SINCE its public release in 1969, the Holden V8 has held a special place in the hearts of most Australians. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Ford fanatic or a Mopar maniac; the fact that we built our own bent-eight should tug at the heartstrings of every patriotic Aussie.
It’s a pretty decent donk too, when you think about it.
There are guys out there making in excess of 1500hp and running high sevens with off-the-assembly-line factory Holden blocks. You couldn’t say the same for many other small-block V8s.
Unfortunately there’s no denying the popularity of the Holden V8 is on the wane, and without a doubt this is due to the easy power found in the LS series of engines. LS swaps have become the new standard for Holden owners, and the poor old Holden V8 has suffered for it.
Don’t go downloading the funeral dirge from iTunes just yet though, because there’s still some life in the old girl, and a small but loyal group of fans have got together to declare their love for the good old Aussie bent-eight.
Todd Foley is one of those fans, and when he suggested that they have a drag day just for Holden engines, there was a resounding group consensus that this would be a good thing. Hence the Holden-Powered Nationals was born.
“The idea was thrown out there on my Facebook page and it had loads of interest, so we contacted Heathcote
Raceway about running an event,” Todd said. “There’s no engine that I can think of that has the cult following the Holden V8 has. They’re all over Australia, and thanks to social media everyone knows each other.”
Admittedly Todd might be a little biased when it comes to the Holden V8. He’s been a staunch supporter of the ‘plastic’ motor, and his VH Commodore runs mid-nines with an MCE-built 383 stroker. He’s even kept the Trimatic transmission and factory-fitted BorgWarner diff as part of the package.
Initially the plan was to keep the event exclusively Holden, but given it was the first time it had been run, it made sense to have an Outlaw bracket for the LS- and Chevy-powered cars.
For everyone else, the choice was Boosted Holden or Naturally Aspirated Holden. To make the numbers up, Holden-based fours, sixes and eights were all in the same brackets; even the RB30-powered VLs got to play. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to work out which bracket you were in – although one bloke did have to be shuffled into the boosted bracket when he started purging nitrous in the Chicago Shootout during the afternoon’s racing.
Some entrants also tried to lay down some numbers during the Friday-night test ’n’ tune, but the track took a fair while to come around. Still, come race day, the extra rubber and a bit of heat from an unusually warm autumn day made for some decent traction, allowing some of the more powerful rides to lay down some impressive numbers.
Top of the heap was Andrew Darby, who has changed from his old twin-turbo 355ci set-up to a new single-turbo combo that sees a massive GT55 hanging from the front of his castiron- headed Holden V8. Andrew admitted he’s also stepped up to a four-bolt block recently after years of using factory two-bolts. “I’ve cracked two blocks in the past year using standard two-bolt caps, so hopefully the new steel four-bolt main caps hold it together,” he said. “Fingers crossed.”
The VK has gone 7.99 at Calder Park, and it wasn’t too far off the pace at Heathcote with an 8.05@179mph.
The next-quickest car was Tony Webb’s CULPRIT Torana.
The 355ci turbo terror has gone 8.41@165mph with an 82mm BorgWarner tucked under the boot floor, but it couldn’t quite match that pace on the day, blacktracking its way to a best of 8.67@165mph. Tony did manage to make it to the finals of the Boosted Holden class though, and he was looking good for the win until red-lighting in the final, handing the victory to Owen Mitchell and his turbo RB30- powered VL Calais.
On the Naturally Aspirated Holden side of the field, the quickest ride was Jason Bjorksten’s LC coupe. The orange Torana was good for low nines, and we saw it go 9.18@150mph during the Chicago Shootout. But in DYO racing it doesn’t matter how quick you are, and Jason missed
out on the final. In the end it was Matt Kernke’s immaculate Monaro up against Andrew Dyson’s workshop Holden tonner. Both cars were running low 11s, but Kernke proved to be more consistent and the silver Monaro powered through for the class win.
That left the Outlaw class to finish things off. Cameron Jones had been running strong all weekend with his LS-powered HT Holden. The front bench seat had to be strapped into place to keep the backrest upright, but the old Holden got gradually quicker every pass, eventually running 10.04@138mph. Not quite the nines he was hoping for, but it was so close that Cameron can smell that single-digit timeslip.
The Oasis Green HT Holden faced off against Ben Threlfall’s small-block Chevy-powered 10-second UC Torana in the final, which saw Cameron taking the gold trophy home.
Todd reckons there will definitely be another event next year, and given the general level of entrant satisfaction with this first go at it, we reckon it’ll be huge. So dig out those old 186s, 202s, 253s and 308s and get them ready; we want to hear those lions roar! s