John Zappia and his Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro emerged unscathed from a close call on their way to a runner up finish at the WA Nitro Championship on Saturday night at Perth Motorplex.

Zappia was in the Top Comp elimination round against Ian Brown’s Funny Car, when Brown came across the centre line and almost into the side of Zappia’s Top Doorslammer.

“I saw the car come across and I thought, ‘Ooh, that’s getting a bit close,’” he said. “I thought it was better to keep it straight than to steer radically away, though I might have shifted away from him just slightly. I figured if he was across the centre line then he should already be slowing down so my best bet was to shift the gears and get out of there!”

Fortunately Zappia and Brown avoided rubbing paint, and Zappia recorded his quickest run of the night – a 5.700 – to earn a place in the Top Comp A Final. To take a win, Zappia would need to get past Top Comp points leader Wayne Keys, who had a 0.28 handicap advantage based on his AA/AP classification.

“We tweaked it a bit for the final to try and get the car to 60 foot a bit better,” Zappia said. “We knew we would have to be on the money for Keys in the final.

“It took me a little while to get my car to come into stage, I didn’t have quite enough revs to pull the car in the way I wanted to. That got me distracted, and then I started thinking about getting timed out and all that took my mind off looking at the tree. Wayne cut an .039 reaction time and I had a .139 light so we were down another tenth right away. Then I hung on to second gear too long and hit the limiter, it dropped a cylinder in third gear and it never recovered. We still went 5.71 which was amazing, so it was on an easy 5.6 if I hadn’t mucked up.

“It would have been a tough final to win with Wayne running 5.93. We needed a 5.64 and an equal light to be in front. We go into Top Comp in test mode, and this is Wayne’s playground. We’d love to race against him heads up in the Direct Mining & Industrial Summer Slam!”

Apart from the heart-stopping race against Brown, the rest of the day was business as usual for Zappia and his team. Heat and humidity during the day saw the team spin and rattle the tyres in the first qualifying session, but recover for a 5.85 in the compulsory qualifying session.

“I think our first run had a 118deg F track temp,” Zappia said. “We backed the clutch off a little bit and it didn’t go down. We backed it off a bit more and got that 5.85, so we were going in the right direction. They prepped the track a bit better after it cooled down and we were pretty happy with our performances under the conditions.”

Zappia now looks to the Summer Slam Grand Final on 10th April, where he hopes to take the championship.

“I would rather not win this one and save my luck for the Grand Final,” Zappia laughed. “We’ve got a good lead in the Summer Slam, so we are going there to try and win the meeting and then whatever happens with the championship happens. We know the car is very consistent right now and especially when the track cools down the conditions seem to come to us.”

Photos: Phil Reeve Photography and Ian Moore Facebook














Methanol maestro John Zappia resets for January

John Zappia is optimistic of getting back close to his record performances after taking the time to do some horsepower experiments on the Dananni Hotshots/ Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro Top Doorslammer.

Zappia was in test mode on December 12 at Perth Motorplex, making three runs with different Boninfante friction plates in the clutch, using his No 3 spare engine, and returning to manual gear shifting.

“Our first run was plagued by a misfire, so we put a fresh battery in, changed the coil leads, changed the plugs and went back out for the next run,” he said.

“The next pass Crusher ran a 5.82/399kmh without any sign of a misfire and not even tyre shake.

The team pushed further with the experimental set up, but found the edge on the third run when the sticky Hoosier tyres began to spin shortly after launching.

“We thought the car was a little lazy in qualifying so we put more timing in off the line. It smoked the left tyre and the car turned left and crossed the centre line. I tried to pull it back, but I knocked out the 330 foot timing block, then I was heading for the wall but managed to pull it back with just a few inches to spare.”

After analysing the data from the run, Zappia determined that the clutch plates responded more aggressively than the team’s existing plates.

“We haven’t tried different friction plates for many years, and even though we weren’t quite on top of it, that’s what testing is for,” he said.

The team’s focus now turns to the third round of the Summer Slam on January 2, 2021 at the Nitro Slam event.

There are several good omens for Zappia. The first is that the event marks just under one year since his track record 5.585 pass on January 4, 2020.

“We’ve got our main Noonan 4.8 Hemi going back in, and for some reason the midway event of the season has always been a fast one for us,” he said.

The second is that he has just featured on a limited 200-bottle run of Methanol Moonshine, a finely distilled spirit that honours different motorsport legends each month.

“We’ve seen pictures of our Monaros in lots of places over the years but this is definitely the first time on a bottle,” Zappia laughed. “I know the crew are looking forward to trying some when we finish the next Summer Slam event, hopefully we can toast a win!”

Photos thanks to: Phil Luyer, Jay Treasure  Ian Moore Facebook


PS: The meeting was officially brought to a close around 9PM for security reasons. Finals were not run.