Drag racing newbie competes at Drag Challenge in 640hp Camaro ZL1

WhichCar’s Dan Gardner goes drag racing for the first time – with great success!

Photographers: Luke Hunter, Shaun Tanner

NEW-car journo and WhichCar TV presenter Dan Gardner has had plenty of seat time in performance cars, but as far as drag racing goes, he’s a self-confessed newbie. Having never competed in any form of drag racing but keen to jump in the deep end and have a crack at Street Machine Drag Challenge, Dan grabbed the keys to the head-kicking Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and fronted up at Calder Park for Day One.

The ZL1 is converted from left to right hook here in Australia by HSV, and it has plenty of straight-line cred, with its blown 6.2-litre LT4 V8 spitting out a formidable 477kW and 881Nm. Experienced drag racers have been able to fetch mid-to-low 11sec passes out of stock-standard Camaro ZL1s in the States, but how would Dan manage with a sum total of zero drag racing experience?

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After a crash course in drag racing from Street Machine’s Andrew Broadley just minutes before the lanes opened at Calder Park for Day One of Drag Challenge, Dan proved that the ZL1 is no joke, promptly reeling off an 11.36sec pass, before hot-lapping it for a very respectable 11.20 a short time later.

Then, without so much as laying a spanner on the car, he set off for Mildura in absolute luxury, living it up with cooled electric seats, cruise control, air conditioning and power everything. By no means as punishing a drive as that endured by the vast majority of Drag Challenge entrants!