Western Sydney International Dragway – Fuchs Nationals Report

ANDRA Championship Drag Racing can often be wild and unpredictable and that certainly was the case at the Fuchs Australian Nationals at Western Sydney Dragway last weekend.

The event served up highlights and lowlights in equal measure, with daubs of glory and pain meted out in equal measure, with the fickle Sydney weather delivering the final ironical blow.

The definite highlight of this season’s ANDRA Championship opener was the record Friday and Saturday night crowds and the strongest professional racer turnout since the debut of the Sydney venue in 2004.

Other memorable moments included Robin Judd, Ben Bray and John Zappia’s awesome 5-second Doorslammer blasts, the quickest ANDRA Pro Stock field in history after just two qualifying sessions and Phil Read’s record-approaching 4.5 second pass in Top Fuel.

However, the dramas also abounded, with the worst oil-down incident on track seen in venue history on Saturday night, that took some considerable time to clean up.

Added to all that was the fate of John Zappia and Kym Usher both flipping their cars over in the sand traps during ANDRA Top Doorslammer qualifying.

“I tagged the wall after the finish line and when I went to release the chutes, they didn’t release properly, so I had to yank at them again,” recalled Zappia after striking big trouble in the deep after a 5.983 Elapsed time. “By the time I did that, we were very deep and when we landed in the gravel trap, the Striker Monaro did a gentle rollover. Thankfully the damage wasn’t too significant and I have an awesome race team who was able to get me back out there the following day.”

Kym Usher also had issues in releasing the laundry in his Makita Falcon, and that also sent him deep into the beach.

However, the scariest moment of the weekend had to be Steve Read’s 500kmh excursion into the gravel, then catch netting, through the tyres and then finally arrested on the dirt mound behind, that left the huge WSID crowd hushed for some considerable time.

For what was a horrific Top Fuel crash, the only injury for ‘The Pom’ was a fractured pinky finger!

“I am greatful for the fact that we modified the chassis of this Readspeed car to cater for a HANS device in terms of head and neck restraint for me,” explained Read. “The Fuchs Australian Nationals was the first event we have ever used the HANS and I have no doubt it saved me from more serious injuries.”

As to the cause of the crash, it appears it came down to a throttle jam as he coasted more than 400 metres past the finish line with header-flames up high!

“We had issues with the throttle during the earlier qualifying session and we obviously did not resolve that in that later run. We were late on the chutes as well but these things happen so quickly and I wanted to make sure that we were entering the gravel trap in the middle and keep the car straight and thankfully we did.”

There can be no debate that the stringent ANDRA safety standards once again shone as Read entered a horror high-speed situation.

With Sunday raceday being cancelled due to rain, ANDRA Championship points will be awarded in relation to whether a competitor qualified within a competition field or not.

The next major ANDRA Championship at WSID is the Scott Kalitta Top Fuel Memorial on December 26 & 27, 2008 – featuring USA NHRA star Hillary Will.

Zappia aiming for four straight at WSID

Top Doorslammer champ John Zappia and his Zappia Racing Team are in Sydney for the 2008 Fuchs Australian Nationals at Western Sydney International Raceway, Friday 12th September to 14th September 2008, and is all set for a blistering season opening event. It is Round 1 of the 2008/2009 Top Doorslammer Championship, and twenty one cars will fight for eight positions in eliminations.

“This season is set to be the best and most exciting Top Doorslammer season ever in Australia, and for us as a team as well,” said Zap, “With more teams coming online, performances getting better, some nail biting fights to get in the field, and world class finals racing, spectators will get their moneys worth both at the track and on ANDRA television”.

“We are proud to be representing Striker Crushing and Screening in drag racing, and welcome their Naming Rights Sponsorship for this new season. Managing Director Craig Pedley has been an inspiration to us at Zappia Racing, exemplifying what can be done with significant business acumen”.

“We are inspired to be the best and give back to Striker results that count – Championships, wins and low ET’s. This year we will be chasing back to back Championships, and to get some records back. Striker have increased their stake in our team, and will field their own Top Doorslammer identical to my HQ Monaro in the coming months”.

Zappia Racing is the face of Fuchs in Doorslammer for this season, having just secured a Major Sponsorship deal with the lubricant manufacturer. Zappia Racing uses Fuchs lubricants exclusively in the Monaro Top Doorslammer, and achieves excellent performance and reliability with the products. The Monaro has undergone extensive structural and mechanical scrutiny during the off season, and a number of errant problems which plagued some of the performances of the vehicle last season have been rectified. Zappia Racing is expecting the vehicle to produce more powerful and quicker performances this season.

John Zappia comes into this Nationals event as favourite, having won the season opener for the last three years in a row as the East Coast Nationals. “I would love to win a Nationals event again – my last was in 1990 at Ravenswood International Raceway in Perth in the original Zap’s Rat. We ran in Superstock in AA/GAS trim, as there was no Top Doorslammer class back then”.

“The weather in Sydney this time of year always suits our car and tune up, with cool temperatures and good air. I am confident I can get hold of the track again this year with our Mickey Thompson tyres, and head the field. We have a tradition of being top qualifier – or at least in the top three, and we aim to do the same again this event”.

If the other Top Doorslammer competitors start out the way last season ended we will be in for an enthralling series with the top eight qualifiers all running 5’s and 6.0’s. We could see the first ever 6.0 bump spot. There are currently 7 cars who have run 5’s entered in this series and several others who are knocking at the door.

Zappia Racing has unfortunately not been able to renew sponsorship from a couple of our major sponsors and has therefore opened up opportunities for new sponsors to get involved in the fastest growing Motorsport in Australia and to be a part of one of the most exciting and professional teams. For enquiries for sponsorship packages contact John Zappia on 0400 197 171 or by email at zappiaracing@ozemail.com.au

We hope to see as many of our sponsors and fans in WSID to help get the new Top Doorslammer series off to a flying start. All are welcome to visit the pit area to meet and talk to John and the crew.