Drag Challenge 2018 – Day Four report & gallery

Australia’s toughest street cars return to Swan Hill as the times tumble

Photographers: Chris Thorogood, Michelle Porobic

THE penultimate day of Street Machine Drag Challenge was epic! The all-time ET record was broken, the naturally aspirated record was broken, the Outright lead changed, and the margin between first and second Outright is down to just 0.02 seconds heading into Day Five, setting the stage for a memorable finish today at Calder Park. Here’s how it all went down.


THE small-tyre, big-power crew in Haltech Radial Blown have put on awesome racing over the past four days, and it came together at the second tilt at Swan Hill with three cars running seven-second passes (plus Luke Foley’s 8.05@171mph).

Holden VL CalaisWest Australia’s Lorenzo Gullotto kept his awesome run at Drag Challenge 2018 going by rolling out a new PB for the charcoal VL Calais, stopping the clocks at 7.65@180mph. After cracking the pass out early in the day, Lorenzo and his crew hit the road for the 400km loop back to Calder Park.

Adam Rogash pulled two high-seven-second passes on Day Four, turning in a 7.78@179mph, but broke a converter after leaving the Swan Hill track. A replacement was on the way, so hopefully Adam and the MPW Performance crew were able to fix the ALLSHOW VK by the side of the road to make it to Calder Park by 3pm today.

Holden HQ wagonAndrew McQualter got his full-weight HQ wagon into the eights with an 8.99@151mph right at the end of Day Four’s racing. Having run plenty of passes in the low-nine-second bracket, it was great to see the big Barbados Green barge crack an eight, and Andy was over the moon.

Frank Marchese stopped everyone in their tracks late in the day with the quickest and fastest pass we’ve seen at Drag Challenge since it kicked off in 2014. Having struggled with overpowering the track in his first few passes of the day, the Dandy Engines legend came back out as the clock wound down to 3pm and belted a wild 7.36@192mph to take the Outright lead by 0.02 seconds heading into the last day at Calder Park.


THE big bangers in Turbosmart Outlaw Blown were doing it hard by Day Four, with 10 of the 18 starters dropping out thanks to a variety of mechanical maladies.

After missing the Mildura round, both Brendan Cherry and Bubba Medlyn were at Swan Hill for Thursday, out of the official standings but looking to run numbers. Unfortunately it wasn’t a happy day for Bubba, who toasted his third transmission in two weeks. We really feel for one of the nice guys of the sport and hope that he can bounce back from the past few weeks – possibly with the aid of some cranberry juice and mixers.

Jake Edwards took his turbo 355ci Holden out for his first lap and blew most of one exhaust header away, leaving a gaping hole. After cutting the guard off his trailer and hose-clamping it over the hole, Jake was hoping to limp the six-time Summernats Horsepower Heroes-winning Torana to Ballarat to find a new manifold.

holden vl commodoreJohn Ricca’s VL cracked a seven, the first time a six pot-powered car has managed to do so at Drag Challenge. The BT1 busted out a 7.9@171mph early in the day, even though John has around 15psi worth of boost up his sleeve. We understand he is planning on turning it up at Calder Park, from approximately 42psi to 60psi!

Harry Haig was on a mission on Day Four, running a pair of mid-seven-second passes. His best was a 7.50@174mph, run early in the day and with the front wheels of POP666 off the deck, but that wasn’t enough to hang on to the Outright lead as the Haltech Radial Blown XW Fairmont of Frank Marchese snuck past.


DAY Four saw the Pacemaker Radial Aspirated cars take on Swan Hill Dragway for the second time this week, with records being broken and margins tightening up.

Ford CapriAlon Vella continued his stranglehold at the top of the table, extending his lead with the quickest naturally aspirated pass ever recorded in Drag Challenge history – an 8.69@152mph – taking him the best part of four seconds clear of Dylan McGavigan’s Cortina in second place.

“We’re happy with the pace, but we know there’s more in it, and we’re aiming to try and break into the Top 10 Outright tomorrow at Calder,” Alon declared.

From here the Radial Aspirated margins really tighten up, with just 0.141 seconds from second to fourth place. Peter Haravitisidis was lucky to hold on to his third spot after nearly spinning his XY Falcon into the wall, a jammed throttle to blame for the close shave. He still laid down a 9.87@136mph to keep himself on the podium prior to that scary moment. Nathan Ghosn is still suffering from the niggles of previous days, so his effort to hold on to fourth in class with a 9.97@133mph was a stout showing from the DC veteran.

Holden EKA personal best was recorded by Donnie Zurcas in the small block-powered EK Holden. The boys had been chasing a flat 10 all week, and managed to put together a 10.04@132mph on their final run of the day. “To get the flat 10 was awesome,” Donnie said. “We’ll head over to Calder now and see how much further we can push it. It should have a bit more left in it.”

Unlike many of the other classes, no casualties have been taken in the Pacemaker Radial Aspirated class since Day Two, with only three of the 23 cars entered withdrawing by the end of Day Four. One more to go!


AS DAY Four dawned on the Tuff Mounts Outlaw Aspirated class, the rising sun showed that all seven remaining entries had survived the night. As racing progressed, the field remained in much the same order as yesterday.

Daniel Cassar is still at the helm in his very recently built ’32 Ford three-window coupe. “I can’t complain about the car,” he said. “To be honest, I’m just testing today, as there’s a lot more in it. I’ve not had to add oil or touch the wheels.” Daniel battled wheelspin to eventually run a 9.86@130mph.

Holden HQ one tonnerThe black HQ One Tonner of Mark ‘Bushy’ Busscher is still breathing down Daniel’s neck, though. On Day Four Bushy reeled off a 9.94@131mph despite continued fuel pump issues.

Jon Mitchell changed out the jets in his Dodge Challenger to alleviate concerns of running lean in the deep end. He reeled off a straight and clean 10.64@124mph early on, to allow himself enough daylight for the 400km journey ahead. It was enough to keep him third in class – for now.

First-time entrant Dave Rogers in his 584-cube HK GTS Monaro is right on Jon’s tail, running [email protected] to be the third-quickest of Day Four’s results in the class, and his cumulative ET is now four-hundredths of a second off Jon’s pace heading into Day Five.


IT’S said that a week is a long time in politics, but it would appear the same holds true for the K&N Dial Your Own class at Drag Challenge. Just like our government, it seems, we’ve had a new leader each day since Day Two, when Zaaron Titmarsh threaded the needle with the smallest ET spread in his V8-powered AU Fairmont.

After Day Three at Mildura’s eight-mile, it was Alysha Teale and her 383-cube HQ Holden sedan that was holding the lead. The Sydney-based racer put in plenty of effort on Day Four at Swan Hill, but couldn’t quite hit the mark within her ET spread. So at day’s end it was Darren Parker and his 11.7-second VF Commodore SS Sportwagon topping the DYO list with a minuscule 0.007315-second spread coming into the last day of Drag Challenge at Calder Park.

“I’m very competitive,” says the former Super Stock national champ, who is – despite what some people may think given his choice of car – putting in plenty of effort to hit his times. “This is a great fun event, but I’m here to win.”

drag challengeDRAG Challenge 2018 wraps up today back at Calder Park, and spectators are welcome to come along and watch all the action. Entry is just 20 bucks for adults, with gates opening at midday and racing from 3pm until 9pm. If you can’t make it to the track, we’ll keep you in the loop via whichcar.com.au/streetmachine and SM’s social channels.