Chris Schaper’s LS-powered 1981 VC Commodore

We caught up with 21-year-old Chris Schaper to talk about his drag racing and his LS-powered VC Commodore that now doubles as his daily driver

Photographers: Ashleigh Wilson

WE FIRST met Chris Schaper as he was pulling his LS-powered VC Commodore into the pits at Willowbank Raceway during Drag Challenge Weekend last November. We caught up again recently for a chat about the event, and to find out what drives the 21-year-old drag racer.

First published in the August 2021 issue of Street Machine

Tell us about your car.

It’s a 1981 VC Commodore running an LS1 with a VCM-710 cam and a TH400. We bought the car in 2015 as a rolling shell for a grand, and Dad and I spent a year building it in the shed using parts we’d bought from mates or ordered online. I’m a fabricator, so I was able to build the ’cage at my old work. I raced it for four yours up until 2019, when I got it street-registered.

How did you go at Drag Challenge Weekend last year?

Everything about Drag Challenge Weekend was amazing – the atmosphere, the people. It felt less like a competition and more like a social event. Being able to drive the car on open roads, get to the track and then have a laugh and a few drinks afterwards was great. All the competitors were supportive and were in it to see each other get to the end. We weren’t there to break numbers but to enjoy the experience.

Did the VC run as expected?

On the first day we had problems with it stalling, and come Saturday morning as we were leaving Warwick, we had no fuel pump or fan. We ended up sitting in the hotel car park doing a full rewire. We had half the interior hanging out as we left and kept working on the repairs while we were driving. With Dad’s help, and my mate Dylan acting as crew chief, we all worked together to keep moving. The support from everyone was wicked. Haltech even came on board and gave us a few parts to get it going, and we made it back to Willowbank on the last day.

So you managed to finish?

We made a pass of 11.94 on Day Three before the tailshaft centre bearing let go. It stopped us from driving home, but we raced at each track and completed the challenge, so I was so happy!

What first got you behind the wheel?

I started racing a Junior Dragster at Warwick in 2008, and by the time I was 16 I was running 7.90s down the eighth-mile. When I stepped out of that, my dad handed me the keys to his ’57 Chev drag ute, which he’s raced at Willowbank for more than 20 years.

A ’57 Chev ute? Care to elaborate?

It started as an EK Holden ute. Dad got the front and rear clip off Peter Gratz’s ’57 Chev Bel Air and grafted it together. He chopped two inches off the roof, built the chassis from the ground up and put a 512ci big-block Chev in it. I had a full year of competition in it before the diff blew up. It’s been off the track for 12 months now. I’ve made changes to the chassis and it’s got new steering and a new rear end. It’ll be back, with the same consistency but a new look.

Any future plans for the VC?

For now, I’m just enjoying driving it to work. But I’d love to put a turbo on it and get to the next Drag Challenge event with more power.