Hat-trick keeps Perth season perfect for Zappia

A blazing summer day did little to stop John Zappia from racking up yet another win at Perth Motorplex, this time in the Top Comp bracket as part of round three of the WA Drag Racing Championships.

Making a wise choice and waiting for the 6pm compulsory qualifying session, Zappia opened his account positively with a 5.76 on his first pass down the track, giving him top qualifying honours by just three hundredths of a second from Russell Ladbrook.

The elimination round saw the Zappia Racing Holden Monaro take on fellow Top Doorslammer racer Matt Abel, with a slow reaction time making Zappia vulnerable.

“After our 6pm run we thought we were very safe so we tuned it up a bit more and sent it,” Zappia said. “My reaction time wasn’t great, and we gave Matt almost three tenths of a second on the start line. Fortunately for us Matt had troubles and I was able to drive around him with a 5.695. We didn’t get a speed reading as there was an issue with the timers but it looked okay from our data and given the hot and humid conditions it probably wasn’t one of our fastest speeds.”

The run was enough to send Zappia to the final, which proved to be a strange sequence of events as opponent Ladbrook lost fire after the burnout and had to be removed from the track before Zappia could stage.

“We had a long wait after Russell unfortunately had some troubles and I was getting a little worried because we were running low on fuel,” Zappia said. “I decided to only run the car to half track and then shut it off to avoid having a lean out issue. We went into stage and I got on the revs, but then nothing was happening on the Christmas tree. I got off the revs and waited again before we finally got a green light. By this stage the motor and clutch were pretty hot and as soon as I launched there was a lot of clutch dust in the car, making visibility difficult and rolling through for a 6.99.”

Leaving the track with another trophy in hand, Zappia said he was content with what the team were able to learn.

“We tried some stuff and it seemed to work okay. We worked on suspension and our tyres during the day and we have the car launching straight again – we think the car liked having a fresh set of Hoosier tyres on the back. Given the heat the track held up well and even with air density above 2000 feet we were able to run that 5.69 which is pretty good for those conditions.”

Now Zappia is very excited to race at the Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Car event on January 4, which also includes round two of the WA Summer Slam Series.

“I have only ever raced at one Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Car event before, but that was when they held it in December. The January date seems to attract huge numbers of spectators so that is something I am really looking forward to. The Summer Slam will be a great show alongside the Outlaw Nitro cars.”

Spectators are invited to join the Outlaw Nitro pit party and come to visit the Zappia Racing merchandise tent to check out the merchandise and the Zappia Racing Biante Monaro models.

Photo – Phil Luyer





Summer Slam sweet for Zappia

John Zappia took out the first WA Summer Slam Series event of the season in his Holden Monaro Top Doorslammer, but the veteran racer thinks a performance opportunity may have gone begging.

The event started awkwardly for Zappia, as a supercharger backfire in the compulsory qualifying round set the team back early in the night.

“We came out with a 5.63 tune up on the first run of the day and didn’t really back it down, so with a 118 degree racetrack we didn’t have much luck,” Zappia said.

“With the Zappia Racing Holden Monaro backed down for the compulsory qualifier it took off well and shifted into second gear automatically as it is meant to do, but I also made a shift and so it jumped to third gear. That pulled down the engine and it banged the blower. That was my fault as a driver with old habits!”

Zappia was due to face Marty Dack in the elimination round. With Dack’s time of 5.964 in qualifying, he had the upper hand, but something broke in his Ford Mustang during the burnout and Zappia was left to take a solo run.

“Fortunately the motor was okay after our qualifying pop so we were able to put the blower back on and front up for the first round,” Zappia said. “Marty got pushed back so then it was just us. The car left well but overpowered the top of first gear and started to rattle, so I had to pedal for a 5.738/257.36mph – our highest ever speed for a run with a pedal. It showed us there was a lot of power there.”

Zappia was looking forward to a big final round against Daniel Gregorini, but when word came through that Gregorini had problems and wouldn’t be able to make the call, the team decided to go for broke.

“Once we knew Daniel was broken we threw some more clutch at it to see what it would do,” Zappia said. “It launched hot with a 0.971 60 foot time and picked the front wheels up. I punched second gear hoping it would drop the front wheels down and I could regain control but it didn’t, and we crossed the centre line.

“Solos aren’t the way we want to win races and we would have loved to have taken on Marty and Daniel. It was a wild night at the Summer Slam with a few racers giving the wall a rub and lots of action. There were ten cars there who all had a shot and it bodes well for the strength of the series for the rest of the season.”

While the victory was a happy occasion, Zappia felt that there was more in the conditions – including perhaps that elusive 5.5 second pass.

“The air was really good, we should have gone really fast but we just didn’t capitalise on it,” he said. “We had 28 water grains, which is really low, and the air ended up 700 feet of density altitude. There was a lot of power out there, which we saw with a couple of teams running personal best times.”

Zappia will return to Perth Motorplex on December 14 for the WA Sportsman Showdown, where he will race in Top Comp.

“We have a bit more power now and we need to learn how to use it more effectively. We were going to sit this event out and target the next round of the Summer Slam in January, but I think December 14 will give us a chance to try some stuff and see if it works better for us.”