Video: Drag Challenge 2022/23 scrutineering day

More hotties from a huge sign-up day at Heathcote Park

Photographers: Noah Thorley, Shaun Tanner
Videographers: Matt Hull

Street Machine Drag Challenge 2022/23 is on! We brought you the first batch of gems at scrutineering yesterday, but we couldn’t fit it all in one yarn.

Check out the Day One video above before racing kicks off at 9am today! The Heathcote Park Raceway quarter-mile will be open ’til 3pm, when entrants will hit the road to South Coast Raceway in Portland for Day Two.

It’s shaping up to be another incredible week, with some heavy hitters coming out to play after a long hiatus. Don’t miss it!

He isn’t competing this year, but Darren Smith’s Meteor-powered, ’32 Rolls-Royce-based custom was a standout in the pits. “I like land-speed cars of the 20s and 30s, so I built my own,” he explains, “and what I couldn’t buy I made.” The all-alloy DOHC mill comes from a Centurion tank, originally rated to 650hp and around 1400 ft lb of torque at just1200rpm.

Now fed by eight Holley two-barrel carbs, it’s hooked to a manualised 727 auto and original Rolls diff with 1.82 gears, turning 36in tyres. Darren reckons he used about 30 litres of fuel driving from his native Bendigo to Heathcote, though he’s still keen to take on DC next year. “It doesn’t need to do 10-second quarters, but I’m confident it’d do it,” he enthuses. “It’s just how much I’d have to pay in petrol to do it!”

The driveline may only be a few years old, but Nick McNeil laid the paint down on his XD Falcon all of 25 years ago. The Adelaide car is an S-Pack with all the Ghia fruit, with an alloy-headed 393 Clevo under the bonnet, paired to a C4 with a 5500rpm converter and nine-incher with 4.11 gears. According to Nick, it’s good for high 10s.

Peter Nusser’s XR ute has undergone a fair bit of testing since we featured it in our May ‘22 mag, with a PB of 8.60@160mph under its belt at Heathcote Park. “I’m pretty happy so far,” Peter enthuses. Formerly of the blown small-block Ford persuasion, it’s now motivated by a 1250rwhp Barra turbo.

Sarah Heaney is commandeering Brett Ewings’s EB Falcon for the week, shooting for mid-nines in the Speed Pro Six-Cylinder class. Brett’s owned the sleepy sedan since he was 18, running a nitrous-assisted Barra at DC 2018 before bolting on the hefty G42 snail.

“We’re not using the nitrous but we’re not pulling it off either,” Brett says. “It might be something for the future,” Sarah adds. Power goes through a Turbo 400 and nervous BorgWarner diff. “We’ve gotta be gentle with things,” Brett says, “but we might turn it up on the last day.” The stock wheels and relatively tall suspension should help the Falcon survive Victoria’s rough country roads, though it’s already lost a sidepipe after hitting a big rut yesterday morning.

Based on the first-gen Mustang, John Busuttil’s ’67 Mercury Cougar XR7 is a properly rare sight on our shores. “A Mustang is a poor man’s Cougar,” John laughs. He found it as a rough six-cylinder in Queensland with a screwdriver in the ignition, another screwdriver to open the boot, and a brake booster Tek Screwed to the firewall. “All that’s left of the XR7 now is the body,” he says, referring to the 434ci Clevo with 3V heads, C4 and nine-inch with 3.5 gears. All in all, it’s a capable street-strip package.

The plates on Chris Kaarsberg’s Torana (SM, Summer Special ’23) suggest that it runs sub 12-second quarters, and indeed it does – well and truly. “It’s been 7.90s and I hope to do that again here tomorrow,” he said. “I just love Drag Challenge; everyone talks and helps each other out. It’s a great atmosphere and good bunch of people.”

The Torry runs a 388ci LS that’s assisted by twin 62mm turbos, and the driveline consists of a Powerglide trans with a 5500rpm converter and a 3.5:1-geared diff.

Keith Hards and his beastly ’69 Camaro are back for a crack at challenging Alon Vella for the Pacemaker Radial Aspirated class title. The Camaro has run at a best of 8.3 @162mph, the all-motor 632ci Dandy Engines-built combo pumping out well over 1200hp. “If we can get an 8.2 out of it I’ll be stoked, but obviously the most important thing will just be finishing the week,” he says.