Mark Whitla’s big-block Ford Capri

Mark Whitla's Capri is back for a crack at Drag Challenge Weekend 2022 - here's how he went at the main event in 2019

Photographers: Luke Hunter, Shaun Tanner

THE 550ci bowtie huffs 400hp worth of nitrous over two kits, and the mates were running the Turbosmart Outlaw Blown class the hard way, with no trailer.

“I’ve had the car 22 years,” Mark said. “It ran 7.95@178mph when I had a blown small-block Chev in it. I’m currently having a solid 540ci big-block built for it at Westend Performance with an A80 Whipple and Dart heads, and that should make around 2000hp.”

Day One saw an 8.46@162mph handed in before they packed the roof basket and hit the road, where a puncture halted momentum for a spell.

It was a long, slow trip to Mildura for Mark and Darby, limiting themselves to 80km/h on road legs to try and save wear-and-tear on the car. “We drive at 80 to limit wear on the valvetrain and keep the temperatures in check,” Mark explained. “It’s only an extra hour of travelling time, and 80km/h keeps the revs to 2400rpm, which reduces wear on everything in the engine.”

The lads pulled some solid times at Mildura, running a 5.47@127mph on Tuesday and then backing that up with a 5.43@128mph on Wednesday.

Both Mark and Darby had a tough day at Portland though, handing in a slip for 5.98@105mph. “I ran the wild pass; Darby ran the fast pass,” Mark laughed at the time. “It tore the sway-bar up, twisting it apart, so we ran into town and had it TIG-welded up. The fella who did it wouldn’t take any cash for it; he just wanted us to make a donation to the car club that runs the track. If the track is good tomorrow we’ll put 600hp of gas in it and light the fuse.”

The Capri’s best on Friday was a 8.72@147mph due to not being able to run all three nitrous kits – still good enough for fourth in Turbosmart Outlaw Blown. The Tassie crew also finished the week with a gong for Quickest Without A Trailer, having crammed all their possessions inside and on top of the tiny coupe, thanks to the boot being full of fuel system.

“I really have to thank MV Autos, Profab, Tas Fab, Anthony Grivell, Anthony Raschella, Chris Palfreyman, Steve Paech, Mick Patterson, Chris Francis, plus my wife Lizzy and daughter Willow,” said Mark, with Darby adding he wanted to thank his wife Eliza and sons Hugh and Matthew.


Class: Turbosmart Outlaw Blown

Engine: 550ci big-block Chev
Transmission: Coan Powerglide
Converter: MV Automatics
Diff: 9in, 3.89:1 gears
Power: 888rwhp
All time PB: 7.95-seconds