The sixth round of the 2023/24 Australian Top Doorslammer Championship sees the title chase on a knife edge as ten teams roll into The Bend Motorsport Park for the Riverbend Nationals this weekend.

In many ways this has been a transformative season for Top Doorslammer racing in Australia, with rookies upsetting veterans and many teams taking the opportunity to update equipment as the level of competition heats up.

At the top of the points stands John Zappia (435 points), though his lead is just a meagre 17 points over fellow West Australian Russell Taylor (418 points). Zappia comes into the Riverbend Nationals in hot form, having just wrapped up the WA Top Doorslammer Championship. He will have his preferred Noonan ‘A-motor’ back in the chassis rails of the famed Dananni Hotshots/Fuchs Lubricants Monaro when it arrives in Tailem Bend, looking to be firmly back into the 5.6s. Ideal weather conditions are predicted for both Saturday’s qualifying and Sunday’s racing, with maximums in the low twenties — suiting those teams with the ability to take advantage.

Russell Taylor’s Camaro has been resting up since its runner-up result at the Westernationals. As the winner of the Festival State Nationals (the last championship round at The Bend), Taylor is poised to reclaim the points lead from Zappia.

The ‘rollercoaster season’ description is apt for Ronnie Palumbo (366 points). The rookie driver at the wheel of veteran Maurice Fabietti’s ACDelco Holden Monaro has felt all the ups and downs, from his first event win in the opening round of the season to frustrating transmission gremlins and red lights. Still, he holds third position on the points table and is well within sight of the lead, especially if he can find a good result at The Bend.

Lisa Gregorini (318 points) sits just ahead of Daniel Gregorini (281 points), with the husband and wife team hoping to put some electrical problems behind them. Having recently signed up major sponsor Consolidated Group for a further two years, they will be keen to impress.

Fellow South Australian local Pat Carbone has been testing his Camaro recently and produced a confidence-boosting 6.03 run just a few weeks ago, putting the five-second zone in sight once again. While Carbone has been in the fives before, his nephew Adam Tassone will be looking to clock his first sub six-second run in his own Camaro, after coming close with a 6.02 last time out at the Festival State Nationals.

Adelaide’s own Mick Mahoney will return with his Read’s Transport Ford Mustang, also carrying the support of Finesse Auto Detailing and US supercharger wizard Darren Mayer. Mahoney’s combo is one that has not yet shown its full potential — will the Riverbend Nationals mark a turnaround in fortunes?

Peter Lovering’s beautiful ’55 Chevy will be back on track. The New South Welshman is currently battling against a car that is significantly overweight, but has been updating the equipment where it counts to fulfill his role as one of the dark horses. Also representing the ‘Shoebox Chevys’ will be South Australian Scott Ferguson, driving the Hillbilly Express ’55 Chevy.  

Ideal weather conditions are predicted for both Saturday’s qualifying and Sunday’s racing, with maximums in the low twenties. Each and every team will have the perfect opportunity to show what they are capable of and look forward to welcoming thousands of South Australian drag racing fans once again.