Drag Challenge 2023: Day One gallery & video

Blistering pace headlines a big first history making day of Drag Challenge at Tailem Bend

Photographers: Shaun Tanner, Noah Thorley, Chris Thorogood

Day One of Drag Challenge 2023 was an absolute belter, with the top runners finding blistering pace,
plenty of PBs throughout the lanes and a dash of drama to kick off a big week of drag ‘n’ drive

This was also the first major competitive drag meeting at the facility for cars since Dragway at The
Bend opened, and what a cracker of a place it is! The track condition was more than on par with the
rest of the joint, with quick numbers being rolled off from late morning.

Leading the pack is Mark Drew’s crusty LH Torana, one of the hot favourites for the overall win
coming into the event. After a few troublesome attempts off the line, Drewey stomped home to a
7.41@193mph for the lead in both Haltech Radial Blown and overall.

Nipping at his heels is Mark Whitla in the big-block twin-turbo Tassie Capri, who ran a stonking 7.47@183mph. The Tassie crew hung around until the lanes were almost closed trying to lower that number even more, but had to settle for second at days end.

Brandon Zito and his twin-turbo small-block LC set the lanes on fire early in the day, reeling off a
7.82@179mph, followed by a 7.77@180mph. Brandon’s goal coming into this week was to get
himself a Four Second Club hat (for those who run a four-second ET over at an eight-mile track and
finish the event), so we’re keen to see what pace he has at Mildura for Day Two.

Matt Lampard made a sweet return to the Haltech Radial Blown ranks, the LUMPER Kingswood
romping to a 7.83-secs.

Luke Foley and his twin-turbo VH smashed out a 7.91@175mph, Luke wrestling with a new converter
that was a last minute throw-in before DC to make the event. We know Luke likes to save his best
for later in the week, so watch this space on the two-tone machine.

In the aspirated ranks, Al Vella chased his Capri all day in pursuit of taking an early lead in the
Pacemaker Radial Aspirated class. After two nine-second passes, he came ‘round again for an

235 Aspirated is off to a ripping start, with the top two splitting hairs. Louis Younis in the black
Torana leads reigning class champ Donnie Zurcas’s Mk1 Capri, a 9.711 for the Torana just edging the
Capri that handed in a 9.719.

Brendon de Ruyter’s K24-powered Toyota Celica is sitting top rank in the Tuff Mounts 235 Blown
class, handing in an 8.28. He has Daniel Smith back again to pilot the angry four-pot, and we know the seven-second credentials this thing has gained since it ran at Drag Challenge 2022/23 earlier this

Danny Howe’s turbocharged Godzilla V8 XE Falcon was a last minute thrash to get done for Drag
Challenge, the boys then driving it all the way from south east Melbourne to Tailem for the event.
Danny’s first ever pass in the car was a 9.70@178mph, but dud shifter adjustment robbed them of
the chance of further ET improvement before they caught the issue.

The fresh track was seeing plenty of PBs right from the get-go, including for Nathan Camilleri and the
boys from the Hackshop Garage YouTube show. The turbo SOHC Fairlane comfortably ran an 11.12,
giving Nathan the incentive to come around again and get his first 10-second ET with a 10.96@122mph.

Harry Haig and the Haulass crew made a big impression with his new Camaro build when it rocked
up right at cut off for scrutineering yesterday. The car wasn’t a runner then, and Harry and the boys
fought the car all night and then again today in the hopes of making a pass.

When the car finally did fire, the boys found gearbox troubles. They managed to get it out, rebuilt
and back in by later that arvo, but missed out on making a pass to classify in the event running.
Harry’s still hit the road in the Camaro tonight, so we’ll find out more when he lobs in Mildura

Racing at Mildura’s Sunset Strip gets underway from 9am – 3pm tomorrow, with plenty of eighth-
mile action to follow!

We’ll be back at Dragway at the Bend on Saturday, don’t miss it! Tickets available here.

  • Oct 10 – Day 1 – Dragway at the Bend. Gates open 8am, racing 9am-3pm
  • Oct 11 – Day 2 – Sunset Strip Mildura. Gates open 8am, racing 9am-3pm
  • Oct 12 – Day 3 – Heathcote Park Raceway. Gates open 8am, racing 9am-3pm
  • Oct 13 – Day 4 – South Coast Raceway. Gates open 8am, racing 10am-4pm
  • Oct 14 – Day 5 – Dragway at the Bend. Gates open 8am, racing 10am-4pm