In the wake of the recent Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings Australian tour, no-prep racing is the new black Down Under. So, it was with much anticipation that Junga Bunga’s No Prep Cash Days made its return to the freshly renovated Warwick Dragway for its third instalment of nail-biting, heads-up eighth-mile racing.
First published in the January 2024 issue of Street Machine
A rainy start to the day didn’t dampen the spirits of the 70 entrants from all corners of Queensland and even NSW that converged at Morgan Park on Saturday 25 November. The slippery conditions added an extra element of excitement to the already high-stakes style of no-prep racing. Throw a line-up of seasoned big-tyre racers and high-performance streeters into the equation and you had a spectacular feast of horsepower on offer.
Drivers were granted one test pass to dial-in their rides, and given the greasy track conditions, most chose to scale back their tunes in preparation for the knock-out elimination rounds, which ran late into the night. With just shy of $10,000 in prize money on the table, competition was fierce.
“The track is the equaliser,” said Junga Bunga organiser Matt ‘Junga’ Loy. “It’s not about who’s the fastest but who can get down the track. You’ve got to have the car, driver and tune-up all together to be able to go rounds.”
The drag-racing gods smiled as testing began at 3pm, as the showers cleared and stayed away for the remainder of the event. The un-prepped surface meant traction was scarce, which saw a handful of cars blazing the tyres, while others added paint to the track walls. It made for awesome viewing for the spectators on the hill and in the grandstands, though.
The single test hit was all that seasoned racers needed to adjust their tune-ups for the knockout rounds to follow, which saw far less carnage. However, a successful run relied on much more than just being able to put power to the ground.
“It’s all about reaction time,” Matt said. “I wanted to make the racing as close as possible, so we didn’t have a full pro tree. Once both drivers were fully staged, the starter could let the button go at any time. We had no countdown, just the bottom bulb.”
The traffic on the drag strip during testing had turned up the track temperature, allowing drivers to apply more power as eliminations began. Following the ball draw, the group, ranging from daily drivers to fibreglass-bodied heavy hitters, lined up to race in one of four classes. The Small Tyre group ran rubber no larger than 275 drag radials or 10.5-inch slicks, while the Big Tyre class could sit on anything girthier. A new addition was the Budget Radial class, for cars running Pro Street Radials (or similar) in 275s or smaller; Hoosier or Mickey Thompson hoops were strictly off-limits. The Street Tyre class delivered just that, a variety of HQs, Toranas and all manner of grocery-getters running on street treads.
The first round saw some wild passes and tight racing. One of the most interesting match-ups of the night featured GSL Fab’s 1600hp 79 Series Land Cruiser, billowing smoke as it went head-to-head with a wild turbo rotary-powered Suzuki Swift. There were other cool engine swaps in the mix, too, including a 2JZ-powered Torana, a Barra-swapped Cortina and a supercharged LSA-driven Mazda RX-8.
The night ended with second-chance buy-in rounds for the Street Tyre and Small Tyre classes, followed by a few test hits and grudge racing.
Steve Tattam took home the $3000 win in the Big Tyre class in his blown, big-block Chev-powered Dodge Avenger, while Drag Challenge regular Chris Kaarsberg bagged the Small Tyre title in his LS-driven LX Torana. The Budget Radial win went to Heath Lebsanft in his HQ Monaro, while the Street Tyre victor was Toby Howard’s Torana.
Matt couldn’t have been happier with the success of the third Junga Bunga event, and was quick to credit the overwhelming local support for the not-for-profit, volunteer-run Warwick Dragway following its reopening after a three-year closure for upgrades. “It was such a thrill,” he said. “It was our biggest turn-out. We had some of the most adrenaline-pumping racing we’ve ever seen, and we’re hoping to put on two or three more in 2024.” Here’s to that!
Winner: Steve Tattam
Runner-up: Brian Thomas
Winner: Chris Kaarsberg
Runner-up: Shane Baker
Winner: Heath Lebsanft
Runner-up: Brent Coles
Winner: Toby Howard
Runner-up: Toby Clarke
SECOND-CHANCE SMALL TYRE
Winner: ‘Disco’ Dean Ferris
Runner-up: Daniel Campbell
SECOND-CHANCE STREET TYRE
Winner: Brett Benz
Runner-up: Paul Stec
- Michael Schaper came out in his 900hp ’57 Chevy drag car. “It started life as a 1961 EK ute,” Michael said. “We bolted on the ’57 front and rear, which is off Peter Gratz’s original ’57 Doorslammer.” It was Michael’s first time running no-prep since he threw the 540ci big-block in the car.
2. Brent Coles pedalled his 850hp Mazda RX-8 into the Budget Radial finals after consistently smashing out hard and fast passes. He secured the class runner-up spot in the supercharged LSA V8-powered rocket.
3. Brian Thomas went wheels-up in his blown 1967 Camaro as he launched the 400ci small-block Chev-powered beast down the track. Brian is no stranger to no-prep racing, having lined up beside Ryan Martin and Disco Dean during the Street Outlaws vs Australia event at Sydney Dragway. He won runner-up in the Big Tyre bracket, with his quickest pass of the night coming in at 5.40sec.
4. Aaron Gregory lit up the tyres in his stunning twin-turbo LS-powered panel van, managing to send the HR into the semi-finals.
5. Simon Graham hit the no-prep track for the first time in his twin-turbo ’69 Camaro. This home-built beast is packing a 540ci big-block Chevy tuned by Darren Dubbelman, working with a Holley EFI and a two-speed TH400, and sits on a set of Mickey Thompson slicks.
6. After being knocked out in round one, ‘Disco’ Dean Ferris made his comeback by entering his Barra-swapped ’74 Ford Escort panel van into the second chance buy-in round of racing, where he secured the Small Tyre win and a handful of cash.
7. Tony Gooderham lined up against Kye Kelley at the Street Outlaws vs Australia meet at Willowbank back in March, destroying his transmission in the process. Tony replaced the trans with a five-speed Lenco and jumped back into no-prep racing. His full-chassis, steel-bodied ’92 Suzuki Swift runs a bridge-ported 13B turbo, and sits on a four-link and 9in diff out back running 4.55:1 gears.
8. You can’t miss the howl of the 4/71 supercharger boosting Mal McBride’s 1970 HG panel van. The blown six-cylinder has a Holden blue-motor bottom end and a nine-port red-motor head. Fuelled by a 750 double pumper that sucks down E85, the pano ran 8.2sec on street tyres.
9. “I think I was one of the slower cars out,” said Nichole Willett, who piloted her 420ci SBC-powered VG ute, NO BALLZ. “But it’s always fun to pick on the big boys, even if you lose!”
10. Chris Kaarsberg had a great year racing his twin-turbo LS-powered LX Torana. He secured a fifth overall position during Drag Challenge 2023 and claimed a triumphant win against Lizzy Musi in her Camaro at Street Outlaws Queensland. His no-prep winning streak continued at Junga Bunga, where he took out the Small Tyre class.
11. Warwick local Brett Benz won the Street Tyre second-chance buyback in his VL Calais, which runs a supercharged LSA powerplant. “I built it as a street car to cruise with the family,” Brett said. “It’s our first time taking it out after finishing it 12 months ago.”
12. Shane Baker’s final run came down to him and his mate, fellow Drag Challenge contender Chris Kaarsberg in his Torana. The twin-turbo plastic-powered VH performed well given the track conditions, securing runner-up in the Small Tyre class.
Making the six-hour trip from Tamworth, Caleb Thomas made a 5.34sec pass in his blown ’68 Camaro. “Normally we run big tyres on it, but we put it on small tyres for the weekend,” he said. Later in the night, he lined up the full-chassis big-block car beside his dad’s big-tyre Camaro.
13. Ryan Holz flexed his 2JZ muscle in his turbocharged, 2030hp LC Torana. Running on a set of 275 radials, Ryan made some good passes before getting knocked out of the Small Tyre race by another turbo-assisted Torry.
14. Steve Tattam made a triumphant return in his rebuilt, full-chassis Dodge Avenger after crashing it three years ago. “We fixed it up in the shed at home with the help of our friends,” Steve said. Gulping air through an 8/71 blower, the 468ci big-block performed well. “The track was hard to tune for, but we got it down on that last one,” Steve said after taking out the Big Tyre win.
15. Spectators loved watching Luke French in his diesel-drinking V8-powered 79 Series Land Cruiser ute. Fitted with a compound turbo set-up, three nitrous kits, a strut front end and Gazzard Brothers suspension, the ute launched off the line hard, leaving a trail of soot in its wake
16. Billy Cumner sat amongst the last handful of Budget Radial racers in his 1974 Sandman. With a 498ci big-block Chev up front, the panel van had previously clocked a 6.66sec run over the eighth-mile, but the no-prep track for Junga Bunga posed more of a challenge.
17. Tony Horan sent it in his turbo Barra-swapped ’71 TD Cortina, laying a solid skid down the track.
18. Running a 421ci SBC with Brodix heads and a 300-shot of nitrous, the Webb family’s VL is a force to be reckoned with. Tony bought the stunning Calais for his son Connor and went to work converting it from slicks to run on radials (Urban Warfare, SM, Yearbook ’23). Tony will be piloting the VL until it’s dialled in, but we can’t wait to see his young bloke behind the wheel!
19. Shaun Matthews drove his HQ One Tonner from Cottonvale to compete in the Street Tyre class at Junga Bunga. Fitted with a stroked 355 Holden and a shot of nitrous, the Tonner made it to the final five cars in the Street Tyre eliminations.