Joe Gauci’s twin-turbo small-block Cortina runs its first six – and narrowly escapes disaster


JOE Gauci from Profab Motorsport Fabrications ran his first 6-second pass during testing at Sydney Dragway last week, after a gut-wrenching scare on the track. Joe did extremely well to keep the car on the rails as it crossed the centreline to the right hand side of the track and then speared back to the left. The new PB of 6.97@212mph was run on a set of 275 MT Pro Radials.

The six-second pass is the latest in a long line of achievements for Joe and his giant-killing Cortina. Joe started racing the car way back in 1988. “My first meeting was in Canberra,” says Joe. “The car had a six with a suck-through single SU carby. We ran a 13.3, with a four-speed and an open wheel diff. That was the good old days!

Joe never stopped developing the car and it rose to prominence over a decade ago. Back then, Joe was running an EFI 200ci turbocharged Ford six. Despite running an engine at least half the size of most of the heavy hitters in the Modified Street Blown field, the Cortina run as quick as 8.58-seconds in this form and won two Pro Street Shootout events outright.

Ford Cortina Drag Race 2Joe pulled the Cortina off the road in 2009 for a complete makeover, including a Dandy Engines-built 372ci small block Ford with twin T70 Precision turbos and a liquid-to-air intercooler. With this setup, Joe headed to Calder Park in late 2010 and ran a 7.45-second pass, taking him straight to the top of the highly competitive Modified Street Blown list. The Cortina dominated Modified Street Blown racing for three years and remained in Number One spot in the Top 10 for five years. “We only won one championship because we missed a few rounds of racing, but in those three years we never lost a race or final,” says Joe.

Ford Cortina Drag Race 1Now, Joe and the Cortina have moved on from MSB to take on the challenge of Radial Outlaw racing. As well as fitting new boots, he has given the car a mechanical makeover, with a new 380ci SBF from Dandy Engines and 88mm Garrett turbos. He has also swapped over to a FuelTech ECU, with complete data logging. “We’re making more power now,” says Joe. “We tried to feed more power in but just did it a bit too aggressively and she didn’t like it. There is definitely more in it. I’ve owned this car since 1986. I think most people would have moved on by now, but I like making what I have work. Sure, a more aerodynamic body would be better, but I enjoy the challenge.”