HEY guys! Telfo’s away in Japan for Mooneyes, so I’m sitting in the big chair this month, and with 77 pages of Street Machine Drag Challenge coverage in this bumper 244-page issue, I want to talk about how our epic drag racing adventure started.
When Hot Rod magazine in the States came up with the Drag Week concept back in 2005, I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Driving from track to track and living off the land; it was like the movie Two-Lane Blacktop brought to life.
But then, driving long distances to drag strips and racing has never been a foreign concept to me. Back in the 90s I used to my daily-driver V8 Valiant from Sydney up to the old Performance Street Car Shootouts at Willowbank, as well as to Canberra several times a year to race. I drove and raced wherever I could. In fact it got to the point where I would ask my wife if she wanted to go away for the weekend and she’d reply: “Why, where are they racing?”
For Hot Rod magazine, Drag Week was the natural progression of their Pump Gas Drags, where every car had to drive at least 28 miles, with a mandatory hot shut-off and restart, and then race using sponsor-supplied pump fuel. But the cars got to the point where no one really believed they could actually be driven on the street, and so Drag Week was born.
The first Drag Week event had around 40 competitors, who travelled 1500 miles through six states and five different drag strips. The quickest car was Carl Scott’s red Nova, which ran mideights using a nitrous big-block. After watching the 1320Video DVD of the event, all I could think about was: “How do I get over there and do it myself?” But the numbers never added up. I just couldn’t justify spending that much coin on a bucket-list item like Drag Week.
Then an idea started to form. It would be a hell of a lot cheaper, and just as much fun, to do the event here. So I pulled out a pad and started looking up race dates. I basically worked out that I could do my own epic adventure down the east coast of Australia and across to Adelaide.
I even talked to a few people about it, but the general consensus was that it couldn’t happen here in Oz, so my scheme stayed on the notepad for a long time.
But one day we were kicking around cool ideas in the office, and I said: “Why don’t we do our own Drag Week?” Telfo basically replied: “Work out a route, and what it’s going to cost us.”
And that’s how the Street Machine Drag Challenge started in 2014.
That year we only got 17 people to sign up, and I convinced Chrysler to lend me a 300C SRT8 to make 18 cars. It really was a toe-in-the-water exercise to see if we could pull it off, and while we only ended up doing 1000km and three tracks after Sydney was rained out, we had a lot of fun.
At the time a couple of guys who had done both events said: “This was great, but it’s not really Drag Week.” I never really understood what they meant until I went to the US this year and saw Drag Week first-hand. The event is brutal, even just to follow. Our daily schedule would be film, drive, edit, sleep – then repeat for five days. We were exhausted – but it was the best time ever!
Armed with this new perspective, I knew we had to up the ante for Drag Challenge this year.
More kilometres, less freeway driving, tougher time schedules and more tracks. Everyone who took part this year was left in no doubt that it was a much tougher event, but we all still had a blast. I reckon we nailed it.
We’re already looking at the plan for next year and we expect that we’ll have 100 cars or more, so if you want to learn more, flick us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. s