Young Gun twin-turbo One Tonner

21-year-old Connor Begley comes from a drag racing family background and worked with his dad on the build of his eight-second, twin-turbo LS-powered Tonner

Photographers: Ashleigh Wilson

You may be wondering how a 21-year-old Young Gun comes to be tooling around in an eight-second, twin-turbo LS-powered One Tonner – the little so-and-so must have won Lotto! Well, it just so happens that Connor Begley lucked out when it came to picking his mum and dad.

First published in the March 2022 issue of Street Machine

Those who follow WA drag racing would know the Begley name. Connor’s sister Emma and father Anthony both drive in the Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Car series, so there’s a pretty good pedigree and a whole heap of drag racing knowledge in the fam. But that doesn’t mean Connor got handed this car on a platter. A fair bit of work and some deep R&D went into making it what it is today.

I guess it’s pretty obvious you grew up around cars?

Yeah, I would always go to Motorvation, Powercruise and the drags with Dad and his One Tonner.

But this isn’t the same Tonner?

No. We bought this car because I was getting too old for Junior Dragsters and I was nagging Dad to step up his One Tonner with a 383 small-block so I could race it in Super Street. Dad wasn’t too keen on letting me get behind the wheel of his car, because he wanted to pull it off the track and turn it back into more of a street car. We thought it would be better to find another one and build it to a high safety standard for the power we were going to put into it.

What was this one like when you first got hold of it?

We found out it had been raced for many years back in the Ravenswood days. But it needed a lot of work to bring it up to today’s safety standards, so Black Magic Race Cars cut out the old mild-steel rollcage and built an awesome chrome-moly ’cage.

The car has a twin-turbo LS now, but that wasn’t always the case, was it?

When we first built the car, it had an LSA combo from Active Automotive, and it ran a best of 9.50. We raced and tested the car for a couple of seasons, but it still had the old ladder-bar rear end, and we struggled for quite a while to get it down the track on radial tyres. So during the off-season, BMRC cut out the ladder bar and fitted the car with a custom four-link. Jeff Johnson built the new engine, and Steve Lundy from Lundy Race Fab modified the headers and mounted the turbos and wastegates.

How did the changes work out?

We’ve only raced half a season, and the quickest the car has been down the quarter is 8.48@168mph.

I saw you racing at Red CentreNATS 7, and the car made massive improvements on every pass.

That’s one of my favourite memories in this car. That was the first time we ran the car with the twin turbos, and we won the Pro Class DYO event. It started off running 10s, and by the end of the event it went into the eights for the first time.

I imagine you and your dad have been on quite a steep learning curve with this car.

We definitely couldn’t have done it without Jeff Johnson’s help. He did the majority of the engine work and all of the tuning, and he has taught us a lot about EFI and turbos. I’ve grown up helping Dad and his crew on a range of supercharged full-chassis cars, but they are totally different.

Now that you’re used to going quite fast, are you going to join your dad and sister in Funny Car?

Yes, starting the licensing process in our family’s Nitro Funny Car is the next step in my racing career. It will be a massive step up, and I’m very excited about it. I’ve grown up idolising my dad for some of the cars that he’s had the opportunity to race around the world, and I’ve been lucky enough to go along on some of those journeys.

Is there anyone else you’d like to thank?

Sam and Cassie Rhodes from Vulcan Panel & Paint, who did an awesome job painting the car when it was built and continue to do so when it comes to touch-ups. Also a massive thanks to Phil Gardiner from Phil Gardiner Engineering, Bob Lush and the guys at Applied Automotive Engineering for all the machine work they do, and of course the crew that helps out at the workshop and at the track.