The growth of Australian drag racing is looking better than ever, with fans at the Australia Day Nationals at Sydney Dragway to be treated to a field of 12 stunning Top Doorslammers, including two brand new racers. 2024 may well be the ‘year of the rookie’ for one of motorsport’s most popular categories.
The rookie making all the headlines to this point has been Western Australia’s Russell Taylor. Though he is no stranger to drag racing (or motorsport of all kinds), Taylor’s climb to the top of the Australian Top Doorslammer Championship points has been nothing less than extraordinary. A win at the Festival State Nationals in South Australia saw Taylor take over the number one spot with 309 points, followed by John Zappia on 286 points and Lisa Gregorini on 280 points. The victory was his second of the season, following a home track win at Perth Motorplex’s Goldenstates Championship.
“We went to The Bend with the same approach as the Goldenstates,” he said. “We left a lot on the table to get familiar with the car, then chipped away and raced the conditions. If a win would come our way we would take it.
“The main issue at The Bend was that qualifying to race conditions were vastly different. We erred on the side of caution to make sure we made clean passes.”
Sydney Dragway is familiar territory for Taylor, who has raced his supercharged, Competition-class Torana at the venue in the past. The Australia Day Nationals will likely be similar to the Festival State Nationals, with temperatures in the mid-30s for qualifying, dropping to the mid-20s for racing.
“Performance wise there is a lot left on the table early, though that can impact consistency,” Taylor said. “We aren’t testing as work takes priority, so each race is taken into account and we race the conditions. Sydney’s conditions will also change from Friday to Saturday and hopefully with cooler conditions we can put some faster ETs up there.”
Clean reaction times are also on Taylor’s mind, as he seeks to improve not just the consistency of his 3500hp Camaro but also his driving.
“I have only had 20 runs on a pro tree so far,” he said. “If I can cut a light and the car is consistent, who knows where that may take us. We are not focusing on points, we are just satisfied with driving and having a good race car to do so.”
Two new drivers will be aiming to challenge Taylor’s efforts at the Australia Day Nationals, with Jack Danaher’s beautiful Corvette and Nasser Matta’s classic ’37 Chevy both entering the National Drag Racing Championship fray for the first time. Danaher in particular has been racing blown drag racing vehicles for some time, with the Striptease Racing Corvette marking a step up into the pro leagues.
“This has been a dream for over 20 years,” he said. “It’s going to be a huge challenge, but a challenge we’re really looking forward to.”
Pro qualifying for the Australia Day Nationals begins at 2.30pm on Friday with racing from 3.00pm on Saturday. Tickets are available online at www.sydneydragway.com.au.