Chris Kaarsberg’s LX Torana wins at Street Outlaws Queensland

Drag Challenge veteran chalks up a rare win for Australia against the touring Street Outlaws crew

Photographers: Chris Thorogood, Shaun Tanner, Drag Photos

UPDATE, 7 March 2023: After a super-successful campaign at Drag Challenge 2022-’23, Chris Kaarsberg backed up that form at Willowbank over the weekend with a win against Lizzy Musi in the Queensland round of Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings vs Australia.

That made Chris one of just three Aussies to win a race against the Americans in Queensland, with the SUB12 Torana leading Lizzy the whole way from the tree to the finish line.

“It was a bloody challenge with the instant green; there’s no way to predict it,” Chris said. “But I managed to get it right on that pass, which is all that matters!”

Chris also said the Torana went into the event largely unchanged from how it ran at Drag Challenge 2022-’23. “We were still on the radials; all we did was pull a bit of boost out of it at the line,” he said. “The car was actually very similar to how we had it set up for Portland at Drag Challenge.

“I just prefer radials; they are more predictable and nicer to drive on. So rather than reinvent the wheel, we stuck with radials and it worked out. The track was actually pretty sticky, even without prep.”

The race against Lizzy was Chris’s only call-out, and he only got one test pass on the day before the real stuff began. “We formed Team Queensland, which had 14 cars, but the Americans only had nine, so a few blokes missed out, and those that did race only got one run each,” he said.

As for the event itself, as a seasoned drag racer, Chris was beyond impressed with the atmosphere. “The crowd was super into all the call-outs, the Street Outlaws were really nice, and there were so many kids in the pits,” he said. “I’ve never signed T-shirts for kids before this weekend, but they were everywhere, and it was great to see.”

The next round of Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings vs Australia hits Sydney Dragway this weekend, 10-11 March.

UPDATE, 13 February 2023: Chris has successfully run and done his most successful Drag Challenge campaign to date at the 2022-’23 event, finishing third in the Haltech Radial Blown class, fourth overall and joining the Drag Challenge Seven-Second Club with a red hat.

To enter the Seven-Second Club, an entrant must run a seven-second pass during Drag Challenge and successfully complete the event.

Chris’s week got off to a banging start on Day One at Heathcote; he was one of the first to bank a seven-second pass with a 7.97@176mph. Days Two and Three took place at Portland and Mildura’s eighth-mile tracks respectively, with huge road legs in between. Chris ran a 5.37@139mph at Portland and a 5.29@139mph at Mildura to stay in the hunt for a podium finish both overall and in class. “We had an issue on the road with the thermo fans, but other than that, we’re going well so far,” he told us at the time.

Once back at Heathcote for days four and five, and with the road legs of DC completed, Chris set his sights on clawing his way up the order. Out of all the front-runners, Chris made far more passes, and his best from the twilight racing from Day Four was an 8.05@175mph.

On the final day of DC 2022-’23, Chris basically hot-lapped the Torana in pursuit of a solid ET, but unfortunately he just couldn’t quite match the number he’d run on Day One. To end his week, he handed in an 8.29@172mph, just edged by Luke Foley for a podium spot in the overall rankings. Still, to achieve what he did with no crew other than fellow competitor Shane Baker is a massive feat, and Chris told us he’ll definitely be back for another crack.

The story to here

If you’re a regular in the Queensland drag racing scene, you’ll probably recognise Chris Kaarsberg’s green SUB12 LX Torana, which he’s been campaigning for the best part of 25 years.

First published in Street Machine’s Summer Special 2023

The SUB12 plates come from when the car was running 11s in the 90s with aspo Holden power – a pretty big deal at the time. “We also put some nitrous on it later and got it to a best of 9.80, but I wanted to go a lot faster than that,” Chris says.

With that goal in mind, in 2015 Chris decided to ditch the iron lion for a twin-turbo LS combo, building the car to suit the old X275 racing rules. Chris’s good mate Shane Baker from Shane’s Bikes, Boats & Performance had a big hand in the Torana’s rebuild, beginning with sourcing a Dart LS Next block as the basis for the new stonk.

Shane renovated the LS’s internals with a Callies crank, Carrillo rods and CP pistons. A Comp Cams bumpstick rounds out the short block, which is topped by a proper pair of Higgins heads. Other trick bits include the super-low-profile Shaun’s Custom Alloy intake manifold, 102mm throttlebody, 1650cc injectors, Holley Dominator engine management, and of course the twin Precision 62/66 turbos.

“I’d been stockpiling the parts for a while before we started, and Shane was a massive help with building the engine and doing the fab work,” Chris explains.

Chris prefers to do his tuning trackside rather than on the dyno, but the one time the car did get strapped down, it made a stonking 1321rwhp.

A Powerglide transmission and a full-floater nine-inch diff with 3.5:1 gears complete the driveline, and 265 race rubber has been squeezed under the squared Torana tubs.

A sizeable spanner was thrown in the works in 2017, when Chris’s wife Tanya was diagnosed with breast cancer. Thankfully, she won that battle, and Chris was able to resume work on the LX and get it finished in time for his first Street Machine Drag Challenge outing in 2019.

Even with the potential handicaps of a fresh build and doing DC for the first time, Chris not only made it through the week unscathed but finished in the Top 10 overall. That’s a massive achievement any way you look at it, especially as Chris did it all solo, with no extra crew aboard the Torana to help out. “I see it as more of a challenge that way,” he says. “In fairness, all I do is change over to radials and bolt the ’chute on, but this event is all about racing yourself, which is why I have no problem doing it solo.”

Chris backed up that performance with another Top 10 overall finish at our Victorian Drag Challenge Weekend event early last year, so he’ll be lining up again at our delayed five-day DC ’22 in late January with high hopes. “I’m not fussed where I finish in my class, but my aim is to run a seven at DC and a four over the eighth, which we’ve been chasing for a while,” he says. To date, the Torana’s PB sits at 7.92@174mph, with a best of 8.0 at Drag Challenge, while the car’s eighth-mile best is 5.08@144mph.

“I can’t wait to do it all again; it’s just such a killer event,” Chris enthuses. “The way people come together and help each other out is the best thing for me, and making it to the end is the biggest challenge by far, which is why I love it.”


Class:Haltech Radial Blown
Type:388ci Dart LS Next
Induction:Low-profile Shaun’s Custom Alloy manifold, 102mm throttlebody, 1650cc injectors
Turbos:Precision 62/66
Camshaft:Comp Cams
Oil pump:GM
Cooling:PWR radiator
Exhaust:3.5in stainless system
Ignition:Holley coils
ECU:Holley Dominator
Gearbox:BTE Powerglide
Converter:BTE 6200rpm
Diff:9in, 31-spline axles, 3.5:1 gears
Front:King Springs, Gazzard Brothers shocks
Rear:King Springs, Gazzard Brothers shocks
Brakes:HQ discs (f), Commodore discs (r)
Master cylinder:XC Falcon
Rims:Convo Pro; 15×4 (f), 15×8.5 (r)
Rubber:Nankang CX-668 165/80R15 (f), Sonar SX-9 265/60R15 (r)

Shane Baker at Shane’s Bikes, Boats & Performance; Shane’s wife Jen; Terry and Anita Seng at Paramount Performance; Jamie Reid; Jamie Farmer at Enemies Racing Australia; Shaun at Shaun’s Custom Alloy; Nathan at Higgins Heads; Robby Abbott at Abbott Engines; my wife Tanya and our two boys Josh and Jake