Sometimes, race events are exactly as advertised on the packaging, and Grudge Kings tells you everything you need to know right there in the name.
The first Grudge Kings event, way back in 2016, aimed to bring the US style of grudge racing to Australia – door cars, world-class trash-talk and side bets were the name of the game. Race fans embraced the concept put forward by promoter Po Tung from the get-go. It didn’t matter what make, model or power adder you had – the only thing that mattered was the win light.
In the post-COVID years, Grudge Kings has evolved into more of a traditional race event, but it’s definitely retained its ‘outlaw’ image, with some of Australia’s wildest pro streeters on track alongside full-chassis Doorslammers and some of the world’s quickest imports. Basically, if it has doors and is fast, there is a place for it at Grudge Kings.
There’s also a car show on the hill along the eastern side of the track, so you can cruise in with your streeter, set up on the hill, listen to the tunes being spun by the DJ, and watch the day’s racing. You might even win a trophy.
At the 2023 event at Sydney Dragway, some of the big hitters that you would have expected to be on the pace from the outset struggled with cool temperatures and an extremely tight (read: very, very good) track, which caught more than a few racers out and claimed some mechanical sacrifices along the way.
The first car to really grab a hold of the track in the early part of the day was Doorlammer racer Peter Lovering in his beautiful ’55 Chev, logging a 5.89 off the trailer to continue his streak of good form after the Winternationals in June. The addition of a Liberty five-speed and lock-up converter has really helped his team find some consistency, and Lovering now has plans to put the car on a diet, with a new composite body on the way in the off-season that should help him shave as much as 200lb from the shoebox Chev. He finished the weekend with a 5.85-second PB, with plenty of potential left on board!
Street Machine Drag Challenge regular Riccardo Pontonio’s twin-turbo LS-powered VK knocked out a string of incredible seven-second PBs over the event, besting with a 7.56@181mph – all in full DC trim on a 275 radial, full exhaust and pump E85! To say the boys were happy is an understatement.
Trent Blainey in his gorgeous LS-powered VL Walkinshaw tribute, WALKE (SM, Feb ’23), also managed to knock out a 7.7 at a whopping 187mph – another PB for yet another heavyweight of the pro street scene.
One of the wildest saves of the day came from Damian Ferraro in his recently reworked LJ Torana. The car now boasts a 526 Keith Black Olds donk, complete with a screw supercharger, and has run in the low six-second zone at well over 220mph. On Damian’s first hit of the day, the car launched well but dropped fluid under the right rear at around 130mph, sending him on a sudden unplanned detour across the centreline. Only Damian’s quick reflexes got the ’chutes out in time to keep the gorgeous LJ intact.
The V8 brigade were putting on a show, but the Sport Compact guys were not going to be left behind either! George Haramis is a name known throughout the Sydney off-street drag racing scene for close to 20 years, and at Grudge Kings, he wowed behind the wheel of the Maatouks Racing Mk4 Supra.
Haramis gave us a taste of what was to come with a 7.21 at a monstrous 202mph after blowing the tyres off at the hit early in the day, before smashing out a 6.71@212mph in a round-one win over George Rehayem (after a long staging duel, with both teams pumping the crowd up in the process).
Jay Sadek was another stand-out in the 20B-powered RX-3 made famous by his dad Sam. With a 6.63@210mph (alongside one of the OGs of pro street, Mark Hayes, running a 7.10 in his stunning big-cube, nitrous-guzzling LC Torana), Sadek’s car became one of the quickest and fastest RX-3s in the country.
Wheelstands were the order of the day for many a racer, with Rob Evans from South Australia probably having the biggest of them all in his big Chrysler hardtop. Unfortunately, what goes up must come down, and when it did, it was with a shower of sparks and must have hurt – we didn’t see him out on track again. Others trying for their pilot licence on the day were Johnny Habib, Mark Hayes, Darryl Dando, and Jason Hoctor in his tough Cortina.
Adam Rogash’s brand new STRIPSHOW Capri had a weekend to remember! After a massive half-track wheelstand in testing that bent a front strut on touchdown, the team thrashed hard overnight to fix the damage. On race day, the team knocked out a 7.00@191mph, followed up by a 6.91@199mph to dip comfortably into the sixes on debut. With Dandy Engines power under the bonnet, the blue Capri will be one to watch in future! (Read the full feature on Adam’s Capri in the August issue of Street Machine.)
As always at Grudge Kings, there were plenty of big names in quick streeters. Small-Tyre Fighter was probably the pick of the categories, with a cracking final between Dom Perri in his stunning GODRX2 and Mick Elkhouri in his 2JZ-powered RX-7, LOL13B. Early in the day, Mick laid down a 7.13 and a 200mph blast (yes, you read that right) on separate runs, and it was the later-model Mazda that would take the win with another low-seven-second pass. Alongside him, Perri showed the potential of the little RX-2 with a 7.91@173 mph.
Overall, there was plenty of carnage at this year’s event, with more than a few cars breaking on the day, but for fans of grudge racing and world-class timeslips, Grudge Kings continues to deliver excitement. Bring on 2024!
1. Brad ‘Fox’ Cullen’s way-cool Valiant ute received some CPR throughout the day. With Dale Heiler on the keyboard, the car knocked out a 4.6@158mph to the eighth – a PB on a 28×10.5 tyre
2. The big-money class at Grudge Kings is Pro Mod, with $4000 up for grabs for the winner. Pete Lovering’s gnarly ’55 Chev took the chocolates on this occasion, logging a 5.85 PB in the process
3. Second-generation racer Josh Boskovich pilots this cool Falcon coupe, complete with Fontana small-block power, manually shifted (with levers) Lenco transmission, and a healthy dose of nitrous
4. Trent Blainey made the trip up from Melbourne with his stunning twin-turbo LS-powered WALKE VL (SM, Feb ’23), and was rewarded when the car rocketed into the sevens at Grudge Kings, setting a new PB of 7.73@187mph
5. A 6sec timeslip would have you smiling, too. Adam Rogash rounded out his day at Grudge Kings with a blistering 6.91@199mph in his brand-new Capri, with plenty more boost in reserve.
6. Victorian racer Rohan Hutson is well travelled with his beautiful black ’55 Chevy, and put a few more kays on the clock with another trip to Sydney
7. What goes up must come down. Johnny Habib and his iconic Torana are already familiar with defying gravity (and when it catches back up to you, as illustrated here!)
8. Another run, another monster wheels-up launch. Jason Hoctor’s killer 455ci Windsor-powered Cortina gets ’em up and keeps ’em up
9. With the number of huge wheelstands at Grudge Kings, it was hard to pick one that stood out, but this effort from Chris Vassilis’s monster all-motor Torana hatch was right up there. Its BK Race Engines-built 433ci small-block makes a healthy 840hp
10. Lee Murray’s ProCharged Holden-powered Torana (SM, Oct ’15) is an absolute WEPN by name and by nature. Lee came away from Grudge Kings with a smile on his face, having had a ripper day’s racing with his family and running a new PB of 8.54@161mph. Read more in the August issue of Street Machine.
11. Steven Nikolovski’s 7M-GTE-powered Mk2 Toyota Corona was doing grudge runs throughout the day. The cool and unorthodox combo logged a best of 9.68@143mph by day’s end
12. Our reigning Milwaukee Young Street Machine of the Year winner, Grant Azzopardi, keeps popping up everywhere with his rad little Barra-powered Anglia pano, including the show ‘n’ shine at Grudge Kings
13. Jay Sadek and Steve Athans put down side-by-side 6sec runs in the final of Pro Modified, with Athans taking the win in his Mustang (at top) with a PB of 6.58
14. Twin-turbo LS-powered Pontiac versus a shoebox Chevy with a screw-blown Hemi? Yes please! Stuart Bennett and Pete Lovering face off in qualifying
16. Martin Stevenson’s 410ci small block-powered HQ pano edged out Craig Warren’s LJ Torana to take the win in the hotly contested Street Outlaw class
THE WIN LIST
|Lee Docherty – Mazda MX–5
|Alex Borg – Suzuki Hayabusa
|Peter Lovering – ’55 Chevrolet
|Peter Pisalidis – Chevrolet Corvette
|Rodney Rehayem – Mazda RX-8
|Steve Athans – Ford Mustang
|Riccardo Pontonio – VK Commodore
|SMALL-TYRE FIGHTER PRO
|Michael Elkhouri – Mazda RX-7
|Pat Firriolo – Holden One Tonner
|Martin Stevenson – HQ Holden van