The 44th annual Westernationals at Perth Motorplex was like a snowball rolling down a hillside – an odd comparison to draw on such a hot and humid weekend but the more the event rolled on the more immense it became!
So let’s start from the top…Top Doorslammer that is.
John Zappia continued the domination of the category in which he is a seven times national champion. But it was an extremely close deciding final when Zappia’s 5.78 just defeated Peter Kapiris’ 5.81, the margin of victory just 0.007 at the stripe.
“I knew they (Kapiris’ team) were going to step up,” Zappia said. “Craig from Striker Crushing (one of Zappia’s sponsors) called me up and said you’re on fire, just leave it alone, don’t touch it – and that’s exactly what we did.
“I thought 5.80s was the limit, but now we have made a big leap and I don’t know if there is much more to leap after this. There is probably a 5.65 in the car on a perfect run.
“We are that close to being able to run flat 5.70s or 5.69s consistently, but I don’t know how long it will take to happen. It could take 18 months to make it happen.”
One of the unique parts of day two of the Westernationals was that the third qualifying session of Top Doorslammer had to be carried over, meaning at 11am in the morning a few lucky fans were seeing the field battle it out to make it in.
Mark Belleri was one of those to benefit with a 5.94 in the morning session sliding him into the field.
Peter Kapiris had five second runs on tap with the Saratoga as a return to his former set up yielded dividends.
Maurice Fabietti had a quick Holden Monaro but a sleepy reaction time in the semi final cost him the race against Kapiris. As they say in drag racing, if you snooze, you lose!
Moving on to Top Alcohol and while we would normally start with the winner, we just can’t go past Craig Glassby’s amazing performance in the semi finals as our ‘run of the event’. Glassby scorched to a 5.410 second run, the quickest methanol fuelled funny car pass in the world!
Gary Phillips had to watch as Glassby took his national record, but he was able to claim a little bit of revenge in the final round, defeating Glassby when he went into tyre shake.
And now, the champaaaaaaaaagne!
Now on to the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series. The very sexy Al McClure took a very sexy win in Competition eliminator, the national champion securing a victory against Kyle Putland. The Westernationals is the only opportunity of the season to earn national points and set national records at Perth Motorplex.
Brett Glover took a popular win in Super Stock, finally getting the handling issues sorted out with his Mazda RX7 and defeating the always tough Allen Puglia.
This was the view a lot of Competition Bike riders got on the weekend. Ross Smith and Westernationals are a match made in heaven. Smith won his FOURTH Westernationals title in a row. And to think some people spend their lives just trying to win one!
Dowerin farmer Donald Freind took his ute to the winner’s circle of Supercharged Outlaws, ending Tracey De Jager’s dream run through the early rounds.
Lorenzo Gullotto enjoyed a historic win in the first ever running of Top Sportsman at Perth Motorplex. These guys put on a real show with some great burnouts across the start line entertaining the crowd.
Michelle Osborn found some long sought after consistency and was rewarded with her first event win in Modified – and it just happened to be at the Westernationals! Osborn defeated Alesha Adamos in the final round.
Well we’ve seen plenty of WA success in the sportsman ranks but David Yanko was the man in Super Sedan, the Victorian defeating tough local Paul Downe.
The Victorians were not so lucky in the final of Modified Bike, with Edgell Mallis suffering a heartbreaking 9.444 break out on his 9.45 dial in, which saw the win go to an overjoyed Ian Read. It was Read’s first event win.
Flashing red and blue lights are normally a bad sign at speed, but for the ‘Beat the Heat’ Pontiac GTO of Lee Watson, it meant he was in the final of Super Street. Watson and the team promote safe drag racing across Western Australia using the police-themed vehicles and on this night they did their marketing no harm with an 11.338 win on an 11.30 dial in against Kirstie Wroe.
Last but not least, Bailey Ferguson claimed the win in Junior Dragster, running an 8.547 on an 8.53 dial in to get by Matthew O’Connor’s close 8.022 on a 7.97 dial in.
There were a couple of lowlights, among which was Mark Ashelford taking a big tumble in the braking area on his nitro Harley. Fortunately Ashelford escaped the scary incident with just a broken wrist and a torn ligament in his knee.
Along with all the race winners, there were also off track honours being handed out. Greg Gibson won the Summit Racing Equipment and YBI Creative supported Best Presented Award, Adrain Geary won the Best Engineered Award and Grant and Debbie O’Rourke (Grant pictured above with ANDRA CEO Malcolm Bulley) took the Longest Distance Travelled Award.
A big thanks go out to all the hard work from the officials, safety team and volunteers who make an event like the Westernationals happen. Combined with some 200 racers and thousands of spectators it was a recipe for a drag racing spectacle!
Images with thanks to Phil Luyer/High Octane Photos and Luke Nieuwhof.