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John Zappia has been a part of drag racing culture in Australia for well over three decades, a time where Willowbank Raceway has also grown to be part of the bedrock of the sport.
Ahead of the annual running of Australia’s biggest drag racing event, the Winternationals, the driver of the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro recalled fond memories from the early days of the venue, where he competed at ‘Wild Bunch’ events.
“Willowbank has always been good, with big crowds and great traction,” he said. “We’ve got lots of positive memories, a few bad ones, but mostly we remember the highlights.”
Most vivid in Zappia’s memory is the 2010 Winternationals, where he faced Robin Judd in a winner-takes-all final for the ANDRA Top Doorslammer Championship.
“That final round really stands out,” he said. “We were second in the points and it all came down to the last run. The points are a lot further apart this time so we can’t have that scenario again, we will just have to see how the cards fall.
“We’ve had lots of different experiences at the Winternationals. Some times we have doubled up with a Winternationals win and a championship, sometimes we have been biting our nails in the stands after going out in the early rounds, waiting for someone to win or lose.”
With unpredictable weather a standard part of the Winternationals, Zappia said he will first aim to qualify into the eight car eliminations field.
“We need to get in the show on the first pass to take the pressure off. I have been caught out with that before, where we didn’t qualify on the first pass and we missed out on the elimination rounds.
“After that we can creep up on it and find some improvements. We are coming with a good proven package and we are pretty confident we have found all our bugs and fixed any issues.”
Zappia is in the running for the 400 Thunder Pro Slammer Championship but is approaching the event with an aim to control only his own destiny.
“Although the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro ran well in Sydney we have made some improvements since, and we have our eyes on winning the Winternationals once again. Whatever happens with the championship is up to Paul.”
The Winternationals is Australia’s biggest drag racing festival and Zappia is looking forward to meeting up with his legions of east coast fans once more.
“We’ve always prided ourselves on being accessible to fans, so please come and see us in the pits, check out our merchandise and have a chat,” he said. “Unless we are about to head out to the staging lanes or turning the car around between rounds, we love to talk to people about the Fuchs/Dananni Hotshots Monaro and make sure they have an awesome race track experience.”
Qualifying for Pro Slammer begins on Friday with a single session, before two sessions on Saturday and eliminations on Sunday. Fans can also watch the race live on ovoplay.com.au.
WINTERNATIONALS ZAPPIA RACING HISTORY
2018 – Zap qualified third and finished runner up.
2016 – Zap Top Qualifies and wins the event.
2015 – Zap Top Qualifies and wins the event.
2014 – Zap Top Qualifies and wins the event
2013 – Zap Top Qualifies but the meeting was rained out.
2012 – Zap Top Qualifies but was knocked out in Round 1 by Ben Bray
2011 – Rained out
2010 – Zap Top Qualified and won the event over Robin Judd
2009 – Zap Top Qualifies and wins the event
2008 – Zap qualifies third and wins the event.
2007 – Zap Top Qualifies and wins the event.
Latest News History
A mixed weekend at Queensland’s Willowbank Raceway has seen John Zappia predicting a Pro Slammer championship that may well come down to the wire later this 400 Thunder season. Zappia took two wins from three rounds as part of the New Years Thunder event on Saturday, but a wild run in round two saw the […]
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John Zappia was left to rue what might have been at the second round of the 400 Thunder Pro Slammer Championship in Sydney on Saturday. Zappia top qualified with a strong 5.66 pass in tricky conditions, earning himself a first round match with New Zealand’s Trevor Smith. After a normal burnout, Zappia noticed the Fuchs/Dananni […]
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John Zappia and Zappia Racing Promotions would like to welcome Parry Bitsikas and Billy from Muscle Car Warehouse as a Major Sponsor for the 2018/2019 Australian Drag Racing season. Parry and Billy are both keen motor car enthusiasts having bought and sold many muscle and collectible cars over the years. Their company, Muscle Car Warehouse has […]
One of the greatest eras of domination in Australian motorsport came to an end last Sunday at Queensland’s Willowbank Raceway, where 11 times national Pro Slammer champion John Zappia finished runner up in the 400 Thunder Professional Drag Racing Series. It has been a remarkable decade and a half for the driver of the Fuchs/Dananni […]