Kenda Tires Radial Redemption 2.0

Queenslanders keep the radial train a-rolling at Kenda Tires Radial Redemption 2.0

Photographers: Ashleigh Wilson, Drag Photos

WITH state border closures in place, Kenda Tires Radial Redemption 2.0 at Willowbank Raceway in October was an all-Queensland affair by default. Entry numbers were solid despite the exclusion of our interstate brothers and sisters, and although some of the headlining brackets had smaller-than-usual lists, other brackets had very healthy numbers, with all producing great, fun racing.

Thursday and Friday’s planned test sessions were written off due to bad weather, despite a huge effort from the Willowbank track crew and the Kenda Tires Radial team to dry and prep the track. This meant that racers only got their first looks at the strip on race day Saturday.

The first cars out were the Outlaw Radials. Straight off the trailer, Wade Wagstaff took his amazing blown Hemi-powered ’57 Chev known as ‘The Grinch’ to the head of the pack with a 3.93@190mph on the eighth-mile, showing that the track was on the money, along with the team’s baseline tune. Unfortunately, the first session was halted temporarily two passes later when Steve Tattum in his Dodge Avenger took a nasty slide into the braking area wall when it spun following a solid 4.81 run. Steve emerged safely from the car and later took home the Hard Luck Award.

It was fitting that the two quickest racers on the day made it through to face each other in the final of Outlaw Radial. Wade Wagstaff and crew chief Luke Marsden had found the ’57’s sweet spot, peaking with a 3.79@200mph in the third round. Geoff Campbell-Brown’s beautiful 1971 Chevelle had performed solidly throughout the day and ran into the 4.30s on a few occasions.

In the final, Wagstaff and team got the job done and put an exclamation mark on things with a 3.79@201mph for the win, which was also Low ET and Top Speed for the meet. As for Geoff, he was happy just to be there, and will now look to step things up in the freshly built Chevelle.

“I’m over the moon with the success at our first event with my ‘Moonshine’ Chevelle,” Geoff said. “The new car had minor issues with the bump box that will be resolved before the next event, but I couldn’t be happier to run 4.30s at 175mph.”

Action was equally tough in the Outlaw 275 class, another small field brimming with quality cars, and with a great variety among them. Tim Cross’s Cortina stood out, running quickest and fastest with a 4.54@176mph, but struggled to get its horsepower to the track consistently. Andy Coles impressed all day in his immaculate street-registered VL Commodore, with consistent 4.60 timeslips, the best being 4.600. He met Tim Cross in the final, where Andy took the win after the Cortina spun its tyres on the startline.

In Outlaw 235, the small-tyre brigade had a grand time trying to blow one another’s doors off, with several racers in the low fives. Quickest on the day was Scott Hoffman in the 3RZ-powered Corolla, running a 5.15@139mph. However, it wasn’t enough to make the final, where the old master Juan Kudnig in his 3800lb, triple-charged (that’s a centrifugal supercharger fed by a boot-mounted turbocharger with some nitrous oxide to push it along) HT Holden met the nitrous-assisted LC Torana of Jess Beckham. In what was the best final of the event, the HT took the win with a 5.21 to the LC’s 5.26.

There was a win for the ladies in the newest bracket, OG275. The class featured a strong list of registered street cars, with Ben Vlekken in the popular VH Commodore wagon topping the list with a 4.91@147mph. Turbocharged LS engines ruled the day, with Mitchell Bean taking his Camaro to the lanes to meet Tanya Thompson’s VH sedan in the final. The Camaro struck the tyres early in the run; however, Thompson left her quickest run ’til last with a 5.00, which would have been tough to beat.

“I think OG275 is definitely keeping with the heart and soul of drag racing,” Tanya said. “To be able to take out the win was an honour in such a tightly contested field. We couldn’t have done it without our racing family EFI Parts Australia, Paramount Performance, Elite Automatics, Western Suburbs Diffs & Gearbox, and our crew, Craig, Darcy, Matt and Luke.”

Red CentreNATS Grand Champ Billy Shelton proved that his SICKEST VL is not just a show pony, running mid-five-second passes and collecting the Best Appearing award. Mathew ‘Chewy’ Edwards secured Wildest Pass with not one but two huge wheelstands in his Torana ute.

The radial family now looks forward to the next event, Radial Riot, which takes place 11-13 November at Willowbank Raceway, and hope all can attend.


Andy Coles won Outlaw 275 in his show-stopping 1987 VL Calais. The methanol-drinking 7.0L LS is based on a Dart block, pushing out 2200hp at the wheels with the help of a set of low-mounted Garrett turbos. After taking on the track, Andy will be swapping out the radials for tame tyres and removing the bullhorns for the school drop-off on Monday

Ryan Holz ran a 4.82@159mph in his nitrous-assisted, turbo 2JZ-powered 1969 LC Torana. The tough Holden was a definite head-turner

Dale Gridley debuted his turbo LS3-powered AP6 ute on Saturday by making a bunch of full-powered test passes. He put in a solid effort, running a best of 5.72@123mph before his nerves knocked him out during finals qualifying. “My last pass was faster but I bumped too deep,” he said. We can expect to see the Val back chasing eights down the quarter

Gary Dare turned up the boost in his twin-turbo Datsun 1200, making it down the eighth with a time of 5.56@128mph. It was the first outing since Gary added the snails to the 400ci small-block Chev. The car also packs a Powerglide, 9in and a set of 275 radials, and Gary’s goal is to crack the fours

Mathew Edwards went wheels-up in his chopped LC Torana ute, CHEW IT. The street-registered LC is running a small-block Chev on nitrous and competed in the Pro Radial class. “We’ve never done Kenda before, so we thought we’d come out and give the eighth-mile a go,” Mathew said

Jesse Backham’s 1970 LC Torana is far from the mild street car it once was. “It’s got a 430ci LS built by Hi-Torque Performance, two kits of nitrous,” he said. With a Haltech ECU, Powerglide transmission, 9in and Gazzard Brothers suspension, Jesse set a new PB of 5.23@134mph. “We haven’t touched it since last Kenda, so we decided to blow the cobwebs off and have some fun”

Drag Challenge Weekend 2020 winner Ben Vlekken put on a show in his 400ci turbo LS-powered VH Commodore. “The car outperformed the driver, with four passes all in the 4sec bracket,” Ben said

Dean Ferris showed off his Barra-swapped ’74 Ford Escort panel van. “It’s got a Proboost 42 turbo on it, a Powerglide, 9in diff, four-link rear end and runs a set of 275 radials,” he said. Dean had no problem spinning the tyres and smoking out the lanes

Darren Dubbelman started racing as a teen and spent years building his LX Torana, TWITCH, in the shed at home. Tragically, after completing the build in 2019, Darren suffered a life-threatening condition and could no longer get behind the wheel. With the support of his wife Leah, his mate Simon Graham now pilots their beloved small-block Chev-powered Torrie, with Darren watching on and jumping in the passenger seat at every opportunity

Mackay local Ashley Pemberton launched hard off the line in his 900hp VL SL Turbo, with his best pass coming in at 5.71@123mph. Ash and his mates reckoned it was well worth the drive down. “The 16-hour trek is worth it to race at an event run by fellow racers,” he said. “It’s such a well-run event, and so many tough cars turn up for it. I’ll be back”

Andrew Milford took home the title of Outstanding Outlaw Car in his 423-cube, bottle-fed LC Torana. Using two of four nitrous kits and making a whopping 1400hp, Andrew sent the small-block Chev LC down the track at 4.91@143mph, with each pass improving through the day. Andrew attributes the consistency to a new EFI set-up

Alex Bamford had his daughter Avalee wrenching on his twin-turbo, small-block Chev-powered HQ sedan

Billy Shelton’s multi-award-winning street-driven show car, SICKEST, put on an outstanding performance at Radial Redemption 2.0, with a best ET of 5.3@131mph

John Oliver drove his 1983 VH Commodore in the Rumble class. The naturally aspirated Holden 308 has been stroked to a 355, and has a set of alloy heads with a carby up top. The mill is backed by a Powerglide and BorgWarner diff

Luke Hauser brought a bunch of his mates as well as IGOTDIS, his single-turbo, Buick V6-powered Corolla. Luke sent the front wheels up with each run

Matt Britnell brought a taste of Aussie muscle to the staging lanes in this XY Falcon. Matt gave the classic an overhaul by swapping in an aspirated LS3 mill and TH400 trans. “We wanted consistency,” he said. “You don’t always have to be in the fastest car to be competitive”