DAY One of Summernats Slam at Sydney Dragway started under a cloud, but that only served to push all the assembled racers to have a real crack and turn the action up to 11 on Garrett Advanced Motion Drag Day.While the threat of rain made some nervous, it was a welcome change after brain-melting heat at Street Machine Summernats 33 in Canberra last year.
Photos: Tim McCormack
Some had feared the pre-Christmas Sydney COVID outbreak would kill the event. Andy Lopez and the Summernats team put several tonnes of work into making it COVID-safe. This included adding automated hand-sanitising stations and check-in boards, as well as measures to ensure social distancing. Entrants and attendees seemed to be appreciative and respectful of safety protocols, everyone no doubt just happy to be out at an event again.
Sydney Dragway was looking awesome following $11m worth of upgrades to the track and facilities. Punters on Garrett Drag Day One got to see some of the wildest door and street cars run in anger, including the AC Delco Pro Slammer Monaro, Danny Makdessi’s “Devil’s Taxi” VC Valiant, Greg “Mauler” Tsakiridis’s turbo Mustang, the “JUN II” Skyline R32 GT-R, Stuart Bennett’s Pontiac, and Drag Challenge veteran Ben Neal’s eight-second Barra Cresta.
Under cloudy skies, Mauler brought his ex-Moits twin-turbo Proline-powered Mustang to the line and went 5.76@265mph. “We turned it down and it’s working,” Greg said. “It’s great to be back out racing again and the new track surface is really great. We don’t want to do anything crazy today and we aren’t going to turn it up to 11 to try and run a wild number; we just want to get from A to B.”
Greg and the turbo crew had their hands full later in the day as part of the Turbo vs Blower competition. While we’ve seen the forced induction battle on the dyno at Summernats, these guys were now going toe-to-toe on a race track!
Henry Spicak’s bright yellow ’56 VW Beetle has been a regular at drag strips around Australia since 2000, but his 38-year ownership came to a close after Summernats Slam. The noted drag racer, whose history running air-cooled Dak Daks goes back to the 1970s and Castlereagh, finally sold the 11-second, naturally aspirated, four-speed machine as he has moved into a VF Commodore ute for bracket racing. One of Henry’s yellow Beetles was even featured on the cover of Street Machine back in 1983!
Mark Arblaster fought a misfire in his POR440 Valiant that turned out to be a torched boot on an ignition lead, before the accessory belt snapped on his turbocharged stock-bottom-end alloy 5.3 LS. Bribing the local parts shop, he managed to get another belt and continue his quest for an eight-second slip.
One fella who didn’t need to look too hard for a slip starting with an eight was the Hunter Valley’s Chuck Jifkins, whose Toyota 1JZ-powered VS ute rocked an 8.59 on its first trip down the quarter! The severely lightened commercial runs a Powerglide trans, Ford 8.8 diff and Hilux leaf springs. Chuck wasn’t expecting it to go so fast. “I wanted to work my way down to an eight to match the number plate but I really didn’t expect it to go 8.5 on its first ever pass,” he said.
Another entrant looking to run an eight was Nathan Cowie, whose 800kg, 800hp Suzuki Mighty Boy uses 400 cubes worth of Chevy small-block. Running 106-octane race fuel, the four-barrel-equipped, big-tyre terror had gone 9.000 previously, and backed that up with a 9.31@138mph, then a 9.00@145mph had them knocking on the door of the slip.
Matt Whiting was hunting for a seven with his turbo 427ci LSX-powered VE ute. The 1880kg heavyweight still uses a VE IRS rear end, with a Haltech Elite 2500T ECU, Garrett GTX55 turbo, and bucketloads of E85 to run as quickly as 8.08@172mph on the old Sydney surface. Struggling for traction, Matt spent most of Day One trying to take power out of the combo, having only put a new Hughes Performance TH400 in the ute hours before Summernats Slam started!
Mark Hinchelwood, driving the AC Delco Pro Slammer, took out the win in Extreme class in the most Hardcore Henry way possible. A backfire over the line in round one banged the clutch pedal, snapping his Achillies tendon. In a show of pure grit he then gaff-taped a tyre iron and socket extension to his leg and took down Geoff Gradden’s blown 512ci ’59 Chrysler in round two, before taking the overall win at Summernats Slam when Mauler’s turbo 526ci Mustang fouled-out in the final.
In the final of Sportsman Sean Maher’s 414ci HB Torana took down Salvatore Sabato’s 615ci LH Torana, while Jim Higgs came runner-up to Steven Carlyon’s SS Commodore in Street Fighter class.
Extreme Street came down to Stan Nikitaras’ Windsor-powered Capri against Pat Firriolo’s small-block HQ, with the win going the Blue Oval’s way.
Pro Street legend Mark Hayes got the win in Modified Sportsman class in his monster LC Torana and set a new PB of 6.68@195mph.
Garrett Advanced Motion Drag Day kicked off Summernats Slam in killer style, and the party is only just getting started. Saturday tickets are sold out, which means we’re going to see hotter action than a load of Carolina Reapers tipped in your undies, with more wild drag action, plus sets being pumped down Skid Row, the motorkhana going off again, a packed show 'n' shine, and big cash on offer for the burnouts.
Lock your peepers on Street Machine’s social media channels as we’ll bring you all the action straight from Sydney Dragway!
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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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