John Zappia made a strong semi-final finish in the Final Round of the ANDRA Top Doorslammer Championship at the Winternationals to finish off his career best season with 642 championship points – 142 points ahead of the competition, and collect his first Championship ANDRA Gold Christmas Tree.
For this likeable Perth local it was a dream come true, and a thrill for his many fans and sponsors who have proudly stood behind his efforts during the last five years to reclaim his position as Australia’s Mr. Doorslammer.
“To stand in front of my team, and drag racing peers, and collect my Championship Trophy was a proud moment for me, and made all the hard work worthwhile”, said Zap this week, “I had the vision to achieve this years ago, and to have so many people believe in me and support me both financially and morally is humbling. We started with very little, and so many things have fallen into place for us along the way with our success on the track”.
The Winternationals was probably the most exciting and record setting event in the history of Top Doorslammer in Australia, with Robin Judd running a World Record 5.907 to Top Qualify, a 6.102 bump spot in qualifying, and four racers dipping into the fives.
“Top Doorslammer is hot at the moment in Australia, and about to get hotter as many of the teams come to grips with their cars and break into the fives. It was exciting to be a part of the action at the Winters. We had high goals coming into the event, but the Striker Monaro ended up running fairly consistently over the weekend without any record setting runs. Just goes to show how difficult it is to tune these cars”.
Zap ran a safe 6.107et @ 238.86mph first qualifier alongside Benny Brays first five second pass, and a 6.073et @ 240.00mph second qualifier despite rolling six inches on the start line. The 6.020et @ 239.49mph third run saw Zap use up all the track to get to the finish line and settle in at number three in the qualifying order.
“That’s not a bad start really, as our best event wins usually build off a solid base like this and just gradually get quicker and quicker as the air comes around. But an unusual thing was happening on this very sticky Willowbank track. Our chassis setup that worked perfectly in Sydney and Perth was a little off on this track. Zap’s Rat is very finely tuned in the suspension, and we found ourselves with some decisions to make, and those were informed guesses, not from known data.”
First eliminator was up against veteran Gary Phillips, and both cars ended up all over the track – Phillips into Zap’s lane, handing the win to Zappia Racing with a slow 7.969et.
“We had the car pretty hotted up for that pass and I guess Phillips did too, and I shook hard on launch so much my vision was blurred and after a pedal I almost put it into the wall. I got off and saw Phillips enter my lane a full car length ahead and got off. What a wild ride!. A win is a win though”.
“The Semi Final was up against Benny Bray, and we backed the tune down a little to at least get down the track. But Benny what hot this meeting, and got me on the tree. My sixty foot time was slow and a slight half pedal meant a 5.9 was required to chase him down. A 6.033et @ 242.45mph was not enough to beat Benny’s 6.011et @ 233.77mph”.
“The Winternationals is a special event in Australian drag racing, and this event was no exception with a buzz around the pits and many fans dropping by to watch the crew and buy our merchandise“..
“Special thanks go to the Zappia Racing Crew, who have worked tirelessly for this Championship win. Graham Jones from Southside Engine Center who masterminded this season’s strategy to achieve consistency. Our Sponsors have made it possible, and our thanks goes to all who have contributed – their reward is achieving number one in this country”.
“We managed two event wins, two runner-ups, and three semi-final finishes for the season and three Low Elapsed Time points and one Top Speed. With all the excitement of new teams achieving their first five second pass, it is worthwhile considering that we have racked up sixteen five second passes in Zap’s Rat, and our pace in qualifying this season was a step ahead of the competition”.
“Next season will prove to be the best in Top Doorslammer, and our assault on the 2008/2009 Championship will include a revamped Zap’s Rat, and I will be aiming for back-to-back Championship wins, and running 5.8 second passes are not out of the question. A second Striker Monaro, to be driven by Striker Director Craig Pedley will follow after licensing and testing. Having Craig driving the second Striker Monaro alongside me will also give me a big buzz and a sense of achievement. Craig and his partners has contributed to achieving the number 1 mantle both financially and supportively and to have Craig driving in the team and being competitive will be a great way of repaying him for his considerable contribution to Drag racing and the Zappia Racing Team. Pro-Mod and Top Doorslammer racers are gaining more and more knowledge on how to harness the 3,000 plus horsepower available to these cars and get them down the track quicker and faster”.
“From John Zappia and all the Zappia Racing Team – see you all next season for Even more Top Doorslammer action!”
2008 CASTROL EDGE WINTERNATIONALS Zap out to break records
Newly crowned Australian ANDRA Top Doorslammer Champion John Zappia is at the Willowbank track this week for the Winternationals and Final Round of the Top Doorslammer Championship, and will be going all out to try and set some very fast times and speeds.
“Winning the Championship has taken the pressure off the team to be consistent and relatively conservative in our tune”, said Zap, “So we can hot up the Striker Monaro this meeting and try and set some records and thrill the fans. This weekends racing should be very exciting, with eighteen racers trying to squeeze into eight spots in eliminations”.
After being the first driver to run a legal 5 second pass, Zap is currently the fourth quickest Doorslammer in the world, with US Pro-Mod drivers John Russo currently first in the Firebird on 5.895, Josh Hernandez in the Camaro on 5.912, Jay Payne in the Camaro on 5.920, and Zappia in the HQ Monaro on 5.922. John wants the number one spot back and will be trying to do it this weekend at the Winters.
“If the track is the usual Willowbank standard, I am confident we can go quicker than we have ever before. We have learnt a lot in the last three months, have found some extra power, and modified the chassis the take that extra power. I would like to at least reset the Australian Record, but my competitive nature means I will give it all we’ve got”.
Zap has dominated this year’s Top Doorslammer Championship in Australia with two event wins, and two runner-ups and two thirds – enough to gain 582 points by Round 6 at the Tin Tops and be declared Champion by ANDRA. Brett Stevens is second on the point’s table with 415, ahead of Ben Bray on 355 points.
“Striker Crushing and Screening deserves all the exposure from the Championship win, as the Naming Rights Sponsor on Zap’s Rat, has made it all possible not only with the financial help but also with the systems and professionalism they have put in place. The experience of thirty years of drag racing by Zappia Racing and Southside Engine Centre has been allowed to mature and show full potential in this team. We now have a purpose built Race Workshop, the time to prepare properly by being Professional, and the inventory to add depth”.
“Thanks must also go to all the long term sponsors and helpers who have all been a part in the success of Zap’s Rat and a special thanks to Rentco Transport Equipment Rentals who started the ball rolling with major sponsorship in 2005 when Zap’s Rat ran the first five”.
“Next year may even be better for Zappia racing, as the second HQ Monaro Top Doorslammer driven by Striker Director Craig Pedley is completed, licensed, and tested at the Perth Motorplex. The new car has all the modifications incorporated in Zap’s Rat, and more advancement – with aviation quality composite manufacturing of the body, chassis refinement, and upgrading of component specifications”.
This weekend is a big event on Australia’s drag racing calendar, and the usual Zappia Racing crew will be on hand to guide wild man, and Mr Doorslammer John Zappia into the staging lanes for some serious Doorslammer action.
“We will be celebrating after the event regardless of the outcome – based on our efforts all this season, but I am hoping for some extra reasons and some real excitement for our fans”.