US Top Fuel star, Cory McClenathan, veteran Pro Alcohol racer Steven Reed (above), the dominant John Zappia, Tyronne Tremayne, Mark Drew and Scott White have all created history by winning their respective professional brackets at the 400 Thunder’s inaugural event, the East Coast Nationals.
Driving for legendary Australia team owner, Santo Rapisarda, McClenathan defeated his Rapisarda Autosport teammates Wayne Newby and fellow American Dom Lagana before downing returning champion Darren Morgan on holeshot in a sensational final round – 4.685/314.17 to a quicker 4.675/317.87 from Morgan’s AEG Powertools dragster.
McClenathan is now unbeaten in his three starts in Australia since the 2011 Nationals, having also won the Fuchs Winternationals at Willowbank Raceway in June.
“I come here to Australia to race, I come to have fun and enjoy myself and try to do the best I can for Santo (Rapisarda),” McClenathan said.
“For some reason it just falls into the right place – it must be [Santo’s] alcohol or food. He’s always saying ‘eat the meat!
“But the boys work really hard when I’m not here that’s the biggest thing and bringing Lee Beard (Crew Chief, to Australia), that helps a lot.”
An emotional Reed, whose mother, Australian drag racing icon Nelma Reed, is sick at home in Brisbane, was rewarded for his consistency in Pro Alcohol, downing Robert Ambruosi and Peter Zellow on his way to the final against Wayne Price.
After consistent mid-five second passes, a 6.028/238.98 in the All Star Batteries Pontiac Funny Car was enough to defeat Price’s 6.466/188.07 mph in the all-Funny Car final round.
“This weekend was pretty important, Mum and Dad weren’t here and Mum is really sick. She asked to win this race for her – it’s just amazing how you can do it,” Reed said.
Zappia almost did not survive the first round, with the veteran surviving a close race with rival Peter Kapiris by just 0.001-seconds.
Zappia was horribly late off the line and then dropped a valve in his Fuchs Monaro at the 1,000-foot mark, but held out to defeat Kapiris’ holeshot-aided 6.134/228.81 with his substantially quicker 5.879/204.35.
In the final round, Zappia pulled out the Low ET of the event, a 5.762, to defeat Ben Bray’s Century Batteries Corvette.
“It was a tough weekend for us in the pits,” Zappia said.
“We were doing it tough back there and the Zappia Racing crew were on top of it as usual. It was great to get the win – the track came around nicely for us in the final and we were able to at least put down a 5.7.”
Tremayne added his name to the history books by downing favourite Lee Bektash in the final round of Pro Stock – a 7.026/195.48 from Tremayne in the Tremanic Racing Pontiac GXP enough to take care of the 7.547/136.15 from the Mopar Dodge Avenger.
Tremayne drove around Emilio Spinozzi’s Terra Civil/Hitachi Camaro in the first round, before taking out Winternationals winner, Nino Cavallo’s Dodge in the semi-finals.
Top Bike proved to the domain of the nitro Harleys with the six-second bikes of Drew and Chris Porter scheduled to meet in the final round, but with Porter unable to front Drew took the first Top Bike 400 Thunder gold Christmas tree with a 7.758/163.73 solo for the win.
Drew’s popular Perth Harley Davidson-backed had repeated its Winternationals form in qualifying with 6.4-second passes last night.
After 20 years of racing, Darwin’s Scott White finally won a Pro Bike round, his achievement more notable as it was the inaugural 400 Thunder event.
White defeated Locky Ireland and Glenn Wooster on his way to the final against the Buell of Corey Buttegieg – White’s 7.295/178.76 mph enough to claim the historic win and an early points lead in the 400 Thunder Pro Bike Championship.
The inaugural 400 Thunder East Coast Nationals was also broadcast live online courtesy of 400 Thunder’s new live streaming arrangements, with all rounds of its championship to be streamed. Check out our streaming details for each event HERE.