It took a two week hiatus but the weather gods smiled kindly on the re-run, and Grudge Kings 2K19 was won with a whole truck load of cash handed out to winners.
It was a tough call made by promoter Po Tung to postpone the initial running of Grudge Kings, but ultimately it proved to the be the correct call. So, two weeks later almost everyone was back at Sydney Dragway to try and win a bunch of cash at Australia’s richest drag racing event.
The event is like no other, congregating the countries toughest sedans to race heads up and almost anything goes with a bare bones rule set in true grudge racing style.
Off track there was a mammoth show and shine, trade stands and babe comp bringing some extra glamour to the event between breaks in on-track action, and a healthy crowd rolled in considering it was rescheduled date.
As expected, field numbers were down due to the postponement, with a number interstate and local racers unable justify or just could not make the return date, including last year’s $50K winner Jeremy Martin who was expecting the birth of his child.
This year the $50k Grudge Kings Pro Street bracket was back, but this was also joined by a $50k Pro Mod bracket, plus a bunch of other classes with up to $10k on the line for the win in those.
Kicking off with $50k Pro Street class which was the only one run over the eighth mile, and the field was blown open by last year’s winner ‘Jet’ Martin unable to return, but there were still plenty of strong contenders lining up. However, a dramatic first round dropped upsets from the get go.
With no qualifying in the format, the first round is straight off the trailer, racers drew opponents and lane before racing for their match ups, and first up was Kit Hunter versus Craig Burns. With Burns a strong favourite following a string of 6.0s in testing from his blown Mustang, Hunter would need some luck. As luck would have it for Burn’s it was of the bad kind, the Mustang’s blown motor falling silent going into stage and Hunter took off for an unexpected round one win with a 4.59. Two serious contenders rolled out in the second pairing, Russell Taylor’s wheelstanding Torana has melted the internet with PB runs in testing, and Paul Todarello’s show stopping twin turbo Torana. Taylor still a solid favourite like Burns with strong testing results, suffered a similar fate with the blown Torana shut down after fluid was left on the track following the burnout, leaving Todarello would move on. We would not get a paired pass in the next race either with Danny Makdessi jumping through the beams in his Valiant trying to take on Jeremy Callaghan’s 481X powered Camaro, which would of been tough to beat anyway with a 4.120. Steve Bezzina put his wild XW through to the next round with a 4.64 win over a bunny hopping rotary of Frank Cannistra. Craig Hewitt had left the big shoes off and stayed on the radials for the event with the team happy to keep the blown Monaro a dedicated radial machine, and took an easy win over Darren Hubbard’s blown Holden 4.37 to a 5.98. Wrapping up the first round was Jason Mansweto in the iconic Capri and David Hellyer with the only aspirated car in the field. The sniff of nitrous getting the BBF Capri home with a 4.49 to a 4.57.
In a twin huffer battle, Todarello out ran Hunter 4.31 to a 4.76 to start round two. Callaghan now a firm favourite out gunned Bezzina’s 4.87 with a 4.15 and Craig Hewitt kept a radial car in the game with a 4.35 win over Mansweto’s 4.58. Hewitt was blessed a single into the final but stuck a consistent 4.35 anyway, however would need to find a few more tenths to challenge Callaghan for the final, as he took down Todarello with a 4.14 to a 4.57.
So here we were for the final, blower versus turbo, radial versus slick, the racing had gone further into the evening than planned, and the track was rapidly cooling. At the green Hewitt had a tenth on the tree and both racers blasted clean laps, Callaghan’s Camaro clawed back the difference and hit the stripe first to win the cash by a mere eight thou, 4.11 to 4.23 – event bests for both teams.
Pro Mod $50K was unfortunately missing a few guns with the likes of Barry Plumpton’s nitrous Camaro and Kelly Bettes in the Jett Racing Mustang not returning, but the racing quality more than made up for the missing.
Pro Mod like the rest of brackets left was run over the full distance and on a Chicago Shootout format. In drool-worthy first round match up, Paul Mouhayet drew against Greg ‘Mauler’ Tsakiridis in the former Moits Racing turbo Mustang and the pair did not let the crowd down. Tsakiridis dropped a .021 light on the 400 Thunder Pro Slammer champion but the blown Mustang had rounded up the turbo car quickly before a 272mph top end charge from Tsakiridis pushed ahead for a holeshot 5.63 to 5.61 win. A huge 6.03 PB from Joseph Murina in his Corvette was still no match for Steven Ham’s 5.66, but the crew did not seem to care celebrating the teams best run since buying the former Jeff Wilson doorslammer. Tristan ‘Mincer’ Ockers was subbed in to drive Mick Duggan’s blown Nova and sent it for a 6.36 on a single with Zoran Gajic unable to make the start line in the Gas Racing Mustang.
Mouhayet wasn’t giving up hope of still making the final slamming a 5.63 to 5.85 win over Gajic to start off round two. Tsakiridis went slightly quicker carding a 5.62 against Ockers PB of 6.22, and Murina threw the kitchen sink at the start line against Ham coming up red by a bunch. The final round would decide the finalists and Mouhayet gave himself some hope dumping a 5.587 in legal Pro Slammer trim on Ocker’s 6.35. Tsakiridis had the Mustang dialled in with another 5.63 over Murina but left a big trail of oil in the braking area. After the clean up Ham rocketed to a 5.66 over Gajic giving him three from three and a final match up against a wounded Tsakiridis.
The ICE Group Mustang made the call for the final that did not disappoint. Ham called on all his experience and nabbed a .023 to .044 holeshot, but the turbo car was trucking with another 270+mph top end charge to come around the Ham Camaro with a 5.63 to a 5.69 – a win margin of four hundredths.
The Pro Elite and Pro Modified brackets were fighting for $10k. In Pro Elite Michael Haimandos had his small block twin turbo Mustang wheels up and screaming to take wins over Joe Signorelli, Rodney Rehayem with a single thrown in to reach the final against George Rehayhem. The PAC Mazda6 toughed out a 6.37 win against brother Rodney, a solo and a 6.46 against a red lighting Stuart Bennett for his final’s birth. With near identical .06 reaction in the final, both racers turned the screws up and it would come down to a battle of horsepower, where is was Haimandos snatching the win with a 6.34 over the rotary’s 6.37.
In Pro Modifed (not to be confused with Pro Mod) Daniel Camilleri made the trip back from Victoria worth his while taking the win in a wild final encounter against fellow Mexican Steve Athans. Camilleri benefited from a solo in round one before defeating Nick Tsoltoudis’ RX3 and capping three from three with a 7.01 PB against Al Rifai’s R100. Athans also had a solo in round one with a number of breakages after qualifying culling the field that also caused the high six-second Mustang to have a solo in round two. A red light to Dan Soldatic’s R100 gifted Athans and easy run to the final where he would have a performance advantage over the Camilleri RB powered Pontiac that was looking for its first six.
Camilleri clipped back some of that advantage on tree, but it wasn’t needed in the end when the Athan’s Mustang took a hard right turn past the sixty foot going up on two wheel and was odds on to hit the wall head on before Athans miraculously saved it, keeping the car unscathed. By then Camilleri and the win light with a 7.05 and was $10k richer.
In other support classes there was still decent cash on offer.
Outlaw saw Adam Attard with his big cube Torana take on Joshua Ploeger’s twin turbo big block VL Commodore. Attard an experienced local sportsman racer had the race won at the tree with a mighty holeshot and at the stripe the VLs 8.45 was not near to the Torana’s 8.48.
Small Tyre Fighter was a well populated bracket, and the top eight after qualifying were put into a heads up shootout, while the rest raced DYO.
Trumping the shootout were the radial cars of Craige Lewis – a previous Grudge Kings overall event winner – and Danko Knezevic. Lewis’ super tough twin turbo street legal Cortina cut a great .029 pro tree light and stormed off into the darkness with a 7.37 to Knezevic’s trailing 8.45.
While in the DYO portion of Small Tyre Fighter Luke Purdie picked off a large cherry in the final with his Torana against Mustafa Sakina’s RX7.
In Street Outlaw, David Muscat has done literally hundreds of laps at Sydney Dragway, present at almost every Race 4 Real, so it was no surprise to see his Mustang fronting the final and he would be against Cameron Sleeper with his AU Falcon. This final was also decided at the start line, Sleeper way too early on the go pedal handing the win to Muscat who drove it out the back door with a 9.995 on a 10.00 dial.
Extreme Bikes were also given the opportunity to show off their stuff at the event. These machines don’t get any crazier than Leonard Azzopardi’s ‘Out Run’ Hayabusa with a honking 213mph blast in round one, unfortunately after backing that up with a 212mph run next, he was unable to make round three and we saw Ian Smith and Darren Foley ride off in the all Hayabusa final. Smith cut the better light of the two in the final but Foley had the power, stomping a 7.35 to Smith’s 8.07 at the top end.
Grudge Kings continues to grow, and hopefully next year will attract even more of the countries quickest sedans for some serious cash.