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Zap’s 80 Day Around the World Tour Nets a World Record

A whirlwind ‘80 day’ USA Tour resulted in excellent results, but John Zappia is not finished yet.  He is about to jump on a plane back to Perth, Australia to climb into his transporter to drive to Sydney so that he can compete at the second round of Pro Slammer at Sydney Dragway.

“We’ve had an amazing time and It’s been a dream come true” said Zappia, “To race the quickest Pro Extreme Doorslammers in the world, to compete amongst the best and to come away with a World Record is pretty remarkable”.

“We put a total of 20 runs on the Jerry Bickel built Noonan 1969 Camaro, and in that time I had to adjust to a left hand drive, adapt to an auto combination (first up), then convert to a Boninfante clutch and B&J 3 speed gearbox.  We had to make a call on the setup for an unknown car. To be in the top half of the field was a big effort from the whole team”.

The Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) World Finals were held at Virginia Motorsports Park last weekend, and Zap was one of 9 race teams (3 Swedish, 1 Aussie and 5 American) to enter the event.

“We made some modifications since running at the last PDRA Drag Warz event in Benson, North Carolina where Zappia ducked out in the semi-finals but ran a PB of 3.62 @ 216.90mph.

After a couple of test passes in Virginia, Zappia made strong qualifying runs with a string of 3.68 ET’s and finishing with a final qualifier of 3.64 @ 214.31 mph, proving he had a consistent race car.

Zappia Racing team members from Australia including John’s partner Rae (who has been with him for the whole time), Freddy, Filomena, Sam, Tracey, Gerry and Diz made the trip from Australia to support Zap, and together with Noonan’s Racing team members Jamie, Renee, Darrell, Lee and Hank the team overcame obstacles involved with a new combination to perform well.

“We won round one easily with a straight and steady 3.651 @ 212.73 mph. The Noonan “Brains Trust” studied the data and to come up with a tune to try to run quicker than the No 1 qualifier opponent in Round 2 – Terry Leggett in his ’71 Mustang, which ultimately we did run quicker and faster than Leggett with a 3.54 @ 218mph but I lost on a holeshot to Terry’s 3.58 @ 216.51 mph.”

The Noonan Racing team watched as Leggett went on to win the final.  Meanwhile the Noonan / Zappia team vowed to come back the following day to have a crack at running the quarter mile. A plan had already been in place for the team to run the full quarter after the finals to demonstrate the full potential of the car, so a time was set for the next day and the team got ready overnight.

The ‘Brains Trust’ hit a hole in one as Zappia set a new Blown Door Car record for ET and MPH in the Noonan Camaro to set an unofficial Supercharged World Record time of 5.424 @ 265.33mph.

“It was amazing pass from the Noonan Camaro – the car really pulled hard in each gear to reset my PB in a big way! The Camaro weighed in at 2405 pounds after the run, and running a C blower at 127% overdrive compared to the Monaro weighing in at 2734 pounds with a D blower and 108% overdrive.”

“We have purchased the Camaro roller from Jamie and Renee Noonan and we will leave it here in the USA for the next season of PDRA racing, providing we can pick up sponsors for the 2018 USA Tour. We will be back to try and go one better. We are in discussions with several parties, but we are open to talking to new sponsors who would like to come on board and help us to take the No.1 Door Car record.”

John currently has the second fastest doored car in the world to Jose Gonzalez’s Turbo Charged Pro Extreme Corvette that run a 5.403 @ 259mph, earlier this year.

Zappia Racing will compete at Sydney Dragway in Australia for the AC Delco East Coast Thunder – The Nationals on 3 – 4 November 2017 where Round 2 of the Thunder 400 Pro Slammer 2018 Championship continues.

“Sixteen cars have entered for the event, which is a strong turnout with some hard hitters amongst those. We will have to be on top of our game to do well – we don’t take anything for granted despite our previous years’ success. Each season is a new one and we currently sit third behind Gary Philips and Paul Mouhayet – with new technology and US tuners appearing regularly, the game has changed in Doorslammer in Australia and that will make it an even better spectacle than it already is.

Zappia Racing once again thanks our sponsors for making the 2017 USA Tour a possibility: Noonan Race Engineering, Fuchs Lubricants, Dananni Hotshots,  Boninfanti Friction Inc, SDS Fuel Systems, B & J Racing Transmissions, and Hoosier Tires and along with our other local sponsors, hope to give them all as much exposure as we can in this Australian season.

Looking forward to catching up with Sponsors and supporters at Sydney Dragway and will also have our merchandise and some new tees from our American tour available.

Qualifying

Psn—Num-Driver, Home Town, Car Type            Qual-ET–Qual-Spd-Top Spd

1 277     Terry Leggett, Pinetown NC, ’71 Mustang            3.549     215.41   215.41

2   6       Mike Recchia, Roselle IL, ’69 Camaro                  3.603     210.50   211.83

3   71      Mattias Wulcan, Linkoping SW,’69 Camaro       3.608     212.69   212.69

4 846     John Zappia, Bibra Lake AU, ’69 Camaro           3.647     214.31   214.31

5 574     Monte Grace, Muscatine IA, ’68 Camaro             3.702     208.36   208.36

6 1130    John Stanley, Hagerstown MD, ’15 CTS-V          3.715     204.42   206.54

7 111     Mikael Lindahl, Vargon SW, ’63 Corvette             3.752     206.13   206.13

8 128     Stefan Holmberg, BillesSW, ’70 Camaro              4.583     128.13   128.13

———— Not Qualified ————

9 F301    Scott Farley, Sellersburg IN,’70 Camaro             4.806     159.34   159.34

 

Eliminations

Round 1

846         John Zappia           0.105 3.651 212.73 Def       574         Monte Grace          No Time

71           Mattias Wulcan      0.169 3.566 213.16 Def       1130       John Stanley          0.066 3.711 208.49

6             Mike Recchia         0.056 3.596 212.19 Def       111         Mikael Lindahl       0.023 3.662 209.95

277         Terry Leggett         0.222 3.541 217.49 Def       128         Stefan Holmberg    0.291 4.540 126.46

Round 2

71           Mattias Wulcan      0.059 3.562 213.64 Def       6             Mike Recchia         0.041 3.789 203.22

277         Terry Leggett         0.074 3.580 216.51 Def       846         John Zappia          0.129 3.549 218.12

Final

277         Terry Leggett         0.129 3.542 214.45 Def       71           Mattias Wulcan      0.062 4.672 91.92


 

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First round win keeps Zappia happy as Noonan Camaro shows it’s competitive

John Zappia earned his first win light in the USA at the penultimate event of the PDRA season in Benson, North Carolina.

After rain ended his race before it began in Tulsa, Oklahoma several weeks previous, Zappia and the Noonan Race Engineering team took the opportunity to make a series of upgrades to their Camaro.

“We came back from the rained out event and put the new Noonan 4.9 engine in along with the Boninfante clutch and a B&J three speed transmission,” Zappia said. “There was a lot of work to do making the headers fit and we basically went out to GALOT Motorsports Park with everything different once again.”

Arriving into the recently renovated venue, Zappia and the Noonan brains trust put their minds together for some calculated guesses on clutch set up, gearing and how much fuel to put into the new motor. Fortunately, a day of testing before the event provided the perfect opportunity to get the tune up into the ballpark.

“The first run it came out and blew the tyres off, we were a bit too fast on the wheel speed,” Zappia explained. “The second one it was a similar thing. We backed the clutch right off and it went 3.81, even though I bumped straight from first to top gear.

“Afterwards we did some modifications to the shift buttons and we tried to set everything up similar to the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro and how I shift it. We moved the B&J transmission shift buttons further into the steering wheel so they weren’t as easy to bump.”

Growing more comfortable with the layout of the cockpit with each run, it was tyre shake, rather than tyre spin, that would afflict the team as qualifying for the PDRA Drag Wars began.

“On our first qualifying run the Noonan Camaro rattled the tyres, went left and gave the wall a bit of a rub,” Zappia said. “It just touched the headers and the quarter panel but we were able to tape it up, put some more stickers on it and come back for session two.”

“We made an adjustment to the tune up but it did virtually the same thing, but this time it turned right in the right lane and I just missed the right wall.”

But like drag racing’s version of the Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the third run was just right.

“Third session we went straight down the middle for a 3.66/212mph which put us into the field at fourth position and took a lot of pressure off.”

With one more qualifying session to come the next day, Zappia again considered the controls.

“I wasn’t happy with the feel of the brake lever so we bled the brakes and got all the air out of the system. When we came out for Q4 I felt much more in control of the car. The brakes were where they needed to be and I could stage properly. We just wanted the car to repeat and that is what it did, a 3.70/212 that was only four hundredths slower in the heat of the day.”

Before long the call went around the pits for the Pro Extreme class to head to their staging lanes for the first round of racing, where Zappia would take on a half-international eight car field that also included three Swedish drivers.

“This was my first eliminations race in America so we gave it a bit of a tune up for some more power in the back half,” he said. “I said to myself that I can do this, this is what I do.”

“I cut a .065 light and the car made it through first gear, I was seeing the shift light, second gear, shift light, top gear, win light. A 3.68/214mph for my first-round win in the USA. That was a pretty awesome moment.”

Things would get tougher for the semi-finals with Zappia to face Swedish top qualifier Mattias Wulcan.

“That car had been running 3.50s, we were running 3.60s, so we needed to step it up big time,” Zappia said. “We threw a fair bit at the Boninfante clutch and the Noonan boys trimmed up the fuel and put some more timing in it.”

“I got a hole shot, but unfortunately it wasn’t a great light. We went 3.62/216.90 to his 3.56/211. I flew past him at the finish line and I didn’t know who got it, it worked out to three hundredths of a second – so close to our first final against the number one qualifier, an awesome achievement.”

Zappia said an entourage of Australians and Americans from across the Zappia Racing and Noonan Race Engineering enterprises made for a great team.

“Everyone worked well together and even though we started with some negatives they turned it into a positive. We are looking forward to going rounds at the PDRA Grand Final in Richmond, Virginia.”

With what the team learned in North Carolina, hopes are high that they can find their way into the 3.5 second zone, especially if the launch can be refined.

“The car went .962 to 60 feet on the last run which is still a bit slow, it was still burning the clutch off and the gearing was on the safe side. The car in Australia is 320 pounds heavier and I have gone .958, and when the opposition are doing .908 60 foots we are giving away lots of time right there so we know where it needs to be.”

“The Noonan Camaro has been as quick as .88 to 60 foot before so we know the setup is there to do it, we just need to fine tune the combination we are running at the moment and get after the tune on on the new 4.9 Noonan engine that has only a few runs on it.”

Zappia is particularly excited by the potential shown in the 4.9 as the team venture into new territory.

“When we first started we had the 4.8 pretty safe and it produced 205 mph, now we are doing 217mph on the 4.9 and we are still not leaning on the engine yet, it is showing a lot of promise. We just don’t know where it will settle out.”

“The top speed of the GALOT event was 218mph, we’ve got the power to run that kind of speed. It would be nice to see a 220mph eighth mile pass at our next event at Virginia on the 20th and 21st of October.”

“I don’t have many shots left so it’s time to throw everything at the setup and tune and get the most out of the car.”

You can keep up to date with all the action via the Noonan Racing and Zappia Racing facebook pages and watch live via SpeedVideo.com http://www.speedvideo.com/live-event/pdra-world-finals-2017/

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Zappia reflects on first USA experience

John Zappia has developed a reputation as one of the most experienced Doorslammer team owner and drivers’ in Australia, but his first race in the USA has seen him coming to grips with a very different experience.

Earlier in the year Noonan Race Engineering purchased a new state of the art facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina USA.  Shortly after, and in order to support their 4.9 borespace engine program, Noonan Racing announced that 10-times Australian Top Doorslammer champion John Zappia would drive the Noonan-owned ’69 Camaro, Jerry Bickel Pro Mod.

The car is the newest of the three Jerry Bickel ’69 Camaro Pro Mods in existence, and Zappia will compete in the last three races of the PDRA for Noonan Racing using the all-new Noonan 4.9 borespace engine. The car and team will be fully serviced and maintained from the Noonan stable, with Noonan CEO, tuner and engine builder Jamie Noonan stating it was an exciting time for the company.

For the 55 year old legend of the sport Zappia, racing in the United States has been a long held dream, one that was realised as he rolled through the waterbox of Tulsa Raceway Park in Oklahoma.

A few things were a little different for the champion. Like most Australian tourists, Zappia had to adapt from right hand to left hand drive – only he had to do it in Noonan Racing’s 3500 horsepower 1969 Pro Mod Camaro.

“There was a lot going through my head at the time,” he said. “I was sitting on the other side of the car, the brake was on the other side, it had a transbrake, and an auto transmission – there was too much going through my head.

“I also couldn’t see that well while staging, so running in the left lane on solo passes for the first few was hard. The tree was coming down and I wasn’t even ready.”

The Noonan team worked on wheel alignment and steering on the Pro Extreme Camaro, working closely to perfect the combination. They were able to finish testing with a 3.69 (eighth mile) run at 204mph, before heading into qualifying for the PDRA event the next day.

“We came out for our first qualifying pass and as I hit the throttle in the burnout, it banged the burst panel, so unfortunately we lost that run. The next run I went a bit easier in the burnout and it hooked up, so the tires were colder than they should be.

“Finally we got after it and it pulled another 3.69 ET to qualify third in the final session. Of course, it being early days, the tune was on the softer side but we had to make it go down the track. Then unfortunately the rain came in and killed the event.”

The team returned back to the Noonan headquarters disappointed with not being able to finish the event, but ready to regroup for the next round of the PDRA series at Galot Motorsport Park in Benson, North Carolina in September.

“The car ran with the 4.8 Noonan engine and we were happy with it and the performance of a brand new team. Now though, we are going to put the new 4.9 borespace engine in the racecar and get ready for the next two PDRA events at Galot and Virginia.

“We will also be putting a B&J three speed transmission in with a Boninfante lock up clutch, getting the car a lot closer to what the (Zappia) team runs in Australia.

“Once I got used to the auto it was okay, but we think there is potential to do as good if not better with the manual and clutch. It’s just something we know and have a lot of data for. We would like to eventually run the quarter mile at some stage and this combination (run at Tulsa) was only geared for eighth mile.

“We have had a massive response to our social media and live coverage of the event and we’re excited to offer advertising and branding opportunities to companies and individuals who want to live the ‘dream’ with us, supporting the dream to potentially expand our program further. Our digital presence will be further ‘turned’ up for fans in both countries, so stay tuned.

“Big thanks to Fuchs Lubricants and Dananni Hotshots for their never-ending support for Zappia Racing.”

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