DESPITE our relatively small population, Australians have a great reputation for doing well in the home of drag racing, the good ol’ United States of America.
The Cowin family, the McGee brothers, Jim Read, Dave Grubnic, Gary Phillips and most recently Richie Crampton have all had success at the highest level in the US. We’ve punched well above our weight in the Pro Street side of things too, including John Faraone at Hot Rod Drag Week and Moit’s Racing with their Pro Mod-style Mustang.
Now there’s another name to add to the ranks of Aussie racers doing well in the States. Queensland Pro Street racer Stuart Henry certainly made some waves when he beat Shawn Ellington’s ‘Murder Nova’ in his Capri in the first round of the Outlaw Streetcar Reunion in Memphis, Tennessee just a few weeks ago.
“To me it wasn’t that big a deal because he was just another competitor,” Stu says. “But the crowd loved it and we got a bit of exposure on the ’net from it. We’d been there since the Wednesday and after a bunch of rain, and even snow, I was just happy to get some racing done. We’d missed out on our testing day; to be honest we were even lucky to qualify for the 32-car field, a lot of guys didn’t. We eventually got a qualifying run on the Saturday night, and they gave us another run on Sunday morning, but I had to back out of it. Then we were up against Shawn in the Murder Nova in the first round.”
For those that don’t know, Shawn Ellington and the Murder Nova are stars of the popular Street Outlaws TV show on the Discovery Channel. The car is fancied as one of the quickest street cars in America and is powered by a twin-turbo big-block Chev.
“To most of the racers, they’re just another car to beat, but to the spectators they are superstars,” Stu says. “They had queues 80 metres long all weekend, with fans lined up just to get photos and autographs.”
After qualifying his nitrous-assisted 615ci big-block Capri 22nd in the 32-car Outlaw 275 field with a 4.75@154mph, Stu faced the 11th-qualified (4.51sec) Murder Nova in the first round. Both cars spun off the line and had to pedal, but Stu recovered quickly and powered past the Nova, which seemed to be struggling for traction. “Shawn was an awesome dude,” Stu says. “He came up and shook my hand afterwards. It was a good race.”
Unfortunately the fairytale didn’t continue for the next round. Stu found himself up against the number-six qualifier Robert Culver and his big-block Chev-powered Mustang. Stu ran an impressive 4.81@153mph, but it wasn’t enough to catch Culver’s 4.48@169mph. “I had to pedal it again, but he was a pretty tough contender and was always going to be tough to beat,” Stu says.
“The Capri is still over there with friends, and I’m hoping to get back over there in September. The plan is to do a few meetings; there’s always something on over there and there’s a lot of little meetings I want to do.”
So how did the Americans respond to the little Capri? “They loved it,” Stu says. “Especially with it being right-hand drive, they were all like: ‘Wow, look at that, he’s on the wrong side!’ But I didn’t hear a negative thing the whole time; they’re so friendly over there.
“I’d like to thank my friends Kevin Neal from Neal Performance Innovations and Mark Menscer from Menscer Motorsports for helping me out, and my girlfriend Morgan for coming over to help as well.”
Click the video from Urban Hillbilly to watch Stu’s Capri in action. The first run is the aborted qualifying run from Sunday morning, followed by the Murder Nova race, and finally the Saturday-night qualifier.
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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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