During Chevy High Performance’s recent trip “down under” to attend some drag racing events in Australia, we were fortunate to witness what we believe to be some bona fide world record history.
That happened somewhat unexpectedly in early May while attending the most recent round for the independent, touring Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Cars circuit, during their booked-in program held at Queensland’s Willowbank Raceway, located just west of Brisbane.
The event featured a select field of truly great cars, including the Nitro Express ’57 Chevy-bodied Nitro Funny Car driven by Rick Gauci and owned by Australian drag racing legend (and Aeroflow series creator) Graeme Cowin. The Nitro Express is just one of eight nitro Funny Cars operations that Cowin oversees, and was at the heart of a performance frenzy.
Not only did Gauci win the three-round Chicago Style Shootout in a rout, it was the way he did it that made headlines. Combining some outstanding atmospheric conditions with a perfectly prepped Willowbank Raceway track surface, Cowin (affectionately known as “GC” within these circles) was able to apply his tuning skills to near perfection and the end result was what we believe to be the quickest elapsed time by a Nostalgia-bodied Nitro Funny Car on our planet to date.
Gauci, who had entered the event with a career-quick 5.483 e.t. to his credit, improved on that incrementally this particular evening. First, with consecutive laps of 5.44 and 5.43 to earn his final-round placing against rival Josh Leahy’s The Bandit. With GC turning the wick way up, Gauci recorded a historic 5.373 at 271.19 mph, which dwarfed Leahy’s otherwise quick 5.58 in the other lane.
Now, we will be the first to admit that the rules for nitro-burning Nostalgia Funny Cars do vary. While there are many similarities, there are certainly differences between what the NHRA’s Hot Rod Heritage Series cars can run and what is allowable within the Aeroflow Outlaw series.
From our understanding, the fuel pumps allowed in Outlaw Nitro are higher capacity than in NHRA and a significantly higher blower overdrive is permitted. Outlaw Nitro cars are also given a bit more leeway in the magneto department, which results in some pretty pleasing header flames compared to their North American cousins.
Gauci’s car specifically runs a very small 413ci mill, a 6-71 Littlefield blower, a 34- gallon pump, a B&J transmission, and they do not employ any data logger recorders. This is a Plueger chassis with a carbon-fiber 1957 Chevy body influenced by Tom “Mongoo$e” McEwen’s famous ’57 Chevy-bodied Funny Car.
Driver Rick Gauci reflects on his team’s performance: “We acknowledge that even though our ’57 Chevy body is a fan favorite, it’s not really very aerodynamic,” he laughed. “But that’s really not the point. Nitro loves load, so more of a square body helps provide that. The more air it pushes, the more load for the engine. Overall we have really got that working in our favor because our car is very happy now. Not only are we one of the cars to beat, we’ve got some record times to prove it.”
Gauci’s quick time, which is the first ever 5.3 e.t. we have ever heard of in the class, is complemented by some other amazing speeds recorded on the Australian circuit. Another ’57 Chevy-bodied car—The Red Devil, which is driven by Shane Olive—is the official speed record holder for the Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Cars at 274.61 mph.
And while some may make the argument that we may not be comparing apples to apples, the reality is there are not exactly worldwide guidelines set for nitro-burning Nostalgia Funny Cars (much like Pro Mod class racing). This class is one that has many hybrids, and the record keeping for it, too, has been and remains rather debatable.
We would counter quickly that despite some nuances, nothing can be taken away from this performance accomplishment, and that the quickest nostalgia Funny Car run so far, resides down under.
For more information on the Australian drag racing circuit visit: outlawnitrofunnycars.com.au.
Photos by Bruce Biegler