HOWEVER, his event started in almost the worst possible way on Day One at Calder, when a huge fire engulfed the Butternut Yellow F-body’s engine bay while on the startline.
“A fuel line popped off and it went straight up,” Ben said. “We got it straight back to the garage at Calder and started tearing it down to see what we needed to fix it. We didn’t come all this way just to give up.”
Accepting a 20-second pass for the day, Ben and Rob Armstrong began a mad 24-hour thrash to fix the pony car and stay in the game. Luckily the 88mm Pro Mod snail and forged LS2 were okay, with the worst of the damage related to wiring and ignition parts.
“We found a Commodore wrecker not far from Calder and he had heaps of parts we could use,” Ben said. “Security let us work in the shed and we were there ’til about 1:30am, and we were back there at 5:30am on Tuesday. We rewired the engine, got new coils, made new leads, got a VY PCM, bought new 2200cc injectors from VPW, plus we fitted a new cam sensor, oil gauge, manifold oil feed and vacuum lines.”
While they were thrashing on the neat eight-second machine, they discovered extra work to keep them busy, like issues buried in their new second-hand wiring loom.
“We found earths weren’t connected in the wiring harness, so we had to strip it and find all the faults in it,” Ben explained. “We also only discovered the oil feed line was wrecked at 9am on Tuesday and had to then fix that.
“The fire happened at 10:30 on Monday morning, and by 10am Tuesday we had it fixed. We then had to drive to Mildura via Swan Hill, and we made it into the pits at Mildura on one per cent fuel. We aren’t in with a chance of winning, but this is what Drag Challenge is about.”
After arriving late to Mildura, they had a beaut week, running PBs each trip down the eighth-mile. They banked a 6.78@108mph on Day Two before coming back to run 5.77@123mph on Day Three, backed up by a 5.62@125mph on Day Four at Portland.
Ben and Rob finished their week strongly, with an 8.96@153mph on Day Five to sit 27th in class and officially make it to the end of Drag Challenge 2019.
“We had run a PB of 8.80@156mph at Willowbank, and we could have run faster on Day Five, but the ECU and wiring fell out and dropped in my lap,” Ben laughed. “It scared the shit out of me. We hadn’t had a chance to fit all that stuff back in after the fire.”
1967 CHEVROLET CAMARO SS396
Class: Haltech Radial Blown
Engine: LS2 6.0L
Turbo: Turbonetics Pro Mod 88mm
Converter: AZNU 4000rpm
Diff: 9in, 3.25:1 gears
Previous PB: 8.80@156mph
Best DC 2019 Pass: 8.96@153mph