Some updates from within Australia’s thriving new major drag racing league….

The NDRC (National Drag Racing Championship) has adjusted its national event menu for upcoming events.

Following some bad luck with weather and circumstance during the first portion of it’s inaugural season — the NDRC has confirmed that for the first time
within it’s short history both Top Fuel and nitro Funny Cars will run at the same event – joining forces this coming May 3 – 5 for the Gulf Western Oil Nitro Champs at Sydney Dragway.

Fuel Funny Cars will now to be included at Sydney Dragway’s upcoming “Nitro Champs” event.

Initially that format/concept had been planned to be featured for the first time during the Gulf Western Oil Winternationals at Queensland’s Willowbank Raceway (June 6-9th).  Both Top Fuel and fuel Funny Car classes will still be present at that high profile season ending event too.

The Gulf Western Oil Nitro Champs — will help to continue the 2024 season long celebration for Sydney Dragway.

Top Fuel’s fire-breathing monsters will battle it out for Nitro Champs glory as they compete for TWO complete championship rounds – one on Saturday and another on Sunday. That’s three passes each day, double the points, double the trophies and double the bragging rights!

Nitro Funny Car flame-throwing missiles will shake the earth at speeds of 500km/h for a massive day of qualifying on Saturday and three rounds of racing on Sunday.

Western (Nationals) Windup!

Eleven 3-second passes, three side-by-side, four of those at more than 500 kph including two at more than 510kph – Top Fuel well and truly put on a show for a packed house at the Perth Motorplex across the 53rd MacTrack Westernationals as part of the National Drag Racing Championship (NDRC) event March 3.

It was a case of two Phils in the A-Final with Phil Read taking on Phil Lamattina, with the pair delivering a breathtaking side by side three second pass to the delight of the packed house, with Read (3.910/503.44kph) taking his second consecutive Westernationals victory, beating Lamattina (3.950/463.99kph) to the line by a margin of six feet.

At the Perth Motorplex on March 3rd it was Phil Read taking his second consecutive Westernationals event victory.

The event however included a difficult day for the championship leading Rapisarda Autosport International outfit.

It started Damien Harris blazing through to the top qualifier spot in Q2 early in the afternoon with a 3.870 second pass at a mammoth 511.89kph before a front left wheel failure saw him stranded on the track. While Harris was okay, his dragster would take no further part.

Harris’ team-mate Wayne Newby continued on to take the team to the B-Final against Kyle Putland following a mixed day which included a blazing round one win over Read (3.921/503.72) and a round two loss to Lamattina when he went nowhere off the start line with a problem on his dragster. In his B-Final run, Newby was on a barnstormer, crossing the line in 3.868 seconds at 510.57kph – however, like with Harris earlier in the day, it then all went wrong with his RAI dragster heading into the sand at speed and into both nets before coming to a stop.

Newby was able to exit the car and walk to the medical crews who placed him observation, but it certainly wasn’t the end of the weekend the team was looking for.

With the transporters getting back to the RAI Sydney workshop late last week, the team is now working full pelt on making sure both drivers are back on-track and ready to continue their championship pursuits at Dragway at The Bend in just 24 days’ time.

“For the short term, Damien will move into our team C car which was last driven by Larry Dixon at the Sydney Nationals in January, and which Larry drove to the victory at last year’s Nitro Champs. It is a good car, and it has a very similar chassis configuration to the damaged car,” Santo Jnr explained.

“We are also busy stripping the damaged car down so that we can assess our options of repairing that chassis in due time,” he added. “With Wayne’s car the team have had the car up on our chassis jig and have made some great progress with the repairs and it is looking like it is going to be okay.“The team will keep servicing the car and parts, remove the sand from all components and then hopefully find an opportunity to test before heading to The Bend to make sure everything is fine. The goal certainly is to have him there in his primary car, which has been performing great this season.”

Without doubt, for the team to stay in the championship hunt, getting to the next event Riverbend Nationals (April 5-7th) at The Bend Motorsports Park (Tailem Bend SA) is crucial.

Newby now leads the title standings on 350 points ahead of Phil Lamattina on 266 points, while Harris fell to third place on 258 points. Phil Read is not far behind on 228 points in fourth, with Peter Xiberras – who missed the Perth event – rounding out the top five.

Phil Read wasn’t the only one doing a double in group one this weekend either – with Benny Stevens backing up his 2023 Westernationals win with not one but two 2024 Westernationals Gold Christmas Trees as Top Fuel Motorcycle contested two championship rounds this weekend.

Benny Stevens won two Top Fuel Motorcycle titles during the Westernationals.

Stevens took the round one A-Final win over Damien Muscat when the final was run at midday today after a windstorm put a stop to it being run last night, and then raced through to his second A-Final of the day, this time against Wayne McGuinnes, who defeated Stevens in the Goldenstates A-Final back in November.

In Top Doorslammer, John Zappia made a massive strike back in his title fight against Russell Taylor, taking the A-Final win over the rookie with a crowd pleasing 5.676 at 407.61kph. Russell meanwhile red lit on the line and then had to get off it after the Camaro SS started turning to the right.

The pair have had a huge rivalry this season, facing off in the last two finals with Taylor taking the win both times – albeit following a stewards’ investigation the last time out when Zappia was disqualified from the victory due to a crew infraction while in full stage.

Zappia had been on-song all weekend, taking out the top qualifying honours before taking a round one solo win and a round two win over Daniel Gregorini to earn his place in the A-Final, with his Monaro likened to a ‘bracket car’ across the weekend thanks to its incredibly consistent times (5.716/5.749/5.744/5.732/5.676).

“The Dananni Hot Shots/FUCHS Monaro was flying all weekend, it was consistent as,” Zappia said.

Australia’s TD racing legend John Zappia was dominating on his home turf track – Perth Motorplex.

Mark Chapman was showing a big return to form, taking the B-Final win over Ronnie Palumbo, who while he went nowhere on the startline with a launching problem, has regained confidence at the wheel across this weekend with a 5.914 and 5.918 during racing today.

Maurice Brennan took the C-Final win from debutant Andrew Cole in his first five second pass (5.925) with his new converter (his third in total), while Cole took out some timing blocks in another wild ride down the strip. Lisa Gregorini won the D-Final over Frank Taylor which was incredibly welcome after chipping away at problems across the weekend. Daniel Gregorini did not take part in the finals after grappling with electrical issues all weekend long.

Also taking to the track with plenty of enthralling performances today were the Aeroflow National Sportsman Championship competitors.

Taking out the victories were Cooper Plummer (Junior Dragster), Cameron Lockett (Super Street), Paul Nieuwhof (Modified Bike), Kathy Regan (Super Sedan), Paul Garbellini (Modified), Jason Lippi (Top Sportsman), Kasey McClure (Supercharged Outlaws), Michael Holister (Competition Bike), Errol Quartermaine (Super Stock) and Connor McClure (Competition).

Claiming the runner-up honours were Luca Lamattina (Junior Dragster), Chris De Bruin (Super Street), Paul De Klerk (Modified Bike), Nicholas Puglia (Super Sedan), Neil Gannaway (Modified), Geoff Chaisty (Top Sportsman), Norbert Claite (Supercharged Outlaws), Chris Allen (Competition Bike), Steve Norman (Super Stock) and Steve Martin (Competition).

Posted by Bruce Biegler & Jigsaw Communication

Photos courtesy of NDRC – Cackling Pipes