John_Zappia

Zappia back on top after Nitro Thunder win

John Zappia has returned to the lead of the 2017/18 400 Thunder Pro Slammer Championship with victory at the penultimate round of the series in Sydney.

Zappia and the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro took out the Nitro Thunder event in a thrilling final round against Sam Fenech, 5.751 to a 5.823.

“That was a really close and exciting race as a driver and for the fans,” Zappia said. “Sam and the App Shop team have been going really well lately with consistent 5.7s on different race tracks, so we couldn’t leave anything to chance.

“Sam got a small holeshot on me but we made up the difference by 60 feet. Then the tyres started to shake on the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro so I needed to pedal and I saw Sam’s nose pop out in front. We had to drive past him again in the middle with our Noonan horsepower and I didn’t know where he was – it wasn’t until I watched the video later I saw how close that Camaro was.”

Conditions at Nitro Thunder proved challenging, as ‘mineshaft’ air conditions combined with cold temperatures to leave only a small tuning window to run quick passes.

“Testing on Friday night got too cold for almost everyone, but with the sun on the track for race day it was nearly perfect,” Zappia said. “We left our tune up the same from Friday night to Saturday morning and let the track come to us, which worked out perfectly as we ran a 5.633 at 255.92mph in the practice session before racing.

“Once the track started to cool off again on Saturday our tyre shake was getting worse on every run and I was having to pedal each time to get through first gear.

“I think we saw lots of teams have one good run and then a couple of bad ones. We weren’t the quickest in racing but it was one of those right place, right time events.

“By the time we got to the final the air was 78 feet beneath sea level but the cold temperatures meant it was extremely difficult to put that horsepower down to the ground.”

Following his win, Zappia gave credit to the local smarts involved in the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro team for creating a doorslammer that can compete with the world’s best.

“There’s a lot of Australian innovation in this car,” he explained. “We use an Australian-built SCF Race Cars chassis powered by a complete Noonan Engineering motor. There’s an Australian camshaft thanks to Crow Cams, Australian data logging courtesy of Motec/SDS Fuel Systems, Australian hoses and fittings from Speedflow – the list goes on.

“It’s an all Australian crew, plus we run an Australian HQ Monaro body and we’re even right hand drive. The local development of this car is something we are very proud of.”

With the points lead now in hand, Zappia is looking forward to the final event of the 400 Thunder season, the Winternationals at Willowbank Raceway on June 7 to 10. The Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots team will attempt to earn a 12th straight national title.

“Nitro Thunder was smooth sailing for us in the pits, the Noonan engine ran like clockwork, the Boninfante clutch stayed in the car all weekend with minor adjustments and the B&J Transmission was super reliable as always and complimented by the world class oil and lubricants from Fuchs Lubricants we were virtually maintenance free. The support of co-naming rights sponsor Dananni Hotshots makes our travels to all states in Australia possible.

“We returned to our 5.60 baseline tune and the car responded. We are looking forward to Willowbank Raceway where our car works really well to see if we can create history with a 12th championship.

“We are keen to see as many of our sponsors, supporters and fans at Willowbank to see the titanic battle for the championship, in what is sure to be a race to the wire.”

Photo courtesy Grant Stephens/cacklingpipes.com.

Table

IMG_6498

IMG_6419

IMG_6418

IMG_6420

 

2018_Nitro_top

Zappia seeks perfection for penultimate Pro Slammer round in Sydney

No stone has been left unturned by John Zappia and his team of Pro Slammer professionals ahead of the second last round of the 400 Thunder Drag Racing Series at Sydney Dragway this weekend, May 4-5.

The Australian record holding Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro has been given what Zappia described as a birthday, with every aspect of the car looked over to ensure maximum consistency and performance at the Nitro Thunder event.

“We have had the crank crack tested and honed the block thanks to Southside Engine Centre, rebuilt the B&J Transmission, freshened up the Boninfante Clutch with new fingers and plates and put every part of the car under a microscope,” he said.

“Reliability is what you need to win championships and from here on in we need everything to be 100% right.”

Zappia said he was looking forward to returning to Sydney Dragway where the performances of the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro have been consistent.

“The car runs good in Sydney and we have everything in our tune up back to where we ran 5.60 last year,” he said. “The weather looks like it will be cooler which suits us and the schedule has been adjusted to keep us out of the coldest temperatures where it can be tricky to put the power down.”

Points are the primary consideration so Zappia will be going for consistency rather than shooting for a new national record.

“The potential for the first 5.5 second run in Pro Slammer competition is there for sure,” he said. “When we went 5.60 the car was 30 pounds overweight. Now the car is the lightest it has been so hopefully we can capitalise on that and at least get back to consistent low 5.6s. A high 5.5 is not out of the question.”

While outright performance is valuable, good reaction times can also provide valuable hundredths of a second. That is an area where Zappia feels he has been on the improve.

“The better the car performs, the better I perform on the lights,” he said. “When you are wondering what is going to happen when you drop the clutch you can get distracted. Sometimes reaction times aren’t all driver, they can be in clutch settings as well.”

Zappia and the team will be testing on the Wednesday before the event as well as in official test sessions on Friday night.

“We are going to test with some new Hoosiers on Wednesday and make sure everything is ready, then we have a couple of test passes Friday night, then into racing,” he said. “We are making sure the tyres are bedded in and happy, then we will know which set to use for the weekend.”

The Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro will be part of a 13 car Pro Slammer field with some of the quickest cars in the nation set to wow fans. Testing begins from 5pm on Friday while 400 Thunder racing begins from 3.30pm Saturday.

Photo courtesy Luke Nieuwhof/dragnews.com.au.

Event information – Tickets, Event Schedule, Pit Allocations: Sydney Dragway

2018_Nitro_ad

2018_Nitro_List

 

John_Zappia_by_Hayley_Turns

ZAPPIA’S SOUTHERN THUNDER WIN PUTS PRESSURE ON OPPONENTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Photo courtesy Hayley Turns/Outlaw Images.

IMG_6347

IMG_6343

IMG_6345

IMG_6346

2018_Westerns_Top

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Selected Photos: www.dragnews.com.au

2018_Westerns_Q

2018_Westerns_E

2018_Westerns_Ladder

2018_Westerns_08

2018_Westerns_09

2018_Westerns_10

2018_Westerns_11

2018_Westerns_12

2018_Westerns_13

2018_Westerns_14

2018_Westerns_03

2018_Westerns_04

2018_Westerns_05

2018_Westerns_06

2018_Westerns_07

2018_Westerns_16

2018_Westerns_18

2018_Westerns_24_

2018_Westerns_01

2018_Westerns_02

2018_Westerns_17

2018_Westerns_19

2018_Westerns_20

2018_Westerns_23

2018_Westerns_15

2018_Westerns_22

20180217nitronight-356

Zappia race fit for MacTrack Westernationals after Nitro Night runner up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos courtesy Luke Nieuwhof: Dragnews

20180217nitronight-174

20180217nitronight-286

20180217nitronight-Qual

20180217nitronight-ladder

santossummerthunder-3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

96B59469D8726F4C63E7A0135072A8CB

IMG_6023

IMG_5978

IMG_6014

IMG_6016

IMG_5990

IMG_6001

IMG_6006

IMG_6011

IMG_6012

IMG_6013

IMG_5980

IMG_5987

IMG_5989

2018_NY_top

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2018_NY_zap_small

Results

2018_NY_001

Photo Credit:  Drag Photos

 

 

johnzappia560

Zappia resets national record in Sydney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_5614

IMG_5606

IMG_5607

IMG_5608

IMG_5609

IMG_5610

IMG_5627

IMG_5612

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

Zappia crowned king of the desert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zappia Racing wishes to thank co-naming rights sponsors, Fuchs and Dananni Hotshots, major sponsors Striker Crushing and Screening, Speedmaster 79, Southside Engine Centre, Noonan Race Engineering, Hoosier, Appealing Signs, and Crow Cams as well as supporting sponsors PPG, K Craft Bullbars, Santhuff, B & J Racing Transmissions, Engel, Avtrac Maintenance Tracking, SDS Billet, Legend Boatbuilders, Advantage Tyres, Kounis Metal Industries, Bravo Resources, CIC High Performance Coatings, Reid Machine, Final Drive, Motec, CP Carillo, Speed Flow, Biante, Aurora Bearings and Aeromotive.

Photo credits: Drag News

IMG_4950

IMG_4949

IMG_4970

 

2017_Darwin_Top

Track record a highlight up north for Zappia

A new look for a new season welcomed fans of John Zappia at the opening round of the 400 Thunder Professional Drag Racing Series in Darwin last weekend – Nitro Up North.

Australia’s winningest doorslammer is now known as the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro with the WA-based trucking firm joining Fuchs Lubricants who been supporting Zappia Racing for over 10 years. The rear wing also reflected an upgraded partner, with Crow Cams stepping up as a major sponsor after many years of support.

The Zappia racing team were racing with a heavy heart over the weekend after the passing of John and Richard’s mother and a severe accident involving long time crew member Mal Wilhelm, who is fighting for life in intensive care.

Able to focus on the task at hand, it was the same Zappia in the hot seat as he hit a new track record in qualifying of 5.69 seconds to lead the field, just ahead of Gary Phillips’ 5.72.

“The first run left really well but then it started to shake from about 60 feet onward,” Zappia said. “I pedaled it to calm it down then muscled it back into the groove for a 5.81.”

“We looked at the data and with Gary having run his 5.72 in the left lane which we had for the second session, we went in with confidence.”

The second qualifying session proved unusual for Zappia, with a Christmas tree malfunction seeing him shut down after the burnout.

“I was nearly going to walk away from the run as the time went on and the tyres cooled down. But we came back again and it was worth making the pass as we netted a 5.69 at 254mph for the track record ET and speed.”

“We almost decided to sit out the last session, but we had enough time to turn around for the third one. Again it rattled to the right and I got it back in. We didn’t improve but we were staying pretty consistent running a 5.74 at 253mph.”

Overnight the team went about their routine maintenance, putting in a new set of CP-Carrillo rods ready for racing and onwards to Alice Springs. The first round saw Zappia facing Mark Chapman.

“For the first round we adjusted the suspension and the car went dead straight this time for a 5.72 against Mark,” he said. “We never take Mark lightly, they are innovators and their Plymouth Fury is definitely capable of some big numbers.”

The next round saw a crowd pleasing face off between Pro Slammer newcomer Paul Mouhayet and Zappia Racing. While he might be a rookie in the 400 Thunder series, Mouhayet and Moits Racing are far from rookies in drag racing.

“Moits Racing have the best of everything and we knew they would go for it against us,” Zappia said. “I needed to make sure I was on the ball with the lights. I got psyched up and left on them with a .048 to a 0.141 light, my best in a while, but as soon as the car launched it was vibrating.

“The Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Holden Monaro had dropped a cylinder because of a dead spark plug. The lack of power caused the car to shake and I punched second gear, but I was dead in the water.

“We still managed a 6.23, it might have gone a 6.0 if I hadn’t pedalled, but it wouldn’t have quite been enough regardless. We need these things to be running on eight cylinders, not seven.”

There were many positives for Zappia to take away from the event, with stablemate Kelvin Lyle running a personal best time of 5.81 seconds at 253mph to set him up as a genuine contender in the class.

“That Mustang is definitely a weapon and is starting to go down the track more and more,” Zappia said.

Zappia’s nephew Brodie Zappia scored a runner up in Junior Dragster which left the family with a smile on their face ahead of Alice Springs, where John will be exhibition racing against a bunch of other doorslammer drivers.

The pressure of Darwin didn’t surprise the veteran champion.

“There were a few people who didn’t qualify this meeting you would normally expect and some of those guys might struggle to get back to the top of the field this year with all these new guys coming up.

“Everyone is bringing Americans over to try and knock us off and it is getting more and more intense. People are throwing more money, more knowledge, more talent and more laps at it, but at the same time so are we, we never stop.

“We are off to America next month, racing with Noonan Race Engineering, to have a race in Pro Extreme and maybe I can learn something there to help me back here – plus it’s just one of those bucket list type things.

“As far as Alice Springs goes, I am looking forward to trying to get that track record. We will basically be going as fast as possible – we don’t want to slow the car down.
“If they can bring the condition of the track up a level then we won’t be surprised to see 5.7s there. The conditions are looking good, warmer than last year which felt like ice! I think this year we will see respectable times down the track and we are really looking forward to it.”

Zappia Racing wishes to thank co-naming rights sponsors, Fuchs and Dananni Hotshots, major sponsors Striker Crushing and Screening, Speedmaster 79, Southside Engine Centre, Noonan Race Engineering, Hoosier, Appealing Signs, and Crow Cams as well as supporting sponsors PPG, K Craft Bullbars, Santhuff, B & J Racing Transmissions, Engel, Avtrac Maintenance Tracking, SDS Billet, Legend Boatbuilders, Advantage Tyres, Kounis Metal Industries, Bravo Resources, CIC High Performance Coatings, Reid Machine, Final Drive, Motec, CP Carillo, Speed Flow, Biante, Aurora Bearings and Aeromotive.

IMG_4926

IMG_4917

IMG_4916

IMG_4910

BrightDesign

Photos below courtesy Michelle Porobic from Bright Design

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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