Pacemaker Radial Aspirated class wrap-up – Drag Challenge 2019

All the thrills and spills of the week’s racing in Drag Challenge 2019’s Pacemaker Radial Aspirated class

Photographers: Luke Hunter, Shaun Tanner, Chris Thorogood

DRAG Challenge 2019 saw the return of our Radial Aspirated class, supported by our friends at Pacemaker Headers. Some of Australia’s quickest naturally breathing street cars made the gruelling trek this year, limited to a 275 radial tyre or narrower.

2019’s class line-up featured strong Ford representation, with 10 of 15 entered cars wearing the Blue Oval. Keith Hards’s ’67 Camaro figured as the quickest GM car in the pack, narrowly missing a podium spot in fourth place.

NSW’s Alon Vella proved once more that displacement is king, returning in his dominant 450-cube Capri to claim his sixth consecutive Radial Aspirated class win at a Drag Challenge event.

Al set the pace early on with a blistering 8.49sec run on Day One at Calder Park, and by close of racing on Day Five, he was more than four seconds ahead of his nearest rival Peter Haravitsidis, achieving a combined ET of 34.02sec.

Though every Radial Aspirated entrant survived the week, the class still suffered its fair share of vehicular mishaps. Peter Haravitsidis’s 440ci XY Falcon did itself a mischief on Day One, immediately after setting a 9.59sec PB on the quarter. The car’s front brakes went into lock-up as it hit the braking zone, blowing out both of the tyres on its Weld front-runners. After a few hundred metres scraping on the bare AlumaStars, the former MotorEx car was left with a broken splitter, mangled guard and wrecked side trim.

Undeterred, Peter pushed on, holding out against Jarrod Wood’s Falcon for second place.

Jarrod’s XT is a Drag Challenge regular, finishing the class fifth in 2017 and fourth last year. Finally earning a spot on the podium in 2019, the small block-powered ’67 will be a true contender going forward.

Legendary engine builder George Haddad ran his XR Falcon in this year’s Pacemaker Radial Aspirated class. Built in 2005, the former SM feature car currently packs a 440 Windsor with Cleveland-style heads, good for a reliable 10.2sec quarter through its Powerglide and nine-inch. This year’s Drag Challenge may prove to be the car’s last hurrah, with a new, wilder Falcon in the works for George’s next tilt.

Gavin Edmonds was back this year in his head-turning ’34 Ford pick-up. Built over three months for last year’s Drag Challenge, the nitrous-fed, first-generation 354 Hemi is matched to a New Process ’box. Gavin said that while surviving was his primary goal, running under last year’s flat 12s “would be nice”. A 12.3 was his reward this time around.

In between her Street Machine duties, our very own Carly Dale brought her 304-driven VL Calais along to Drag Challenge! With flowed heads, a Holley 600 double-pumper, Trimatic ’box and nine-inch diff, the car ran a best of 13.41 in the Radial Aspirated class on Day Five. Carly’s set the car up as a turnkey cruiser, going against the grain by sticking true to the ol’ iron lion.