Zappia takes Western Australia Top Comp Championship

John Zappia and the Fuchs Monaro’s successful start to 2017 has continued with the team earning the WA Top Comp Championship at recent Perth Motorplex Grand Finals.

In a field containing some of the toughest blown alcohol racers in the country, the feat was never going to be easy and while some hurdles were thrown at the team they eventually proved good enough in a critical race against chief rival Adam Marchant. It was Zappia’s first Top Comp championship since 2010.

 

Zappia’s first qualifying pass was a pedaling 5.84, with the car doing a spectacular wheelstand, owing to the extra horsepower from the conditions and the tight track.

 

Running late in the compulsory qualifying session after some oil down delays, Zappia was able to improve to a 5.78 to qualify second but some sparks from underneath the car indicated all was not well.

 

“We didn’t know where the sparks were from initially but we figured the clutch would be a good start,” he said. “We started changing the gearbox ratio when we got back and we missed inspecting the inside of the clutch can properly. We then realized late that the clutch had broken a lever and we had a race against Adam Marchant coming that was going to decide the championship.”

 

With the clock counting down, the team made the decision to run the clutch with just five levers and hope it would be enough to take out Marchant’s tough Top Alcohol dragster.

 

“We watched Pino Priolo take out another of our rivals, Steve Aldridge, ahead of us, so then I knew it was up to me,” Zappia said. “It shook the tires because it needed more clutch but we got the job done with a 5.91, which secured us the Top Comp championship and a place in the B Final.”

 

Arriving back in the pits and with turnaround time limited following more delays, Zappia and the team made a rare decision to withdraw from racing.

 

“Had we been in an A Final we might have given it a shot, but we knew we had won the championship and we didn’t want to risk running the car with the clutch below its best,” he said.

 

“The good news was that by us withdrawing, our almost-team mate Kelvin Lyle got to race in the B Final and run another five-second pass, adding on to his earlier 5.92 personal best which was great to see.”

 

While Zappia expected some record times might have been available, the margins were thin for quick performances.

 

“The car performed well engine wise, but we didn’t get a full clean pass - we were making horsepower, we just couldn’t use it. The cold air combined with stoppages meant the track was colder and trickier than we are used to here in Perth.”

 

As always, Zappia was looking at the positives of his mechanical troubles.

 

“It was good to find the problem. You run valve springs and con rods for so long, but you run clutch levers forever and they do a lot of work. Everything has a life and the consistency this team has involves working out what the safe life is for a part.”

 

The Fuchs team will now run their maintenance on the car and do some close checks before loading up for Sydney in May and the Winternationals in June. 

New Camry planned for Worsham at Four-Wides

Two-time NHRA world champion Del Worsham is hoping that his past successes at the NHRA SpringNationals will aid him in beginning a streak with three 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series races in a row.

 

At the last race, in Vegas, Worsham lost to Matt Hagan in the first round. However, the SpringNationals is only the fifth event of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, so it’s still early in the season. For now, Worsham and his team are choosing to just focus on making their car consistent and reliable.

 

“I’m hoping with the stuff we learned in Vegas and the testing we did on Monday out there, that we made progress and that we’ve got a car that’s consistent in going down the race track. We’ll work on making it fast after we’ve got a car that we know what it’s going to do,” Worsham said.

 

“For the last two weeks we’ve been working hard at basically just preparing ourselves for these three races in a row. We’re racing in Houston, Charlotte, and Atlanta, and it’s a lot of racing,” Worsham said. “We’re still working on our new body. It’s at the point now where it’s just about ready to go on the track, so we may run the 2018 Camry at the four-wides.” 

VOLUME XIX,  NUMBER 4 - April  2017

Check our Facebook page this weekend

Ace photographer Ron Lewis will be posting some photos from the NHRA SpringNationals in Houston on the DRO Facebook page this weekend. Along with the NHRA pros, look for the small-tire Redempton racers.

Doug Kalitta receives special honor from NASA

On Thursday, April 20, Doug Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools Toyota Top Fuel dragster, was awarded a special honor by NASA, while on a tour of NASA's facilities. This honor was due to Doug and his company, Kalitta Charters, longstanding collaborative efforts with NASA on safely ensuring transportation of team members and critical spaceflight hardware to the Houston-area after work in the International Space Station (ISS).

 

"It is an honor to receive such an award from NASA due to my work with them in space station experiment deliveries," said Kalitta. "NASA does very interesting experiments in space and it is an honor to be a small part in making that successful."

 

The special award includes an ISS mission patch that was flown on the final Space Shuttle flight, STS-135, in 2011.

 

“One of NASA’s primary goals of the International Space Station is to conduct world class research," said ISS Program Manager Kirk Shireman. "A key component of conducting this research is the rapid return of samples from space.  Kalitta plays a key role in rapidly transporting the science samples as well as other critical hardware from the landing site to the Johnson Space Center.  The partnership between Kalitta and NASA is helping scientists around the world conduct important research and is helping NASA operate the International Space Station.” 

Bonacquisto named Director of Marketing for VP Racing Fuels

VP Racing Fuels® has announced the appointment of Donato Bonacquisto as Director of Marketing.  In that position, Bonacquisto will be responsible for advertising, sponsorships, event management and public relations in support of all VP business divisions including Race Fuel, Branding and Consumer Products.

 

Bonacquisto comes to VP from Hankook Tire America where, as Motorsports and Events Manager, he promoted the Hankook Tire brand in the U.S. market across a mix of professional and amateur motorsports initiatives and top-level events in the consumer, aftermarket and commercial sectors.  Prior to that, he held management positions at multiple NASCAR Cup Series teams in both marketing and business development capacities, in addition to tenures with JHE Production Group managing elements of the Sprint title sponsorship with NASCAR and SPEED Channel as Event Marketing Manager.  Bonacquisto has also held roles in the automotive industry producing media/press launches at APEX Performance and managing luxury brands including Ferrari, Maserati, Porsche, Aston Martin and Bentley.

 

In a related move, VP’s Chief Marketing Officer, Chris Wall, is transitioning to a new position as Senior Director-Branded Retail, responsible for wholesale brand development including both VP-branded gas stations/convenience stores and VP FASTLUBE™ service centers.  In his new role, Wall will lead a team of Regional Sales Managers as well as pursue large customers both nationally and internationally.

Time for a road trip

America’s Car Museum is blowing the top off its Summer Drive Series with a gathering of vintage convertibles going on display in the Route 66 Gallery starting, April 21.

 

ACM’s Route 66 Gallery is known for featuring vintage American cars from the golden age of motoring – the ’50s and ’60s. To pay homage to the historic Route 66 – “The Mother Road” – the primary means of interstate transportation a half century ago, ACM will be rolling in an assortment of convertibles from the era.

 

The full list of vehicles in the upcoming display include: 1955 Packard Caribbean; 1956 Ford Fairlane Sunliner; 1957 Chevy Bel Air; 1957 Ford Thunderbird; 1960 Pontiac Bonneville; 1962 Pontiac Catalina; 1963 Ford Thunderbird; and 1968 Pontiac Firebird Sprint.

New Product of the Day

 

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VP Racing Fuels® has announced the appointment of Donato Bonacquisto as Director of Marketing.  In that position, Bonacquisto will be responsible for advertising, sponsorships, event management and public relations in support of all VP business divisions including Race Fuel, Branding and Consumer Products.

 

Bonacquisto comes to VP from Hankook Tire America where, as Motorsports and Events Manager, he promoted the Hankook Tire brand in the U.S. market across a mix of professional and amateur motorsports initiatives and top-level events in the consumer, aftermarket and commercial sectors.  Prior to that, he held management positions at multiple NASCAR Cup Series teams in both marketing and business development capacities, in addition to tenures with JHE Production Group managing elements of the Sprint title sponsorship with NASCAR and SPEED Channel as Event Marketing Manager.  Bonacquisto has also held roles in the automotive industry producing media/press launches at APEX Performance and managing luxury brands including Ferrari, Maserati, Porsche, Aston Martin and Bentley.

 

In a related move, VP’s Chief Marketing Officer, Chris Wall, is transitioning to a new position as Senior Director-Branded Retail, responsible for wholesale brand development including both VP-branded gas stations/convenience stores and VP FASTLUBE™ service centers.  In his new role, Wall will lead a team of Regional Sales Managers as well as pursue large customers both nationally and internationally.

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