Three fives, and Zappia extends Championship lead.

The Summernationals at Western Sydney International Dragway, Sydney Australia saw the quickest field in history of ANDRA Top Doorslammers, and John Zappia couldn’t believe the final result. Despite running a third consecutive five-second pass in eliminations, Maurice Fabietti snuck home by a whisker to take out the event.

“Doorslammer is hotting up here in Australia” said Zap, “That’s a good thing for the sport and for the fans. We had a fantastic weekend’s racing, and managed to get more points to extend our lead in the championship. Three five second passes in a row saw the Striker Monaro finally become a consistent five second car – and two of those passes I had to pedal! We now have thirteen five second passes under our belt.”

Qualifying for the Zappia Racing Team was full of drama after an engine change was required. The PSI 3,000 horsepower engine broke a rod after lifting in the braking area, causing Zap to slip and slide to rest sideways on the oil from the big hole in the sump.

“Our crew were very impressive all weekend” said Crew Supervisor Graham Jones. “Changing engines and components in tight turnarounds was completed smoothly, and our extensive data capture systems allowed us to finish with a tune that saw us qualify equal second with a 6.052.”

Round one saw Benny Bray put champion Garry Phillips away with a 6.086et @ 235.64mph to a slowing 10.339et @ 83.23 from Garry, ending Phillips weekend of Summernationals racing. Brett Stevens was on fire against Robin Judd next, running an impressive 6.022et @ 243.90mph against Judd’s pedaling 6.277et @ 239.01mph.

Zap came out next against Steve Stanic and shut the door with a crowd raising 5.951et @ 239.14mph to a 6.028et @ 235.72mph. Not to be out done, Deno Brijeski rattled off another monster 5.991et @ 239.65mph run, but was too slow on the lights and a jubilant Maurice Fabietti took the win with a 6.105et @ 237.88mph.

The turnaround in the Zappia Racing pit was busy, busy after a compression check discovered a dropped valve. As usual the crew thrashed and managed to replace a piston, liner and head in record time and lined up for round two in front of a record crowd.

First out in round two were the pairing of Benny Bray against an improving Fabietti. Fab took the win with a 6.037et @ 231.12mph as Benny shook and rolled through for a 9.639et @ 146mph. Zap took on danger man Brett “The Boss” Stevens next and ran an amazing 5.999et @ 241.41 after a pedal, as Brett shook and pedaled for a 6.379et @ 231.12mph.

The final was held at 10.30pm on a cool, crisp night in Sydney with the temperature at 19 degrees Celsius. ”We were seeing some exciting possibilities in the tune as we learn more about this PSI combination, and I knew I could do a five in the final” said Zap. “Anything was possible in the final though based on the racing so far”.

“Maurice got me on a hole shot on the start, and I had to pedal slightly as the Striker Monaro rattled the tyres and headed for the center line. I pulled up alongside Fabietti and hit second a little early and moved ahead. Into third I thought I was ahead, but in the braking area I saw the other Monaro ahead of me with the chutes out – he must have done a charge through the finish line to just beat me. Great racing!”

Fabietti ran a 6.000et @ 240.86mph to Zap’s 5.958et @ 240.21mph to make it the quickest side-by-side Doorslammer pass in Australia.

“This whole event is one we will talk about for years to come. With so many cars running quick – some joining the “Five Second Club”, and such close exciting racing that thrilled the huge crowd.”

The Zappia Racing Team will head back to hometown Perth for Round Three of Top Doorslammer on 1st – 2nd March at the Perth Motorplex’s biggest event – the 2008 37th Chill Westernationals.

Zap the man to beat.

Nineteen of Australia’s quickest Doorslammers descend on Sydney, New South Wales this weekend for the annual Summernationals, all keen on reining in the quickest man – John Zappia.

Zappia leads the ANDRA Top Doorslammer Championship in the Striker Monaro with 343 points, after two wins and a runner-up in the first three rounds. Steve Stanic follows on 240 points, rookie Stuart Bishop on 185 points, and a group of the heavy hitters in Gary Philips, Ben Bray, Brett Stevens, Victor Bray and Robin Judd close behind.

The current season has seen the Striker Monaro leading the field in qualifying, displaying solid reliability and consistency in the low 6 ‘0’s, and running three stunning five second passes that wowed the crowds.

“Our car and team are at their peak performance this season”, said Zap in WSID this week, “That follows from some long and hard research and development, testing and fine tuning – there is no way of avoiding that. Experience counts, and our major sponsor – Graham Jones’s Southside Engine Centre provide all that we need.”

“I am able to manage our team and logistics better now that I am a full time professional racer. Force Tools coming on board as a major sponsor, and supplying the team with a full range of their excellent hand tools and boxes has made the job easier for the crew”.

“Drag racing is a tough sport, and some times things really come together in a big way for a team and a car. Just look at Victor Bray’s rein as Top Doorslammer champion for all those years in Australia. We are enjoying our racing more than ever, and are constantly looking for new ways to go quicker and faster and build on our momentum”.

“The weather in Sydney this weekend will play into our hands, as we have a 5.965 tune from the AC Delco East Coast Nationals here at WSID last September, where the conditions were very similar. We can add a little from what we learnt in Perth at the Goldenstates, where we went 5.956, and that should give us a pretty quick car”.

The nineteen Top Doorslammers will contest the three qualifying rounds on Friday night, all hoping to make the eight-car field for eliminations on Saturday night.

“That should make for some pretty exciting racing for fans, and with a huge field of Top Fuel dragsters racing, will make great value for money. Zap’s Rat fans are welcome to view the team turn the car around in the pits, and pick up some personally signed merchandise. We have brand new black or white T-shirts on sale with new Zap’s Rat artwork.”



Pedal fest for Zap

John Zappia presented the Striker Top Doorslammer Monaro at his home track last weekend for the spectacular Top Fuel two-day event. Competing in the local “Top Comp” competition, Zap and his crew were back testing the new clutch combo but most of the runs ended up hazing the tyres for the ¼ mile, or blowing off the tyres completely and forcing Zap to pedal repeatedly.

“We just got nowhere with this combo”, said an upbeat Zappia today, “Investigations have discovered a possible faulty batch of clutch plates that have been causing problems for several Group 1 teams, including some Top Fuel teams here at the weekend.”

“Finding that out was a relief in a way, as myself and our clutch man Gerry and I tried everything we could think of to get some sort of base line, or workable starting point. Our previous clutch combo was relatively easy to set up and remain ultra consistent. We can usually predict the settings down to very small increments.”

“First run Friday night just blew the tyres off on the hit and I rolled through for a 7.166et @ 209.79mph. We took everything out of the clutch and the second pass slipped the clutch all the way to a 6.058et @ 237.46mph that put a smile on all our faces, especially as I had a slight pedal half way through first gear. That placed us third in the qualifying list at 0.462 under our index of 6.520”.

“On the Saturday afternoon we tried another two passes but the Rat just stood up on the tyres and hazed them for the quarter! A 6.581et @ 231.95mph and 6.646et @ 222.77mph were the results”.

“First round was up against Peter Nowak in the CC/DA dragster. On the hit the Rat went crazy, and I used up most of the lane and knocked out the cones in the centerline as it smoked the tyres. I thought I could still beat him, so I stayed in it to the finish trying to get the win – but Peter beat me to the line with a 7.114et to my 6.646et @ 213.27mph. My crew standing on the start line said they could read the sponsors names on the side of the car as it passed down the quarter!”

John Zappia lived up to his reputation as a wild driver, with big long smoky burnouts and efforts to control his 3,000 horsepower monster that had the local crowd smiling. The Striker Monaro in 5-second form now looks relatively sedate on a run, but the crowd quickly remembered the three years of wild and crazy driving (including hitting walls) it took to get the HQ to that stage of development. Zap remains the crowd favourite at his home track.

“We now start our preparation for the ANDRA Top Doorslammer Championship Round 4 2008 N R M A Summernationals on 15 – 16th Feb at Western Sydney International Dragway, NSW.”

“We are strongly focused on winning the championship this season, and a win at Sydney would put us a long way ahead.”

Photos courtesy High Octane Photos