Mopar Sunday 2021

More than 1000 Mopar-mad punters took to Willowbank Raceway on July 25 for a ripping day of drags, Dagwood dogs, and big-cube noise

Photographers: Ashleigh Wilson, Drag Photos

IT WAS Chrysler chaos as Queensland’s toughest classics and new metal showed up to let loose for the inaugural Mopar Sunday event.

“We’re just lucky we could pull it off, with all the COVID lockdowns going on,” organiser Sam Tatton says. “The best part is, there are always tough but also super-clean cars, and the Mopar guys really get out and drive them hard!”

From worked Hemi-6 265s to meaty 440 Magnums, the sheer cubic variety and big horsepower builds are something the Mopar community is known for.

Here are 10 of the most mental Mopars to hit the strip on the day. Keep an eye out for the full story in the mag!

Jed Sladden’s off-its-head AP6 Valiant is still street driven, despite packing a 2400hp blown-alcohol Hemi (engine). The grumpy Valiant was hard to miss as it hunted its way around Mopar Sunday, doing laps and decimating the ears of onlookers. While it didn’t hit the strip, Jed’s Val is up there with the toughest builds around.

Nathan Peter’s purple Barra-powered VC Valiant, built with his late father and debuted at Mopar Sunday 2019, went hard from start to finish. The unopened FG Barra makes 700hp and after winding a few more sneaky pounds of boost into it on the day, Nathan ran a PB of 9.8@135mph. All while pissing off a few Hemi-heads with the sacrilegious Ford six.

Wild card of the day goes to Ben Dean, in his daily driven Jeep Cherokee Trackhawk, shocking crowds with a first-up run of 9.6@145mph. This is no ordinary Trackhawk, now hiding a 426ci Hemi under a massive 4.5l Whipple supercharger, good for 1400hp. Despite doubling the factory power, Ben’s still running the stock gearbox, which is holding up like a champ. The end goal, Ben tells us, is a reliable 9.4-second pass, while still being daily driven with a baby seat in the back!

Michael McMullen, another Drag Challenge finisher and all-round top bloke, set a PB of 11.22@120mph in his immaculate Valiant Charger. “I only took up drag racing in October last year, but it’s become my favourite thing to do,” he says. The lack of years racing hasn’t stopped Michael tearing it up in his street-driven Charger, with a built Scat 408 stroker good for 400hp.

Charger engine bay

Michael did 14 passes on the day without putting a spanner anywhere near it, proving it’s a reliable package. “I drove it here, raced all day, now I’ll put air in the tyres and drive it home,” he laughs. “I thrashed it all day at Lakeside yesterday, too.” That XXXX gold was hard-earned.

Recent 2020 Drag Challenge mover and shaker Daniel Ward’s home-built VG Valiant showed up at Mopar Sunday with a point to prove. The car’s original 360 small-block has been binned for a built 325ci Chevy LS with twin Pulsar SXE369 turbos feeding it a healthy gobful of boost.

Valiant engine bay

The setup is good for around 1200hp and, mated to a Powerglide with 3800RPM stall converter, it propels the patina-kissed Valiant into the eights. Daniel ran a PB speed of 155mph on the day but the clocks didn’t record a clean time and transmission issues prevented further runs. The engine is due to come out for some upgrades, so next time we see Daniel on track the mighty VG should be quicker again.

Drag Challenge finisher Jye Core brought his reliable-as-a-horse Valiant wagon out to Mopar Sunday, throwing down an initial 10.6@127mph naturally aspirated then later setting a PB of 9.9@135 thanks to a healthy shot of gas.

Valiant wagon engine bay

Jye’s nine-second wagon rocks a 540ci Mopar V8 with 1000CFM carb, 727 trans and a Gazzard Brothers 9-inch. “It makes about 500hp at the tyres, but with the gas just over 600hp,” Jye says. “It’s a full street-driven car though; we load it up and it’s got baby seats and everything!”

Gary Smith sent the front wheels sky-high all morning in his Chrysler Neon drag car, running a best on the day of 8.5@159mph. “The track wasn’t the best today; it normally goes pretty straight,” Gary says. “I had to back off because it was getting pretty loose!” Gary’s all-time PB is 8.4-seconds.

Chrysler Neon drag car

The current setup has seen a best of 9.4@160mph thanks to a dialled-in 416ci alloy block V8 with W9 heads and a single carb pumping methanol in, making 785hp at the engine. This has got to be the toughest Neon in Oz!

Steve Sciasci and his son in front of their matching-numbers, all-original ’71 Plymouth Duster 340, after running a steady 12.2@109mph. Having owned a few Valiants, Steve set his eyes on a Duster after his brother bought one, eventually finding this mint example. “They’re just a proper muscle car,” Steve says. The Duster runs a matching-numbers 340ci V8 with 727 ‘box and 5400 converter, fed into a Mopar 8.75-inch diff. Steve threw the Duster on the dyno and put down 335hp at the treads, before cruising home in the mint Plymouth.

Sam La Spina’s s big-cube 72 Challenger was one of the tidiest on show, but it had plenty of go, too. Sam has owned the Challenger for nearly 30 years, but recently gave it a birthday and fit a 512ci V8 hooked up to a 727 trans and fully fabricated Altra 9 9-inch rear end. “It’s a street car so it only sees the track maybe once a year,” says. While it’s built for nitrous, the Challenger ran a best on the day of 10.6@128mph, naturally aspirated. “It’s built for 500 of gas, so while I don’t want to cage it or anything for now, 10s are good!” Sam says. When asked if the car will see nitrous any time soon, Sam confirmed he’s planning to gas it up next year and “have a bit of fun with it”!

The McMahons live and breathe it. Greg McMahon and his son Joel were both out with their Chargers, going head to head on the day. Greg McMahon’s ’74 Charger ran a best of 10.11@133mph, a far cry from the “basket case” he tells us he bought 11 years ago. “I had a Charger in my early 20s but sold it to buy my wife’s wedding ring,” Greg laughs. “I went about 20 years without it so I couldn’t resist getting another one once the kids had grown up.”

Charger engine bay

His Charger has seen many engine setups over the years, but currently runs a 408ci stroker with forged internals, fed by a single turbo and backed up by a Powerglide and Mopar 8.75-inch diff. “It only runs 11 psi but makes 700hp at the wheels – the big cubes do all the work!” Greg says.

Photographers: Ashleigh Wilson, Drag Photos