Australia’s uniquely flavoured very fast door car racing — on the menu at season finale…

Drag racing’s most coveted single Southern Hemisphere event – the Gulf Western Oil Winternationals (at Queensland’s Willowbank Raceway) — included late round dramatics to settle its championship chases.

In Top Doorslammer, rookie and Top Qualifier Russell ‘Ice Man’ Taylor (from Western Australia) claimed the first NDRC branded  championship title for that category.  

That was assured for Taylor in the semifinals when fellow newcomer Ronnie Palumbo knocked out 11X Top Doorslammer champ John Zappia – in a rather monumental upset.  Palumbo, driver of a AC Delco/Sam Fenech tribute car (fielded by Fabietti Racing), used a 5.750 secs at 399.88 kph holeshot run to defeat Zappia’s quicker and faster 5.700 secs 407.75 kph.

Class newcomer Russell Taylor roared to the 2024 Australian Top Doorslammer season championship.

With that chase now determined — the spotlight shifted fully to Taylor who would go on to set his quickest ET of the season in the final (and low ET of the event), to claim the prestigious Winternats event win, a 5.592 secs 416.51 kph decision over Palumbo (5.728 secs 400.46kph). 

Rookie Pro driver Ronnie Palumbo, guiding the Fabietti Racing/AC Delco Monaro — had a very strong event run.

Earlier in the day, Taylor took round wins from Nasser Matta and Neil Murphy while Palumbo preceded his win over Zappia with a round one victory over Peter Lovering.

“This is unbelievable, a dream come true, I am just speechless,” Taylor said.  “I have a lot of people to thank, all of my crew, Steve Ham and Stew Rowland – they are both drivers and have both done a lot in their careers of driving and tuning and without them I am lost. And all my crew, Al, Josh, Adam, young Jack and also Ian and Joe Ham, they have helped out all weekend, and also Royal Precision Lubricants, I couldn’t do it without all of them.”

Within the FuelTech Pro Mod category (which is campaigned using a 5.85 secs national index), it was Craig Burns, the event’s Top Qualifier taking home the first NDRC Pro Mod season championship.  

That was secured even though his Sunday running was cut short when he rolled the beams in round one due to a mechanical failure in his match-up against Daniel Camilleri.

“We are rapt!” Burns said. “It was a relief because of that (ill timed) mechanical failure – the trans brake failing, but these things happen.  We are pumped – we won two meetings out of four, top qualified three times out of the four, and the car has been super consistent.  Racing against guys who have all the electronic gizmos and so on, to be able to come through with a little bit of an old school deal and run well, it certainly gives us the warm and fuzzy feelings!”

Craig Burns claimed the overall FuelTech Pro Mod class championship for Australia with his “The Villian” Ford Mustang.

Zoran Gajic, (from Sydney NSW) who placed 1st in FuelTech Pro Mod points last season, would go on to claim the Gulf Western Oil Winternationals event honours.

Racing his turbocharged late model Ford Mustang, Gajic had collected round wins over Steve Smith and Frank Tarabay, before taking the final match of the season over Daniel Camilleri.  Gajic went 5.894 secs @ 411.31 kph to handle Camilleri’s 6.242 secs 347.94 kph clocking in his very cool superchargedChevy Nova.

Gajic, who was also the 2023 Winternationals event defending class champ, was happy to bounce back from some difficulty to claim the that second consecutive title.

For the 2nd year in a row Zoran Gajic earned the Winternationals event FuelTech Pro Mod title.

“It was hard work with yesterday being a bit of a disaster with everything breaking, but we got the job done today,” Gajic said. “Thank you to the crew, without them it wouldn’t have been possible, and I would like to dedicate this win to my crew chief’s late father, Robert Boyd Mundey. I have been running at this event for a few years now, thank you to the track, it is absolutely brilliant, and also thank you to all the staff and to the NDRC.”

Daniel Camilleri raced his cool-looking “Chevy small block” Nova to the FuelTech Pro Mod final round.

Posted with files by Amanda Cobb (Jigsaw Communications) & Bruce Biegler

Photos by Bruce Biegler 

To view more TD & PM photos from the NDRC Winternationals – please visit our event gallery : HERE