We love seeing the new and cool ways that folks are choosing to tackle Street Machine Drag Challenge, and Ji Ackland’s tunnel-rammed AU XR8 Falcon piqued the interest of our crew straight away, with editor-in-chief Simon Telford taking a particular liking to it.
First published in the May 2023 issue of Street Machine
The AU was subbed in for Ji’s brother Tim’s entry for DC 2022-’23 after the boys realised that Tim’s ZC Fairlane (which has tackled DC a few times before) wasn’t likely to make it this time around.
“The AU was already ’caged and regoed, so we ripped the rear end out of the Fairlane and built the AU in three months to get it ready for us to take instead,” Ji says.
Ji has owned the big red beast since he was 18, and at one point the original Windsor was an angry little combo that ran 11.0s. “I sold [the Windsor] to my engine builder, John from Johnny Dyno Engines, a few years ago, and then when we decided to take the AU to Drag Challenge, I bought it back off him, so this is the matching-numbers engine,” says Ji.
The Windsor has been stroked out to 347 cubes using a Scat crank, forged rods and pistons, and a solid-roller cam. The heads are big AFR units, topped with the tunnel ram manifold. “I honestly can’t even remember what brand that manifold is; I just got it as a package from VPW back in the day, because that stuff was readily available back then,” Ji laughs.
The mill drinks through a pair of Holley 650 carbs and uses an MSD Power Grid to control spark. “The carbies just make it easier for us with old-school tuning,” Ji says. “Same for why we run nitrous – it’s just an easy way to add a chunk of horsepower.” On the engine dyno, the package made a best of 532hp, and that’s without the 100-shot the boys run at the track.
To get the AU ready to tackle DC, the boys converted the factory IRS to live axle to suit the Fairlane’s nine-inch diff, which wasn’t as complicated a process as you’d think. “It bolted straight into the hangers; we just had to sort the shock and CalTracs mounts and it was in,” says Ji. The AU also copped an FTI Powerglide, and the boys squeezed some 26×10 M/T slicks under the factory tubs on 15×10 Welds.
“We built the rollcage and did everything ourselves; it’s something we just do in our spare time when we’re not flat-out driving trucks,” laughs Ji.
The five-day 2022-’23 event was actually Ji’s first time at a DC, and he loved it. “Tim and I shared the racing and drive routes, and it was an absolute blast,” he says. “We didn’t have any issues other than some low fuel pressure on the last day at the track. Even though we didn’t get much sleep, it was bloody awesome, and I’ll definitely be back!”
Running in the Turbosmart Outlaw Blown class, the boys banked a best of 10.67@130mph on the final day at Heathcote, with a 6.77@103mph at Portland being their best eighth-mile pass of the week.
The AU did go as quick as a 10.50 at another event before DC, and Ji wants to go better when he brings the car back for another crack later this year.
“We’re going to change the ’box to the C9 from the Fairlane to get three gears, which’ll help our 60-foot, because it’s pretty shit right now,” says Ji. “I’m hoping to go low 10s and maybe even nines at the next one, and then we’ll look at putting the Clevor in.”
Clevor? Yep, Ji initially rollcaged the AU to get it ready for a nasty twin-turbo Clevor combo, which is still in the works. That’ll make for one bloody spicy AU Falcon, and we’ll definitely be keeping an eye on the car’s evolution as it comes back for more events in the future.
1998 FORD FALCON AU XR8
|Class:||Turbosmart Outlaw Blown|
|Inlet manifold:||Tunnel ram|
|Carbs:||Twin Holley 650|
|Ignition:||MSD Power Grid|
|Diff:||9in, 35-spline axles, 3.9:1 gears|
|Wheels:||Weld V-Series; 17×4.5 (f), 15×8 (r)|
|Tyres:||Mickey Thompson 26×10 slicks (r)|
|Drag Challenge PB:||10.67@130mph|