ALON VELLA

1971 FORD CAPRI

ALON Vella’s mental aspo Capri once again proved untouchable, taking out his third successive Pacemaker Radial Aspirated win. Al also placed an impressive eighth overall, yet it was no walk in the park. “It’s good to win three years in a row, but we worked hard and had a lot of issues,” he says.

Now to get your noggin around what goes into an eight-second aspo 450ci donk, have a gander at Mill Of The Month in last month’s issue. “It’s pretty much the same combo as last year, built by Damian and Mick at BG Engines,” Al explains. “We’ve been teamed up for three years now. This time I ran the twin Dominator 1150s, upped to a 7200rpm SDE stally behind the C4 and dropped the nine-inch diff gears from 4.33s to 4.11s.”

For better driveability, Damian turned down the donk’s 960hp.

“We were determined to win,” Al says, “but we were up against it. The converter had shit itself in testing, which meant we couldn’t test again before Drag Challenge. So the car was well off the consistent 8.70s we’d been running all year. The plan was to knock it out of the park on the very first pass; instead we ended up doing six passes with the car still not running right.”

After two days of nine-second passes, Al finally cracked the eights at Swan Hill, running his DC17 PB of 8.95@150mph.

Then on the way to Portland, rain hit. “We lost the left wiper first, then the right one,” Alon says. “So, it was Rain-X on the outside with anti-fog on the inside, and only one headlight was working. In amongst that we did the Ararat lookout, with the trailer on. Climbed up there with the 7200rpm converter, no problems.”

Yet bigger issues were to come. Al sighs: “300km out of Adelaide we broke a rocker on the exhaust valve, so we replaced that with a spare, larger-ratio rocker.

Then 130km out we did a lifter and were there until 2am fixing it. The camshaft also did a lobe, so we sat on 40km/h the rest of the way. But that’s life, eh? It’s what the challenge is all about.

“We’d hoped to turn it up on the last day if the engine had survived, but it didn’t,” he continues. “On Friday I got out there as quick as I could to run just one pass, then I was done. What a relief! We were very, very lucky to finish.”

What an incredibly impressive feat to limp the Capri into Day Five and still take out top spot in the Pacemaker Radial Aspirated class! And it’s not dampened Al’s spirit one bit. “I’ll be back, 100 per cent,” he says. “It was a really good event, as usual. I have a few plans to change it up next year but I won’t let it out of the bag too early. Our plan is to run 8.50s, so maybe 8.80s on Drag Challenge.

“I have to thank Stephen Micallef from Shift Right for the ’box and being part of team – without him I couldn’t do it; Damian from BG Engines; Ray Edwards for the carbs; Justin from ProWire Performance Wiring; John from SRC; Michael from ICE Ignition, my brother-in-law John Maric and nephew Jake; Adam Hodge for picking up the converter; and my wife Linda for putting up with me.”

1971 FORD CAPRI

Class: Pacemaker Radial Aspirated

SPECS

WI N N E R – PACEMAKER RADI A L AS P IRATED Engine: 450ci Windsor PAC EMAKER RAD IAL ASPI R ATED Induction: 2 x 1150 Dominator carbs Transmission: C4, Gear Vendors overdrive Converter: SDE 7200rpm Diff: 4.11:1 Power: 960hp Previous PB: 8.73@155mph Best Drag Challenge Pass: 8.95@150mph