Form guide: Street Machine Drag Challenge 2023

Drag Challenge 2023 is shaping up to be an event of epic proportions!


THE entries are in, and all over the land, sheds are full of Drag Challenge competitors madly swinging spanners to get their rides ready for the toughest torture test for Aussie street cars. Let’s see how each of the classes is shaping up for this year’s event.


THE blown big-tyre class has a stack of super-quick cars ready to rock, starting with two-time Drag Challenge champ Harry Haig and his POP666 HQ. Sadly, Adam Rogash has pulled the pin on bringing his insane Capri, with too many customer cars demanding attention in the lead-up to the event.

However, Mark Whitla is back in the BBC-powered Capri that won Outlaw Blown at Drag Challenge Weekend last year. The team have made some big changes to the car since then, but the lack of opportunities to test in Tassie will make it hard for the guys.

Fellow Taswegian Alexis Margaritis will also return with his stunning LC Torana, which packs a 427ci LSX and 94mm turbo combo.

Other heavy-hitters will incude Barry Hall’s VL, Shae Bastian’s HZ and Dave Tierney’s B0HZZ.


RADIAL Blown is the playground of force-fed, 275-radial-shod street cars, and as usual, it is a big field, with 30 runners signed up. At the top of the tree going into the event is the Crusty Torana of Mark Drew, Dan Szabolics’s HQ Monaro, and Keith Hards in the 2018 DC-winning XW Falcon formerly piloted by Frank Marchese.

All three cars have six-second timeslips to their credit and have plenty of testing time on board. Behind them are a stack of seven-second Commodores, including Drag Challenge Weekend 2019 winner Terry Seng, Luke Foley and Graeme Horner, along with the seven-second Toranas of Brandon Zito and Chris Kaarsberg. 


THE Radial Aspo class is packed with toughies. The reigning champ, Keith Hards, is competing in Radial Blown this time, leaving eight-time winner Alon Vella in the box seat in his Capri.

But he won’t have it his own way, with contenders like Tony Di Biagio’s stunning XY Fairmont, first-timer Warren Eustace’s HG, Dave Carpenter from the NT in his ’68 Camaro, and Brian Keane from South Oz in his nine-second XR. Paul Wood from Newcastle could be a wildcard in his monster-cube LC Torana, too. 


MICHAEL Ryder took out Outlaw Aspirated last time, but he’s having to sit this one out, so pole position for DC 2023 goes to Queenslander Mark Clifford in his Kaase-powered Mustang. Mark has won the class once and finished runner-up twice.

Keeping him honest at the pointy end will be fellow Queenslander Dan Case in his Torana and Victorian Matt ‘Muff’ Murphy. Alon Vella’s daughter, Alicia, is also in the running for the first time, piloting an XD Falcon. 


THE 235 Blown class has a bumper crop of almost 30 cars this year! Current champ Dom Pelle and his ballistic Sigma aren’t able to make it this time around, but second place-getter Brendon De Ruyter will be there in his K24-powered Celica.

The rest of the field is bursting with fast cars and interesting combos. These include Elvio Gonzalez’s rear-turbo Capri, class sponsor Jason Waye’s Barra-powered Mustang and Brendan Cherry’s HK Monaro.

Interesting newcomers to the class include Riccardo Pontonio’s LS-powered Mercedes, Ayvon McLeod’s Gozdilla-powered XF and Jamie Heritage’s turbo 1UZ-powered Celica.


DONNIE Zurcas claimed 235 Aspo last time, and he’s back to defend his title. Louis Younis is back after a long lay-off in an evil nine-second LX Torry, along with OG Drag Challenge racer Brenton Miller’s Centura and Summernats 34 Grand Champ Jason Mansweto.


WE’VE added two index classes to the mix this year for blown cars running 275-245 radials. 9.5 Radial has some crackers, including AFL star Charlie Dixon in his CV8 Monaro, Tim Rhone’s twin-turbo XP Falcon hardtop, and Ioannis Polizos in his evil XE Falcon ute.


THE idea of 8.5 Blown was to give some of the Radial Blown field a more-competitive place to play, and it’s shaping up to be a great class. At the pointy end, we’ve got Nathanial Ardern’s Godzilla-powered XA, Jason Kenny’s VN, previous Outlaw Blown winner Stephen Micallef’s Maloo and the stupid-fast HTs of Clinton and Murray Kelly.


REIGNING Six-Cylinder champ Ryan O’Donohue is teaming up with Danny Howe to build a new car to run in Radial Blown, leaving the six-pot class wide open. Top Barra-powered contenders include Sean Anthony’s XD Falcon, Shane Neumann’s sleeper XF ute and Josh Tuskin’s XW Falcon.

In the Nissan-powered corner is John Ricca’s VL Calais. The car is new, but John knows how to get it done, having won Quickest Six and runner-up in Outlaw Blown in another VL at DC 2018. 


CURRENT Dial Your Own champ Jamie Turner is back in his HQ, along with multi-time class winner Alysha Teale. Grant Pegler is entering his twin-turbo LX hatch for the first time, and Adam Lincoln is bringing an AC Cobra replica!

There are also three indecently quick fourbies in the mix in the form of Josh Abela’s Land Cruiser and the Patrols of Steve De Visser and Daniel Anderson.

You can check out the full Drag Challenge 2023 entry list here.


09 October: Check-in – The Bend Dragway, Tailem Bend, SA

10 October: Day One – The Bend Dragway, Tailem Bend, SA

11 October: Day Two – Sunset Strip, Mildura, Victoria 

12 October: Day Three – Heathcote Park Raceway, Knowsley, Victoria 

13 October: Day Four – South Coast Raceway, Portland, Victoria 

14 October: Day Five – The Bend Dragway, Tailem Bend, SA