On a record breaking weekend for Pro Slammers in Australia, John Zappia has shown he is still the king of performance in the Fuchs Monaro.
Nitro Thunder at Sydney Dragway was a feast of incredible numbers, with a revamped track surface proving it could hold anything thrown at it by the best doorslammers in the country. Personal bests came thick and fast but there was one run that stood out.
Zappia's 5.635 second pass, coming in Saturday’s qualifying session, was the quickest class legal doorslammer pass in the country by half a tenth, an incredible margin in the tightly contested bracket.
“We put more into the tune up as the track measured up better than before and with excellent air conditions off it went,” Zappia said. “The car launched hard carrying the front wheels, I punched the next gear and it moved out of the groove a little bit but I got it back. It really revved up to just before the finish line where it started to misfire and I pushed the clutch in and pulled the chute a little bit early.
“When they told me over the radio it was a 5.63, I had to ask them to repeat. They said, 'FIVE-SIX-THREE.' I was dumbfounded.
“The Crusher was misfiring at the top end and never got the proper speed, but the time card had really good increments early. Our half track time of 3.72 at 205.98mph was our best by a long way. It should have gone 258 or 259mph at the top end, but the misfire knocked 400 rpm off the motor.
“We tried to fix the misfire and thought it might be hitting the rev limiter, so we raised the limit to try to avoid a repeat of the problem.”
The pace was on Zappia's side come the race rounds, but the electrical gremlin would be back to haunt the team.
Matched up against Mark Belleri in the tough ACDelco Holden Monaro for the first round, Zappia needed every bit of performance but the Fuchs Monaro started to misfire really badly as soon as it launched. I pedalled it and it went clean back on eight cylinders and zoomed out the back end going 254mph, but a 5.84 would not be enough to take down Belleri's 5.82.
For the second round Zappia was matched against Rob Taylor. “We thought we would throw more at it on the start line, but the track was hotter and the air got a little worse. We launched with a 0.958 sixty foot and carried the front wheels but veered right towards the wall which required a peddle to straighten the car and continue and run a 5.75 at 252mph which was enough to take the win.
The final round would see Zappia take on Ben Bray. Some changes were made to the suspension and the team loaded a killer set up into the Fuchs Monaro before heading to the staging lanes. The weather would then factor itself into the equation with a brief rain shower making Zappia nervous.
“I decided to back the Crusher off as the track was cooling. It launched with a 0.961 sixty foot, I shifted second, drifted left a little bit and I made a hard turn to get it back into the groove. I short shifted top gear which lost a little bit of momentum and I could see Ben's car alongside me, but by the finish line I could see he had just got me.
“We both drove it out the back door and the motor was screaming, I had never revved it that hard before. Ben won on a holeshot and went 5.70/256 to my 5.65/255 backing up my earlier run of 5.635 and setting a new national record."
Despite being one from three in race rounds, Zappia was pleased with his progress at the Nitro Thunder event.
The new CP-Carrillo pistons and rods and the Total Seal rings came out like brand new after five runs.
“It was a good weekend and we learned a lot. The Hoosier tires in combination with a great track preparation worked really well and this suited a lot of cars."
With other teams figuring out how to go quick and closing the performance gap, Zappia said the Fuchs team still has some Noonan Ultimate Race Engineering horsepower improvements to fine tune.
“It will be an intense competition at the Winternationals in June 8 to 11 and we can’t wait to race at the biggest drag meeting in the southern hemisphere."
Zappia Racing wishes to thank major sponsors Striker Crushing and Screening, Dananni Hotshots, Speedmaster 79, Southside Engine Centre, Noonan Race Engineering, Hoosier, and Appealing Signs, as well as supporting sponsors PPG, K Craft Bullbars, Santhuff, B & J Racing Transmissions, Engel, Crow Cams, Avtrac Maintenance Tracking, SDS Billet, Legend Boatbuilders, Advantage Tyres, Kounis Metal Industries, Bravo Resources, CIC High Performance Coatings, Reid Machine, Final Drive, Motec, CP Carillo, Speed Flow, Biante, Aurora Bearings and Aeromotive.