Video: Drag Challenge 2023 rego day

We check out some of the sweet rides

Photographers: Shaun Tanner

Street Machine Drag Challenge 2023 is ready to go off, with nearly 200 of Australia’s coolest street cars primed for five days of drag-and-drive action across two states!

Rego day saw entrants get scrutineered and stickered up before a 9am racing start tomorrow at The Bend’s incredible new dragway. Here’s a taste of the metal you can expect to see over the coming week, including some new and familiar rides.

The only Vauxhall in attendance belongs to Jason Gauci, who’s racing in Speed Pro Six Cylinder. He’s owned the ’56 Velox for four years, jamming in a Haltech-controlled Toyota 1JZ and A430 auto before turning to the rad gasser stance. Its best is an 11.9 at Eastern Creek.

Colac bloke Jason Walter’s unassuming XG XR6 hides an eBay-spec turbo kit and Haltech Elite 750 engine management, tied to the matching block and and AU VCT head for a solid 350rwhp. A DTM Transmissions-built BTR and Borgy rear fill out the rest.

“We drive this everywhere,” he grins. With a 12.05 PB under his belt from last year’s DC, he’s aiming for 11s this time around in Tuff Mounts 235 Blown.

Petar DaBelic pulled apart his neat Ghia as soon as he got it for a tough Barra turbo and ZF conversion. It’s good for 930hp at the hubs through a 31-spline billet TrueTrac third member, though it’s turned down to a tame 800 for this week. Petar’s hoping to beat his 10.1 PB in Speed Pro Six-Cylinder on his second Drag Challenge.

Bradley Gunn’s from a circuit racer family, so he took inspiration from 60s Trans Am series coolness for his Mustang coupe. He’s come from Tassie for his first event in the car, carrying everything on the Muzzy’s roof! Up front is a Warren Heath-built 332 Windsor matched to a Paul Rogers C4 and nine-inch rear, with Gazzard Bros suspension underneath to achieve the rad stance.

“It’s a basic, low maintenance car; we just want to finish,” Brad laughs. 260rwhp should be enough to send the 1250kg car into the 11s, competing in Kool Wrap 235 Aspirated.

Steve Nightingale is a regular in Pacemaker Radial Aspirated in his 427 Windsor-powered XA sedan, with a PB of 10.80. He’s recently switched from a troublesome run of C4s to a T400; otherwise it’s been smooth sailing.

DC virgin Rob Whiddon’s ’81 TF Cortina is an ongoing project, with a 347, C4 and Borgy combo that should deliver mid-11s in Vibrant Performance Dial-Your-Own. Its last test day saw it run five 11.4s from five passes, meaning it’s well-suited to a class that rewards precision. “We’ve got no delusions of grandeur but we’ll have a crack,” he laughs.

“It’s literally my daily,” laughs Jason Vyner of his de-Nissaned XFN ute, racing in Pacemaker Radial Aspirated. The 363 Windsor was dropped in a week ago to replace a dead 347, and it’s paired to a tough GForce T5 and BorgWarner diff with 4.11s, turning 275s in factory tubs. “If I get a 12.0 I’ll be happy, but it should get an 11,” he says.

“I’ve gotta drive it out of the hole rather than dump it, because the Borgy won’t last! I wanted to put a nine-inch in the back but I ran out of the time.” 2000rpm at 110km/h thanks to the overdrive ‘box should make for a comfy week on the road, provided the diff stays alive!

Engine building god Jason Mansweto is back in Kool Wrap 235 Aspirated, behind the wheel of his 10-second XY ute weekender, which also doubled as a daily driver and parts runner for some time. Aside from a closed-door respray it’s a proper survivor, down to the original dash and door rubbers! It runs a 408 Clevo with 4V cast heads, with street-friendly 3.7 gears out back. Jason’s confident the mill’s capable of nines, but in the uncaged ute it’s PB’d at 10.52.

Stephen Willies’s Ranchero was built to land right on an 11-second ET in GJ Drivelines Outlaw Aspirated, which it does on the regular. It’s running all the same kit as it did at DC 2018 and 2019, which includes a 6521ci Ford mill, C6 and 3.55 nine-inch. “All I have to do is gas the air con occasionally,” Stephen enthuses.

Aiden O’Shannessy had so much fun on DC in mate Simmo’s HG wagon that he turned his granddad’s ZJ Fairlane into a tough survivor! He treated it to some minor rust repairs, a new bonnet and engine bay repaint before dropping in a 434 Clevor, C10 and nine-inch. So far he’s managed a 10.82 – not bad for a big boat!

It’s a roughie, but Adrian Nicholls’s Camaro runs mid-11s on a simple 350 Chev, TH350 and Dana 60 combo. It’s his second DC in the Yank import, which features chassis connectors, 90/10 shocks and Wilwood front discs. Check out the rear storage set-up!

Former Young SMOTY contender Joel Lucas has managed a best of 10.51 in his self-built Barra turbo XF ute. He’s recently switched to a mono leaf rear which will see testing over DC, and there’s a new 3582 turbo-clad mill in the works. We’re told this one will go into his 80-series LandCruiser as a sweet tow rig for the ute!

Oct 10 – Day 1 – Dragway at the Bend. Gates open 8am, racing 9am-3pm

Oct 11 – Day 2 – Sunset Strip Mildura. Gates open 8am, racing 9am-3pm

Oct 12 – Day 3 – Heathcote Park Raceway. Gates open 8am, racing 9am-3pm

Oct 13 – Day 4 – South Coast Raceway. Gates open 8am, racing 10am-4pm

Oct 14 – Day 5 – Dragway at the Bend. Gates open 8am, racing 10am-4pm