Drag Challenge 2018 – Day One report & gallery

Day One of Street Machine Drag Challenge 2018 saw well over 200 entrants attack the Calder Park blacktop.

Photographers: Chris Thorogood, Michelle Porobic

CARS in the two blown classes were restricted to making 1000ft hits for safety reasons, but a bit of simple maths reveals a number of seven-second rockets in the ranks, and the outright podium looks set to be a tightly contested affair. Here’s a class-by-class account of the first of five long days of Drag Challenge beautness!


THE biggest challenge facing the entrants in Haltech Radial Blown was getting down the track without hazing the tyres off; everyone in the class has enough ponies on hand to turn their hoops to smoke at will. With nearly 100 entrants, Radial Blown was packed with awesome cars and more than a few contenders for the outright Drag Challenge win.

Mark Drew Drag ChallengeDrag Challenge veteran Mark Drew laid down a killer pass straight off the bat, with his Crusty LH Torana stopping the clocks at 6.85@158mph to the 1000ft mark. Drewy’s infamous four-door wouldn’t make another appearance in the Calder staging lanes on Day One, leaving him in third by the time lanes closed.

Lorenzo VL CalaisDrewy was followed by Western Australia’s Lorenzo Gullotto in his turbo LS VL Commodore, with a 7.07@138mph. Having run 7.9 at the Perth Motorplex, Lorenzo is hoping to snare a seven-second Drag Challenge hat by the end of the week.

After tapping out a few pedal-fest passes, MPW’s Adam Rogash belted out a 6.59@169mph to put him in both outright and class win contention. Drama found Adam at the end of the day, however, with a dud crank angle sensor needing attention before the long drive through the Victorian countryside to Swan Hill.

Frank Marchese led the Haltech Radial Blown class at the end of Day One, having gone out late in the day to pip Adam Rogash’s time by three-hundredths of a second. The Dandy Engines legend had his epic XW’s twin-turbo Ford donk on-song after having some problems getting down the track cleanly in earlier passes.


THE big dogs in Turbosmart Outlaw Blown were out to put on a show at Drag Challenge 2018, and they didn’t disappoint.

Bubba Medlyn Drag ChallengeBubba Medlyn struggled with a dud water pump and some wiring gremlins as a hangover from the huge transmission fire he had at Swan Hill a week before Drag Challenge. Unable to get a clean pass down in the six-second bracket, Stuntman Bubba resorted to giving the crowd (and his underpants) a fright with a huge sideways moment at half-track, including some three-wheel action.

John Ricca’s immaculate and nickel-tough BT1 VL Commodore had everyone on their feet with a 6.76@151mph to land second in class, proving that the Absynth Yellow, turbo RB six-powered rocket has the legs to back up its amazing looks.

Paul Hamilton’s epic twin-turbo 600ci XA Falcon ran a strong 7.6@134mph in tough conditions, but unfortunately retired at the end of the day with transmission issues.

Harry Haig Drag challengeHarry Haig had a horror run to get to Drag Challenge 2018, only arriving at Calder Park at 4:30am on Monday morning, but quickly put that behind him with a 6.55@159mph on the wrong sparkplugs. With the correct zappers installed, the twin-turbo big-block HQ sedan ran 6.49@170mph to finish the day on top of the table in both Outlaw Blown and the outright standings.


TAKING on Drag Challenge in an aspirated car with smaller tyres may seem like an easier way to tackle a week of racing, but with high compression ratios, big camshafts and sky-high rpm, the entrants in Pacemaker Radial Aspirated showed that the competition is not only top-notch but that they can still mix it with the big blown boys.

drag challengeUnlike the blown classes, which were restricted to running 1000ft passes for Day One, all the aspirated entrants ran the full quarter-mile, punching out some seriously quick times.

Alon Vella once again showed that experience counts at Drag Challenge, pushing his Ford Capri to a best of 8.96@152mph. The big-cube Ford Windsor showed how much grunt these NA set-ups are capable of, and Alon has made the perfect start to potentially adding another Pacemaker Radial Aspirated class win to the trophy cabinet.

Young gun Dylan McGavigan is duking it out in second place, posting a best of 10.02@135mph from his all-motor LS-powered Cortina, and will be keen to fetch a nine out of the car at Swan Hill today.

Third place was again occupied by a Ford, with Jarrod Wood belting out a 10.06@134mph in his Falcon – making for an all-Ford lockout at the end of Day One. Jarrod’s Falcon has recently established nine-second form, and he wasn’t far off the mark at Calder.


THE Tuff Mounts Outlaw Aspirated class houses a mad dozen or so entrants who are hellbent on punching out quick passes without helpful additions like blowers, turbos or nitrous. Cubes is their answer!

With two-time class winner Stephen Micallef pulling out of this year’s DC, the number one spot was up for grabs, and it looked like Mark Clifford was up to the task. As a multiple Drag Challenge veteran, he knows what’s needed and how easily the variables can change, yet he hadn’t driven his Mustang since last year’s event! The ’69 ’Stang rolled off of the dyno at 4pm Thursday, and Mark left Mackay for Calder an hour later. He took out Day One’s top honours in class with his first ever eight – an 8.98@153mph – but hurt the engine in the process, and was forced to wave the white flag.

Daniel Cassar Drag challengeCurrently taking up second place is Fast Lane Speed Shop owner Daniel Cassar with a 9.93@133mph out of his fresh 406-cube ’32 Ford coupe. His first pass offered a stout burnout before it went front-paw-up and down the quarter for a swift 10.09@129mph.

Third in class on Day One was Mark ‘Bushy’ Busscher in his 461ci-powered Tonner, with a 10.22@131mph, but nipping at his heels was Paul Wood’s green LJ Torry with a 10.24@132mph.

Stephen Hopes managed a clean and straight first pass in his tough 540ci EH Holden, but luck wasn’t on his side, and once again he didn’t get past Day One and is out of Drag Challenge 2018.

drag challengeK&N DIAL YOUR OWN

WITH more than 100 Drag Challenge cars carrying the Dial Your Own sticker on the windscreen, it’s a big class, and the fat variety of cars – from Celicas to Chevs – represent the heart and soul of Aussie street machining.

The class also contains a fair number of DC first-timers – some of those new to drag racing in general – so there was plenty of enthusiasm and anticipation on Day One.

Unlike other classes where the lowest elapsed time is the ambition, the aim of DYO is to nominate a time on the first day that you have to try and match for the rest of the week. As previous Drag Challenges have shown us, that can be a tough ask, with the difference between winner and also-ran after five days of racing sometimes coming down to thousandths of a second.

Greg Richards Drag ChallengeAt the end of Day One, seven out of the Top 10 cars broke into the 10-second zone. Danny Moore posted the third-quickest time with a 10.43@107mph from his HSV Clubby, with Steve Grima’s VL Calais just pipping that time with a 10.42@133mph to grab second spot. Greg Richards’s Ford Fairlane was at the top of the class at the end of Day One with a 10.09@135mph, but with consistency the main criterion in DYO, expect the top spots to look quite different by week’s end.

Stay glued to whichcar.com.au/streetmachine for all the action from Street Machine Drag Challenge 2018, as it happens!