WILL be straight-up with you, dear reader: when it comes to the inevitable question of where my automotive allegiances lie, I’m a member of the Blue Oval brigade. Now that you possess that little knowledge nugget, you can be assured that when I say: “Holden Nats was bloody awesome!” I mean, it was bloody awesome!
The DTM Automatics Holden Nationals is the brainchild of well-known Victorian racer Todd Foley, who started the event in 2016 for the simplest of reasons. “I just wanted to race with a bunch of mates who had Holden V8s,” Todd says. “The only classes we had that first year were Holden and Outlaw, and we had 60 entrants.”
The formula was a success, and by the time Holden Nats 2017 rolled around, there were many more wanting to be involved.
Watch the video: Highlights from the 2018 Holden Nationals
“I changed to an LS and crashed my car at Drag Challenge, so I had a lot more downtime to plan the second event,” Todd recalls. “I really enjoyed organising sponsors and chatting to all the different people from all over Australia who were coming down. This year, Russell Clarke [Heathcote Park Raceway’s owner] pretty much let me have free rein over the event – all he really had to do was turn the clocks on! I handled all the entrants, the sponsors, the bookkeeping, and the merch and artwork teams. We capped it at 150 entrants and hit that quota four months before the event!”
Todd also ran a working bee on the weekend prior, where he and a couple of volunteers tidied up the facility, including mowing the lawns and replacing any blown globes around the track and pits.
Read more: 2017 HD/HR Holden Nationals, Canberra
All that hard yakka and careful planning paid off with an event that ran like clockwork. In fact, it ran so smoothly that even with a bingle and a couple of oil-downs on the Saturday, the show was still bang on schedule at the end of the night.
Key to Todd’s smooth operation of the event was the class breakdown and the Dial-Your-Own rules used. Entrants were separated by engine configuration into four classes: Holden N/A, Holden Boosted, LS Boosted and Outlaw. Everyone got three qualifying passes then it was straight into eliminations, and most class winners ended up with four or five race wins to make it to the final.
Most of the cars entered wore the iconic lion badge, and almost every model of Aussie Holden was represented by at least a couple of eager owners. Despite the prevalence of turbo LS motors in the drag scene, they were far from the overwhelming majority – Holden Nats was still ruled by the Aussie V8.
As expected, Victorians made up the majority of the field, but there was a lot of interest from interstate racers too – entrants and spectators travelled from all over SA, NSW and FNQ. Among the banana-bender contingent was the team from JW Automotive in Ormiston, who were supporting a couple of customer cars, including Troy Wyton’s ballistic RB30-powered LC four-door and George Josevski’s VL. Jamie Farmer made the trek from Toowoomba to punt his well-travelled turbo-LS XH Falcon ute down the Heathcote quarter, and he sponsored the Outlaw class through his Enemies Everywhere racing parts company.
Cool air and a good track saw many competitors ring up new PBs, from Wayne Roberts’s 12.6 in his aspo 202 LJ to Matt Loy’s rip-snorting 7.70 in his Torana race car. But it wasn’t all sunshine and puppies – Nathan Robertson suffered a major crash on Friday night that’s put the racing career of his SBC-powered Gemini on hold for a while.
After Saturday night’s racing was done, a bunch of prizes were handed out to class winners and other achievers and the event banner was auctioned on eBay. The winning bid of $1510 was donated to Barwon Health’s Bricks 4 Kids charity, which is campaigning to raise money for a new children’s treatment centre.
Todd and co. are already preparing for Holden Nats 2019, possibly with a touch more room in the entrant list and a Grand Champion knockout round. What’s more, due to popular demand, they’ve expanded the franchise to include the Ford-Powered Nationals, which is set down for Heathcote on 22 September. That sounds right up my alley!
WINNERS AND GRINNERS
MCE COMPETITION ENGINES HOLDEN N/A CLASS
Ricky Andrew - VK Commodore, Holden V8
Chris Tatchell - LH Torana, Holden V8
PAUL ROGERS PERFORMANCE TRANSMISSIONS HOLDEN BOOSTED CLASS
Troy Muehllechner - VN Commodore, Turbo V6
Tony Lamana - VS Caprice, Turbo Holden V8
ENEMIES EVERYWHERE OUTLAW CLASS
Travis Miller - HZ Premier, LS
Tass Prem - HZ Premier, SBC
TUFF MOUNTS BOOSTED LS CLASS
Luke Foley - VH Commodore
Chris Thompson - VF Director
Matt Loy, 7.70@191
FASTEST N/A HOLDEN PASS
Jason Hiles, 9.17@147
FASTEST BOOSTED HOLDEN PASS
Tony Webb, 8.27@160
LONGEST DISTANCE TRAVELLED
Robert Valastro, 2500km
Nathan Robertson - Holden Gemini
MARSHALL SPEED SHOP FASTEST RADIAL 275
Adam Rogash - VK Commodore
DTM TRANSMISSIONS BEST REACTION TIME
Luke Foley - VH Commodore
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE 2018 HOLDEN NATIONALS:
1. Adam Rogash had the ALLSHOW VK hooking up a treat and rattled off a string of 7.9-second passes
2. Young gun Matt Loy piloted his mean red Torry to a very loud 7.70@191mph PB, the fastest pass of the 2018 Holden Nats. Beneath the Holden sheet-metal, there’s a full-chassis race car, powered by a 555-cube Chevrolet big-block wearing a Littlefield 14/71 high-helix blower and methanol injectors in the hat and ports. “We use the MSD Power Grid system to retard timing at the launch if the track’s not quite there, but still have it all at the top end,” Matt explained
Watch the video: Matt's seven-second 1700hp Torana
3. Travis Pigdon from JETT Fabrication & Performance was spinning spanners on this understated HG ute for its owner Marcus Hehir at its track debut. The patina hides an RB25 wearing a GT42 for more than decoration, and a transbraked FTI Powerglide from the guys at DTM. Thirty psi of boost helps the RB develop 400rwkw and pushed it to a 10.67@139mph
4. Tony Webb’s LJ Torana, dubbed CULPRIT, had gone 8.42@171mph with its old set-up – a built VT HSV-spec Holden with rearmounted 84mm BorgWarner turbo – but it’s running even better now, with a 355-cube Torque-Power Little Paw block with custom Higgins heads. “On our first test at Willowbank with this new motor, we went 8.20@166mph, and we can still double the boost that we’re running,” Tony said. The LJ was the fastest Holdenpowered car at the Nats, running 8.23@170mph, still on low boost
5. Chris McDonald is creeping up on the 383ci small-block Chev combo in his HSV GTO, having recently converted to twin turbos from the previous single. Chris ran a best of 8.4 seconds, but look out for more from this one!
6. Wayne Roberts’s two-door LJ was a rare beasty among the sea of tough aspo and boosted eights, thanks to an aspirated 202 and an old-school manual cog-swapper. The straight-six boasts a nine-port head, triple Dellorto sidedraught carbies and ICE fire-starting gear. Backing it up is a Ford singlerail (gasp!) wearing a brass button clutch from Bendigo’s Precision Clutch & Brake, and a few choice bits to prevent the shifter entering the back seat on the old one-two shift
Read more: Wayne's LJ Torana at the Holden Nationals
7. Tony Lamanna bought his VS Caprice with most of the work done, adding the Haltech Elite 2500 ECU and some other tweaks. The donk is a 355ci Holden with COME Racing innards, aided by a Garrett GT42. Backing that is a transbraked Turbo 400. JDI Fab took care of the back, where a 3.57:1 LSD-equipped nine-inch swings off a fourlink, with coil-overs to control the bounce and mini-tubs to handle the fat shoes. Tony ran a PB of 10.43@142mph and came runner-up in the Holden Boosted class
Read more: Tony's 650hp Caprice at the Holden Nationals
8. Troy Wyton’s Torry is a wild street car! “Our first time on the track was last week at Willowbank where it ran 9.80@100mph,” Troy said. “I backed off at half-track because it doesn’t have a ’cage!” The motor consists of an RB30 bottom-end, an RB25 head and GT35 turbo. On E85, the car has made 768rwhp. “JW Automotive did the piping, tuning and specced it all up,” said Troy, who was stoked to rattle off a 8.84-second pass on 235 radials at Heathcote
9. Event organiser Todd Foley handed the driving duties to his brother Luke and was rewarded with a win in the Boosted LS class. Luke also nailed the best reaction time of the meeting and set a new PB for the car! Namely, an 8.90@158mph. While Todd used to run boosted Holden power, the VH now runs a Magnuson-blown L98
Watch the video: Todd's supercharged VH Commodore on the dyno
10. Rino Smil is justifiably proud of his 1968 HK Prem. “I bought the car in Coffs Harbour about three years ago; it was painted and in full grandpa-spec, but I took the overriders and sun visor off and put all the running gear in it,” he said. “I love the colour; you don’t see too many Tennyson Turquoise cars getting around.” Under the bonnet is an angry 580hp, 355-cube Holden motor assembled by Wayne Cartledge at Race Comp Motorsports. It’s backed up by a fully manualised TH350 with a 3500 stall, running back to a 4.3-geared nineinch. The big girl runs standard leaf-spring rear suspension at the moment, but Rino plans to invest in a set of slapper bars to tackle the HK’s tendency to twist up and lift the front-left wheel as it leaves the line. “I get it out most weekends and cruise up to Melbourne or down the coast with the missus and the kids,” Rino said
Read more: Rino's HK Prem at the 2018 Holden Nationals
11. John Kalantzis made the trek over from SA with his family to have a bit of fun at Holden Nats in his HK two-door. The red machine runs an owner-built 308, TH400 and nine-inch combo that’s run 11.6s and helped John make it to the semis
12. Matt Dowdle bought this VN SS when he was just 19 and it was his daily for several years. After it was retired to weekend duties, he decided to give it a freshen up, and you know what that means! Yep, it’s now rocking a 355 stroker breathing in extra air from a Garret GT35/82 turbo that’s been good enough to run a 10.46@146mph. Trans is a TH400 and the diff is the stock 3.08 Borgy unit
13. Scott Foreman’s VB is wrapped around a nasty engine combo – a 370ci SBC pressurised by an F-1R ProCharger and fed a methonly diet by a Ron’s mechanical injection system flowed by Ken Lowe. The engine’s all quality off-the-shelf gear: AFR 245 heads, Dart Little M block, Scat crank, Callies Ultra rods and Probe slugs. The quintessential Powerglide and nine-inch combo round out a package that’s run as quick as 8.61!
14. When this VK Calais came into Lucas Ellingham’s life, it was owned by one of his customers, who eventually sold it to Lucas when the project became too much for him. Lucas rebuilt the car and has turned it into quite a weapon – he laid down an 8.90 at Heathcote. Under the bonnet lives a meth-fed 355 Holden wearing a pair of GT35s pushing around 1100hp through a ’Glide and nine-inch
15. Goran Cagorski’s genuine SV89 packs a bit more punch and quite a bit more speed than when it left HSV last century. Power comes from a Race Comp Motorsports 355 managed by a Haltech and tuned by Precision Autotech. There’s a built Trimatic for shifting duties and 4.11s bolted to a Truetrac centre to get the power out to the 235 slicks. “It’s doing consistent 11.1s, but it’s the car’s second meeting, so it’s still loosening up a bit,” Goran said. “I’m really just having some fun!”
16. Kevin O’Neill’s FE is a tough little beast, with a best of 11.35 seconds. It runs a 350/350 combo with a Trutrac 9in and 235 ET Streets. Kev and his mate Scott McKenzie (who has a similarly-quick FE) are both entered in Drag Challenge 2018
17. Last year’s Drag Challenge runner-up Mark Drew was testing out a new methanol set-up on his crusty twin-turbo LS-powered seven-second Torana. A couple of weeks later, Mark ran a new PB of 7.74 seconds at Swan Hill
18. It took Joel Duynhoven and his mates just eight weeks to put this HT budget build together. The Kinger is now sporting an all-iron 502 Chev and a pair of Chinese turbos to help it get down the track to the tune of 11.1 seconds, which is “good enough to have fun”, according to Joel
19. Blake Evans and his stunning LC (SM, September 2016) once again made the trek from Adelaide for the Holden Nats and were rewarded with a new PB of 9.84@134mph. Rather than beat up on the LC, Blake has entered a VL in Drag Challenge this year
20. South Aussie Ian ‘Suggo’ Suggett ran a new 10.9-second PB in his stealthy VL. With its nudge bar, driving lights and other grandfatherly accoutrements, it looks like it belongs in the RSL carpark, not screaming down the quarter. Under the bonnet is a built RB30, backed by a manualised Jatco four-speed auto