Zappia Takes Lead in ANDRA Top Doorslammer Championship

The second leg of the “Northern Swing” was held last weekend at the Alice Springs Desert Nationals held by the Central Australian Drag Racing Association, where Round 2 of the ANDRA Top Doorslammer Championship was run over the eighth mile.

The event was a clean sweep for 9 times Champion John Zappia – Top Qualifying and winning the event, while picking up Low ET and Top Speed and resetting the track ET and MPH records.

“I feel like I am living the dream after this weekend” said an elated Zappia, “After a tough month of racing the Zappia Racing team finally got back to our winning ways. This weekend was all about managing horsepower and getting down this regional track, and we have plenty of data to draw on from years of regional track racing – and luckily we got most of our settings right”.

“The people of the Northern Territory have been great hosts, and we have thoroughly enjoyed the racing, fans and friends. The fishing is pretty good too, with a treasure chest of mud crabs in the transporter”.

Zappia now leads the ANDRA Championship on 184 points, followed by a re-vitalised Ben Bray on 154 points, Mark Belleri driving the Maurice Fabietti Monaro on 131 points, Gary Phillips who surprisingly failed to qualify on 126 points, and Grant O’Rourke on 114 points as he bows out of competition for the time being.

“We are on track for our goal of winning ten straight championships – a testimony to all the hard work of our crew, team and supporters have invested over that period. The win was great for Fuchs, who are our Naming Rights Sponsor, and great supporters of our team and drag racing in general”.

“A special mention must go to our long time sponsor Southside Engine Centre. I turned up at their Myaree workshop with a ute full of damaged parts from the Winters and Kelly and Craig set about carefully bringing them back to race condition”.

“The Darwin and Alice Springs meetings are the first time we have run a Noonan’s Ultimate Race Engineering block to compliment the Noonan heads, and the performance and potential is exiting for Zappia Racing going forward. We will do more R & D with this combination and testing with full power at the better tracks should show us what it can do”.

Qualifying was on Saturday and Zappia headed the field with a 4.07 @ 187.50mph, followed by B Bray 4.11 @ 184.43 and O’Rourke on 4.13 @ 183.67. Round 1 saw Zap go slightly quicker in the Fuchs Monaro 4.009 @ 189.87 by defeating local Darwin resident Matt Abel 4.274 @ 179.28 in his Chev Belair. Newcomer Fenech 4.299 disposed of Victor Bray 4.489 @ 174.42, O’Rourke 4.142 put away Perth local Mark Chapman 4.261 @ 174.42, and Ben Bray 4.106 @ 183.67 snatched the big one by putting Belleri 4.285 @ 183.67 on the trailer.

“We didn’t really change much on the Crusher, just finessed the tuning a little and the setup. The car ran almost identical times 4.009 @ 189.87 to defeat Fenech 4.274 @ 179.28 in the semi. We could see by the mph that we had the horsepower advantage, we just had to be sure not to overstep the mark. Ben Bray won his semi with a 4.089 @ 185.95 over O’Rourke 4.367 @ 172.41 – which set up a dangerous final. Ben is pretty sharp on the lights, so we had to get the tune up right to make sure we could drive around him”.

The final saw Zappia and Ben Bray go head to head. Long-time rivals and ultra-competitive racers. “Benny got the hole shot on me – I had a bad light on that one. But the overall winning margin was 25 thousandths of a second, so there was not much in it at all at the finish line but we come away with the only three second pass for the weekend – the track record for ASID on the eighth mile, and also the overall speed record of nearly 194 miles per hour for this track.”

“Fantastic win for the team and a real morale booster. This new track was really coming around, and one we would like to come back to. It is one of the straightest and flattest tracks in Australia and will be even better when more meetings are run on the track to get the racing surface smooth and full of rubber”.

“Many thanks to our crew that travelled to this remote track, and all our great sponsors who make this all possible with their ongoing support”.

Zappia Racing will now take a short break, have the annual sponsors and crew party, then get the car and engines ready for some testing and R & D before the next round of the ANDRA Top Doorslammer Championship to be held at Adelaide International Raceway on 3-4 December 2016.

Photos courtesy Mark Cuffe from





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Track Record 5.750 and semi finish for Zappia in Darwin

On the first leg of the “Northern Swing” through remote Northern Territory in outback Australia, Champion John Zappia had a semi final finish in the opening round of the ANDRA Top Doorslammer Championship held at Hidden Valley Drag Strip in Darwin.

Zappia struggled to get the quick Fuchs Monaro to stick to the tricky track in humid and hot conditions. In a dramatic qualifying scenario, the champ only just snuck into the eight-car field by 0.05 seconds.

“We entered with a new Noonan engine and a had few unknowns to deal with,” said Zappia, “We had the new Noonan block, and I was keen to see what this new package has to offer”.

“Qualifying was a struggle with tyre shake and other dramas, and the best I could manage was a pedaling 6.317 @ 239.40. We went over everything on the car and came up with what we believed was a good tune and setup for Round 1”.

“The car launched hard and ran sweet at full throttle the whole pass and grabbed a convincing win with a 5.750 to O’Rourke’s 5.937. The run was under the track record, previously a 5.770 that was set by us last visit”.

Belleri, Phillips and B Bray managed wins to get through to the Semi Finals in front of a huge Darwin crowd. The Nitro up North event attracted the fans; with four Top Fuel cars in attendance reeling off mid four second passes.

“After the wheel standing 5.75 in the first round the Fuchs Monaro pulled up in good condition. We decided to take the left lane again in the semi, but during the burnout the motor revved up and I got crossed up just after 60ft – I knew the track was a bit off”.

“I launched hard but it went into tyre shake and I pedaled a couple of times, but couldn’t get it to stick and Belleri went through for the win”.

Phillips defeated Belleri in the Final to take home the ANDRA trophy and lead the Championship.

“We are happy with the new Noonan engine, and will service the car and do some fishing before heading to Alice Springs for the second event in our Northern Swing – Round 2 of the ANDRA Top Doorslammer Championship at the Desert Nationals on 15-17 July 2016”

“I would like to thank Greg Gower from Alky Pro Software. After running our fuel components on his flow bench, we were able to input the correct data into the Alky Pro software on the bench, enabling us to run the 5.750 with the Alky Pro software at the track acurately”

Zappia ends up fourth in the Championship points after the first round for the semi finish and Low ET of the event:
Phillips           106 points
Belleri             89 points
B Bray             67 points
Zappia            66 points
O’Rourke        48 points
V Bray             45 points

“Looking forward to improving our position in the Championship in Alice Springs on the 17th-18th July – a first for Alice Springs Inland Dragway, by having their first ever Group 1 event”.

O’ROURKE PONTIAC FIREBIRD 5.871 @ 249.72; B BRAY 79 CORVETTE 5.876 @ 246; PHILLIPS   53 STUDEBAKER 5.903 @ 247.16; V BRAY 57 CHEV 5.991 @ 238.85; BELLERI 06 MONARO 6.099 @ 253.04; FENECH 68 CAMARO 6.108 @ 241.24; CHAPMAN 59 PLYMOUTH FURY 6.144 @ 243.63; ZAPPIA  HQ MONARO  6.317 @ 239.40

GRADDEN 59 PLYMOUTH FURY 6.367 @ 239.4; TAYLOR 68 CAMARO 8.094@ 107.93: GOONAN 70.5 CAMARO 8.255 @ 112.75

Round 1:
ZAPPIA HQ MONARO 5.750 @ 252.24 def O’ROURKE PONTIAC FIREBIRD 5.937@ 248.84.
BELLERI 06 MONARO 5.953 @ 252.57 def V BRAY 57 CHEV 6.121 @ 246.26
PHILLIPS   53 STUDEBAKER 5.837 @ 249.30 def FENECH 68 CAMARO 6.343 @ 227.96
B BRAY 79 CORVETTE 5.941 @ 244.29 def CHAPMAN 59 PLYMOUTH FURY 6.058 @ 246.80

Semi Final:
PHILLIPS   53 STUDEBAKER 5.870 @ 249.21 def B BRAY 79 CORVETTE 6.119 @ 195.17
BELLERI 06 MONARO 5.945 @ 253.23 def ZAPPIA HQ MONARO 6.369 @ 204.42

PHILLIPS   53 STUDEBAKER 5.949 @ 245.36 def BELLERI 06 MONARO 6.473 @ 165.76



Zap and Graham Jones enjoy the local mud crabs in Darwin

Photos courtesy Mike O-Niel