The Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings Australian tour kicks off at the Perth Motorplex on 24th February, with further stops at Willowbank, Sydney Dragway and Calder Park in the coming weeks. A cavalcade of American stars from the hit Discovery Channel show, including Kye Kelley, Lizzy Musi, Shawn Ellington and Jeff Lutz, are here to take on some of the best racers Australia has to offer.
The tour has really lit a fire under the drag racing fraternity ever since it was announced a few months ago, particularly online. The racer call-out videos have been hitting the socials thick and fast, and some of them have been pretty hilarious. And if it’s smack talk you’re after, look no further than the Street Outlaws Australia Facebook page.
Yep, the No Prep Kings Australian sojourn has certainly created a buzz. However, in the opinion of some of the local racers I spoke with, giving prospective Aussie contenders such a short lead time and no hard-and- fast rules on car builds or tech has them wondering if Discovery is really looking for a US clean sweep at all four events. There seems to be a suspicion that having Aussie entrants send in applications for consideration by the event promoters isn’t about creating parity for racing; it’s merely about creating good TV.
That said, the USA team are certainly seasoned racers. Most started on the street, so they know how to set a car up and get down any surface. They’re not going to go out and bomb the tyres on the hit; they will have a tune for every track and every weather condition, even if they have never raced on it before. Tuning is about more than just fuel and timing; it’s also shock settings, tyre pressure, moving weight around in the car, moving rear four-link bars around, converter or stator changes, and more.
Queensland racer and Paramount Performance head honcho Terry Seng and his family had two cars in contention. Their ‘pro car’ (owned in partnership with Brad Lane) is a Dodge Stratus, powered by a 440ci, LS-based Noonan engine with twin Precision Pro Mod 88mm turbos. The other car is their VH Commodore, which they originally built to do Hot Rod Drag Week.
The Stratus is a new deal for the Seng family, and Terry is still trying to iron out some bugs, but so far it has run a 3.88-second pass over the eighth on a 315 radial.
Sadly, the Dodge not made the cut to compete with the NPK crew due to its composite body. The VH, however, has been accepted.
Despite having the Dodge turned down, the team had put a lot of thought into how they would get the car down the track in a no-prep, slick-tyre set up.
“We would have set the car up similar to racing on slicks,” Terry says. “You’d start by making the four-link longer, probably adding an extra four inches to the rear bars to make it drive nicer and set up for a neutral instant-centre. This will give a lot more bite on the track, and we’d have probably added some weight to the rear to get the front up and assist with weight transfer.”
Power management would depend on the track; the goal is to make it as quick as possible as early as possible. “One lane is generally always different to the other,” Terry says. “If there is a lot of rubber down, they will scrape the track, but the startline always ends up good, especially for the big-tyre guys who traditionally don’t need a lot of glue. Less grip can often be better on big tyres; there is less chance of tyre shake. Sure, a greasy track is not as fast, but it can be more consistent. “We would have changed the weight split from 56-57 up front to closer to 53; this would have helped get weight back as we need to.”
As for the small-tyre VH, it’s set up at 56 per cent at the moment, but Terry says they will struggle to move the four-link back; it’s really not adjustable as it uses the standard pick-up points on the floor.
“We will try to use the same amount of power as normal but start down a few hundred rpm on the launch, with less boost, and progress from there,” Terry says of the Commodore. “If it spins on the hit, you get no data. If you don’t spin and run slow, that is still good data, as you can add power to what you have.”
Terry’s son Jaidyn will drive the VH on small 28×10.5 tyres, and the car is powered by an LSX-based combination with a pair of 62mm turbos. It’s a GRP-rodded, LS3-headed deal that should make 2000hp, and they are aiming at 4.60s or better.
Jaidyn has his sights set on knocking NPK’s Justin Swanstrom off his perch, but the Sengs are happy to just make the show.
Another Aussie NPK hopeful is legendary Western Australian racer John Zappia. Zap has been serving up whoop-arse his whole career, with a hugely impressive resumé of racing records and accomplishments in Top Doorslammer. Word has it he’s been given the nod to compete at the Perth round, and he’ll certainly be ready to give the Yanks a run for their cash, starting with Jeff Lutz, who has accepted his call-out.
“I’m preparing my old steel-bodied HQ, which has a similar chassis to Lutz’s car,” Zap says. “The NPK rules allow you to extend your wheelbase by up to three inches, and my car falls within those guidelines.”
Zap just calls it as he sees it; there is no sugar-coating. “All I’ve been hearing is that I have a Pro Mod. We don’t have them in Australia; we have Doorslammers. Lutz has a Pro Mod,” he declares. “The next complaint I hear is about the big wing on my car – I’m happy to take it off; it’ll run quicker without it.”
Zap also has reservations about the lack of guidelines for prospective Aussie entrants. “If these guys wanted a serious and fair race, why turn up with 10 cars ready to race and not give us time to get ready or a list of rules to work with? It’s hardly worth my time thrashing to build a car without rules, but we will.”
In terms of car set-up, Zap says they will need to slow the power off the line. “We will start by taking some gearing out of the rear end so we are not hitting the tyre so hard on the hit,” he explains. “We use a traction gauge on all the tracks, and it will give me an idea of where the track is at.”
Since the HQ will run a big 36×17 tyre, the chassis changes will probably be limited to lowering the car, which will change the geometry of the rear four-link. “The car has a steel roof and quarters, front and rear bars, factory tail-lights, headlights and grille,” Zap says. “It’s heavy enough; I don’t need to add any weight to it to make it work.
“This is my old HQ Monaro that’s been sitting around for years, but with an all-new combo. It’ll run a Noonan billet Hemi with a PSI D-rotor blower.”
Zap’s match-up against Lutz should be pretty killer, as Jeff really has a handle on getting that GTO down the track. Even so, no matter how good Jeff is and how much testing and racing he has done, you would be a brave man to bet against John Zappia, this country’s greatest exponent of door-car drag racing.
Here’s hoping that the Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings tour lives up to all the promise and we get some good weather and plenty of tight racing.