Holden Nats: The Drag Challenge Weekend contenders

We take a look at how some of our Drag Challenge Weekend entrants fared at the 2022 Holden Nationals

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

The 2022 running of the Tuff Mounts Holden Nationals wasn’t just the biggest version of the event to date, it also served as a perfect curtain-raiser to our own Drag Challenge Weekend.

Many of the soldiers in the Heathcote Park Raceway lanes for Holden Nats have also put their hands up for our first Victorian iteration of Drag Challenge Weekend, which takes place 25-27 March.

Like Holden Nats, we’ll have two days of racing at HPR, with a road trip to Mildura’s eighth-mile Sunset Strip in between. So here’s a quick rundown on how the DCW entrants went at Holden Nats, with plenty of PBs and awesome results to get us pumped up for DCW.

Adam Rogash with his 2000+hp VK Commodore will be one of the big hitters to watch at DCW ’22, running in the big-banger Haltech Radial Blown class. The VK’s twin-turbo Dart LS Next combo now sports bigger turbos, Haltech Nexus engine management and methanol in race trim.

Adam came home a winner from Holden Nats, clocking a 7.98@180mph during testing in challenging track conditions to get the Fastest MPH award, backed up by winning the Heads-Up 275 Radial class.

Luke Foley was another early-bodied Commodore pilot who came up trumps from the weekend’s racing, recording the quickest pass of the event with a 7.84@178mph and only just missing out on a win in the Quickest Car on the Property Shootout after being pipped at the post by Greg Damiani’s HG Monaro.

While Jason Waye’s FOXSAKE Barra-swapped Fox-body Mustang wasn’t part of the competition (being a Ford-powered Ford), event organiser Todd Foley gave him the opportunity to run some exhibition test passes over the weekend.

It was the first time the Mustang had hit the track, or even been driven at all, having completed just one lap of the block before being loaded up for the event. The car easily dipped into the low 10s on some soft run-in passes, so Jason’s goal of nines at DCW should be a cakewalk.

Matt Watts is best known for his burnout antics in his BLO202 LJ Torana, but now he’s decided to give drag racing a crack in his stunning LS-powered LX hatch.

He hit the track for the first time at Holden Nats on the Sunday, going wheels-up on his very first pass with a 10.0. Just two runs later, that improved to a 9.93@134mph, a truly awesome debut for a virgin driver and car. Matty has high hopes of lowering that PB even more at DCW, and he’ll also be camping out of the LX’s Hatch Hutch during the event – très cool!

Riccardo Pontonio’s VK was sporting more than just a new vinyl roof at Holden Nats. The twin-turbo Dart LS Next combo has undergone a substantial refresh that includes a bigger pair of 76mm turbos and an increase from 427ci to 440 cubes.

He ran an 8.40 during the weekend with a lot left on the table, and is eyeing a seven-second target for DCW.

Scott McKenzie’s peach-coloured FE Holden is another car we’re stoked to see back at Drag Challenge, lining up in the Kool Wrap 235 Aspirated class.

The FE uses a 580hp, 350-cube small-block Chev for stonk, with a fully manualised and transbraked TH350 and nine-inch diff. He struggled to get the car hooked on the 235 radials at Holden Nationals, but with a PB of 10.7, the little FE will be one tough little fighter.

Jamie Knight’s ’78 HZ Premier is now a genuine nine-second street car, having come home from Holden Nats with a fresh PB of 9.7@141mph.

The luxury beast is fully engineered with its force-fed LS2, Turbo 400 and nine-inch diff. The mill is a pretty standard deal, rocking a healthy cam package with a VS Racing hairdryer that feeds around 15psi in full trim. “We tune it all on the fly, but given the speed, we’d say it’d have to be making around 800rwhp,” said Jamie. He’ll be battling in the Vibrant Performance DYO class at DCW, with a few mates joining him for the weekend’s fun.

Josh O’Brien’s plastic-powered VP ute has run a best of 9.2@148mph. The Harrop-blown 355ci mill runs through a Turbo 400 gearbox and nine-inch rear end. Josh got super close to a new PB at Holden Nationals this year, so we’ll be crossing our fingers and toes that he can go one better at DCW.

Matt McIntosh and Jayden Page have given Matt’s VY ClubSport a proper shake-up since we last saw it at Drag Challenge 2019, where the 427ci LSX spun a bearing. The spicy LS has stayed at the same capacity but earned some fresh hardware, including a DragonSlayer crank and beefier rods. Other upgrades include the switch to a Haltech Nexus ECU, GTX55 turbo and two-piece converter.

Armed with its new gear and some aid from Adam Rogash at MPW Performance, the package now cranks out 1500rwhp on around 23psi. In the hands of Jayden, JETR8 set a blistering new PB of 8.6@160mph at Holden Nats, giving the guys good confidence going into DCW.

The Haulass Garage boys broke their backs getting Harry’s HG wagon ready for Holden Nats, performing a budget LS swap in just six days.

Holden Nats was used as a testing ground to make sure the wagon is ready to go for DCW, where the boys will be racing in the Kool Wrap 235 Aspirated class. They made it to the third round of eliminations and scored a PB of 12.64@107mph.

Steve Paech had a solid weekend in his HJ Monaro sedan, breaking the 11-second barrier and clocking a fresh PB of 10.7@125mph. We’ll be keen to see if the nitrous-fed LS1 can lower that number even further at DCW.

Jamie Turner and his dad Paul are former Vibrant Performance DYO class winners at Drag Challenge in their LS-powered HQ, so they were always going to be stiff competition at Holden Nats. They’re entering DCW in red-hot form having taken the class win in the dial-in Street Brawler class at Holden Nats and running a PB of 10.42.

After persisting with his LJ Torana’s Delco-managed, turbocharged 202 combo for several years, Mark Barber decided to change it up recently by swapping out the six for a force-fed RB30 and Haltech brain box. Mark is coming into DCW off the back of a Holden Power Adder class win at Holden Nats and a blistering new PB of 10.1@131mph. He’ll be gunning for a nine-second pass when he lines up in the Speed Pro Six-Cylinder class at DCW, so bring it on!

Jason Kenny had his yellow LS1PWR VN Commodore out for a stab at Holden Nats. He’ll be bringing his OG blue LS1PWR VN to DCW though, which to date has run a best of 7.90@173mph. He’ll be lining up in the Tuff Mounts 235 Blown class, which is shaping up to be one of the spiciest categories at the event this year.

If you want to find out more about Drag Challenge Weekend, just click here – and we’ll see you 25-27 March!