WILD AT HEART

Street Machine - - Wild At Heart - VIC­TOR BRAY

HID­DEN Val­ley Race­way in Dar­win hosted the first round of the 20162017 Pro Slam­mer cham­pi­onship sea­son, and it was a real cracker. There were 16 cars en­tered, which was a fan­tas­tic re­sult, and I’m hop­ing that a lot of the in­ter­state guys that turned up will start trav­el­ling to the other tracks this sea­son. Any time you get 16 cars turn­ing up for a meet­ing for eight places you’re guar­an­teed some sur­prises, and that’s the way it played out.

This year is shap­ing up to be the first mul­ticar cham­pi­onship chase the cat­e­gory has seen in a long time. Let’s not take any­thing away from Zap, but it’s look­ing like the most open ti­tle bat­tle in over a decade. Gary Phillips has thrown down the gaunt­let by win­ning the first round. With last year’s cham­pion Mark Bel­leri and run­ner-up Ben Bray, as well as the highly fan­cied Grant O’rourke all miss­ing the cut on race day, it re­ally has re­in­forced how much the level of com­pe­ti­tion has in­creased and just how tough it is go­ing to be just to make the field this sea­son, much less win. It’s great to see new names such as Mark Chap­man, Pino Priolo and Kelvin Lyle step­ping up and push­ing more favoured teams out of the top eight – it only makes for a stronger bracket into the fu­ture.

The big­gest news this sea­son has been the Moits fam­ily from Syd­ney com­ing into Doorslam­mer. At Dar­win they qual­i­fied third, ran in the 5.70s, put Zap­pia on the trailer in the semis, and went to the fi­nal at their first at­tempt. A great per­for­mance – well done! They have come into the ranks as diehard turbo boys; they have raced in the States and done very well there. The team is well-funded through their spon­sors Mack trucks, Ko­matsu and their own fam­ily trans­port and de­mo­li­tion busi­ness. They have the best gear, in­clud­ing Jerry Bickel chas­sis and Pro Line en­gines, along with some of the smartest Doorslam­mer rac­ing brains in the world on their side – not to men­tion an ex­cel­lent driver in Paul Mouya­het.

Pro Line Mo­tor­sports out of Ge­or­gia, USA makes some of the best drag race en­gines in the world – it’s all they do. They are fast and pow­er­ful, but come at a price.

As to Moits Rac­ing’s con­nec­tion with Pro Line, their orig­i­nal goal was to get turbo cars into the Doorslam­mer scene here in Aus­tralia. That was never go­ing to hap­pen, and after a vote amongst the cur­rent driv­ers and team own­ers, it didn’t. We’ve been build­ing the bracket with very sta­ble rules for over 20 years and it’s al­ways been based on su­per­charged en­gines. You only have to look at the NHRA to see the dif­fi­culty re­gard­ing par­ity with ni­trous, turbo and blown cars, and we don’t need that crap here in Aus­tralia. It just causes more trou­ble than it’s worth. The truth of the mat­ter is there are enough teams for the turbo guys to start their own bracket, some­thing I’ve been ad­vo­cat­ing for some time now. The fact Moits com­mit­ted to a le­gal Doorslam­mer com­bi­na­tion shows the de­ter­mi­na­tion these guys have to com­pete in a truly world-class com­pet­i­tive bracket here in Aus­tralia.

Pro Line built mainly Chev-based wedge-con­fig­u­ra­tion en­gines, as they were pre­ferred for the turbo pro­gram; in fact over the past three or four years the quick­est cars and record runs made by turbo cars in Amer­ica have come out of the Pro Line work­shop. But now Pro Line fo­cuses on the Hemi en­gines for su­per­charged ap­pli­ca­tions.

So why don’t I run Pro Line en­gines? The an­swer is sim­ple. Firstly, we carry two en­gines per car, so hav­ing four en­gines on hand would burn up too much of our bud­get. Ru­mours are you wouldn’t get much change out of AU$150,000 for a com­plete top-line Pro Line combo. Sec­ondly, one of the big at­trac­tions to me and Ben, as well as many teams, is that we want to run our own en­gine pro­gram.

IT’S GREAT TO SEE NEW NAMES SUCH AS MARK CHAP­MAN, PINO PRIOLO AND KELVIN LYLE STEP­PING UP AND PUSH­ING MORE FAVOURED TEAMS OUT OF THE TOP EIGHT

The rea­son Pro Line has been so suc­cess­ful is that the com­pany does a lot of R&D and dyno work and has de­vel­oped a strong, ever-grow­ing cus­tomer base that they are able to draw data from. If you had a bud­get big enough, you would be stupid not to go to have a chat with the boys at Pro Line.

The Moits team are busi­ness guys, and they treat rac­ing as a busi­ness. They re­ally un­der­stand the value of friend­ships and de­vel­op­ing strong re­la­tion­ships in their deal­ings with peo­ple and com­pa­nies. They don’t just go in and say: “Here’s my money.” They are into work­ing with their sup­pli­ers and team. They’re a lot more in­volved than just buy­ing parts. They are a great ad­di­tion to the sport and add a whole new di­men­sion to Doorslam­mer.

Dar­win was the sec­ond meet­ing I’ve missed since my op­er­a­tion. At first it didn’t re­ally bother me too much dur­ing my re­cov­ery; Benny’s look­ing after the team and knows what needs to be done, and be­sides, I’m only a phone call away. What I do miss is not just not be­ing there with Ben and the fam­ily, but hang­ing around the other rac­ers and the fans. Usu­ally at race meet­ings you don’t want to spend too much time walk­ing around the pits, but be­ing at home sit­ting in a chair and watch­ing the meet­ing on­line makes you re­alise how much you miss be­ing there. I’ve been to heaps of races over the past 40 years, and I still love the sport.

I touched on it last month, but I’ve gotta say once again that I’ve been over­whelmed by the num­ber of Street Ma­chine read­ers and fans who have been pass­ing on their best wishes. Thank you all very much.

There’s been some talk around what our plans are for the rest of the sea­son. There’s been spec­u­la­tion about run­ning a sec­ond car along­side Benny dur­ing my ab­sence. Now that Dar­win is out of the way, we don’t need to make any de­ci­sion for a while, at least un­til the next round – that looks like be­ing at Syd­ney in Novem­ber. All be­ing well, by around Oc­to­ber I should know where I’m at, and that will be when we sit down with our spon­sors Gulf Western and Cen­tury Bat­ter­ies and de­cide where we want to be head­ing.

Some have sug­gested we could put a well­known racer in the sec­ond car. How­ever, I’ve spent a lot of my time in the sport giv­ing peo­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties to get a foothold, so if there was a young gun out there with the tal­ent who could throw a few dol­lars into the kitty, that would be my pref­er­ence.

The Chap­man broth­ers’ ’59 Ply­mouth Fury is a stun­ner. Mark Chap­man saw off some fan­cied rac­ers to make the field, but was put out by John Zap­pia in the first round

Queens­land vet­eran Gary Phillips got his sea­son off to a great start, tak­ing the out­right win in Pro Slam­mer at Hid­den Val­ley for the sec­ond year in a row

The Moits team made a spec­tac­u­lar de­but in Pro Slam­mer, mak­ing it all the way to the fi­nal

Zap set a new track record for Slam­mers at Nitro Up North, run­ning a 5.69sec pass in qual­i­fy­ing. But a dud spark­plug nixed his chances in the sec­ond round of rac­ing

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