Westernationals 2021

The Westernationals celebrates its half-century with a riot of noise and tyre smoke at the Perth Motorplex

Photographers: Jordan Leist

WITH the recent COVID scare behind them, the West Aussies came out in force to watch the 50th annual Westernationals over the last weekend of February. Premier Mark McGowan even let a few foreigners in, but only if they had really cool and really fast cars. I’m glad he did; it’s always great to see some different rides on the west coast, and I’m sure those from interstate love coming across to the amazing facility that is the Perth Motorplex.

The Westernationals saw a successful return to the Motorplex for ANDRA, with the event running smoothly over 1274 passes. The mood among the competitors seemed high, and the vibe felt more like the glory days of a decade or so ago. Crowd numbers were healthy, too, as confirmed by event manager, Ray Treasure: “Sunday was a pleasant surprise, as traditionally it’s down on Saturday numbers, so it was very pleasing to see a similar crowd on hand for Sunday,” he said.

Spectators were treated to some excellent racing, with 14 track records set, including six national records. A real highlight was Danny Costello’s world-record 5.633-second pass for an Alcohol Altered, which surpassed Mark Sheehan’s previous record of 5.696. Proving his legendary status, the tuner on both cars was Rory Taylor from Speed Torque. He also tunes Matt Abel’s ‘Nitro Thunder’ Funny Car, which ran the quickest pass of the weekend with a 5.35.

As always, the Doorslammers put on a great show. When you have the likes of John Zappia, Steve Aldridge and Stuart Moresby running in the fives and the rest of the eight-car field in the low sixes, it makes for some exciting racing. No prizes for guessing who won – yep, that Zappia bloke again. When he rolls the car out of the trailer and straight away goes 5.712 to top-qualify, you know the other competitors have their work cut out for them. The final came down to Zappia’s Monaro against Steve Aldridge in his ’Cuda, and Zap had to pull out something special, reeling off a 5.681 to Aldridge’s 5.800.

But what I really love to see at the drag strip are cars that still mostly look like something you could drive on the street. Sure, maybe a Torana hatch with a blown BAE Hemi hanging out the bonnet is a bit of a stretch, but the stuff racing in Super Street, Super Sedan and Outlaw Radial didn’t need too much blurring of the eyes to make out their street machine roots. Genuine street cars – driven by police officers, no less – were running low 10s, and seeing an HB Torana with a 265 Hemi wheelstand its way to mid-10s is always fun to watch.

There are always so many great stories to come out of events like this, and one that stood out at this year’s Westernationals was the performance of Ray Le-Cocq in Super Sedan. I bumped into him a few weeks prior and he told me the rather horrific story of how he almost lost his hand in a workplace accident. The damage was severe, but Ray told the doctors: “Just make it so I can hold on to the steering wheel and still go drag racing.” They obviously did a pretty good job, because at the Westernationals he made it all the way to the final in his P76, and lost by the smallest of margins.

Ray considers drag racing his therapy and essential to his mental wellbeing. I’m sure we can all relate to that in one way or another, and the Westernationals 2021 certainly delivered on that score.


WHEN former Perth Motorplex managing director Gary Miocevich passed away in 2015, his younger brothers briefly took the helm and decided to go down the IHRA road. That did not gel at all with the local racers. This led to the Miocevich boys handing the keys back to VenuesWest, which took over management of the venue and immediately went out to tender for an outright buyer or a lease/rent option.

After many offers of interest came and went, there was the possibility that the Motorplex would have to close. When COVID hit, the new restrictions put even more pressure on VenuesWest to justify keeping the ’Plex open.

Fortunately, ANDRA CEO Brett Stevens contacted VenuesWest to see if they could help get the Motorplex racing again. This turned into negotiations for ANDRA to take over as venue operator.

To this end, a new company, Evolve Facility Management (EFM), was created, and took over the running of the Motorplex in mid-February this year. As such, the 50th Westernationals was EFM’s first effort at running a major event at the venue. Paul Trengove has taken up the position as Commercial & Operations Manager, and the Motorplex’s future as WA’s premier motorsport facility looks bright once more.

1. Luke Guppy only recently got the keys to the Chevy Vega that his dad raced for many years. He did the old man proud, qualifying in second place in Super Sedan and making it to the third round. A red light saw him hand the win to eventual runner-up, Ray Le-Cocq

2. Ben Pisconeri reckons you only need one camshaft in a turbocharged Ford six, and who’s going to argue? The mighty Intech pushed the ’65 Mustang to an impressive 7.658@180mph in the hotly contested Outlaw Radial class

3. Looks like Kyle Higgins has the shift light on full blast as he performs the burnout. His tough XW runs a 427 Windsor, but was knocked out in the Super Sedan first round, beaten by a better reaction time after running 9.498 on a 9.49 dial-in

4. Want to know two ways to run 10.50s in Super Street? You can choose the David option, as Chris Johnson did with his turbo rotary, or go full Goliath like Paul Scown with his 520-cube XW Falcon

5. The Chapman Brothers’ ’59 Plymouth Fury Doorslammer always looks spectacular, and even took out Zappia in a qualifying pass, but went out in the first round of eliminations to Kelvin Lyle’s equally stunning ’67 Mustang

6. You just have to love Bernie Ellerby’s 265 Hemi-powered HB Torana, ‘Hemititis Bee’. He qualified at number five in Super Street with a 10.48 and made his way to the final with a dose of good luck, but beat Chris De Bruin fair and square in the last match-up to take the win

7. Joe Carbone made the trip across from SA and fought his way into the semis in Super Sedan with his 355ci VK, but broke out against eventual winner Roger Moorhouse

8. Steve Norman’s M3 BMW is a beautifully turned-out car that runs as good as it looks. He top-qualified at more than four-tenths under the index in Super Stock, and then caught a bit of luck in eliminations, with both of his opponents red-lighting. He faced off against the very tough Errol Quartermaine in the final and took the win in a close-run race

9. Chris Roe has made some big changes in the off-season to his Top Sportsman ’69 Mustang, mostly in the cubic inches department. The car now packs 780ci of monster motor awesomeness and has shaved more than half a second off its ETs. Chris top-qualified and took out the class win with a near-perfect pass

10. Andrew Demler dubbed his stunning RX-3 T3RROR, and with a turbocharged triple-rotor 20B in the little Japanese four-door, that’s exactly what it is. He struggled to find traction all weekend, but still managed a 9.953 in qualifying

11. Norbert Claite’s 2005 XKR Jag is one of only three cars of its type built, and the only one still racing. It’s a beautifully presented machine, but unfortunately Norbert had some problems in qualifying in Supercharged Outlaws and couldn’t make the finals

12. Vince Belladonna’s LX Torana hatch has to be one of the coolest cars in drag racing. Running a 526 Hemi, the car qualified second in the Supercharged Outlaws field with a 6.608@211mph

13. We featured Lorenzo Gullotto’s Fox-body Mustang in Urban Warfare, SM, Mar ’21, so it was great to see it out on the track. The team slowly chipped away at the tune and got the ’Stang down to 7.613@194mph. There’s a lot more potential in this car

14. Kevin Boulton has been dominating the Outlaw Radial ranks this year, and the Westernationals was no different. He took a tenth off his ET on each pass, running a 7.078 in the final after top-qualifying with a 7.429

15. Peter Dickson’s XB Fairmont coupe is a GT in disguise, ordered from the factory with a 351, four-speed and four-wheel discs. For extra sleeper value, the original owner even optioned V8 instead of 351 badges. Peter swapped in an auto trans, and with a shot of nitrous, the car runs deep into the 11s

16. Goran Kojic recently acquired this killer XY, which was originally built and raced by Competition Engines. With a 598ci BBF up front, it ran 8.034@166mph in qualifying before a red light in the first round ended his weekend

17. Yvette Gregg’s nitrous BBF-powered XE is always fantastic to watch, with big wheels-up launches every pass. It doesn’t slow her down though; she ran 8.0s at the Westernationals and made it all the way to a very tightly contested Top Sportsman final, before losing to a near-perfect run by Chris Roe

18. Roger Moorhouse took the win in Super Sedan with his 383 Chev-powered SL/R 5000, dispatching everyone with clinical precision before meeting Ray Le-Cocq in his P76 in the final. With Roger running 9.362 on a 9.36 dial-in and Ray running 9.756 on a dial-in of 9.75, it all came down to the reaction time

19. Tim Roads always puts on an impressive show with his Datsun 1200 ute, usually taking the long way to the finishing line, but he kept it straight enough at the Westernationals to make it all the way to the final of Outlaw Radial


NFC: Matt Abel – 5.357@272mph
TA/A: Danny Costello – 5.633@ 241mph
B/SMA: Steve Norman– 8.266@162mph
DD/GA: Errol Quartermaine – 7.389@183mph
C/GA: Rob Gaikhorst – 8.141@164mph
BB/AB: Michael Holister – 8.162@172mph
SS/CC: Dean Whisson – 145mph
CC/AB: Troy Thompson – 7.978@177mph

CC/CB: Trent Anthony – 7.135@188mph
B/AB: Ross Smith – 8.175sec
B/SMA: Steve Norman – 8.401sec
DD/GA: Errol Quartermaine – 7.537@180mph
AA/AP: Wayne Keys – 243mph
T/D: John Zappia – 5.681sec