IT’S BEEN a long time coming, but Queenslander Peter Gratz has finally thrown his hat back in the drag racing ring after 17 years on the sidelines. He is set to run an ex-Peter Kapiris Studebaker in Supercharged Outlaws. Peter last campaigned a Dodge Daytona in Top Doorslammer, which ran a best of firstname.lastname@example.org at Willowbank in 1999 – a world record speed at the time.
You have to wonder how someone who had been so successful could just disappear from the sport for so many years, but according to Peter it was all about money. “When Valvoline pulled out of drag racing, we lost our main sponsor,” he says. “And we’re not talking big money either; what they kicked in was a pittance compared to what Victor [Bray] would get from Castrol – it was like $30K a year. So, as much as we wanted to continue, the money just wasn’t there to support a winning combination.
“I often thought about making a comeback,” he continues. “When Brett Stevens’s stuff was being sold off I wanted to buy his burnout car and go and race in Supercharged Outlaws, but I guess it never happened. But recently a mate offered me a chrome-moly chassis at a bargain price, and then Paul Shackleton offered me a water-jacketed Hemi that I was going to use.
My tuner Gary Phillips said I’d just blow that deal up, so I sold it and started looking around.”
Deciding not to mess about, Peter bought a new Brad Anderson Hemi with the latest BAE 10 billet heads. That meant redoing the pipes and dry sump that he’d had made for the wet Hemi. Peter then added a Lenco trans and changed the rear end to a 40-spline set-up.
Peter’s mate, legendary alcohol racer Gary Phillips, did the fuel system on the motor and the tune-up. Unfortunately the PSI supercharger that Peter had bought for the deal had an issue; luckily the money was refunded and a brand new PSI D-rotor blower was ordered instead.
The wait time on a new blower is normally 18 months, but after some begging and pleading on Peter’s part, the new item was produced in just four weeks.
“As I’m not going to run the car in Top Doorslammer, I’m not going to zing it as hard, but I am going to run more boost,” Peter explains.
“I don’t want to spruik about what we want to run but I want to go faster than before. If we can get a handle on a 6.50 tune and go from there, I reckon the car can run a 6.0 – as long as I have the balls to drive it! The bottom line is we’ve got to get it down the track; a low six or better is where we are at.
“Unless we pull a big sponsor there will be no budget for taking on Top Doorslammer,” Peter concedes. “This kind of racing gets expensive, and we are only interested in running the car at a good track – Willowbank, Calder if it comes around, Adelaide, those kind of places.”
Stay tuned for more on this one!