First round frustration for Zappia at Goldenstates

First round frustration for Zappia at Goldenstates

A promising start to the 47th annual Goldenstates Championship finished with a heartbreaking first round exit for John Zappia and the Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro Top Doorslammer.

Beginning with Friday night’s qualifying, a 5.821 pass in the first session would hold as Zappia’s quickest and place him second out of the eight cars on the property — earning the ever-vital lane choice for race day.

“We had a lot of tyre shake through qualifying, and every run needed a pedal,” he said. “On our final run the car looked set for a number but then I went to punch third and the car wouldn’t shift.  The only thing we could put that down to was an air supply issue, so we installed a larger line from the air tank to the shift buttons overnight.”

Zappia would face Pino Priolo’s 37 Chevy in the first round, with Priolo back for his first event in 18 months at the Motorplex. Unlike the freezing opening round of the Direct Mining & Industrial Summer Slam season a few weeks previous, this particular Saturday was marked by warm conditions in the mid-30s, with the track condition still in the high 40s for eliminations.The Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro came out flying with a 0.997 60 foot time, but then it all came unstuck for Zappia as the car swerved into the opposite lane.

“We felt like we needed to back the car off for the first run of Saturday, so we had a tune-up in there that was similar to the first qualifying pass we made on Friday. We noticed everyone ahead of us was all over the track, so that seemed like the right call. “I got the early jump on Pino but then the tyre shake began and I stayed on the throttle just a fraction of a second too long. My vision got blurred and I got off the throttle, and I could see I was heading for the other lane. I took evasive action to try and get it back to my side and avoid Pino, but there was no question that I was across the centre line and out of the race.”

It was a disappointingly early exit for Zappia, with Daniel Gregorini taking over the lead of the Australian Drag Racing Championship. On the positive side, he was happy to see another Dananni Hotshots racer earn their first ANDRA Top Doorslammer win.

“Of course it is frustrating and you feel like you have let everyone down,” Zappia said. “That said, we always seem to do better when we are chasing down somebody in the points. Congratulations go to Stuart Moresby in his Dananni Hotshots Studebaker, we know it will be a special memory for that team and a great boost for all of them. We were also happy to see Pino Priolo make it to the final on his return to the Motorplex.”

Joining Zappia on track at the Motorplex this weekend was his fiancé Rae Lockwood, who qualified her Zappia Racing-built Super Sedan with a 9.89 and raced to a third round finish.

Zappia will be back for Nitro Max on December 11, with Zappia entering Top Comp for some testing.“We need to try and find out why the tyre shake is back and solve that so that we can come back strongly for the Nitro Slam in January. I have faith in our whole team that we will work it out and return to the winner’s circle.”

Photos: Phil Blondel; Phil Reeve;  Paul Carey and Ian Moore

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Zappia takes over Top Doorslammer points lead with Desert Nationals win

John Zappia has fired back in the Australian Drag Racing Championship with a Desert Nationals win at Alice Springs Inland Dragway on Sunday.

Western Australia’s Zappia defeated the Northern Territory’s Matt Abel in the final round, 5.853 to 5.960, and took over the lead of the Top Doorslammer points.

The day began well for Zappia as he improved on his Saturday times in Sunday’s compulsory qualifying session. He used a 5.847 in the Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro to not only claim the number one position but to also win the Crow Cams Top Qualifier Award presented by Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks.

“We just crept up on it and put a bit more in for the last qualifying run and it all worked,” Zappia said.

“It did everything it was supposed to do and we managed to get that 5.84 that we knew the track could hold.”

The pass set Zappia up for a first round confrontation against his arch rival Daniel Gregorini, in the Scratch & Match Motorsport Camaro.

Gregorini’s 0.121 to 0.280 reaction time holeshot put him in strong contention but Zappia’s 5.886 was able to sneak around Gregorini’s 6.097 for the win light.

On the opposite side of the ladder, Abel also survived a spirited challenge as his 5.99 came home over a 6.163 from Kelvin Lyle.

“We put a little bit more in it for the race against Daniel,” Zappia said.

“I ended up having too many revs on the start line and was dragging the clutch and it left with our best 60 foot time of the weekend but I had to pedal and punch second gear early.”

That left only the final against Abel, whose consistent form had Zappia looking over his shoulder.

Abel’s black ’57 Chevy got the jump on Zappia early in the run with a 0.113 to 0.170 holeshot, with Abel stretching his lead at the 60 foot timers.

But from there Zappia clawed back for a 5.853 to 5.960 victory, taking the finish line stripe by just over five hundredths of a second in a thrilling final race for the Alice Springs crowd.

“We had a tiny bit more on the tune-up to keep up with the track and I managed to get it down there without needing to pedal,” Zappia said.

“Matt was right there and it was side by side. It was close enough to where any mistake would have seen Matt take it.”

Zappia was able to celebrate his latest win with nephew Brodie Zappia, who won the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series Junior Dragster class on the same day.

“We have doubled up a few times with Brodie now and it is always a great feeling through the pit area when we can both bring a win home,” he said.

In the B Final, Gregorini salvaged some points with a 6.038 to 6.086 win against Lyle. Gregorini’s speed of 255.36mph also proved helpful, granting him some extra bonus points.

The Top Doorslammer teams of the Australian Drag Racing Championship will navigate their ways back home, before heading to Adelaide International Raceway for the third round of the series on October 2 and 3.

Content:  ANDRA

Photos:  Amber Simms Photography






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Zappia celebrates championship win and quick times, despite red light

John Zappia has successfully defended his Direct Mining & Industrial Summer Slam championship after wrapping up the title on Saturday at Perth Motorplex.

Zappia’s Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro Top Doorslammer was in near flawless form, clocking the quickest time of the 2020/21 Summer Slam in what was acclaimed as the season’s best event.

“We came out for the first run, and the car left hard with a 0.975 60 foot and rattled the tyres, so I pedalled and short shifted second and we still came up with a 5.72 at 256mph,” he said.

“We were pretty happy with that as we got our speed back, and we had our tune up closer to where I thought we needed to be. We figured the track would get better and come to the tune up, so we left it the same for the compulsory qualifier and our 60 foot was down, due to the Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro with its fresh Hoosier Tyres sticking to the track and we still went through for a 5.64 at 259mph.
“It seems like the car responded to a few tweaks on the fuel system and it ran four or five mph faster than last time we raced it.”

The top qualifying run was Zappia’s second fastest ever, and one of his quickest, setting up an elimination round encounter with Frank Taylor. After some slow reaction times in qualifying, Zappia was conscious of getting a good light.

“I got all revved up and I needed to get in the zone,” he said. “Frank and I are both clutch cars, so we got the revs up, I moved in, maybe I was a little deeper than normal but not much. I saw the fourth stage light come on, saw the amber lights, released the clutch and bang, I was red by two thousandths.

“Some people might say, well you didn’t need a killer light against the number eight qualifiers. But then Frank runs 5.89 and if you do the maths, if I had either of my reaction times from qualifying I still would have lost the race.

“It goes to show how good the Summer Slam field is right now. Frank had a personal best and appears to have turned his car around, Steve Aldridge was dropping 5.7s back to back. There’s going to be a lot of people chasing this championship next season.”

“We wouldn’t be able to stay at the pointy end of the Championship without the support of our great sponsors. Co-naming rights sponsors Dananni Hotshots and Tony’s Auto Wreckers. Major sponsors Fuchs Lubricants, Crow Cams, Noonan Race Engineering, Striker Crushing and Screening, Shacks Automotive Paints, Motec and Muscle Car Warehouse. Associate sponsors Alky Pro, B&J Racing Transmissions, All Signs, Applied Automotive Performance Engines, Santhuff Struts and Shocks, Reid Rockers, Aurora Bearings, Boninfante Friction Inc, Total Seal Piston Rings, Victory Valves, SDS Fuel Systems, KCraft Bullbars, Taylor Tyres, Avtrac Maintenance Tracking, CIC Competition and Industrial Coatings, Final Drive, Kounis Metal Industries. A big thank you to all our sponsors.

All of the success we share is a credit to the crew that work tirelessly during the weeks leading up to a race meeting and on race day. Thank you to all the crew members that have contributed throughout the year.

There were double championship celebrations for the Zappia family as John’s nephew Brodie secured the Junior Dragster title – as well as the Grand Final event win.

“Congratulations to Brodie on an amazing season, he finished with a huge lead in the points and has impressed us all with his talents at the wheel,” John said.

Photos courtesy of Phil Blondell and Ian Moore
















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John Zappia rallied to a historic Top Doorslammer win at the 50th annual Westernationals, celebrating a family double-up and a new national record in a highly successful night for the Dananni Hotshots /Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro.

Zappia came into the event quietly confident, with some positive results in testing giving the team a solid foundation as they entered qualifying.

“The track preparation at the Motorplex has been very consistent lately, and with the sticky Hoosier tyres we rolled off the trailer with a 5.71,” Zappia said. “We had the same settings as we ran in the final of the Super Sportsman Showdown where we ran 5.70, so considering we had different weather it was good to see that kind of repeatability.”

The second qualifying session saw Zappia short shift through some tyre shake for a 5.73, before a troubled 6.25 in the final session.

“When we started up for the run we had a low air warning for our CO2 bottle, but I thought it would be enough to make it through. When I hit the button for top gear it didn’t shift, so I pushed the clutch in and coasted to the line, while Mark Chapman charged by.

“It was maybe a sign, because one year ago at the Westernationals I lost to Mark in the first round and had to watch him drive by. So we didn’t take any chances and decided to change the gearbox and make sure the air bottle was completely full so it wasn’t happening again on race day!”

Zappia expected the slightly different gearbox ratios to tame the car down a bit for a first round battle against Frank Taylor.

“We figured the gearbox would be close enough, and we had run 5.77 with it before. We got a little more aggressive with the tune-up and the Dananni Hotshots / Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro goes a 5.69! It carried the front wheels to 160 foot and I could feel the difference in acceleration. The car felt beautiful. There must have been something good in the air because Frank ran a PB 6.03 next to us, so there were lots of happy faces on the start line.”

The semi-finals beckoned, where Zappia would take on Kelvin Lyle’s Ford Mustang – which also runs a potent Zappia Racing engine.

“Even though we carried the front end in the first round I thought the initial reaction of the car was a little lazy, so we threw more clutch in for the semis. I really had to get my head into gear against Kelvin because we knew he could step it up. I hit a .040 reaction, my best of the weekend, and the car went .966 to 60 feet. It rattled and I had to pedal, with a short shift on third gear, but we got through with a 5.76 to 5.97 win. We definitely dodged a bullet there.”

The final round would see Zappia face Steve Aldridge in the Crown Security Cuda, who was on a streak of five-second runs. Incidentally both cars in the final running Fuchs Lubricants and proving the quality and reliability of their lubricants.

“We realised what we had for the semis was a bit too much so we pulled the clutch back, but otherwise left the car alone for the final. I had another good light with an .065 which got us the holeshot on Steve. Then everything went almost perfectly, even though I still wasn’t quite hitting the shift points, and we went 5.681 at 255mph to Steves’ 5.800.

“There wasn’t much room for error in the final round. Steve ran his quickest pass of the season, so any slip from us and he would have got past.”

The 5.681 second time was also enough for Zappia to reset the ANDRA national record, which hasn’t been touched since 2015.

“When we got back to scrutineering to go through the weighbridge I asked about the ANDRA record, as it hadn’t crossed my mind at any time until then. One of the ladies from ANDRA said it was a 5.693, and I suddenly remembered making that pass at Willowbank. So all of a sudden we needed to get paperwork sorted out and ANDRA were checking over the car. It was an unbelievable way to end the weekend.”

The win was Zappia’s first Westernationals title since 2017. More importantly, it was also the first time he has joined a family member in the Westernationals winner’s circle, with nephew Brodie Zappia winning in Junior Dragster.

“When Brodie got the job done with an awesome 8.000 on an 8.00 dial in I said this has to be a double, I can’t let Brodie be the only one with a gold Christmas tree! Congratulations to Brodie and crew Richard, Lia and Adam on their gold Christmas tree, the first of many I am sure.”

“This was a weekend where it all came together. And to do it at the 50th running of the event, well, what can you say? Maintenance wise we changed one valve spring after the first run and everything else was smooth sailing. The car is in the zone now with its new Noonan cylinder heads, the super-efficient Crow Cam, the reliable CP-Carrilo pistons and rods, Victory Valves and Reid Rockers.”

“To all of my crew, sponsors and fans, thank you for your dedication and your support. We hope we can reward you with some more wins before the season is finished!”

The next round of the Direct Mining & Industrial Summer Slam Series takes place on April 10, with Zappia having built a healthy points lead as he aims to defend his championship title.

Photos: Phil Blondell    Phil Luyer High Octane Photos









50th Annual Westernationals at the Perth Motorplex


WA Drag Racing Championships -  Super Sportsman Showdown

Zappia out of lockdown and into winner’s circle

John Zappia stormed to the Top Comp victory at the Super Sportsman Showdown at Perth Motorplex on Sunday.

Zappia used the event as a testing opportunity, but treated every race just like he was racing in the Direct Mining & Industrial Summer Slam, which resumes in two weeks at the Westernationals.

“Top Comp is a handicapped class that allows competitors from Top Doorslammer, Top Alcohol and Competition cars to race on an even playing field,” he said. “It’s every bit as tough as the Summer Slam to win.”

Western Australia spent one week in a COVID-19 lockdown, which delayed the Super Sportsman Showdown by one day. That proved helpful for Zappia, who was assembling a brand new Noonan engine to test.

“We worked all week putting the fresh engine together, and after losing a week to lockdown we had limited time,” he said. “We put the new Noonan heads on and we had to do lots of checks during the week, like our piston to valve clearance and getting everything set up with the pushrods. We didn’t finish until Saturday afternoon so we really needed the extra day!”

The Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro responded well to its new power plant, dropping a 5.77sec. pass on its first run.

“We were pretty happy with that in hot and humid conditions,” Zappia said. “It rattled a bit at the top of first gear and I punched second. It kept rattling but I made it through without having to pedal.”

The run top qualified Zappia and gave him a solo for the first round, where a 5.79 would earn him a place in the final.

“We took a bit of fuel away in the tune up and it launched hard, but there was something spraying on the screen as I got to the finish line, which turned out to be a loose fuel line,” he said. “We looked at the data for the final and we decided to throw some more clutch at it.”

Zappia would give up almost three tenths of a second to his opponent, Wayne Keys, in the final. With Keys having not lost a Top Comp race all season, Zappia expected Keys to be a tough racer to overcome.

“As the lights went orange I thought I had a bad reaction time, but I actually had a .073 to his .080,” Zappia explained. “Wayne then got into trouble and started to rattle the tyres and we were able to get by smoothly for a 5.701/254.86mph win.”

Zappia was left impressed by the Noonan horsepower available, even with a safe tune up in place.

“We came here to test and tune and make sure we had a good tune up on the new heads, and it ran perfect all day,” he said. “We have a good baseline for the Westernationals. Both of our motors are within hundredths of each other in hot conditions.”

Perth Motorplex will be undergoing some management changes in coming weeks, with Evolve Facility Management to begin operating the venue. Zappia said he looked forward to continuing improvements at the Motorplex, and the impending 50th Annual Westernationals.

“Chris, the outgoing general manager, has done a great job and we wish him all the best for the future,” he said. “The Westernationals is coming up really fast and we are looking forward to being there with our new merchandise range, including some retro t-shirts I think people will love. Everyone should also keep an eye out for a promotion we are doing with Dananni’s Hotshots – there’s going to be some really cool showbags and even some special extras for some lucky people.”

Looking forward to seeing a huge crowd turning up to show the new management our passion for drag racing and to also support all the race teams including the many racers coming over from the East Coast.

Photos courtesy Phil Luyer                      Ian Moore Facebook























Night of Fire

Zappia extends lead in Summer Slam Series at Night of Fire

John Zappia returned to the winner’s circle of the Direct Mining & Industrial Summer Slam Series on Saturday night at Perth Motorplex.

The Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro Top Doorslammer enjoyed a welcome return to consistency, with all four runs in the five second zone at the January 23 Night of Fire.

“At the end of a tough last meeting we went 5.76 and everything looked okay, so we just went right through the motor and put a bit more fuel in the tune-up for qualifying,” Zappia said. “We came off the trailer and hit a 5.77 to top qualify, even though we were being conservative. We thought the track might have taken some time to come back around after the Motorvation car show but it was better than we expected.”

The compulsory qualifying session saw the team add some more clutch to keep up with the track, but Zappia said one again the track was exceeding predictions.

“We actually slowed down a bit and went 5.80, so we could see it was time to get aggressive for the elimination round. Our 5.77 top qualified and that gave us a bye run where we could experiment a little.”

Zappia changed to some angrier ratios in the B&J gearbox, and was immediately rewarded with a 5.72/254mph despite the hot and humid air conditions. The run landed him a place in the A Final against Mark Chapman, who was having a strong night in his Plymouth Fury.

“We left our tune-up the same for the final, we certainly didn’t want to do anything silly against Mark who was running very consistently,” Zappia said. “Mark cut a light and we were chasing, but we covered the ground quickly and our 5.71 defeated his 6.01.”

A relieved Zappia said that the only maintenance needed during the night was some welding to repair a cracked exhaust header. He also continued to adapt to shifting gears manually, after dropping the auto-shift device earlier this season.

“As a driver I am still short shifting first gear, which is perhaps costing us two or three hundredths of a second,” he said. “It’s just a case of me getting used to shifting manually again and waiting a little longer before hitting that button.

“That said, our slowest run for the day was 5.80 and our quickest was 5.71, so I feel like we are getting a more reliable and consistent combination once again.”

The victory further extended Zappia’s lead in the Summer Slam Series. He now has 360 points, followed by Stuart Moresby with 320 and Kelvin Lyle with 305.

Zappia next heads to the Super Sportsman Showdown on February 13, where he will be testing in Top Comp with some new Noonan Race Engineering cylinder heads.

“We’re excited to get some new heads on to the car, as our old ones have been repaired several times,” he explained. “This should make tuning a little easier as it will give us the same compression in every cylinder. We will use the February 13 race as a chance to test and tune before round five of Summer Slam at the Westernationals.”

Photos: Phil Luyer High Octane Photos.   Ian Moore











Zappia lands first strike in Summer Slam

John Zappia has launched his Summer Slam championship defence in strong fashion, winning the opening round of the season on November 7 at Perth Motorplex.

Zappia began qualifying with a tyre-shaking 5.91 pass from the Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro, which was enough to put the team in second position in the field.
“It started to rattle on the one-two gear change and shook pretty hard into second, so it required a bigger pedal to settle the car down,” he said.

On the compulsory qualifying run, an A-arm track locator broke in the rear end, making the handling of the Dananni Hotshots/Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro tricky in the braking area.

“The car was a bit fishtaily in the top end, and then I could hear the tyres rubbing on the body coming back on the return road and realised the diff was moving side to side,” Zappia explained.

Zappia wasn’t the only one having dramas on the day. The field was shaken up early when last year’s championship runner-up Daniel Gregorini crashed in qualifying and Mark Chapman withdrew with engine problems before eliminations.

“We might be rivals when we race, but you never want to see other teams hurting,” Zappia said. “Daniel has a great team behind him and I hope he can return to racing sooner rather than later.”

After studying information from the Motec data logger, Zappia took on Ryan Moresby’s Dananni Hotshots Ford Falcon in the first round. The team finally found a more representative run with a 5.70 pass to Ryan’s 7.66.

“We changed the B&J gearbox ratio so we could settle the car down and stop it shaking,” Zappia said. “Against Ryan it was a little soft on the take off but it was nice and straight and made it through with no shake, so we were happy with that.”

The run put Zappia into the A Final, where he would take on Ryan’s brother Stu in the Dananni Hotshots Studebaker. Stu got the jump on the start line and led Zappia early, but got loose shortly after passing the Christmas tree and had to get off the throttle, allowing Zappia to rocket through for a 5.77 win.

“We left the tune up alone after the elimination round. The track wasn’t there to try for 5.6s and with Stu capable of running into the fives we couldn’t risk slipping up. We made it through the early part of the run but then in high gear it felt a bit lazy. It looks like we dropped a cylinder so it was lazy in the top end, but other than that it was a good pass, and it was great for our sponsors Dananni Hotshots to have a 1-2-3 finish for their cars.”

The positive start to the Summer Slam season has Zappia eager for the second round on November 28. He said he looked forward to some more cars returning to the field for the coming events.

“We are really fortunate to have the Summer Slam Series in our backyard. Western Australia is the only place where you can go heads-up Top Doorslammer racing in Australia right now. I know this has been a tough year for everyone but I really hope we can see more teams getting back on to the track.

“We’re happy to have Motec back on board for this season, joining our network of sponsors and team partners. They have been very supportive of what we do and we are looking forward to them being a part of our expanding team as we add our radial street car.”

Our next event with be Round 2 of the Summer Slam Series on the 28th November at the Perth Motorplex.

Photos thanks to Phil Luyer, Roger Moore and Paul Carey




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49th Annual Westernationals at the Perth Motorplex

Zappia primed for Power Palooza

John Zappia’s season launches this Saturday at Perth Motorplex as he takes part in match racing at the Shannons Insurance Power Palooza.

Zappia would ordinarily be contesting rounds of the 400 Thunder Pro Slammer Championship at this time of year, but the series is on hold due to COVID-19, allowing Zappia to concentrate on his home track where he is targeting the Summer Slam Series.

“I’m excited to be finally able to race at the Power Palooza, as every other year we have been on the road,” he said. “It’s going to be part shakedown and part show for us. We have some brand new Hoosier tyres on the back we need to get scrubbed in and a lot of new fans to reach.”

The Dananni Hotshots-Tony’s Auto Wreckers Monaro will carry a new look into the event, with some fresh paint applied thanks to Shacks Automotive Paints and a new wrap.

“The longer than expected off-season was a good opportunity for us to go over the whole car and give some attention to the details,” Zappia said. “It’s really just like new, and it gives us a lot of confidence heading into the season knowing that it is all in good shape.

“We are proud to have our co-naming rights sponsors Dananni Hotshots and Tony’s Auto Wreckers back on board. Tony’s Auto Wreckers was meant to be with us just for one event last season, but with our new focus being on the local Summer Slam Series they want to be a part of the journey all season long.”

Mechanically, Applied Automotive have freshened the Noonan cylinder heads as well as a new Crow’s Cam and all that is left to do is fill the car with Fuchs lubricants and add the last of the vinyl stickers made by All Signs.

Zappia set the Top Doorslammer track record at Perth Motorplex last season with a stunning 5.585 second run in January, and while he doesn’t expect to be resetting that mark straight away, anything can happen in the cool spring weather. After Power Palooza, the team will have a rapid turnaround to be ready for the opening round of the Summer Slam Series on November 7.

“We aren’t looking to change our tune-up much at all, so hopefully we can roll off the trailer and be straight back into the fives and then look for regular 5.6s when we start the Summer Slam next weekend.

“We are going to be match racing against Wayne Keys, who has no trouble belting out five second runs in his beautiful Camaro, so I think the Power Palooza crowd are going to get a great show.”

The Shannons Insurance Power Palooza begins from 3.30pm on Saturday, with drag racing starting the show and running until 6.30pm, before a burnout show and then speedway kicking off from 7pm.

We are looking forward to seeing as many Sponsors and supporters at this event after the long layoff and make sure to check out our merchandise and model cars which will be available in our Merchandise tent.


Rapid rebuild a success, but Westernationals eludes Zappia

John Zappia had the odds stacked against him coming into the 49th annual Westernationals at Perth Motorplex, with a huge rebuild needed following his excursion into the braking area sand trap at the last event.

Many days of toil saw the Tony’s Auto Wreckers/Dananni Hotshots Monaro readied with just hours to spare ahead of the Westernationals, Western Australia’s biggest drag racing event.

“There was a huge list of people involved in getting this car back to the track after our trip to the beach,” Zappia said. “Peter Matulovich must have done two to three weeks of solid work where we cut up the steel plug and remade the front end, and we also have big thanks to Johnny at Allpro Panel and Paint for painting the new and repaired front ends, Windrush Motorsport Composites for making a mould and repairing the existing front end and All Signs for getting all of the signwriting done.

“That’s not to mention the rest of my crew who were there for a big month of work to get this back to looking like a race car. We had to repair the back of the chassis and Matt from TLC made us a new tether for the parachutes which will act as a secondary line of defence if the chassis mount should ever break again.”

With the Tony’s Auto Wreckers/Dananni Hotshots Monaro looking brand new, Zappia was keen to make amends. With the Motorplex track surface in its best condition all season, Zappia admitted he was caught out early.

“We came out a bit soft and underestimated the track, it was way better than the meeting before,” Zappia said. “I pedalled and went 5.88 in the first session. We stepped it up for the second session and it still wasn’t enough, so it rattled again and I shut it off. This time we went back, changed the gearbox though we were still soft we got through without shake for a 5.75/253mph. As a driver it was good to notice the car was driving nice and straight so soon after a major rebuild – even though I think we were still finding sand in places!”

Eliminations saw Zappia taking on Mark Chapman’s Plymouth Fury in the first round, who has been knocking out consistent five second passes recently.

“In round one we felt like we were on the cusp of getting back into the 5.6s,” Zappia said. “We launched well and from the early incrementals it looked like we were going to run around a 5.63. But then as I hit top gear a lack of air in the shifting system saw it stay in second and I hit the rev limiter. I knew I was in front but I couldn’t risk blowing a motor, so I had to push the clutch in, and right on the stripe Mark came past me. Neither of us actually had any idea who had won because it was so tight and there was a big difference in closing speed.”

With the win light favouring Chapman, Zappia had to look on the upside.

“We know the car is driving straight and working as we want it to, and that is important. Daniel Gregorini is chasing us hard in the points, but Mark defeated him too, so that gives us a good buffer heading into the final Summer Slam round on March 21.

“We had six meetings undefeated and that is never easy. It’s time for us to hit the reset button and try to start a new roll.”

Photos: Phil Luyer – High Octane Photos, Owen Ducker – Ducker Drag Racing TV




























John Zappia’s decades of drag racing experience helped prevent a major incident during round four of the WA Summer Slam Series when his Dananni Hotshots/Zappia Racing Monaro lost its parachutes at over 250mph.

Zappia had just completed his final round run when a chassis bar at the back of the car was ripped out, leaving the Top Doorslammer without its most critical braking aid.

“The car went through for a pedalling 5.70 at 258mph, and I pulled the chutes and felt them hit but then I felt them rip off and I was still motoring.”

Zappia first got on to the carbon brakes, managing to keep any bouncing to a minimum in the smooth Perth Motorplex braking area, and then let the clutch out to allow the motor turn over and provide engine braking. At the end of the braking area is a sand trap, which Zappia aimed straight for.

“The engine turning over helped wash off more speed but before I knew it I was out of bitumen and into the sand at approximately 80mph. I tried to keep it as straight as I could. It got into the dust and it broke the front clip off and hooked around; as it turned, I was thinking, ‘No, don’t go sideways!’ I didn’t want to roll it.

“The car turned about 130 degrees around and was actually pointing the other way. As it stopped, I looked up and I was about 20 metres away from the catch net. The Kwinana ‘beach’ pulled me up exactly how it was supposed to; it washed off speed so fast. I didn’t have a scratch or bruise on me. I got on to the radio and explained to the crew what had happened and that I was okay.

“The Motorplex emergency crew were there very quickly, and we were lucky all they had to do was help us tow out!”

Damage to the car was kept mainly cosmetic. The sand tore apart the front clip while the parachutes were found with their chassis mount still attached.

“It looks like it was a fresh break on the chassis. We are going faster lately, and it is hitting harder on the chutes, especially driving into a head wind, so perhaps that was the cause.

“I thought I was having a month off where I only had to do minor servicing on the Noonan engine and B&J transmission but now, we have to fix the front end, fix the back of the chassis and reattach the parachute system.”

It was a dramatic end for what had otherwise been a successful event for Zappia. He top qualified with a 5.64/256mph pass and then backed it up with a 5.63/259mph win against Ryan Moresby in the elimination round.

Zappia was ready to go for another entertaining final up against Daniel Gregorini, but there was an interruption to proceedings when Mark Chapman had a diff failure in the B Final, resulting in an oil down shortly before the race curfew. The only option left was to run the A Final as two solo passes, with Zappia electing to get on track first for the unexpected end to the night. Unfortunately, the time to get the car out of the sand trap saw the event reach curfew and the final ended up with split prizemoney and points.

“The performance of the car has been unbelievable, to run a 5.63 and a 5.64 with a pedal is amazing. Even on our last run where it rattled hard it still went 5.70.

“We are excited to get the car fixed and tuned up to suit the conditions for the Westernationals. We are still undefeated after six events; we might not have got a win this time but at least we didn’t lose!”

“We hope to see as many sponsors and supporters at the Westernationals on 29th Feb and 1st March to witness the Top Doorslammer action and the return of Top Fuel headed by Phil Lamattina and Peter Xiberras as well as all the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series racers from all over Australia.”





In-car video thanks to Phil Blondell – Drag Videos

External video thanks to Phil Blondell – Drag Videos