race reports

Pro Slammers at Sydney, Australia




Words and photos by Jon Van Daal

Frankie Taylor got the win for Team Bray.


Going into the IHRA East Coast Nationals at Sydney Dragway last weekend there were sixteen cars in our version of Pro Modified, Pro Slammer. In the past despite being oversubscribed the class had always only run an eight-car field, however it was decided that all sixteen runners would take part including one American racer called Frankie “The Madman” Taylor.


Huntingwood is an industrial estate that comes right up to the edge of the three track raceopolis that includes Sydney Dragway. Frankie “The Madman” Taylor was pedaling a late model Corvette for Gulf Western Oil Team Bray Racing and managed to put four laps under his belt in testing including an early shut off five second pass prior to the event. Facing Taylor were some of Australia’s fiercest racers including those with American competition under their belts – Paul Mouhayet and John Zappia.


The latter had recently returned from the States after running the quickest and fastest ever blown Pro Modified pass with a 5.424 at 265.33 lap in the Australian-designed Noonan 4.9 Bore Space Hemi-engined Jerry Bickel ’69 Camaro at Virginia Motorsports Park.


Other racers included current Australian Pro Slammer champion, Mark Belleri, Scott McLean and Taylor’s teammate, Ben Bray.

Ben Bray


Qualifying saw McLean, in his Holden Monaro (Pontiac GTO) at the top for all three sessions with a best of 5.657 in round two. Zappia was out to erase that but could only come in second with a 5.708 in the same session.

Mouyahet rounded out third in his Hemi-powered Mustang with a 5.726 best.


On paper Mouhayet had the American covered by two tenths but as has been seen before, often things don’t go to plan. This came in the form of a .487 narcoleptic light giving Taylor a three-tenth lead, then the car struck the tyres off the line and then tried to play catch up until he shut the Mustang down, a 5.938 put paid to a 7.950.

“I enjoyed a great race in the final against Paul Mouhayet,” Taylor admitted. “I came here to do a good job for Team Bray Racing and Gulf Western Oil, and for the big man, Victor Bray himself. I am very pleased that I have been able to break through for a win for the team in my first event racing for them here in Australia. It’s been a great weekend!”

Probably the most eagerly anticipated pairing of the night came in the semi-finals between John Zappia and Paul Mouyahet. As can be seen here the latter strapped a car length holeshot on the Westralian veteran and then the Fuchs Monaro went silent while the Mustang saw a 5.708 winning run.


“We didn't make it to the Christmas tree,” Zappa sadly said as a blower belt broke. “We're not sure what is behind the belt issue, maybe something is bent or a misalignment; we need to go through it all and find out why it started happening. Belts normally last 20 runs and then all of a sudden we can't make one run.


“It was pretty frustrating, I can’t repeat what was said inside the cab! But that is the way it goes, you think you are on top of it, reliable and consistent, then have something like that goes wrong,” he added.

As was the case in the other semi-final the startline saw one racer grab a solid lead off the line. This time around it was Mark Belleri who pulled nearly a car length off the line on Frankie Taylor thanks to a .002 light. That said, despite recording a 5.862 in qualifying, Belleri’s times in eliminations were way off with 6.01 and 11.256 times prior to the final and despite improving to a 5.988 Taylor finally put down a decent run with a 5.833/249.03 doing the deed.

Steven Ham didn’t have the best of days going into eliminations with his ’69 Camaro going up on one wheel in the first round and then falling to Mouyahet in the second, 5.727 to 7.006.

The clean looking Monaro/GTO of Scott McLean took the top qualifying trophy with a best of 5.657. A first round 5.711 solo was followed by a horrendous .261 red light against eventual winner, Taylor.

The ‘purty’ Camaro of Queenslander, Stuart Bishop was plagued with handling problems throughout the race. This came to a head in his round-two race with Mark Belleri when the latter shut off early but Bishop crossed the centreline handing him the win.

John Zappia put down low ET of the meet in his second-round race with Ben Bray – a stellar 5.601 at 255.68.

Michelle Davies had just finished a 6.059/232.19 pass on the third qualifier when her car got into the wall in the braking area. While she did a burnout, in her first-round match she shut off after the green came on. 




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