I N MY opinion, Factory Xtreme Sport Compact racing is one of the most exciting categories of drag racing out there at the moment Ė almost as exciting as Pro Slammer. The benchmark in the category, New Zealandís Rod Harvey, is a close friend of the Bray family and is based at our workshop in Brisbane. Rod has run a 5.90 Ė at 254mph, believe it or not Ė which is a truly world-class time. And some of the cars from the Middle East Ė which are much lighter than what we have in Australia and have an intense testing regime Ė have run in the 5.60s.
Ben took his new Factory Xtreme turbo six Toyota Solara out to Willowbank Raceway recently and went from a 7.20 to a 6.70, which is pretty amazing considering he was having trouble getting any consistency out of the car. Up until then, while testing, he would go from a 7.60, which is slow for that class, to a 7.50 and a 7.40 after making minor changes to the car and set-up. Then he made a major change to the converter, and bang Ė it just took off and took half a second off the time. It has given the team a direction to head in looking for more performance. He has some converter stators coming from the US and has plans for more testing once they arrive.
There is still a long way to go before Ben will be really happy with where heís at, but he really enjoys driving a turbo car and the more experience he gets with the tune-up the more headway he will make. I think, all things considered, Benny would be happy to run under six seconds. He loves Sport Compact racing, as well as his Slammer, and I reckon if it were up to him he would be the first in line to put a turbo on a Doorslammer.
Iím not privy to all the details, but Iím hearing there are a lot of Australians heading over to Orlando, Florida, where they have the biggest Sport Compact meeting in the world sometime in November. The Pac Performance boys went there in 2017 with their Mazda rotary, did great, and were a real hit with the US fans. Benny would love to go, but he knows there is not much point unless you can really compete with them.
Something Iíve been meaning to talk about for some time is the NHRA four-wide racing, which had its Las Vegas debut in April at the NHRA Nationals meeting. This new meeting joins the Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte, which has been part of the season schedule since 2010. Itís certainly something different; after all, drag racing has been around since the 1950s and not much has changed since then. We were over in Las Vegas last year, and they had a good crowd, but not a great crowd. So it was only a matter t of time e before they had a go at running four cars at once. Where better than Vegas to run a four-wide event? Like the Charlotte track,k, the Vegas venue was designed from the startrt with four-lane racing in mind.
Apparently, the event was a sellout. Thatís great, and sends a message that fans are looking for different experiences. I canít imagine what it would be like see and hear four fuel cars or funny cars racing side-by-side. I think what the NHRA is trying to do is promote the spectacular nature of drag racing to diehard fans and newcomers, because no matter how great the racing is, fans donít want to see the same stuff over and over again.
So Iím definitely gonna put a four-wide meeting on my bucket list. That said, the drivers donít seem to speak too highly of it. I think itís a lot harder to leave the startline, as youíre waiting for all four cars to back up and get ready to race. Waiting for two cars is hard enough at times.
Jet Cars made their first east-coast appearance in a long time at Willowbank in April. From all reports the crowd numbers were disappointing on the night, which was surprising. I think people are looking for variety, and things like Graeme Cowinís Outlaw Nitro Funny Cars show, plus the wheelstanders, fit that bill perfectly. The cars have all sorts of names like Superbad, Letís Boogie and The Bandit, which adds glitz, glamour and a great spectacle.
Good news for all Aussie race fans was the first meeting at The Bend Motorsport Park about an hour from Adelaide. The Shahin family have built an amazing facility; Iíve followed the construction of the track closely. They are obviously real revheads and have paid great attention to detail. The layout is racer-friendly and the drag racers Iíve talked to are really keen to get o g down there. Not sure when that will be, but I wouldnít mind guessing that talks are happening already.
The word out of Darwin is disappointing, with the traditional mid-winter 400 Thunder Nitro Up North meeting not going ahead. Basically, in Pro Slammer up there you have two types of competitors: the local racers who run there for fun and enjoyment, and the interstaters, who are chasing the 400 Thunder championship. There have been some changes, and Scott MacLean, who was the head of the Hidden Valley Drag Racing Association, is no longer in charge. Scott is very passionate about the sport and a smart local businessman, and at times he would put his hand in his pocket to keep things running and had a fantastic relationship with the Northern Territory government. I donít want to get involved in the local politics Ė itís not my place Ė but I do know that drag racing needs more people like Scotty MacLean.
Good news coming out of Moits Racing is that the team are going to continue in Pro Slammer in 2019. The Moits versus John Zappia battle has been a real highlight of this season. John already had data from all the tracks that the series has raced on this year, so itís a credit to the Moits team that with no data they have done so well. I love some of the comments coming out of the team suggesting that when they were running the turbo car it was fun and good, but now theyíve moved to a supercharged car the workload has multiplied tenfold. Welcome to the club, guys!