Most race teams head to the track with one goal in mind – winning – but when Wayne Keys and Keys Family Motorsport appear at Perth Motorplex for the Shannons Insurance Power Palooza this Saturday, they go in aiming to make a whole bunch of new people interested in drag racing too.
Keys is one of the sport’s veterans, with decades of experience behind the wheel. He said the drag racing exhibition at Power Palooza is the perfect opportunity to introduce curious bystanders to his supercharged Chev Camaro.
“I love the Power Palooza concept, it draws a huge crowd and what surprised us last year was a lot of people who had not been to see drag racing were coming to our pit,” he said. “At first they were standing back, but we love to drag them in and tell them all about the car and the sport. My wife Lisa and I will tell anyone whatever they want to know, and a lot of the people we spoke to wanted to come back and watch a full event.”
New fans have much to learn from Keys and his team. Keys Family Motorsport has twice been awarded the Gary Miocevich Award of Excellence, most recently last season, and their beautiful race car was recognised with an Australian National Drag Racing Association Best Engineered Award in 2018.
While there won’t be any championships on the line on the drag strip for the Shannons Insurance Power Palooza, Keys said he won’t be holding back and would love to be running 5sec. quarter-mile times.
“We get two passes and we are keen to put on a good show,” he said. “While we are still in test mode with some things, we know people on the fence want to see full passes and that’s what we will be delivering.”
Keys made a range of changes to the 3500 horsepower Camaro during the off-season including replacing his three-speed transmission with a four-speed, and a new ignition system.
“I’ve always wanted to try an (extra gear ratio) because the Roots-style of supercharger we run doesn’t make the power of the alternative PSI superchargers and I think with four gears closer together we can keep the engine in the torque band,” he said.
“We have also replaced our magneto ignition with a coil ignition. There is not supposed to be a performance advantage but there is a weight saving, and they are less fussy in the engine area with no long leads or big magneto in the way.”
The upgrades were tested on Sunday at the Motorplex, where Keys felt confident in the team’s progress.
“We were quite close (on Sunday), we had a good second run that I shut down early so I could check on the data,” he explained. “We were set to go for the third run but I shifted out of first gear early and it spun the tyres. We were pleased with what we did, especially given the hot conditions.”
The Shannons Insurance Power Palooza is a triple-header festival of motorsport that includes supercharged drag racing from 3.30pm to 6.30pm, followed by burnouts at 6.30pm and concluding with the Maddington Toyota Sprintcar Series on the speedway from 7.00pm to 10.00pm.
Words & Pics: Luke Nieuwhof