Red CentreNATS Heavy Hitters Drags

All the action from the Heavy Hitters drag racing at Red CentreNATS

Photographers: Ashleigh Wilson, Tim McNicol

Alice Springs Inland Dragway was packed with tough drag cars last night, as racers competed for a share in $37,000 in cash and prizes in Garrett Advancing Motion Heavy Hitters event.

The entrants were split in brackets from 11.00 to 7.00-seconds, with the racing running heads-up, on a pro tree and in Chicago Shootout format. Here’s a look at some of our favourite cars and how the results panned out.

Ned Karanovic, ’57 Chev

Ned Karanovic has owned his ’57 since he was 19 years old, which was a while ago, but as he puts it: “It’s just got faster and faster.” The original Aussie delivered, RHD car now sits on a HQ chassis that’s been back-halved with massive tubs and has run a best of 8.82 @ 155mph when it was running a 565ci Haddad race engine. It’s a bit milder these days, with ‘only’ 505 cubes under the bonnet, but it still manages to cut a 10.1-second quarter and took him all the way to a win in the 10-second class in the Heavy Hitters racing

Rob Forsaith, Ford Cortina

Robbie Forsaith still owns his first car, although it’s a hell of a lot nicer, and faster, now. Originally a 250 4-speed car, it now sports a 5.0 HO roller crate motor, just like the ’94 Mustang had, but its also got an 8/71 blower with Enderle hat and Joe Blo injection to help the car run low-11s. There’s a 363 Dart-based engine in the build for a bit more go with plans to take on Drag Challenge

Matt Smart, Corolla

Matt Smart’s KE10 Corolla is no stranger to SM, having competed in Drag Challenge 2015. It’s still going strong, with the triple-Weber equipped 202 running 11.3 thanks to a hefty shot of nitrous. It’s a great sounding motor too and gets out of the hole nice and quick thanks to the transbraked Trimatic. A Borg Warner diff rounds out the driveline on the cute little sleeper that has gone as quick as 10.95!

Craig Hodge, Chev Nova

One of the coolest cars at the event is the old school Nova of Craig Hodge. It was turned into a race car at some point in the USA and arrived in Australia around 1990. When Craig took ownership the car sported a freshly built big-block with all the good stuff, including ally rods, but it turned out the ally rods weren’t good. Luckily, Craig’s business is Hodge Race Engines, so he got busy fixing the engine – with steel rods this time. The Dart block is punched out to 540 cubes and features Dart Pro-1 heads and a 1050 Dominator. Craig once again finished runner-up in the 9-second class of Heavy Hitter with a 9.20 pass, but the car has gone 8.90 @ 149mph

Nik Karanovic, VE Valiant

There wasn’t much chance of Nikolas Karanovic not becoming a drag racer after following his dad around the country while he raced the ’57 Chev. Just 21 years old, Nik already has two runner-up Super Street titles under his belt racing a ’69 Barracuda, but he wanted to go faster and didn’t want to put a cage in the car, so he picked up this VE Valiant ute and built a stout 410 stroker that punts the car down the track at 11.3 @ 119mph. Once the nitrous goes on, plans are to run the car in Super Sedan

Connor Begly, one-tonner

Connor Begley has been campaigning his one-tonner for a couple of years in radial racing but wasn’t happy with the performance the blown LSA combo was providing, so it was off with the blower and a couple of Wuhan whirly bois went on in its place with the only major change being a new camshaft better suited to the turbo combo. The rear-end also got a rework to help it hook up, and it seems to be doing the job. On its first pass the tonner ran a 10.1 but with a stonking 151mph terminal speed. By the end of the night it was down to 9.1 and he backed up again on Sunday morning to crack the eight-second zone to the tune of 8.90 @ 159mph.

7-7.99 SECONDS

Winner: Todd Knight, 2004 Pontiac Grand Am

Runner-up: Dennis Baylis, blown altered


Winner: Greg Damiani, HG Monaro. Second year in a row!

Runner-up: Graeme Horner, VH Commodore


Winner: Peter Tzokas, LH Torana

Runner-up: Craig Hodge 1970 Nova


Winner: Ned Karanovic, ’57 Chev

Runner-up: David Bonetti, ’32 Ford


Winner: Stephen Greenfield, WB ute

Runner-up: Chris Whittaker, HQ ute


Winner: Ben Brusnahan, Hayabusa

Runner-up: Leith Darrach, Hayabusa