We check out the Aussie contenders for Drag Week 2017, including John Faraone in his Charger, Richie Crampton in his ’57 Chev and Harry Haig in his Chevelle

Videographers: Scott TAYLOR

WITH the staging lanes at Cordova Raceway in Illinois nearly spilling over with entrants and wait-list hopefuls, Hot Rod Drag Week 2017 is set to be an absolute cracker. Roughly 390 street-legal drag cars were given the nod to partake in this year’s running of the most gruelling road and race competition in the USA.

The 2017 schedule centres around the state of Illinois, with tech day and Day One racing kicking off at Cordova. Day Two is at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois, just outside of St Louis. From there, they’ll head to Bryon Raceway in Byron, Illinois. Day Four is up at Great Lakes in Wisconsin – one of the coolest old survivor drag strips in the country – and after that’s been run and done, it’s back to Cordova to wrap it up on Day Five – if you can survive the whole ordeal.

 Tech and registration day is always a great chance to scope out the competition, catch up with old mates, and get prepared physically and mentally for the madness that will unfold over the next five days. With a huge number of participants this year, it’s already looking like it’ll be one for the ages, but with seven Aussie teams also thrown in the mix, there’s plenty of Down Under action to check out throughout the week.

 You’ve already been following along with Arby and the POR440 Valiant in his epic road-trip across the country. At almost 3500km, the trip was the ultimate way to iron the bugs out of the VG Val.

 We’ve also had a chat with Jamie Farmer and the twin-turbo LS-swapped XH Falcon ute, which is attracting a lot of attention everywhere it goes.

 Harry Haig and the Chevelle are back for their third crack at Drag Week, this time with a more refined version of the insane twin-turbo monster that broke the internet last year. The snails have been lowered closer to the bonnet line, there’s bigger rubber out back, a Gear Vendors overdrive, new bits from Turbosmart and a new Allfast converter. In test-and-tune today, Harry rattled off an 8.91@157mph, so things are looking promising.

 Another seasoned team running this year is Brian and Dianne Jensen in the LX Torana. They’ve also fitted a Gear Vendors overdrive to ease the road sections of the week, and are excited to be back in the fray. The Torana ran a 9.40@142mph in testing at Ozark Raceway, which is close to the car’s best.

 West Aussie John Faraone is back for his sixth year. John has moved to a set of 33.5-inch slicks instead of the DOT street tyres he previously ran, but apart from a few tweaks, the car is largely in the same spec as last year. John ran some licensing passes in Topeka before Drag Week and rattled off a 7.6-second pass at 185mph on 19psi with the car turning the tyres. The heavyweight Charger has made just under 2000rwph on 19psi and as much as 2840 on 38psi, so there is a lot of potential there to say the least.

 Fellow West Aussie Craig Moar debuted his ’84 Buick Regal this year, having both spectated and raced in mates’ cars for the past few Drag Weeks. Under the bonnet is a big-block Chev making over 800hp. The Buick is a nasty beast, with 4.11:1 gears, 28-inch tall tyres and 5500rpm converter. Even with a Gear Vendors overdrive in the mix, Craig says she is a thirsty girl on the highway.

 South Australian-born Top Fuel racer Richie Crampton has been putting together an absolutely killer ’57 longroof for this event. While the chassis is a full-tube deal, the engine combination is reasonably simple, based around a built 403ci LS3, with stock heads and a small roller cam. The power-adders are a pair of 68/70 Precision turbos and Richie thinks it should run as much as 30psi.

 The car ran 8.50s in testing and is looking like a sweet deal. Unfortunately, Richie will be unable to complete the whole event, as he must leave early to be in Charlotte, North Carolina by the end of the week to take up his seat in the Kalitta Top Fuel car. If there was ever a better reason to leave Drag Week early, I’m yet to hear it!

 Outside the Aussie contingency, there are plenty of heavy-hitters in the stacked field like Tom Bailey, who is back in his Sick Seconds 2.0 Pro Mod Camaro, this time sporting a new white and orange livery.

 Dave Schroeder and this beautiful nitrous 872-cube Corvette trapped a 6.6-second pass in test-and-tune and is definitely one to keep an eye on, while Joe Barry is back in his sweet ’56 Chev.

 Defending champ Jeff Lutz is in town with his new ’57, but he won’t be racing as his right-hand-man is stuck in Florida due to Hurricane Irma – and late-running Street Outlaws filming meant he missed the cut-off for tech. Nevertheless, Lutz will follow the circus for five days and lay down some exhibition passes for our enjoyment! His son Jeff Lutz Jr will be racing his evil ’89 Honda Civic. Powered by a twin-turbo small-block Chev, the team are hoping to run into the six-second zone at this year’s event.

 One of our favourite cars is the Opel Ascona of Swedish racer Magnus Frost. The nitrous-fed weapon ran its first seven-second pass on tech day.

 Anything can happen at Drag Week, but with a big field, some decent-looking weather and over a thousand miles of roadways to cover in five days, it’s going to be an awesome sight. Following along with us as we bring you daily updates, daily videos and even more cool stories along the way!