Holden Nationals 2018 – gallery

Heathcote Park hosts 150 of the generals's finest for the 2018 Holden Nationals

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

WILL be straight-up with you, dear reader: when it comes to the inevitable question of where my automotive allegiances lie, I’m a member of the Blue Oval brigade. Now that you possess that little knowledge nugget, you can be assured that when I say: “Holden Nats was bloody awesome!” I mean, it was bloody awesome!

The DTM Automatics Holden Nationals is the brainchild of well-known Victorian racer Todd Foley, who started the event in 2016 for the simplest of reasons. “I just wanted to race with a bunch of mates who had Holden V8s,” Todd says. “The only classes we had that first year were Holden and Outlaw, and we had 60 entrants.”

Holden NationalsThe formula was a success, and by the time Holden Nats 2017 rolled around, there were many more wanting to be involved.

“I changed to an LS and crashed my car at Drag Challenge, so I had a lot more downtime to plan the second event,” Todd recalls. “I really enjoyed organising sponsors and chatting to all the different people from all over Australia who were coming down. This year, Russell Clarke [Heathcote Park Raceway’s owner] pretty much let me have free rein over the event – all he really had to do was turn the clocks on! I handled all the entrants, the sponsors, the bookkeeping, and the merch and artwork teams. We capped it at 150 entrants and hit that quota four months before the event!”

Holden NatiohanlsTodd also ran a working bee on the weekend prior, where he and a couple of volunteers tidied up the facility, including mowing the lawns and replacing any blown globes around the track and pits.

All that hard yakka and careful planning paid off with an event that ran like clockwork. In fact, it ran so smoothly that even with a bingle and a couple of oil-downs on the Saturday, the show was still bang on schedule at the end of the night.

Holden NationalsKey to Todd’s smooth operation of the event was the class breakdown and the Dial-Your-Own rules used. Entrants were separated by engine configuration into four classes: Holden N/A, Holden Boosted, LS Boosted and Outlaw. Everyone got three qualifying passes then it was straight into eliminations, and most class winners ended up with four or five race wins to make it to the final.

Most of the cars entered wore the iconic lion badge, and almost every model of Aussie Holden was represented by at least a couple of eager owners. Despite the prevalence of turbo LS motors in the drag scene, they were far from the overwhelming majority – Holden Nats was still ruled by the Aussie V8.

Holden NationalsAs expected, Victorians made up the majority of the field, but there was a lot of interest from interstate racers too – entrants and spectators travelled from all over SA, NSW and FNQ. Among the banana-bender contingent was the team from JW Automotive in Ormiston, who were supporting a couple of customer cars, including Troy Wyton’s ballistic RB30-powered LC four-door and George Josevski’s VL. Jamie Farmer made the trek from Toowoomba to punt his well-travelled turbo-LS XH Falcon ute down the Heathcote quarter, and he sponsored the Outlaw class through his Enemies Everywhere racing parts company.

Cool air and a good track saw many competitors ring up new PBs, from Wayne Roberts’s 12.6 in his aspo 202 LJ to Matt Loy’s rip-snorting 7.70 in his Torana race car. But it wasn’t all sunshine and puppies – Nathan Robertson suffered a major crash on Friday night that’s put the racing career of his SBC-powered Gemini on hold for a while.

Holden NationalsAfter Saturday night’s racing was done, a bunch of prizes were handed out to class winners and other achievers and the event banner was auctioned on eBay. The winning bid of $1510 was donated to Barwon Health’s Bricks 4 Kids charity, which is campaigning to raise money for a new children’s treatment centre.

Todd and co. are already preparing for Holden Nats 2019, possibly with a touch more room in the entrant list and a Grand Champion knockout round. What’s more, due to popular demand, they’ve expanded the franchise to include the Ford-Powered Nationals, which is set down for Heathcote on 22 September. That sounds right up my alley!


Ricky Andrew – VK Commodore, Holden V8
Chris Tatchell – LH Torana, Holden V8

Troy Muehllechner – VN Commodore, Turbo V6
Tony Lamana – VS Caprice, Turbo Holden V8

Travis Miller – HZ Premier, LS
Tass Prem – HZ Premier, SBC

Luke Foley – VH Commodore
Chris Thompson – VF Director

Matt Loy, 7.70@191

Jason Hiles, 9.17@147

Tony Webb, 8.27@160

Robert Valastro, 2500km

Nathan Robertson – Holden Gemini

Adam Rogash – VK Commodore

Luke Foley – VH Commodore


Holden VK at Holden Natioals1. Adam Rogash had the ALLSHOW VK hooking up a treat and rattled off a string of 7.9-second passes

Matt Loy's Torana at Holden Nationals2. Young gun Matt Loy piloted his mean red Torry to a very loud 7.70@191mph PB, the fastest pass of the 2018 Holden Nats. Beneath the Holden sheet-metal, there’s a full-chassis race car, powered by a 555-cube Chevrolet big-block wearing a Littlefield 14/71 high-helix blower and methanol injectors in the hat and ports. “We use the MSD Power Grid system to retard timing at the launch if the track’s not quite there, but still have it all at the top end,” Matt explained

Travis Pigdon at Holden Nationals3. Travis Pigdon from JETT Fabrication & Performance was spinning spanners on this understated HG ute for its owner Marcus Hehir at its track debut. The patina hides an RB25 wearing a GT42 for more than decoration, and a transbraked FTI Powerglide from the guys at DTM. Thirty psi of boost helps the RB develop 400rwkw and pushed it to a 10.67@139mph

Tony Webb's Torana at Holden Nationals4. Tony Webb’s LJ Torana, dubbed CULPRIT, had gone 8.42@171mph with its old set-up – a built VT HSV-spec Holden with rearmounted 84mm BorgWarner turbo – but it’s running even better now, with a 355-cube Torque-Power Little Paw block with custom Higgins heads. “On our first test at Willowbank with this new motor, we went 8.20@166mph, and we can still double the boost that we’re running,” Tony said. The LJ was the fastest Holdenpowered car at the Nats, running 8.23@170mph, still on low boost

HSV GTO at Holden Nationals5. Chris McDonald is creeping up on the 383ci small-block Chev combo in his HSV GTO, having recently converted to twin turbos from the previous single. Chris ran a best of 8.4 seconds, but look out for more from this one!

Wayne Roberts at Holden Nationals6. Wayne Roberts’s two-door LJ was a rare beasty among the sea of tough aspo and boosted eights, thanks to an aspirated 202 and an old-school manual cog-swapper. The straight-six boasts a nine-port head, triple Dellorto sidedraught carbies and ICE fire-starting gear. Backing it up is a Ford singlerail (gasp!) wearing a brass button clutch from Bendigo’s Precision Clutch & Brake, and a few choice bits to prevent the shifter entering the back seat on the old one-two shift

Holden VS Caprice at Holden Nationals7. Tony Lamanna bought his VS Caprice with most of the work done, adding the Haltech Elite 2500 ECU and some other tweaks. The donk is a 355ci Holden with COME Racing innards, aided by a Garrett GT42. Backing that is a transbraked Turbo 400. JDI Fab took care of the back, where a 3.57:1 LSD-equipped nine-inch swings off a fourlink, with coil-overs to control the bounce and mini-tubs to handle the fat shoes. Tony ran a PB of 10.43@142mph and came runner-up in the Holden Boosted class

Holden Torana at Holden Nationals8. Troy Wyton’s Torry is a wild street car! “Our first time on the track was last week at Willowbank where it ran 9.80@100mph,” Troy said. “I backed off at half-track because it doesn’t have a ’cage!” The motor consists of an RB30 bottom-end, an RB25 head and GT35 turbo. On E85, the car has made 768rwhp. “JW Automotive did the piping, tuning and specced it all up,” said Troy, who was stoked to rattle off a 8.84-second pass on 235 radials at Heathcote

Holden Commodore at Holden Nationals9. Event organiser Todd Foley handed the driving duties to his brother Luke and was rewarded with a win in the Boosted LS class. Luke also nailed the best reaction time of the meeting and set a new PB for the car! Namely, an 8.90@158mph. While Todd used to run boosted Holden power, the VH now runs a Magnuson-blown L98

Rino Smil at Holden Nationals10. Rino Smil is justifiably proud of his 1968 HK Prem. “I bought the car in Coffs Harbour about three years ago; it was painted and in full grandpa-spec, but I took the overriders and sun visor off and put all the running gear in it,” he said. “I love the colour; you don’t see too many Tennyson Turquoise cars getting around.” Under the bonnet is an angry 580hp, 355-cube Holden motor assembled by Wayne Cartledge at Race Comp Motorsports. It’s backed up by a fully manualised TH350 with a 3500 stall, running back to a 4.3-geared nineinch. The big girl runs standard leaf-spring rear suspension at the moment, but Rino plans to invest in a set of slapper bars to tackle the HK’s tendency to twist up and lift the front-left wheel as it leaves the line. “I get it out most weekends and cruise up to Melbourne or down the coast with the missus and the kids,” Rino said

John Kalantzis at Holden Nationals11. John Kalantzis made the trek over from SA with his family to have a bit of fun at Holden Nats in his HK two-door. The red machine runs an owner-built 308, TH400 and nine-inch combo that’s run 11.6s and helped John make it to the semis

Matt Dowdle at Holden Nationals12. Matt Dowdle bought this VN SS when he was just 19 and it was his daily for several years. After it was retired to weekend duties, he decided to give it a freshen up, and you know what that means! Yep, it’s now rocking a 355 stroker breathing in extra air from a Garret GT35/82 turbo that’s been good enough to run a 10.46@146mph. Trans is a TH400 and the diff is the stock 3.08 Borgy unit

Scott Foreman's VB Commodore at Holden Nationals13. Scott Foreman’s VB is wrapped around a nasty engine combo – a 370ci SBC pressurised by an F-1R ProCharger and fed a methonly diet by a Ron’s mechanical injection system flowed by Ken Lowe. The engine’s all quality off-the-shelf gear: AFR 245 heads, Dart Little M block, Scat crank, Callies Ultra rods and Probe slugs. The quintessential Powerglide and nine-inch combo round out a package that’s run as quick as 8.61!

Holden VK Commodore at Holden Nationals14. When this VK Calais came into Lucas Ellingham’s life, it was owned by one of his customers, who eventually sold it to Lucas when the project became too much for him. Lucas rebuilt the car and has turned it into quite a weapon – he laid down an 8.90 at Heathcote. Under the bonnet lives a meth-fed 355 Holden wearing a pair of GT35s pushing around 1100hp through a ’Glide and nine-inch

Holden SV89 at Holden Nationals15. Goran Cagorski’s genuine SV89 packs a bit more punch and quite a bit more speed than when it left HSV last century. Power comes from a Race Comp Motorsports 355 managed by a Haltech and tuned by Precision Autotech. There’s a built Trimatic for shifting duties and 4.11s bolted to a Truetrac centre to get the power out to the 235 slicks. “It’s doing consistent 11.1s, but it’s the car’s second meeting, so it’s still loosening up a bit,” Goran said. “I’m really just having some fun!”

Holden FE at Holden Nationals16. Kevin O’Neill’s FE is a tough little beast, with a best of 11.35 seconds. It runs a 350/350 combo with a Trutrac 9in and 235 ET Streets. Kev and his mate Scott McKenzie (who has a similarly-quick FE) are both entered in Drag Challenge 2018

Holden Torana at Holden Nationals17. Last year’s Drag Challenge runner-up Mark Drew was testing out a new methanol set-up on his crusty twin-turbo LS-powered seven-second Torana. A couple of weeks later, Mark ran a new PB of 7.74 seconds at Swan Hill

Holden HT at Holden Nationals18. It took Joel Duynhoven and his mates just eight weeks to put this HT budget build together. The Kinger is now sporting an all-iron 502 Chev and a pair of Chinese turbos to help it get down the track to the tune of 11.1 seconds, which is “good enough to have fun”, according to Joel

Holden LC Torana at Holden Nationals19. Blake Evans and his stunning LC (SM, September 2016) once again made the trek from Adelaide for the Holden Nats and were rewarded with a new PB of 9.84@134mph. Rather than beat up on the LC, Blake has entered a VL in Drag Challenge this year

Holden VL Commodore at Holden Nationals20. South Aussie Ian ‘Suggo’ Suggett ran a new 10.9-second PB in his stealthy VL. With its nudge bar, driving lights and other grandfatherly accoutrements, it looks like it belongs in the RSL carpark, not screaming down the quarter. Under the bonnet is a built RB30, backed by a manualised Jatco four-speed auto