Close race decides Nitro Slam as Zappia eyes Australian Nationals in Sydney

A brilliant side-by-side race decided the House and Land Expert Nitro Slam at Perth Motorplex on Saturday night, with John Zappia having to settle for a runner-up following a photo finish with Marty Dack.

Zappia chose to skip the first qualifying session with his Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro, but emerged for the second session to make a 5.778 top qualifying run. “The weather was incredibly hot, and the reality is there wasn’t much we were going to learn by running on a 140F-temp race track,” Zappia said. “Things cooled down by the second session and we were able to get down the track dead straight.”

While the number one position normally offers some benefits, this time it resulted in a tough opponent as Daniel Gregorini’s Camaro was seeded against Zappia for eliminations.

“Daniel is a tough competitor, who can make some of the quickest runs in the field. This time it wasn’t to be for him as he had a red light and then over powered the track, so we were able to get through to the final with a 5.774.”

Zappia would this time be staging up with Dack’s Ford Mustang, which has made an impressive return to competition this season. “Marty got away from the start line lightning quick with his 0.034 reaction to my 0.106. It wasn’t a bad reaction time on my behalf, but certainly not the best either. He really got moving well early whereas we found our 60 foot time was down; I think we underestimated the improving traction. I was chasing Marty down but we ran out of race track and his 5.890 beat our 5.867.”

Though he was disappointed with the loss, Zappia was happy to see some very tight racing in the Direct Mining and Industrial Summer Slam.“So far this season we have had three different winners from three events. That really keeps things tight in the points and it’s going to be a great show for the rest of the season going forward.”

Meanwhile, in exciting news for Zappia’s east coast fans, he will be attending the Australian Nationals at Sydney Dragway on February 11 and 12, where he will be keen to race on the new racing surface. It might mean a couple of weeks in quarantine on return, but Zappia said the effort will be worth it.

“One of my crew guys said to me, why aren’t we going to Sydney?” Zappia explained. “I said that having to isolate wouldn’t be good for any of the crew. But he said he was in, and so I started to ring around with some of our crew in Sydney and we found we could have enough people. This will be the first time we have been back to Sydney Dragway since the start of 2020. We have missed all of our fans there and we can’t wait to be back there to put on a show, alongside the awesome new Burson Auto Parts Australian Top Fuel Championship. It’s great for our national partners Fuchs Lubricants, Crow Cams, Hoosier Tires, Motec and Muscle Car Warehouse, and hopefully we can leave Sydney with a gold Christmas tree to keep me company in isolation.”

Photos: Phil Luyer High Octane Photos,  Phil Reeve;  Paul Carey and Ian Moore