“Out of all the Sportsman categories, the toughest is Super Sedan,” begins John Kapiris, who’s a man as serious with his words as he is on the racetrack. “They’re all difficult, but in Super Sedan you’ve got two and three times the vehicles of any other category,” he continues, and against a bumper field of worthy opponents it was Kapiris who took home the first ever 400 Thunder Super Sedan Championship in a contest that went down to the wire at the last meeting of the season.
Kapiris’ racing journey started in 2011 in Super Street. “We only raced there for one year then started testing for Super Sedan,” he explains and on debut, won his first of four-straight Championships before continuing his success in his first ever 400 Thunder Championship this year.
However the South Australian’s racing roots go back much further than this. “I grew up in Virginia, SA near the racetrack (Adelaide International Raceway). In Virginia, Drag Racing is a way of life; it was my upbringing. I was only on my Learner’s Permit when they closed the track,” Kapiris goes on to explain which has made travelling to race a fact of life for Kapiris, like many South Australian enthusiasts.
Kapiris’ season for example took him to all corners of the country, including contesting rounds in Sydney, Queensland and even Perth. It was WA that provided Kapiris some of his fiercest foes, he recalls.
“The two toughest runs were both at the Westernationals,” he recalls keenly; “I got through one and I lost the second! I raced Martin Mirco who was the fastest in Perth at the time, then raced Paul Downe the following round and broke out against him. Those two races meant the most all season, I couldn’t split the difference between which was better,” he says beaming with respect for his peers.
The season culminated at the 2016 City of Ipswich Winternationals, where Kapiris was steely-focused on the task at hand. “My strike rate had been good. I knew it was going to be a tough meeting and I knew that consistency would get me through, so I focussed on cutting my lights and trying to get through the meeting,” he explains.
The pressure was amplified by the raft of racers behind him, nipping at his heels on the Championship point’s ladder. “Luckily every single person near enough to the Championship went out early on Saturday – let me tell you I slept well Saturday night!” he laughs.
“Winning to me is everything,” he says with a serious tone; “I go in to every meeting to win, nothing less. What takes the edge off this and makes it enjoyable though, is that the difference between a win and a loss is only ever the slightest margin,” he says of the humbling nature of Drag Racing.
Kapiris is looking forward to another season of racing in 2017, where he’ll make reliability and consistency a key focus. “I want to keep going for as many years as possible, budget permitting,” he explains. “The car was letting me down at a few meetings last season due to an issue with the block however we fixed that heading in to the Winternationals. Now we’ll focus on getting a more reliable transmission in the car, and keep fine tuning it for consistency.”
Photo By: dragphotos.com.au