Tuff Mounts 235 Aspirated class wrap-up – Drag Challenge 2019

The full rundown of Drag Challenge’s all-motor small-tyre class for 2019

Photographers: Luke Hunter, Shaun Tanner

NATHAN Ghosn won 235 Aspirated the first time we featured the class at Drag Challenge Weekend earlier this year. Now, he’s proved that win was no fluke, heading the Tuff Mounts 235 Aspirated list once again at Drag Challenge 2019. Driving his white Ford Capri, Nathan – who has participated at every Drag Challenge event since its kick-off – led the class from start to finish, with a combined ET of 38.374sec.

Like everyone else, Nathan found the dust a challenge at Mildura’s Sunset Strip Raceway, but the only mechanical wobble the Sydney-based racer experienced resulted in a soft first run on Portland’s eighth-mile on Thursday. Nathan checked the trans, but finding nothing in the filters or fluids, he went for another hit. “I took it light off the line, but it hooked up and went!” Nathan said of the subsequent 6.19@112mph run. Problem gone!

Nathan’s Capri runs old-school Ford power: a carb-fed, 700hp, 370ci Windsor, with the C4 ’box aided by a new-for-this-year Gear Vendors overdrive, allowing better cruiseability with the deep 4.3:1 nine-inch diff gears.

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Second in class was Aaron James, with a cumulative time of 38.832sec – a terrific effort given that Aaron and his Valiant Regal were first-timers to the event. But they’re not first timers to drag racing, with the big Val singing its way into the 10s in Aaron’s home state of WA in the decade since it was built. Five months ago, the decision was made to enter the Regal in DC, so an alloy-headed stroker 528-cube Mopar was screwed together for the event.

Aaron and third placegetter Donnie Zurcas swapped spots during the week; the 235 Aspirated class was a tight competition.

Along for the DC cruise in the big blue Val was Aaron’s dad Al and his pop Doug – three generations of Jameses cruising in style, along with good mate Geoff.

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Shepparton’s Donnie Zurcas and his Ford Capri placed third in Tuff Mounts 235 Aspirated, posting a 38.839sec combined time by week’s end. The Capri was new to Drag Challenge this year; Donnie has participated in the past in a 434ci small-block Chev-powered EK Holden.

The new Capri is also Chev-powered – a 388ci with a Powerglide and nine-inch behind it. “It’s not super-big, about 550hp,” Donnie said on Day One. “This is a bit of a test!” The ‘test’ first run of 9.96 showed Donnie was a contender from Day One, nipping at the heels of Aaron James’s 9.87.

But on Day Three a head gasket popped, so the head came off to also reveal broken ring lands in two pistons. “We cleaned it up, put in a gasket, then richened it up to save the engine,” Donnie explained. The problem was later traced to a faulty fuel pressure gauge.

The fix worked: by the end of the week he was just 0.007sec behind Aaron’s cumulative total!

| Read next: Drag Challenge 2019 full results

Jason Waye is bossman of 235 Aspirated class sponsor Tuff Mounts. For most of this year, he was elbows-deep in a Barra-powered Mustang build, but when he realised it might not be finished in time for this year’s Drag Challenge, he installed a lightly tickled LS V8 and matching four-speed auto into a 1981 Mitsubishi Sigma.

Jason was aiming for 11s at Drag Challenge, and from a first run of 13.3 followed by a set of 12.8s on Monday, the Sigma improved to an 11.84 on Friday at Calder. Mission accomplished!

After running out of fuel at Calder on Monday, double-entered drivers Charlie Jones and Kevin O’Neill made sure they had plenty of go-juice for the rest of the week for their FE Holden Special. With around 650 flywheel horses, the innocent-looking, 400ci SBC-powered 1950s Holden is capable of 10s, but no rollcage meant the lads had to back off a little: 11.04 was the result during Friday night’s last blast at racing.

Sydney’s Jason Mansweto flew to Queensland to buy this time-warper XY Falcon ute and drive it home. The fact it’s now capable of 10s proves that the factory V8 ute is not quite showroom any more.

Using the factory block and heads, Jason built himself a nice 408-cube Clevo. But in order to prevent the ute hazing the 235 tyres, he pulled a stack of timing from the motor, giving the un-’caged Falc a chance to hook up and keep it legal in the high 11s.

“It’s a bit frustrating!” laughed Jason of the ute’s performance. “I spend my life making horsepower, so it hurts to have to take it out!”


Nathan Ghosn9.758140.56.401111.436.216111.346.193112.779.806139.2338.374
Aaron James9.876138.846.422109.356.297110.196.317110.749.92135.9338.832
Donnie Zurcas9.967133.846.271110.766.191112.556.27112.8210.14125.8738.839
Matt Forbes10.896124.646.85498.966.7999.776.79499.6210.661126.5441.995
John Kerr10.619126.686.89299.916.873100.597.0429910.763124.4142.189
Kevin O’Neill10.808126.217.03298.816.819102.76.896102.1611.045122.9942.6
Jason Mansweto10.721127.797.24100.626.797101.566.828102.7411.12289.8242.708
Andrew Waight11.074125.817.0876.357.01599.887.03499.7511.039124.6943.249
Les Waight11.552123.737.4316.067.42694.237.4049311.668120.6745.481
Andrew Delia11.621115.327.4194.187.37294.247.43694.8911.665112.0345.504
Corey Edwards11.869116.147.56790.657.61789.337.3987.5311.545117.0645.988
Chris Collins11.915116.977.68389.67.58691.17.56291.8111.925115.0646.671
David Chapple13.013110.417.57693.647.56793.637.53894.6111.742117.4347.436
Jason Waye12.834108.948.12172.287.73587.248.00274.911.846113.6548.538
Damien Busbridge12.177112.697.87687.587.93788.388.1987.6512.73109.6648.91
Mario Gaffiero15.17110.027.70890.537.84689.127.47892.7611.586116.1749.788
Larissa Franke12.655110.88.24790.469.04182.328.21192.2112.5114.2650.654
Rod Williams13.731103.918.98583.449.00483.228.76685.8313.9919954.477