Last weekends Westernationals saw John Zappia give a commanding performance in the 5th Round of the ANDRA Pro Series Top Doorslammer bracket, driving Craig Pedley’s Striker “Crusher” Monaro into the winner’s circle and stamping his authority on the race to the finish line for the Championship.
“The win was fantastic”, said a jubilant Zap this week, “It’s our first win this season, and back-to-back Westernationals wins for Zappia Racing. We worked hard for it, but our confidence was high all through the event, which saw some brilliant crew turnarounds and my driving lifting a level”.
Zap picked up the Pro Auto Service and Performance $1,000.00 cheque for Top Qualifying on the Saturday night, and reset his own ANDRA Top Doorslammer National Record to 5.815 seconds.
“This meeting is really a win for our Naming and Major Sponsors – Striker Crushing and Screening, United Industries, Fuchs, Force Tools Australia, Mickey Thompson, Beta Spuds, Southside Engine Centre and Noonan Race Engineering who have put their faith and sponsorship dollars behind our team and allowed me to purchase such top quality gear”.
“The Crusher was on rails this weekend, thanks to the perfected four link we run with special Aurora aerospace rod ends, and the Santuff suspension setup. The car was launching straight and all I had to do was hang on for the ride. The combination of Mickey Thompson Tyres and Mickey Thompson Pro 5 Forged Billet Wheels complemented the suspension perfectly. The addition of Mi Camcorder’s digital camcorder has also assisted in fine tuning the suspension, observing my driving patterns, as well as improving security within the marquee”.
“The air was really strange during the meeting though. The odd combination of high temperatures, 2,500 ft corrected air and low humidity made tuning difficult. Quite a few engines suffered damage in the field, including one big bang for us. The data gained will make the next meeting with this combination much easier”.
“Qualifying on the Saturday night began with a 6.069 et @ 238.09 mph where I had to pedal after experiencing blurred vision from tyre shake, and seeing the Karcher Chev heading into my lane. Back in the pits we discovered we had melted some pistons- so it was blower and heads off to replace those and a mad thrash on the Force Tools to get ready for the next round”.
“With a revised tune, the next pass of 5.815 et @ 244.56 mph was a surprise – the quickest racecar with doors in Australian history. The third qualifier was almost exactly the same with a 5.818 et @ 244.56 mph – enough to back up the last run and secure the National Record from ANDRA. Both of those passes had excellent 60 foot times, as I perfected my staging technique”.
“Round one was up against rookie Scott Maclean who made the trip from Darwin, who got me on the lights – but the Crusher hauled him in pretty quick. Around 1,000ft the car nosed over and probably went lean, but I held the boot into it until the TFX let go with a huge bang – with the rods punching a big hole in both sides of the block. We later found out we had a blocked nozzle which caused the piston to overhead and disintegrate “.
Southside Engine Centre guru Graham Jones led the crew on an engine change thrash before the next round, with Fabietti, Phillips and Judd the other round winners. “Definitely a weather factor in the tune” said Jones, “Our engines are now pretty much bullet proof with the Victory 1 Performance Valves, Noonan Race Engineering heads, CP Pistons, and other top class gear we use, and bearing life is pretty good with the quality of the Fuchs oils we use. It’s a good thing we have a good inventory of engines in cases like this”.
Round two saw Zap up against Maurice Fabietti, but in a stunning side by side five second race the Crusher edged ahead and took the win with a 5.828 et @ 244.56 mph to Fab’s 5.955 et @ 242.58 mph. Judd took out Phillips in the other semi, setting up the much advertised battle of the wild wild west between local arch rivals Zap and Judd.
“I was wrapped with running a 5.828 on a brand new motor after the crew did an amazing job of swapping over that engine” said Zap, “That shows depth in a team when things like that happen. I was very confident for the final – we had just ran four fives in a row, with three pretty close together as low five eights. Judd was running high five eights throughout the meeting, so I knew I had to cut a good light and be at my best to turn the tables on Judd for this season”.
“Judd got me on the start line and to sixty feet, but then the Striker Crusher rattled of another low five eight to take the win – 5.829 et @ 243.24 mph to Juddy’s 6.079 et @ 241.28 mph. Fantastic racing for the fans, and topping off a great weekend for our team. We edged into second spot in the Championship, only 34 points behind number one spot held by Judd, and equal points leader in the $20,000 Karcher Tri State Challenge”.
“Many thanks to all our local Perth Sponsors, supporters and fans who helped us celebrate the win. Merchandise sold like hot cakes, and fans took the opportunity to wear their Zappia Racing T-shirts with a winners’ grin. Interstate and International fans will be able to purchase merchandise online soon in the new online store. Special Thanks to Greg and Joanne from United Industries for their hands on help in getting parts ready for the engine swap. Also thanks to the many friends and supporters who got their hands dirty helping put various parts of the car together and taking pressure off the crew. Thanks should also go the Motorplex staff and track crew for the track preparation and the running of the event”.
“I feel we are back in the winning zone now after this meeting, and our confidence is high in the race to the finish in this year’s ANDRA Pro Series Championship. You can see all the action on One HD in a few weeks in a high definition experience well worth watching”.
“The Westerns win gave us enough points to lead the local Top Comp Championship by 10 points, and we will round out the Perth season with two meetings (20th March and 10th April) to try and clinch Perth’s most coveted Championship. We then travel on to Sydney Dragway for Round 6 of Top Doorslammer at the Nitro Champs from 30th April to 2nd May”.
Zap’s battle in the Wild Wild West
This weekend is set to be the biggest battle in ANDRA Pro Series Top Doorslammer drag racing, as the quickest slammers in Australia fight for positions in the Championship at the 39th Annual Westernationals event at the Perth Motorplex.
Returning from a washed out Round in Sydney, John Zappia and his Zappia Racing Team are poised to enter the event as one of the favourites.
“We predicted that the Striker “Crusher” would be the best at putting the power to the track in Sydney” said a confident Zap this week, “We were right, and the pedaling 6.10 @ 239mph on a track all other racers found difficult to get down proved the point. We were disappointed with the washed out meeting for sure, but the extra points for quickest and fastest pass edged us closer to the top of the Championship table”.
“It would have been nice to follow that up with a win, but I think this weekend will be our event. Our team’s confidence is high after coming off some good performances in Top Comp here in Perth, and I have a renewed confidence in my driving. I really drove the Crusher with my throttle in that first pass last event, and am getting better at all aspects of my game”.
“We don’t have that edge in performance we had for the last two seasons, so it’s my driving and the depth of our experience as a team that will make a difference on race day. We know this track well, and have the data set to match any weather conditions that are thrown at us”.
The Perth Motorplex has ramped up the advertising for the event, claiming it will be the battle of the two quickest men in Perth – Robin Judd and John Zappia.
“I think there is more than a battle between Robin and I this weekend. The field is hot and numerous teams are set to put down some good passes. If the conditions are right we could see another field with at least 6 sub 6 second cars competing. This will make for some very exciting racing and fans will be in for a treat both at the track, and on One HD television when broadcast by ANDRA Pro Series Drag Racing”.
First qualifier for Top Doorslammers is on the Saturday at 6pm WST where fifteen teams will do battle. Five Perth based teams are joined by ten from other states in Australia, with several teams making their debut in the class. The second qualifier is at 8pm WST, and the final qualifier at 10pm. Eliminations are on Sunday with the first round at 6pm WST. The semi-final is at 8pm WST, and the Final at 10pm WST.