WHEN you’re talking about Pro Street racing in Australia, you’re more than likely referring to the Australian Pro Street Association; they feature some of the toughest street ’n’ strip machines in the country. There’s just something about steel-bodied cars trying to put massive horsepower down through narrow tyres that gets the blood pumping. Nitrous, turbos, blowers, or all-natural bulk cubic inches – these guys and girls have them all.
It’s some of the best racing around, so it was a little disappointing to see a small crowd and a limited field of racers at the season opener at Calder Park Raceway.
There’s no doubt that Powercruise coupled with the Lights Out event in Sydney on the same weekend drew away a bunch of spectators and some potential entrants, but even so it was probably the smallest APSA meeting we’ve seen in a while.
However, those that did show up to play put on a decent show and everyone seemed happy with the traction. In fact, the track was killer according to some.
“I reckon we’re going to run a seven today,” two-time Drag Challenge winner Quentin Feast said. “We entered Outlaw Radial this weekend. We’re up against the big boys, because we don’t want to keep backing off for the 8.50 index.”
They’d just changed the diff ratio in Quentin’s pink Torana and were looking to crank up the boost slightly to nudge the 275-shod streeter into the seven-second zone.
But as it turned out, the boys ran a best of 8.06@170mph before the pinion stripped around five teeth off the crown wheel in the second round of racing. Not one to stuff about, Quentin has already got it fixed and is looking for that seven-second slip.
Marc Leake looked like the man to beat in Outlaw Radial, with his black Torana running consistent 6.9s at 213mph all day on 10.5-inch Pro Radials. He had some tough competition from Perry Bullivant, who was running low sevens at over 200mph in the new Camaro, and Dom Luppino in the ’67 Mustang. Luppino struggled to get the car down the track consistently, while Bullivant was having ’chute deployment issues; he ended up in the sand trap after the ’chutes failed to work on the first pass of the day.
In the final it was Leake versus Bullivant, and not a person in the crowd would have bet against Marc Leake, but he got out of shape at half-track, allowing Bullivant to storm past for the win.
The other major class of the day in terms of entrant numbers was X275. Tony Webb travelled all the way down from Queensland to teach the southerners a thing or two about small-tyre radial racing. Tony’s Torana wasn’t the quickest car in the field, but with an 8.50 index you don’t have to be quick; you just have to be consistent. His main competition came from Chris Kurumolla in the very tidy RB30-powered VN Commodore, and Mick Voase’s naturally aspirated big-block Torana.
“I’ve only had this Torana for a couple of weeks,” Mick admitted, but he certainly had no trouble on the track, with the 582ci beast running 8.70@155mph during qualifying.
At the end of the day though, it was Webb versus Kurumolla in the battle for the gold. They were neck-and-neck off the line, but the brown sleeper-spec LJ Torana powered away with an 8.88@155mph to the Commodore’s 9.07@151mph.
The victory was a foregone conclusion in the eyes of Tony’s nine-year-old son Connor. “It’s a rocket ship,” he told us with some authority in the pits before the finals.
Of course Outlaw Radial and X275 are relative newcomers to the APSA class structure; back in the day it was all about Pro Street and Modified Street, split between blown and unblown. They were the smaller classes at Calder, probably signifying a shift away from the traditional classes to the newer ‘tyre classes’, but that doesn’t make the racing any less exciting. Unfortunately there were no takers for Mod Street Blown, and only a few cars for Pro Street Unblown, but Pro Street Blown and Mod Street Unblown had a couple of good fights going.
In Mod Street Unblown it was all about Danny Sharban’s Capri and Peter Alexander’s mid-80s Camaro, but in the final Sharban showed a clean set of heels to Alexander with a 7.94@176mph versus 8.90@154mph.
Pro Street Blown saw Mick McGrath’s nitrous big-block LJ Torana up against Craig Munro’s twin-turbo Clubsport and a couple of others. Craig has been slowly
stepping things up with help from Danko at Adicted [sic] Performance, and the combo looked to be working well at Calder. He ran a 7.37@189mph during qualifying to stamp his authority on the field, but Mick McGrath wasn’t far away with a string of mid-sevens. McGrath holeshot Munro to take the win in the third round, and the final was almost a direct replay, when McGrath treed Munro again to score his very first Pro Street Blown win at Calder Park. He ran a 7.64@181mph versus Munro’s quicker 7.52@191mph; the race was won on reaction times at the tree.
“After 20-odd years of racing and seven runner-up trophies, I’ve finally done it,” Mick said with a smile.
It’s those kinds of stories that make Pro Street racing great. They’re the nicest people, they’ve got cars we can all relate to, and it’s some of the toughest drag racing in the country. Round two fires up at Sydney Dragway on 7 April; it should be a cracker. s