Race 4 Real off-street meet at Sydney Dragway

Arby scopes out the local talent at a Race 4 Real meeting at Sydney Dragway

Photographers: Joseph Hui

It’s been a good while since I’ve hit up a Wednesday-night Race 4 Real meeting at Sydney Dragway. The 6pm start, half an hour of burnouts and a 10pm finish makes it a fairly short night of racing, especially if an oildown chews into the program, but I was keen to check it out and have a look at the local talent.

First published in the July 2023 issue of Street Machine

It was still pretty quiet when we lobbed at 4:30pm, but by 5:30 a few cars had started rolling in, with a total of 100 cars by 7pm. It was an interesting mix, with everything from VX SS Commodores through to Euros like Audis, BMWs and Mercs; the odd Nissan GT-R; Aussie muscle; and the latest fad, compact Japanese stick-shift cars with mental engine combinations.

For quite some time, street meets seem to have been a Barra/LS-fest full of plastic-bumper cars, so it was great to see some old-school muscle front and centre.

For the bent-eight types among us, one of the standouts of the night was Mick O’Loughlin’s CL-fronted VK Charger. Goulburn-based Mick is a real character and looked like he had just stepped off his horse after a hard day mustering. His Charger is one of those predominately shed-built deals, with a twin-turbo 360 small-block for power, a T56 cogger and a Dana 60 rear end.

The 360 sports good rods and forged pistons; J-port Mopar heads; a blow-through, boost-referenced Holley Demon carb with a rising-rate Aeromotive regulator; a pair of T04 turbochargers; and a front-mounted intercooler.

It’s a real driver, with patinaed original paint and bruises. “I’ve owned the car for about 20 years,” said Mick. “I’ve never raced a car at the track before, so it’s all a bit new to me. It runs good, though. I’ve got it turned down to only two pounds of boost on pump gas tonight, and I’m hoping to get the car into the 11s.”

Bill Martin Performance in Goulburn screwed the motor together for Mick, while Brett at Goulburn Tyre Exchange helped with the hot side and Paul from North Goulburn Smash Repairs made the airboxes and the areas behind the headlights for the turbos.

The kidney-bean mags wrapped in 245 street tyres certainly copped a workout as Mick smacked it through the gears down the track. The car showed plenty of promise, but between the soft launch and cog-swapping, Mick ran a 14.0-second first pass at just 83mph. “I’ve got a few things to sort out,” he said. “It must be making more than two pounds of boost, as it kept blowing the intercooler hose off. I don’t have a working boost gauge, and I haven’t had the car on a dyno, so I reckon it was a bit lean. I will spend a few weeks getting it sorted out and then come back out for another crack.”

Another Mopar at the meet was the 2013 SRT of Peter Walsh from Newcastle. The car has had a fair bit of work done to it, including a built 6.4 Hemi with aftermarket rods and pistons, head work and numerous other upgrades. The driveline boasts a TCE converter and upgraded valvebody in the trans, while the full Hellcat rear suspension cradle has 3.9:1 gears, billet driveshafts, a chrome-moly tailshaft and Mopar drag arms, among other modifications.

“We ran the car naturally aspirated a while back after making 500rwhp, and it clicked off a 12.0 pass,” Peter said. “I wanted to build a street-driven car that can run a 10-second pass at the track, and rather than go down the route of adding a supercharger, as many do, we decided to use nitrous. We have run the car on the dyno with a 250-shot and it made 750rwhp, but we have had ongoing triggering issues with the rpm signal.

“Despite running a best of 129mph, the nitrous didn’t work as planned and the car bogged down off the starting line, with the nitrous eventually turning on as it moved down the track – and holy hell, didn’t it go then!” Peter continued. “I guess it’s back to the drawing board, but we can see by the mph that the car has a 10-second pass in it, so we will get it sorted and head back out.”

One of the cleanest Toranas I’d seen in a long time was Jason Ciappara’s immaculate four-door LX Sunbird. The paint and interior looked factory fresh, and under the bonnet was a Solo Hercules/Ned Sassine-built 355 Holden motor to complete the package. It was never built as a ball-tearer, just an immaculate driver, but it had some nice touches, from the baby seat to the nine-inch rear end.

“It’s a basic combination: early Holden block, Scat crank and I-beam rods, Speed Pro pistons, bored, honed, decked and balanced with a little 230 flat-tappet cam,” Ned Sassine explained. “Jason put the heads and manifold on, so I never got to dyno it, but with standard heads, it’d make 330-350hp.”

The mill is backed by a Trimatic with a 3500rpm Hughes converter, and a Ford nine-inch rear running 3.7:1 gears and a Detroit

“The bloody thing spun like a bastard,” laughed Jason. “I let the tyres down to 12psi and it went 13.2. I took the car to Bathurst Autofest recently and ended up putting more weight in the boot, which really helped, so I might try that next time. It’s not a big-dollar motor, so I’d be happy if it ran 12s on pump gas.”

All in all, it was a great night of racing. The startline seemed to be really good, although after 100 feet it was a bit skatey. There is an ET cut-off of 8.5 at the track, and in winter you’d be brave to try that with the dew starting to settle at around 8pm.

But if you have a car that needs a few bugs ironed out or just want to see what your wheels can run, the Race 4 Real meets are a great mid-week adventure.