During the month of May, Chevy High Performance was once again privileged to have had the opportunity to venture back to Australia to get another taste of the thriving drag racing scene in the southern hemisphere.
The first takeaway we had after attending a couple of major consecutive events was that the passion for the Chevrolet brand and its worldwide heritage expands well beyond the confines of North America.
While witnessing a 400 Thunder Drag Racing Series race presented at Sydney Dragway followed by an Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Cars event at Willowbank Raceway, it was apparent that the Chevrolet Bowtie brand runs deep and is thriving within Australia.
Circuits there feature a mixture of machines—to put it simply—very different from what’d you see in North America. While traditional model Camaros, Chevelles, and Corvettes are fairly common, they are well-complemented with a much wider variety of Holden machines (Chevrolet’s Australian brand), which together produce a very interesting mix for GM drag racing fans.
In Australian drag racing, you can witness both the very latest in imported drag racing technology as well as one-off local creativity. Quite possibly, there is nowhere else in the world where you can go to a drag racing event and experience so many different shapes and sizes of drag racing vehicles.
The innovation within this drag racing scene is striking. While the sanctioning bodies do follow very strict safety standards, the race cars themselves are often a different breed, falling outside of the somewhat “cookie cutter” drag racing rules that we often see in North America. Out of both necessity (due to geography) and homegrown history, it often seemed that almost every car on the premises had something unfamiliar and different about it. We admire and like that latitude the racers are given. Isn’t that what drag racing is supposed to be all about?
Where else can you see a Holden with a supercharged inline six-cylinder engine or a Holden-bodied Pro Stocker?
Australia’s Pro Slammer category (also known as Top Doorslammer), which is equivalent to Pro Mod in North America, was of particular interest. That class has a very different feel to it, with a wide variety of bodies being used in competition. Think back to the days when the Pro Mod class first came to be in the late 1980s and early 1990s. That mindset and flexibility is seemingly thriving Down Under, and as a result its fan popularity speaks for itself.
Our visit to Willowbank (near Brisbane, Queensland, on the eastern coast) allowed us a chance to witness a very impressive independent circuit, too: the Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Cars, which was founded by Australian drag racing legend Graeme Cowin. Talk about knowing your product. This group really does do it right. Their focus includes the development of very “user friendly” guidelines. Not only do their tune-ups (which differ from what is allowed in USA) make their competitors run very fast (we saw a world record 5.37 at 270+ mph run), the circuit prides itself on minimal breakage. That formula for success has some ingredients that would benefit by being imported and incorporated within the nostalgia nitro Funny Car scene here at home.
So, if you are into something a bit different, check out our Australian drag racing photo gallery below. CHP
Photography by Bruce Biegler