South Pacific Pro Radial Specialists!
The popularity of fast street car genre racing is far-reaching, and that includes a couple of very dramatic Camaros deep within Australia’s thriving drag racing scene.
Stuart Henry, based out of Toowoomba, Queensland, campaigns a nicely prepped 1968 Camaro, which he first introduced for competition in 2017. Henry, who has been racing small-tire cars both in Australia and in the USA for the last decade, acquired the Racecraft-built Camaro that was formally driven by Jim Robbin in Outlaw 10.5. Since its purchase many updates were made, including shoehorning a massive 864ci TRE engine between the framerails. With nitrous oxide injection, Henry has over 2,000 hp at his disposal to play with on race day. Henry competes within Australia’s two primary Pro Radial racing series: IHRA Australia and Kenda Tires Drag Radial. His crewmembers are listed as Kevin Neal, Dylan Murray, Shane Lamb, and Morgan Whiting. Sponsorship is provided by Menscer Motorsports, PTC Torque Converters, Western Suburbs Diffs & Driveshafts, Sunset Performance Engines, 6 Boost, and Neal Racing Transmissions.
The Snickers candy bar company is a proud sponsor of Perry Bullivant’s truly impressive and “Hot Wheels” collectable cars-themed Camaro. Bullivant, the owner and operator of Bullivant Automotive & Exhaust, located in Lavington, New South Wales, is a four-time and defending Australian Outlaw Radial class champion. During 2017, Bullivant introduced a significant change to his race team when he upgraded his engine program to a state-of-the-art, 2,500+ hp, twin-turbo 481X engine from industry leading ProLine Racing (Ball Ground, Georgia). With that, Bullivant, whose impressive career includes being Australia’s first racer in the class in the 6-second zone (quarter-mile), was rewarded with some additional record-setting runs, including notching Australia’s all-time eighth-mile quickest lap in the class with a 4.28 e.t. at 175 mph, set at famed Willowbank Raceway, near Brisbane, Queensland.
The year 1955 is being fondly represented by two dedicated Northeastern drag racers with iconic Chevrolet cars from that year.
Ron Steiner, from Hampton, Connecticut, is a veteran driver who campaigns his classic machine primarily within NHRA’s Super Street class. Originally purchased in 1992 and restored in 1994, this ’55 was a street car that often traveled to and from car shows up and down Eastern Seaboard. But Steiner, who had previously drag raced from the ’60s to the ’80s got bit by the drag racing bug again in 2000 so he converted the car for dragstrip duty at the beginning of the 2001 season. The present-day iteration features chassis work by Pete Sanca (Str8line Performance) and an engine by James Antonette (JA Performance). Steiner employs a 429ci big-block engine outfitted with Brodix aluminum heads and a Holley 1050 carburetor with a Dedenbear throttle stop. The transmission was built by Ed Alessi of Select Performance (West Babylon, New York). While Steiner’s primary focus is on 10.90 class racing, he reveals a best run of 10.12 at 130 mph when unleashed. So far, Steiner’s machine has two Top 10 finishes in final NHRA Division 1 points, and a Super Street title at the 2010 Jegs SportsNationals.
John Harper, from Wiscasset, Maine, shows up at drag races with his absolutely top-shelf 1955 Chevy Bel Air that is a refurbished product from expert race car builder Bob Mandell’s Bob’s Pro-Fab (Culleoka, Tennessee). According to Harper, “this car is an honest to goodness barn find,” taken out of storage after 18 years. It is all steel with a full interior, everything original, including the paint. The car is powered by a Steve Schmidt 555ci big-block that produces nearly 1,000 horsepower under the watchful eye of Jerry Porter (Jerry Porter Race Engines). Some of that program’s important components include Dart cylinder heads, Manley rods, JE pistons, and a Jesel valvetrain. The transmission is a Powerglide built by Gary Kaye from Kaye Racing Powerglides (Westborough, Massachusetts) behind an FTI converter. According to Harper, his ’55 is run occasionally in Super Pro (where it has a best time of 9.25 at 148 mph), but for the most part is entered in NHRA Super Street 10.90 class. Harper’s final product certainly speaks volumes. Since its debut, the car has been deservedly selected for numerous Best Appearing awards. Harper races with his son Matt (a renowned Top Sportsman class driver in the Northeast in his own right) and calls New Hampshire’s New England Dragway his home track.
Photos by Bruce Biegler