Holden VL Calais runs eighth-mile in four-second on 235 radials

Victor Baralos's Holden VL Commodore is doing amazing things on a 235 radial, and there's more to come

Photographers: Peter Bateman

IT’S hard to believe the numbers that are being run on drag radials today. In the States, mid-three-second passes over the eighth-mile on a 315 are not uncommon, while in our own backyard, the race is now on to do similar things on a 235 radial. There have been a number of mid-eight quarter-mile passes and a few cars in the low nines, but the storm is only just brewing for this class.

Having pushed his RB30-powered VL into the 4sec zone over the eighth-mile, Victor Baralos (at right) is looking to run mid-7s sevens and 180mph over the quarter

One of the greatest recent accomplishments in this regard was the 4.9-second eighth-mile of Victor Baralos’s RB30-powered VL Calais. Justin from Brisbane’s JW Automotive – who had his own mid-seven-second radial ride some years ago – has turned this car into a missile. The goal for the build was to run a seven-second pass in an untubbed car with a pretty-much factory rear end and 235 radials. Well, a 4.90 equates to a 7.60 over the quarter, so mission accomplished, but the craziest thing was the 60-foot time: 1.118 seconds on a 235! Insane!

The car is no featherweight either. Sure, the interior is sparse, but it’s a steel-bodied sedan with a 3.0-litre six-banger up front choking on 50lb of boost.

The engine is pretty mild with the exception of Argo rods, custom JE pistons and a Cometic-style head gasket, and even though they turn this car to 9500rpm, it still runs a wet sump with an ASR drag pan.

On the hot side is a 6boost turbo manifold with an 83/85 Precision turbo and single 50mm wastegate. Intake is a JPC manifold with a Plazaman throttlebody and a 100 Pro Series intercooler. An M&W CDI fires it up, and there are six 2400cc Siemens injectors hosing E85 down its throat.

Justin has done plenty of work on the car, from the engine to the manifolding to the race car-spec wiring that he tells us is very intricate. All the pressure pipes use the Plazmaman clamping system, which is basically like a V-band with an O-ring. Kyle Hopf at 6boost supplied the exhaust system and the T4 manifold for the mid-frame turbo.

The rear end still has all the factory suspension mounting points, rubber bushes and standard-length (albeit braced chrome-moly) control arms. Even the sway-bar is factory-sized and in the stock location.

So what’s the secret to 1.118sec 60-foot times? Well according to Justin, no one part is responsible on its own.

“The shocks we run are a custom deal; I get asked all the time by people wanting to buy them,” he says. “But we don’t sell shocks, we sell a package: diff ratio, front and rear shocks, converter, tune. There is no one thing that makes the car work; it’s a package deal.”

While Justin was understandably secret squirrel about many of the car’s specs, he conceded the shocks and converter were sourced from overseas. Other goodies include a tweaked Powerglide and a Link Thunder ECU that monitors everything from wheel sensors, EGT and multiple pressure sensors, to all the usual engine vitals.

With 9500rpm and 50lb on the engine and a 1.118 60-foot already in the bag, one has to wonder what’s left in the tank.

“There’s always something,” Justin reckons. “We have some converter changes happening in the near future and possibly we can look at a new engine program. We actually started this journey on a 255 radial, and we ran 7.83@178mph. We got a baseline with that tyre, so we knew we would be close when we swapped back to the 235.”

While the boys are rightly pretty chuffed with what they have achieved, there’s still a long way to go to meet their ultimate goal of 7.50s and 180mph. But one thing’s for sure: we’ll be keeping an eye on this weapon.

Photographers: Peter Bateman