FOR most of the spectators that rocked up at Sydney Dragway for the World Fuel Altered Challenge, this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see some of the most legendary cars to ever run down the quarter-mile. Admittedly, being Fuel Altereds, they usually travel a bit further than 400m as they squirrel and squirm their way to the finish line on short wheelbases and nitro-burning blown Hemis — but that’s what make them so much fun to watch — you never know which way they’re going to go! With passes in the low sixes at almost 250mph passes, they’re not just there for show either.
With a massive field of Vintage Gas cars plus, Wild Bunch, Street Machine and Pro Extreme classes, there was plenty of other racing to keep the fans interested between rounds. Unfortunately, rain put an end to proceedings a little earlier than planned, but everyone still had a blast and will no doubt be talking about it for years to come.
Wheels up launches are what it’s all about with the gassers. It might not be the fastest way down the track, but it sure looks cool!
Arguably the most famous fuel altered ever, right up there with Winged Express, is Rich Guasco’s Pure Hell. It suffered transmission gremlins on the second pass, but that didn’t stop the crowd loving every second they got to hear and see it run.
Steve Costa definitely won the wheelie competition with his Blaster ’57 Chev. On his first pass he got off the throttle, which then made the car come down hard before bouncing up as Steve nailed it for an impressive double-wheelie!
Paul Schembri’s ’58 Vauxhall Velox may have been one of the slower gassers in the class, but it was one of the most stylish with its metalflake gold panel paint and blown 292 Y-block.
One of the wildest and best looking gassers at the WFAC was Bridger Frankland’s FB wagon, which now sports some era-correct signwriting. It put on a great show and took out his class.
After coming down from this wheelie, Stephen Biggs’s ’56 Chevy gasser developed a bit of a wheel alignment problem thanks to a bent axle. A bit of persuasion with a bottle jack and some chains, and she was good to go a couple hours later.
The Fuel Altered Challenge was fought out amongst three countries, the Aussies, Kiwis Yanks.
High Heaven was a beautifully presented car and the only Fuel Altered at the event sporting a big-block Chev instead of a Hemi.
Shane Olive was piloting Psycho III and doing a great job of it. It’s a beautiful recreation of the original and looked right at home amongst the legendary US altered.
Randy Bradford is one of the originals, racing altereds throughout the late-60s. The Fiat Topolino-bodied machine looks as good as it goes.
Ron Hope’s Rat Trap is one of the most-travelled drag cars in history, but its first trip to Australia didn’t go quite as planned. It all went well in testing on Friday, but race day proved a struggle with a couple or rods deciding they’d had enough.
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One of the wildest looking Wild Bunch cars is Mick Sutton’s XL Falcon.
Without doubt one of the most gorgeous looking cars to ever hit an Aussie dragstrip is the Murina Brothers Corvette. It was racing in the new Pro Extreme class that will mix blown and turbo cars along the lines of Pro Mod in the US.
Greg Tsakiridis from Mauler Racing is one of the driving forces behind the Pro Extreme class. Cars like his twin-turbo Proline-powered Mustang is something the crowds are itching to see more of.
John Rice’s T roadster is named “American Graffiti” and is about as nostalgic as you can get with a drag racing history dating back to the late-60s. With an injected 327 Chev up front, the car wheelstands its way to low-9s, but has run as quick as 8.90 at 150mph! That’s one hell of a brave man.
It was great to see Benny Gatt doing what he does best in his famous XA coupe.
If there was a prize for prettiest gasser, I would give it to Ash Hayley’s ’55 Chevy, even if it can’t do a wheelie. With its full steel body and glass screens, it could probably go on a diet, but still manages to run into the eights.
GT Norris brought his Pist ’n’ Broke Henry J gasser across from New Zealand to join in the fun. He’s been racing it for 34 years in three different countries after having purchased the car while he was living in Bakersfield. He took it back to NZ with him and now it’s race in Oz. It has run a best of 9.99@132mph with 440 Chrysler power.
The stunning custom made trophy will have to go back into the cabinet for now. With the weather halting the event early, it means there’s still unfinished business. Will we see the Yanks and Kiwis come back to fight it out again? We hope so!
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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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