DOMINIC PELLE arrived at Drag Challenge last year with this elderly, frail-looking HK Holden Kingswood. He’s owned the car for 20 years – buying it from an old bloke near Dural on Sydney’s outskirts for $600 after finding it in The Trading Post – he snuck an LS1 and turbo under the bonnet a couple of years ago.
For this year, the car was carrying another LS, this time an LS2 with a baby cam to help the turbocharger with oh-my-god acceleration.
Like the previous motor – and like his mate Nathan Clarke, whose HG Belmont mirrors Dom’s transplant – the engine is not much more than factory fare.
“We took a look inside and it looked terrific,” Dom says. “It came from a known good car. It was clean inside. We put the cam in and did [pressure wash]!” MoTeC-managed, the turbo is a VS Racing 78/75. “It’s a Chinese thing,” Dom says. Running just 9psi, it’s installed behind the passenger headlight on a set of DIY pipes welded together at home.
Behind the turbo LS is a 2800rpm Accelerator converter, Shift Right-built Powerglide and nine-inch diff with a Truetrac and 3.25 gears. There’s nothing too flash about the rear end in this: the old HK-T-Gs seem to hook up well without much more than fresh dampers.
As he did last year, Dom drove from his home in outer western Sydney and arrived home little more than a day after laying down a grin-inducing 9.99@133mph at Adelaide on the final day. the valve springs. Oh, and we gave it a Gerni
Class: Haltech Radial Blown
Engine: 6.0-litre LS2 Turbo: VS Racing 78/75 Transmission: Powerglide Converter: 2800rpm Diff: 3.25:1 Power: 590rwhp Previous PB: 10.2@135mph Best Drag Challenge Pass: 9.99@133mph 176
THERE are few people who got more bang for their bucks from this year’s Drag Challenge than Nathan Clarke.
Starting with a time-warp pop-spec HG Holden Belmont, he did an LS1 transplant and turbocharger conversion in less than three months with his mate Dominic Pelle in Dom’s shed. Top work! But the real head-shake here is the fact the engine was a junker with water in the sump when Nathan dragged it from a backyard!
After spraying some WD40 into the sparkplug holes, he began working the crank pulley with a breaker bar. “I thought: ‘What the hell am I doing?’” Nathan laughs. But for $300 he had nothing to lose after he blew his first LS1 transplant engine due to a dodgy wastegate spring.
The turbo conversion is something the lads whipped up at home – a Chinese GT45-copy turbo fed from turnedaround VE manifolds with some backyard-built plumbing pressuring to 10psi. The management is a tuned Holden LS1 and the engine has had stiffer valve springs fitted.
The TH350 ’box is the first Nathan has ever built and it takes the twist from a 2800rpm Dominator converter bought second-hand for a box of beer. The rear end is a nine-inch hung on reset leaf springs and a set of $200 shockies.
Nathan drove the car from Sydney, ran a string of 10s – the last a 10.1@137mph from some octane booster in the tank and a lift in boost from 10 to 15psi – and drove home again, laughing the whole way.
“AS JAMIE Farmers ‘Dirty Bird’ Falcon ute wasn’t going to return from the US Drag Week in time, we took his spot on Drag Challenge,” says 22-year-old Dylan McGavigan, a DC first-timer. “So I decided to put an LS in the ’76 Cortina I’d been building, based off of Jamie’s conversion. I picked up a stock VY LS1 for $1500 then added a big cam, took a little off of the heads then pretty much slipped it straight in. It’s all naturally aspirated EFI with the standard manifold. The throttlebody wasn’tgoing DragWeek power, making 350rwhp.”
Not only was this Dylan’s first Drag Challenge, it was his first drag experience, ever. “I’d never raced before, so my first pass was a 14.0,” he says. “Then as the week went on I got a feel for the car and got it down to 12.3@111mph.
“Overall we drove a 5000km round trip from Sydney to Adelaide. We finished it is too close to the radiator so it’s drawing in hot air and that let us down a little bit with missed a beat; we didn’t have to do a thing.”
His debut DC sojourn done and dusted, Dylan’s already looking towards 2018.
“For next year’s DC I’m already getting another combo shipped over from the States,” he says. “It’s a 418ci LS, which should make 525rwhp and get me low 10s or even high nines.” the day beforehand and I took it for a short test-drive before we left on Friday night. We drove straight through and the Cortina never 177