John Zappia has been declared the WA Summer Slam champion after the series was drawn to an end with one event remaining, following the early declaration of the Perth Motorplex season because of COVID-19.
Zappia’s Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro Top Doorslammer held a slim five point lead from second-placed Daniel Gregorini, but fans were unfortunately denied a chance to see one last epic showdown between the pair.
“We finished with two wins and a drawn final in the Summer Slam, plus a win when we raced in Top Comp, so we had a great season results wise,” Zappia said. “At the final event it was going to be all down to the wire, with whoever went furthest out of Daniel and I taking the championship. It would have been a thrilling way to wrap up what has been a season of growth for the Summer Slam. All of the Western Australian teams have stepped up in a big way, and we all drive each other to be better. We have consistently had fields of 10 Top Doorslammer cars at each event, which also produced the quickest and fastest side-by-side pass in Australia where we ran a 5.622/416kph (258.5mph) for the win to Daniel Gregorini’s 5.653/414.75kph (257.71mph).”
As well as securing a bundle of trophies, Zappia also reached new performance benchmarks including his first Top Doorslammer passes in the 5.5 second zone and his first time over 260mph.
“It’s no secret that we have been chasing that 5.5 run, ever since we came oh-so-close back in 2017 with a 5.601 at Sydney,” he said. “To run our new personal best of 5.585, and to be able to do it at our home track, was a very special moment.
“The power of our Noonan 4.8 Hemi has certainly been on show, and nothing proved that better than our highest ever speed of 260.35mph in legal Top Doorslammer/Pro Slammer trim.”
Zappia was looking forward to the remaining events of the season which included the Summer Slam final at Perth Motorplex, Santo’s Super Thunder at Willowbank, Nitro Thunder at Sydney Dragway and the 400 Thunder finals at the Winternationals, also at Willowbank.
“We were excited to see how quick we could go with some full passes in good conditions. We fixed some of the handling issues we were having with the car wanting to turn right and the car was running low 5.6s even with a pedal, which is pretty stout. It’s frustrating but it is what it is.”
While drag racing remains on hold, as do most live events around Australia, Zappia is intending on using the time to maximum effect by completing a series of long term projects for the team.
“It is a good time to service all of the equipment including our spares, update the truck and trailer and get everything right at the workshop. We are also going to put the old original Zap’s Rat together so that we will have two cars race ready. It was always a back up car for us and it would be good to get it going, run it at a meeting and put down a good time, and then possibly put it up for sale.”
The Winternationals have been postponed to September, and Zappia said he is contemplating the pros and cons of attending the event versus getting ready for the next season.
“Before COVID-19 we had three events to catch up to Steve Ham in the points, now there is only one. We are 56 points behind in the 400 Thunder series so while it’s mathematically possible, it would be a big task and would be Steve’s to lose.
“There’s a good bunch of guys and girls who have always stayed with us and I am grateful to them for that. For decades we’ve had one of the quickest blown doorslammers in the world and it is no easy achievement to stay at the front of the pack. These crew members and supporters, some of whom have been there from the start, make it all possible.”
Zappia wished to thank his sponsors and crew who made the achievements of the team possible this season. Without the long term support of many of our current and past sponsors we would not have been one of the top two Top Doorslammer teams every year for the last 16 years. Hopefully all our current sponsors will stay on board as we look to the next season to stay at the pinnacle of our sport and promote our sponsors’ services and goods.
Photo: Phil Luyer