BRANDON Zito’s bright green 1BADLC Torana cuts a mean figure both on the strip and on the street. And with over 1300rwhp of twin-turbo small-block Chev power at his disposal, a Top 10 finish at Drag Challenge 2019 to his name and a Seven-Second Club hat in his possession, Brandon is well-positioned for another tilt at this year’s event.
First published in the September 2021 issue of Street Machine
One cool thing about Brandon’s machine is that he’s bucked the trend of running a thumping big-block or a new-school LS and has opted to stick with his SBC roots. “I’ve had Toranas in my family my whole life; I got my first one when I was 16, and they were always aspirated old-school V8s,” Brandon says. “When we were looking to change the combo up, everyone was going, ‘LS, LS, LS!’ But I wanted to try something a bit different by sticking with the small-blocks.”
Brandon took the reins of this LC in 2015, and at the time it was running an aspo 434ci SBC, which was good for 730hp and low nine-second ETs. But it wasn’t enough. “I was fairly new to turbos when we started speccing the new package, but it was made pretty obvious to me it was the way to go to run sevens,” he says.
Wayne Cartledge from Race Comp Motorsports (who is also a DC competitor) put together the mill for Brandon, starting off with a Dart Little M block with a Callies crank, Oliver six-inch rods, Diamond pistons and a custom-grind RCM solid-roller stick to finish off the bottom end. Locking in the package are CNC-ported Racer Pro 23-degree heads, force-fed by a pair of GTX3582 turbos, with a FuelTech FT600 ECU to do the thinking. Backing up the bent-eight is a ’Glide and beefy nine-inch diff with 275 drag radials slung underneath the mini-tubs.
“The turbos make things so much easier, and so far the results have been awesome,” says Brandon. To date, the car has pushed out 1320rwhp on the chassis dyno, and run a best of 7.99@176mph on the last day of Drag Challenge 2019 to earn Brandon seventh place outright and a spot in the Seven-Second Club. “Getting the hat was super-cool,” he says. “To run a seven and finish the event was my goal, and to also finish in the Top 10 was awesome, too.”
It was Brandon’s second crack at a DC event, after his first attempt in 2018 was cut very short. “We burnt out two pistons in the first pass on Day One of 2018 with fuel system issues,” he says. “But Drag Challenge was something I’d wanted to do for a while. I’d seen everybody posting about it on Facebook in previous years. So I came back in 2019 and we had a much better time.”
The only headaches Brandon had were a flat rear tyre and heat management issues. “We ran with the bonnet off on the road to keep temps down, and even then it would just seesaw between 200 and 210 degrees, so it was a really anxious week for me and I was so glad when we made it back to Melbourne at the end,” he says
The SBC will cop a refresh after it got bruised earlier this year at King Of The Street 6, and Brandon hopes to replicate his form from 2019 at the next Drag Challenge event. “Obviously the most important thing is to finish the week, but if we could go deeper into the sevens, that’d be awesome,” he says. “And one of those Four-Second Club hats would be nice, too!”
1971 HOLDEN LC TORANA
|Class:||Haltech Radial Blown|
|Engine:||380ci Dart Little M SBC|
|Heads:||CNC-ported Racer Pro|
|Camshaft:||RCM custom-grind solid-roller|
|Ignition:||IGN1A coils, Holley VR2 pump|
|Fuel system:||Siemens 2400cc injectors|
|Cooling:||Custom radiator, twin Spal fans|
|Diff:||9in, 35-spline axles, 3.25:1 gears|
|Best DC 2019 pass:||7.99@176mph|
Noel Abela for selling me the car; Wayne Cartledge at Race Comp Motorsports for the engine; Matt DeSpirt for the auto; Peter Kollitiris for the converter; Jamie Garreffa at Full Flight Engineering for all the fab work, Marcos Dillmann at The Race Shop for the fittings; Nathaniel Arden for the FuelTech; Danny Bresciani at Initial D Racing; my cousin Jayce Mostacci; Anthony Fortunato; my dad Dom; my wife Michelle and my two boys; anyone else who has put a spanner on the car