WILD AT HEART

THE RETURN TO CALDER PARK IS REALLY IMPORTANT FOR THE SPORT BECAUSE IT IS THE HOME OF THE NATIONALS

VICTOR BRAY

THERE has been plenty of action lately, with the release of the Australian Professional Drag Racing calendar, the return to racing at Calder Park, and some developments on superchargers.

At long last the sport seems to have turned a corner!

ANDRA has come to an arrangement and is talking to the tracks, and it looks like everyone is going to be happy in the long run. For once the future appears very bright and positive. The first good sign – and it is great news – is that we have a 12-round calendar for Group One.

Doorslammer has plenty of racing coming up.

First up is the East Coast Nationals in Sydney, then two rounds at the Perth Motorplex and Calder Park, then it is back to Sydney, before finishing off at the Winternationals.

I’m looking forward to it because it’s a true national calendar and it’s going to be very interesting where it takes us. All up – with the two rounds already completed in Darwin – there will be nine rounds.

New tracks in Adelaide, Swan Hill and Dubbo are getting built to national and international standards. So with Calder Park returning, and the new track in Cairns, there will be so much racing we won’t know what to do with ourselves!

Things are a lot more positive than they’ve been in years, and the racers are starting to feel that way as well. The sport is in a good position to move forward.

The return to Calder Park is really important for the sport because it is the home of the Nationals.

I remember the halcyon days of the Nationals at Calder, when you had around 60,000 spectators, and you were all pitted on the infield.

They had it grassed up, and it was pretty nice. It was such a good layout because everyone was in the centre. That’s the sort of thing we have to aim for again. Each meeting used to go so smoothly, and the crowds were so big and were going berserk because they were so close to the track. Calder Park is a good facility – it just needs a touch-up.

We pretty much bypassed a whole generation in Victoria, so we need to reintroduce them to drag racing – not only the Top Fuel cars but the full range of blown sedans, turbo cars and the sports compact cars. Jamboree is coming down to Melbourne too, and that’s going to get a lot of young people involved in the sport. They will say: “Hey, wow, did you see that Toyota going down there in five seconds?” That’s the sort of thing this younger generation is looking for.

So Calder Park is going to be massive, but there is more work that needs to be done to the surface. They have already done plenty of work there, but until you have high-powered cars thundering down the track, you won’t know how good a job they’ve done. Still, I’m looking forward to the Nationals that’ll be held there next year.

There’s a good feeling that drag racing is on the comeback trail, and Team Bray wants to be part of it. Everyone will be pulling in the one direction and that’s going to be a good thing for the sport.

After two rounds of the ANDRA Top Doorslammer championship, John Zappia leads the title fight, but the pressure will build. He is still the most consistent and he won’t give up his winning streak lightly.

Mark Belleri is driving Maurice Fabietti’s Monaro, Benny’s Corvette is going well, and Grant O’Rourke put some fantastic performances together in Darwin. Peter Kapiris is right in there as well. Zap still dominates, but there will be more cars banging on his door.

Would I ever be brave enough to predict this won’t be John Zappia’s year? No way!

Team Bray has been working hard to prepare for the East Coast Nationals. But basically, our future depends on sponsorship. We need to put major sponsorship together for this year or we will probably only be running selected events. It’s sad to say, but that’s the reality of the situation we find ourselves in. We are battling hard at the moment and we have some fantastic companies we are talking to, so you never know what might come up. Stay tuned. s

THE RETURN TO CALDER PARK IS REALLY IMPORTANT FOR THE SPORT BECAUSE IT IS THE HOME OF THE NATIONALS