The Peter Xiberras story reads a little different to most who become involved in drag racing. He started where a lot of people end their years of obsession with motorsport; with a Hot-rod.
Xiberras started racing 18 years ago, when he built a Hot-rod with a very tough blown combination. “It quickly became apparent that I had all this power and couldn’t use it, so I thought let’s buy a drag car!”
He bought a Capri with a 400 SB Chev to make his drag strip debut at the Bodangora Drag Strip Wellington NSW, and ran in the 10’s. With some tuning he got it down to a PB of 9.40.
“I always had a thing for dragsters. I just love dragsters. So I bought a dragster and put a blown engine in it. We raced Supercharged Outlaws.” Originally with a Blown SB Chev, Peter ran in the 7.0’s and then switched to a BB Chev and got his time down to 6.52.
Away from the track Peter’s life consists of work. “Work, work & more work. I’m a workaholic” Peter admits. Drag racing is a great escape for him to really clear this mind.
Race day is now a family affair for team Xiberras, but it’s not always been that way. Peter’s wife Carmen wasn’t into cars or racing initially, but was always happy and supportive of Peter heading away for a weekend to race with his mates.
Peter explains “All of this changed when we entered Top Fuel and Carmen said ‘I think I’ll come down for a look’”.
He knew that this would be either a good thing or a bad thing. Nothing in between. He goes on to say “She‘ll either go “you’re not ever getting in that car again” or she’ll love it. The rest is history. She loves it.”
Now their kids, James 20, Rebecca 17, Hailey 14 and Christopher 10, all pitch in with Carmen and the crew to make it a really tight-knit group.
We back-track to ask about his entry into the pinnacle of the sport – Top Fuel.
Peter explains that “it was a bit of an accident. I was looking for a transporter to allow us to travel to the WinterNationals and further afield, rather than just racing at Eastern Creek, as we had been in the SCO Dragster.”
“A guy was selling a whole Top Fuel operation, but I knew it included his truck and trailer so I went to see him about the truck and trailer, and somehow I came home with the whole bloody thing.” Peter reiterates “Honestly that’s how I got the Top Fueller. I had no need or plan to get into Top Fuel. But I went with one intention and came home with another!”
His engine program is handled in-house by full time employee and crew chief Tim Adams. He handles all the tuning, engine inspections and builds etc.
The current dragster being campaigned by Peter’s team is the Ex-Andrew Cowin car that came to the Xiberras camp when Peter purchased the entire Top Fuel operation, including two cars, spares and hardware from drag racing legend Graeme Cowin.
PB’s of a 4.65 ET and 314 mph are hopefully soon to be eclipsed by the team as they are working towards some great results this weekend at the Nitro Champs. But the consistency of getting the car A to B every time in the 60’s is the primary goal and Peter would be “over the moon if we could crack a 50.”
On the team’s approach to coming Pro Class events, Peter gave us an insight into the belief the team has. “The two cars we bought have both been 4.40’s in the States, so the cars can do it and have done it before. Albeit, different tracks and different conditions. But as we know the faster you want to go the closer you have to be to that line that blows stuff up. We just want more seat time for me and more track time for the crew, but it’s coming together quite well.”
Peter states “We want to run 3 good passes than 1 ripper pass then 2 ‘didn’t get down the track’ passes.”
With the Nitro Champs, the team plan is consistency. “Running 4.70’s and 4.60’s will keep us happy this weekend, and if we get beaten by a 4.50 we’ll take our hat off and clap them. We’ve been to the final in Sydney but not won one, so the ultimate goal this weekend would be to go one better if we can.”
When we asked Peter to share one surprising thing about Top Fuel he replied with genuine amazement “These engines are making 8-10 thousand horse power and they are held into the car with 4 hose clamps.”
Peter’s biggest focus on race day doesn’t include rituals or good luck charms but rather just clearing his head of all work things and life’s “stuff” and getting into race-mode.
“I have so much faith in Tim and the crew that I don’t have to worry about anything car related, I just have to get my head in race-mode and do my job.”
With all this in mind it seems this team will approach this weekend’s event with calm and unity. We look forward to seeing if Peter’s PremiAir Hire Team can take out the win this year at the 2016 400 Thunder Nitro Champs.
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2016 400 Thunder Nitro Champs – May 7 & 8
Photo supplied – Grant Stephens Drag News Australia