DRAG Challenge veteran Ben Vlekken stood tall at DCW 2020, with his single-turbo VH Commodore running a pair of high sevens to take out both the Haltech Radial Blown class and the Overall win.
Facing down 129 competitors, Ben had the 3650lb first-gen Commodore running hard from Day One, laying down a 7.80@172mph on only his second pass of the event. He backed this up with a 5.18@141mph on the Warwick short track, once again finishing the day as the quickest DCW entrant on the day.
Watch next: Drag Challenge Weekend 2020 Day One
“We’ve done the past three No Prep events there, so we have a good handle on the tune,” said Ben. “The track there is great, and for some reason this car just works there.”
Come Sunday and Ben was a one-and-done as he cracked out a 7.90@180mph to lock him in as the king of the 275 pressure-fed crew in Haltech Radial Blown – and as the outright winner.
Watch next: Drag Challenge Weekend 2020 Day Two
“We ran the same tune we had in it on Friday, but we have spent a lot of time testing,” Ben explained. “It has gone 7.56@184mph as a PB, and we put a new combo in it since it was last at Drag Challenge.”
Based around a Dart SHP Pro block, the 400ci LS runs a Callies Magnum crank, Oliver rods and Diamond pistons, while a custom hydraulic-roller cam works the valves in Brodix BR3 heads. It drinks pump E85, which is fired by Holley Smart Coils and a Holley Dominator ECU, handling boost from a Garrett GTX55 turbo that blows through a custom water-to-air intercooler. With a Powerglide trans and TCE converter, the grunt hits the tar through a nine-inch packing 3.5 gears and 35-spline axles.
“It doesn’t get hot on the road, and even with the Enderle 110 mechanical fuel pump, it still gets 250-300km to a tank with a trailer,” Ben said. “The most important part for Drag Challenge Weekend was to finish, because we came last year and dropped out, even though the ‘I Survived Drag Challenge’ sticker had this car on it. This year we didn’t swing for the fences and only ran six passes all weekend.”
While 2020 delivered brutal heat and challenging road legs, the wagon took it all in its stride, as did Ben. “It seems easy enough to drive on the road legs,” he reckoned. “While I’d like to keep upgrading parts of the car, we’re too scared to upgrade anything in case it hurts the consistency! I like running Kenda, but it is still a true street car, having done 19,000km in three years.”
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Street Machine is the bible of Aussie modified auto culture, celebrating wild muscle cars, customs and hot rods – and the incredible humans who create them.
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