoping to take home the event and the championship. It won’t be easy as O’Rourke and Belleri have shown great improvement over the second half of the season, so we are looking forward to the challenge”.

“We would like to thank all our sponsors for the season so far, as without them we could not do what we love doing. Thank you to Fuchs Lubricants, Speedmaster, Dananni Hotshots, Noonan Race Engineering, Hoosier Tires, Southside Engine Centre, Crow Cams, B & J Racing Transmissions, Santhuff Shocks, Bravo Resources and the many supporting sponsors that help out each year.

“Looking forward to seeing as many sponsors, supporters and fans in Adelaide and help make this event one of the best in a difficult season. Merchandise sales, and meet and greet John Zappia will be available at the merchandise tent near the transporter”.

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Zappia Sets Australian Pro Slammer National Record – 5.683

The Home Group WA 45th Westernationals were run this weekend at the Perth Motorplex under the IHRA sanctioned 400 Thunder Australian Professional Drag Racing Series and John Zappia stamped his authority in the Pro Slammer class by re-setting the Australian National Record at 5.683, getting to the final, and maintaining his lead in the series.

Qualifying on Friday night between thirteen teams saw Zappia Top Qualify with an off the trailer 5.71 @ 252.96mph in his Fuchs HQ Monaro, from Mark Belleri on 5.84 in the Holden Trade Club Monaro, and Grant O’Rourke 5.89 in the O’Rourke Motorsport Camaro. Bump spot for the field was a modest 6.217 as the top three teams seemed to be two and three tenths quicker than the rest of the field.

“The Fuchs Monaro ran well in that first round” said the champ Zappia, “The car ran dead straight with no pedals. I think we may have overcome our niggling tyre shake problem that has bothered us for a few seasons. The car could run a five eight with a pedal, but now that is fixed the Crusher will run really quick as long as we can keep on top of the tyre shake issues ”.

“Second qualifier saw us shut down on the start line with a tree malfunction. We went to the back of the field, re-fuelled and ran a 5.76 @ 252mph, with the engine a little hot. We stepped up the tune for Q3 and the car did a huge wheel stand towards the centre line – I had to pedal, correct and run it out the back for a 6.01”.

The teams serviced the cars overnight and were welcomed with brilliant weather for the day in Perth. Round one matchup for Zap was Paul Canulli in the roots powered Duster featuring an automatic gearbox.

“We went back to the 5.71 tune up from the day before, and like clockwork the car went 5.707 @ 253.86mph to defeat Cannuli’s 9.11 and go through to the semi final”.

Other round winners were Chapman in a hole shot 6.09 win over Priolo 6.08; O’Rourke 6.19 took out Dack 6.95; and Belleri took the gift win when Kapiris shut down after the burnout.

In the semi finals Zappia ran an incredible 5.683 @ 253.76mph to defeat Chapman 6.015, who got off it early and possibly missed out on his first five second pass. O’Rourke 6.32 managed the win against Belleri in an untidy pass that saw both cars off the noise by 1,000 feet.

“Incredible run really – we ran 3.75 to half-track (3.74 PB) and PB 203.28mph, but a strong second half and huge mph speed of 253.76. That was identical to our previous PB 5.683 remarkably, set here at the Perth Motorplex. The previous run also reset the Perth Motorplex top MPH record beating our previous record of 253.52 with the 253.86mph”.

Congrats to the Chapman Brothers– they are getting a handle on their new car and are very professional in their engineering. Certainly a team to watch out for in the future.”

“We left the tune alone for the final up against Grant O’Rourke, and after a strong burnouts we faced each other at the tree. On the hit the Crusher backfired the blower burst panel and I knew it was all over. O’Rourke took the well-deserved win with a 5.942 and notch up another win against us”.

“Grant and I have been racing each other for years – back in the Ravenswood days in the old Zap’s Rat, and his tidy little Torana. We have a strong rivalry, and respect for each other and he is a tough competitor. Pro Slammer is a tough class – just look at today’s field, all trying they’re hardest to crack the magic formula and run regular fives. It really is very complicated and difficult - and we suffered a rare mechanical failure this weekend”.

Back in the pits the Zappia Racing crew removed the rocker covers on the 502 Hemi and quickly saw the problem – a failed valve train component. IHRA officials conducted engine checks to verify compliance for the Australian National Record with the signoff completed satisfactorily.

“Well I guess the perfect weekend was not to be – but that’s drag racing. We are happy with the overall result – and are still leading the Thunder 400 Pro Slammer Championship”.

“Congratulations to the Dannani Hotshots sponsored Stuart Moresby who won the Competition Eliminator Bracket. Unfortunately we couldn’t make it a double celebration for Danni.”

“Our next event is the West Coast Nitro meeting on the 19th and 20th February at the Perth Motorplex where we will be testing some new components in readiness for the remainder of the current Drag Racing season”

Photos courtesy: Thunder400/Phil Luyer, High Octane Photos

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Thunder 400 Pro Slammer Championship Points

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Zap Shines Bright at 2016 Nationals

In a spiritual renewal, drag racing returned to Calder Park in Melbourne Australia last weekend in a big way with the running of the 2016 Nationals that attracted great crowds on both days and some close competition.

Reigning eight times back-to-back ANDRA Champion John Zappia showed why he is the champ in a stunning display of driving and tuning to win the event and take a commanding 144 point lead in the 2016 Championship.

Zap gained 100 points for the win, 7 for qualifying second, 5 points for low ET (and the Calder Track Record), and 5 points for Top Speed. Kapiris gained a valuable 85 points to gain second spot with a final appearance.

“Great event, thanks to Peter Pisalidis, Ray Treasure and all the ANDRA staff”, said Zap, “It was great to be back here in Melbourne, and to take the win for Fuchs and all our other sponsors. It was a tricky meeting for Top Doorslammers with the track and weather conditions, but we are thrilled with the result”.

Saturday qualifying in front of a good crowd produced some spectacular runs from the Top Doorslammer wild beasts as the drivers struggled to keep them in a straight line.

“First qualifier in the burnout the Crusher just jumped lanes! On the run I had to pedal three times and was able to put down a 6.103 to come in at No 2. That was a scary run with the car heading towards the wall really quickly – the second qualifier was a little better but still had trouble keeping the Fuchs Monaro in a straight line – a few stabs at the throttle were needed to keep it sort of straight, and managed a 6.070 and missed out top qualifying by 6 thousands – congratulations to Paul Cannuli on his top qualifying run”.

Round three of qualifying was cancelled due to racer concerns with the cool night air coming in, and eliminations were to commence with the qualifying order after round two.

All teams were then facing a dilemma – how to tune their wild beasts for racing. The first 330 feet of concrete was probably the best many had raced on – as good as a Winters track at Willowbank.

“We did a lot of small changes overnight – to soften the car more and make it smoother. The B & J Transmission allows more finessing with shifting, and we did some engine timing and tyre changes”

Top Doorslammer racing has two very important functions – driving and tuning. It’s the tuning carried out by the Crew Chief (or in many cases in this bracket – the driver) that determines the deliverable power, and the driver has to drive the package presented to him.

“We have very strong targets and high expectations with dozens of parameters we track in our data system. My brother Richard handles this, and the software allows us to zoom in on each of these areas and make a plan to reach the targets set. I would say this is our strong point in our racing – we have great power, but so do the other teams now, so it’s the decision making about what to change that makes the difference”.

John’s driving ability also helps when steering this beast from start to finish.

“Our decisions are based on data, not guesses. There is an element of that – we have tried a lot of variables over the years and been surprised that a certain change can make such a difference in performance. We were confident our changes would settle the car down a little and get it anchored to the track for the whole run. We noticed that Supercharged Outlaws were getting down the track so we put our tune in and were surprised and pleased with the results”

Day two of eliminations saw Zap up against Mark Belleri in the Fabietti Monaro who launched with a killer 0.080 light, but was overtaken by the staunch Fuchs Monaro (new Calder Park track record) with a 5.749 @ 249.81mph to Belleri’s 6.023 @ 215.31mph.

“I expected a 5.90 or a 5.89 on that run, but not a 74 – beautiful!”

Other first round winners were Kapiris, O’Rourke who ran the first five-second (5.999) Top Doorslammer pass at Calder, and Cannuli.

Round two Zap drew Grant O’Rourke, and with lane choice selected the left lane – believed to be better and smoother. In the first side by side five second pass at Calder Zap narrowly defeated O’Rourke 5.823 @ 248.39 mph to 5.955 @ 244.47mph. Kapiris 6.140 @ 221.60mph defeated Cannuli 6.436 @ 176.17mph to set up an epic final.

The atmosphere was electric at Calder Park. Kapiris was in front of his home crowd with many family and friends present, and Zappia seeking a second Nationals win at this event – last won in 1995.

Kapiris had the jump on Zap with a 0.093 light in the final, but the super strong Fuchs Monaro flew by for the win with another five seven – 5.762@ 248.29mph to Pete’s 6.065 @ 231.36mph.

“It was fun to drive today. Awesome to win after being all over the track yesterday – pretty scary stuff! The track was prepared well overnight and we did our homework – detuned the car and today it’s the first time in a while where I didn’t have to pedal and the car went straight”.

“Big thanks to Fuchs and all our sponsors for the opportunity to represent them at this great event. I am glad for Peter Pisalidis that the crowd came out in droves – I think with better weather the numbers may have been even better. It sets up a great future for Melbourne drag racing and we can’t wait to return”.

“Special thanks also to sponsors Reid Machine, whose new rocker arms contribute to our high revving reliability”.

It was great to catch up with so many people that were at Calder Park back in 1995 and to reminisce about the “lawn mower run” and to see how appreciative they were that we made the trip to support the sport of Drag Racing in Melbourne.

Zappia Racing will return to Perth for the running of the 45th Westernationals at the Perth Motorplex on Fri 5 and Sat 6 Feb.

Qualifying:

P CANNULI – DUSTER 6.064 @ 240.29; J ZAPPIA – 71 HQ MONARO 6.070 @ 225.26; G O’ROURKE – 68 CAMARO 6.164 @ 283.93; P KAPIRIS – 59 SARATOGA 6.226 @ 220.01; R TAYLOR – 68 CAMARO 6.316 @ 225.94; G GRADDEN – 36 SARATOGA 6.348 @ 232.79; M BELLERI – 06 MONARO 6.392 @ 238.55; T DEFELICE – 67 CAMARO 6.544 @ 216.51.

Round 1 Eliminations:

P KAPIRIS – 59 SARATOGA 6.176 @ 232.11 DEF R TAYLOR – 68 CAMARO 6.269 @ 233.84; G O’ROURKE – 68 CAMARO 5.999 @ 243.37 DEF G GRADDEN – 36 SARATOGA 8.084 @ 125.16; J ZAPPIA – 71 HQ MONARO 5.749 @ 249.81 DEF M BELLERI – 06 MONARO 6.023 @ 215.31; P CANNULI – DUSTER 6.106 @ 241.63 DEF T DEFELICE – 67 CAMARO 6.303 @ 222.69.

Semi Finals:

P KAPIRIS – 59 SARATOGA 6.140 @ 221.60 DEF P CANNULI – DUSTER 6.436 @ 176.17; J ZAPPIA – 71 HQ MONARO 5.823 @ 248.39 DEF G O’ROURKE – 68 CAMARO 5.955 @ 244.47.

Final:

J ZAPPIA – 71 HQ MONARO 5.762 @ 248.29 DEF P KAPIRIS – 59 SARATOGA 6.065 @ 231.36.

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Zap has his Eye on the Prize for the Nationals at Calder Park

Australian Top Doorslammer Champion John Zappia is on his way to the Australian Nationals at Calder Park this weekend to take on seven other Top Doorslammer teams, and has his eye on the prize. The event is round four of the ANDRA 2015/2016 Championship and the first time the Nationals has been run at Calder in fifteen years.

“Calder Park has strong memories for us at Zappia Racing” said Zap, “We travelled to Calder back in the early 1990’s because the crowds were huge and Doorslammer racing was new to this country. It’s great to be going back to race the full quarter mile with an upgraded track”.

In 1995 one of the most memorable Top Doorslammer races of all time – in front of 55,000 people, John Zappia took out the final from Brendan McSweeney by “mowing the grass” at Calder in the original Zap’s Rat.

“That was a memorable race, and it got a lot of attention over the years. We were running mid six second passes back then with some pretty rough chassis cars – compared to todays standard. The Fuchs HQ Monaro is a state of the art chassis and has all the latest go-fast bits in it”.

“The horsepower has increased dramatically as well – even over the last year or so, with Noonan Engineering manufacturing their own hemi heads that are bolt on power. We have not only found more power, but through testing many different combinations have found a level of reliability that allows 10,500rpm regular racing with few problems”.

“We are looking to set a few more records this weekend. No Top Doorslammer team has run a five second pass at Calder yet, and the track record is up for grabs as well. Getting all the new power to the ground is the challenge for all race team tuners”.

“We are aiming to improve all aspects of our racing this meeting. With me taking a break over the Christmas period my mind is fresh and focusing on a few key areas, and am keen to do well”.

“We top qualified at the last T/D event in December at the Perth Motorplex with a 5.829 @ 251.05mph, but had a clutch problem on the start line in Round 1. My 5.864 @ 249.63mph was beaten by Priolo’s 6.074 @ 238.64mph after a late light. We have fixed that problem and will return to regular racing”.

John Zappia leads the 2015/2016 ANDRA Top Doorslammer Championship on 311 points after winning Rounds 2 and 3. His closest and most dangerous opponents are Grant O’Rourke on 213 points, and Mark Belleri on 202 points – both teams are at the pointy end of the field running five eights consistently.

“It’s hard to predict who will win this round, with six of the eight having won Top Doorslammer rounds before, and will probably come down to who can read the track and weather the best and adjust their tune accordingly”.

“We welcome new Major Sponsor Dananni Hotshots to the team, and hope their HOTSHOT freight business gets exposure across Australia from their investment in our team and the sport of drag racing”.

Zappia racing fans are welcome in the pit area to watch over the crew and the Fuchs Monaro, and get their merchandise personally signed by Zap.

The Australian Nationals will be live streamed to viewers via the ANDRA web site www.andra.com.au

Tickets and info at www.calderparkdragracing.com.au

Race Schedule:

Q1        Saturday 23rd       3:14pm EST

Q2        Saturday 23rd       6:33pm EST

Q3        Saturday 23rd       9:26pm EST

Round 1Sunday 24th        1:33pm EST

Semi     Sunday 24th        4:18pm EST

Final     Sunday 24th        6:18pm EST

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Zappia Wins East Coast Nationals

John Zappia and his Fuchs Monaro won the East Coast Nationals Top Doorslammer event in Sydney with a resounding 5.762 at 249.58mph in the final.

It was an extraordinary weekends racing where teams had to get a handle on a very tricky track, and master the ever changing weather.

“It was a tough weekend for us in the pits” lamented champ Zappia, “We were doing it tough back there and the Zappia Racing crew were on top of it as usual. It was great to get the win – the track came around nicely for us in the final and we were able to at least put down a five seven”.

Qualifying on Saturday saw two sessions finished before the weather forced a stop to racing. Zap’s 5.921 @ 241.63 off the trailer was enough for him to top the list.

“We discovered a serious chassis crack before Q3 that required a repair. Luckily Craig Burns from SCF Racecars was at his home track, and we were able to get him to complete a chassis repair on site. Craig built the Crusher originally and this is our 7th season of racing with it. We were not able to make the third qualifier Sunday morning, but were good to go for eliminations”.

The qualified field saw two newcomers to the pointy end – a returning Andrew Searle and Mr 10.5 Frank Mamone making his transition to Top Doorslammer. Top runners Mark Belleri, Ben Bray, Grant O’Rourke and Peter Kapiris all qualified successfully.

Round one saw Zap up against his arch rival Peter Kapiris, and it was Zap who got very lucky when his Fuchs Monaro running a 5.879 at 204.35mph dropping a valve before the 1000 foot mark and sneaked in for the win by .001 seconds to Pete’s 6.134 at 228.81mph.

Other winners in round one were Belleri with a great 5.894, Ben Bray and a lucky Searle who got a solo after O’Rourke chose not to run due to a problem with the car.

The Zappia Racing crew managed a complete engine change in the turnaround and presented against Andrew Searle in the semi final and took the win with a pedaling 5.952. Ben Bray got the win in the other semi against Belleri who had an unfortunate collision with the wall to disqualify his run.

This set up another huge battle between the two big teams in Top Doorslammer racing – Zappia vs Bray. The reigning champ Zappia won the final with a Meeting Low ET 5.762 to maintain his position at number 1 in the Top Doorslammer championship and further increase his points lead in his quest for an unprecedented 9th straight championship.

“This meeting was all about the tune and setup, and having over 550 runs of data at our disposal, our Monaro is able to be set up to get down most tracks – even with a pedal. My clutch guy Gerry, data analyst Richard (thanks Paul Topping for filling in for Richard) and I can usually come up with a fine tune that will give us a competitive pass, and we are able to adapt to various conditions based on the recorded data we have”.

The Zappia Racing crew also attended the 2015 ANDRA Championship Dinner on Monday night, where John Zappia was presented with his Trophy for his 8th consecutive Top Doorslammer Championship.

Zappia Racing heads back to Perth for this weekends (14 Nov 15) WA Championship Top Doorslammer meeting with the NCQR to be run at 3:30pm followed by the Compulsory Qualifier at 6:00pm, Elimination Round at 8:00pm and the B and A Finals at 9:56 and 10:00pm.

We welcome all Sponsors, Supporters and fans to come down and watch some Top Doorslammer action and visit the pit area for a chat with John and his crew or purchase some merchandise.

QUALIFIED

BELLERI         5.886 @ 246.08

ZAPPIA           5.921 @ 241.63

SEARLE           5.940 @ 233.52

MAMONE       5.943 @ 239.78

B BRAY           5.989 @ 239.27

O’ROURKE     5.990 @ 242.67

KAPIRIS          5.997 @ 251.30

GRADDEN       6.237 @ 237.55

NON QUALIFIERS

TAYLOR          6.266 @ 219.58

CARBONE       6.293 @ 237.38

PRIOLO           6.487 @ 217.00

GOONAN         6.488 @ 192.14

ROSO              6.602 @ 225.11

MICALI           6.858 @ 159.97

WILSON          7.253 @ 228.19

CANNULI        8.586 @ 94.73

ROUND 1

BELLERI 5.894 @ 246.39 DEF GRADDEN 12.344 @ 54.82;

B BRAY 6.255 @ 210.05 DEF MAMONE 8.578 @ 110.54

ZAPPIA 5.879 @ 204.35 DEF KAPIRIS 6.134 @ 228.81

SEARLE 6.364 @ 227.04 DEF O’ROURKE NTR

SEMI FINAL

B BRAY 18.459 @ 25.06 DEF BELLERI 12.297 @ 40.03 (HIT WALL)

ZAPPIA 5.952 @ 247.93 DEF SEARLE 8.626 @ 107.33

FINAL

ZAPPIA5.762 @ 249.58 DEF B BRAY 6.325 @ 186.74

Photos courtesy: Joe Maday Drag News  Cackling Pipes  ANDRA

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Zappia on track for East Coast Nationals

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John Zappia is on track for a big 2015 East Coast Nationals event in his Fuchs HQ Monaro Top Doorslammer after recent events. Sixteen Top Doorslammer Teams have registered for the event, with some tough competition for the champ.

“We are going to have to be on the ball this weekend,” said Zap, “O’Rourke, Kapiris, Belleri and others are hot on our heels and marching into the five eights more easily now. We have a five seven car though, but a lot will depend on track and weather conditions and how it all comes together”.

Last weekends much talked about blower vs turbo shootout ended up a victory to the blower guys with Zap dominating the day in the APSA Extreme Class.

“My first APSA event at Perth Motorplex running in Extreme Outlaw class, and I managed to get the Fuchs Monaro down to 2,696 lbs – only 4 lbs lighter than for legal Top Doorslammer weight. Was able to add a bit more overdrive on the D PSI blower, but struggled with tyre shake and had to peddle all runs but still managed 5.77, 5.80, 5.76, and 5.78 in the final for a win over Shane Catalano”.

“We had a win over Paul Mouhayet’s Moits turbo Camaro running a 5.80 @ 406mph to his 5.90 @ 402mph, settling that score on the day. My best speed for the night was 253mph (407kms). Big thanks to all my sponsors, my awesome crew, and fans. Got my first APSA Trophy to add to my collection”.

Zappia leads the 2015/2016 Top Doorslammer Championship after winning the last round at Darwin. He gained enough points with the win and low ET to head the Top Doorslammer Championship points table with 199, ahead of O’Rourke with 170 and Kapiris on 152.

Live coverage of the event is available online at www.dragnews.com.au and the Twitter feed to your mobile, and will be live from 3pm AEDT Saturday and 12:30pm AEDT on Sunday at http://www.epicentre.tv/promoter/400-thunder/..

Tickets and details at www.sydneydragway.com.au

Qualifying Sat 7th Nov 2015

Q1 – 3.16pm

Q2 – 5.16pm

Q3 – 7.16pm

Eliminations Sun 8th Nov 2015

Round 1- 1.25pm

Semi     – 3.13pm

Final     – 4.52pm

Top Doorslammer Field

1 Mark BELLERI NSW 67 HOLDEN
2 Ben BRAY QLD 2639 CHEV
3 Paul CANNULI NSW 226 PLYMOUTH
4 Pat CARBONE WA 1386 CHEV
5 Bill GOONAN QLD 1239 CAMARO
6 Geoff GRADDEN NSW 1936 CHRYSLER
7 Peter KAPIRIS VIC 4 DODGE
8 Frank MAMONE NSW 670 HEMI
9 Charlie MICALI NSW 3583 PLYMOUTH
10 Grant OROURKE QLD 1067 PONTIAC
11 Pino PRIOLO WA 144 CHEV
12 Johnny ROSO ACT 169 CAMARO 69
13 Andrew SEARLE QLD 1257 FORD
14 Robin TAYLOR VIC 1670 CHEVROLET CAMARO
15 Jeffery WILSON NSW 1004 CORVETTE
16 John ZAPPIA WA 846 HOLDEN

 

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Photos courtesy Phil Blondel  https://www.facebook.com/phil.blondel?fref=ts