IT IS that time of year again – the race that stops a nation kicks off in less than a week. That’s right, Street Machine Drag Challenge is on again, so lets check out the form of the front runners.
Drag Challenge attracts the quickest genuine street cars in the land and this year we’re looking at a bumper crop of seven-second monsters. This year we’re starting in Adelaide before moving on the Mildura, Swan Hill, Portland and then back to Adelaide. It’s a road course that will see almost 150 cars cover more than 1600km and race at five tracks in five days.
There have been a few late scratchings with Mark Sass, David Best, Luke Cartledge and Luke Grima pulling out in the last few days. So who can run the fastest and keep their ride running at its peak for five days? Let's inspect the field.
QUENTIN FEAST: 3:1
After winning Drag Challenge twice Quentin Feast has to near the top of anyone’s list of potential victors. His twin-turbo LH Torana needed a full rebuild after a massive wheel stand in 2016, but it’s back in action and in recent testing the fast-talking Victorian went 7.75@177mph at Calder Park. With a history of laying down solid numbers on just about any track surface, Quentin knows it’s not necessarily the quickest car that wins Drag Challenge. Consistency, reliability and a never-say-die attitude are just as important as outright speed.
ADAM ROGASH: 4:1
Last year’s runner-up, Adam Rogash has nailed his Drag Challenge 2017 preparation and he would be ranked favourite except for the fact that his wife Kelly is due to give birth this week! With a new bub on the way, Adam may need to leave the event at any moment. Adam has a back-up driver sorted, but with ALLSHOW running 7.75@182mph, his steed will need a solid hand at the wheel to get the best out of it.
BUBBA MEDLYN: 4:1
After winning Drag Challenge 2016 Bubba Medlyn should be ranked pretty highly. With a fresh rebuild almost complete, Bubba wants to go two for two. The fact that the car isn’t quite finished is some cause for concern but they were in the same boat 12 months ago. The VH was tuned on the way to the track and then ran the quickest pass of the day; so don’t count the All Race team out of the running unless you see the rods out of the block.
HARRY HAIG 5:1
Harry Haig is one of the most determined guys you will ever meet - and very experienced at this type of event. He’s raced at Hot Rod Drag Week three times and has run at every Drag Challenge - and only failed to finish once because the engine gave up after 40kms with no oil pressure. Harry is the sort of guy who will blow a hole through the sump, then patch it up and keep going. The HQ may look like a nag, but the fact that it has just gone 7.78@183mph with a fresh twin-turbo 540ci combo means that Harry has to be worth a few bob.
MARK DREW 5:1
Never discount Mark Drew; the Geelong native finished third outright at Drag Challenge 2016 in his home-brewed weapon. A recent crash at Calder Park has giving his rating a knock but given that he’s already got the Crusty Torana back on the road proves that he is a forced to be reckoned with. Watch the in-car footage of the crash and you will see that he’s cool under pressure. Mark has run into the sevens with his twin turbo Torana and has plenty of experience on less-than optimum track surfaces. He’ll be a stayer – you can bet on it.
JARROD WOOD 10:1
We haven’t seen much of Jarrod Wood since last year and that lack of form in the lead up to the big event means he’s an outside chance to win. But don’t dismiss him out of hand - his 600-cube big block Holden tonner is the fastest car in Drag Challenge history. Jarrod was the only entrant to run sevens at two different tracks last year and if he can improve on his consistency he will be a force to be reckons with come day five.
LUKE FOLEY 12:1
Luke Foley has just made some big changes to his twin-turbo VH Commodore in the pursuit of horsepower. After years of running with a water-to-air intercooler Luke has gone for an air-to-air unit, as well as bigger turbos and a billet Plazmaman intake. The car has run a best of 8.4@163mph in its previous guise - and proven itself to be a reliable street and strip combo. A recent incident with a tow vehicle forced Luke to drive the car from just south of Coober Pedy all the way back to Melbourne. How many low eight-second cars can do that?
BRENDAN CHERRY 16:1
After just finishing outside the top five last year, you’ve got to figure Brendan Cherry has some kind of chance at winning Drag Challenge. He’s sold his beloved HQ Monaro and bought himself a big block-powered HK that is now packing a pair of turbos and making plenty of power. Recently the Monaro went 8.9 on just 10psi boost at Calder Raceway and the guys are looking to turn it up. However, the boys are hampered by a small tyre, which will that will limit the chance of an outright victory. However if the main players fall by the roadside there’s a chance that Brendan can pull off a Bradbury and take the win. A close second place at King of the Streets recently also speaks to the car's potential.
PAUL HAMILTON 25:1
With almost zero road miles and no track time at all it’s hard to figure the Tasmanian farmer’s odds. The new 2000hp twin turbo set up is a totally unproven combination and Paul isn't going out there to win. However, he also has Zoran and guys from Competition Engines giving him a hand - and they have plenty of experience in making street cars run hard. If they get the 601-cubic inch Falcon sorted during the week, look for a big finish.
ROD BORN 30:1
Coming all the way from Queensland, Rod Born has put this twin-turbo Torana together with the help of some premium northern workshops and good mate Jamie Farmer. Running a twin turbo SB2-headed small block, this Torana has got some serious gear and looks ready to party. On the track the guys are running methanol for the best performance but they’ll switch the MS3 Pro over street fuel for the big drives from track to track. Rod can’t take the time off work himself so Jamie will be doing the driving duties at Drag Challenge. There’s not a lot of information about the car right now, so it is a bit of an unknown quantity but it certainly looks the goods so we’ll rank it as an outsider.
TURBO TAXI 1000:1
Turbo Taxi might have a new LPG-spec Barra motor sporting ARP head studs and a Cometic head gasket but the only way it’s going to win is if everyone breaks down. Scotty just put the new motor in last week and there hasn’t been time to add the second set of injectors yet, but the Taxi will be ready to race. We’re keen to see how much of the difference the new TCE converter has made and we know Scotty will be looking for that elusive 11-second pass. At the moment the best ET is 12.0009@121mph and if the Taxi goes deep into the 11s look out – ‘cause Scotty might crank up the boost and risk it all for a 10-second timeslip.
Of course, there will be a least a few dark horses that will show up on Monday and be a chance for an outright podium finish or a class win. And then there is the battle for K&N Dial-Your-Own, which is always an epic struggle. Plenty to bet on!
Good luck to all our entrants with their last-minute preparations and a big thanks to our class sponsors who make all of this possible: Haltech (Radial Blown), Turbosmart (Outlaw Blown), Pacemaker Headers (Radial Aspirated), K&N Filters (DYO) and Tuff Mounts (Outlaw Aspirated).
And welcome to SP Tools, who are presenting our epic live stream of all the action over five days!