Nostalgia Funny Cars in Australia
by Graham Slapp
There has been a lot of discussion recently about the sudden influx of nostalgia funny cars in Australia. So I thought my first submission to this great board should give some insights into this phenomenon.
With over 12 Outlaw Nitro Funny Cars recently arriving in Australia, one would think nostalgia drag racing here would be in some kind of nostalgia “nitro nirvana.” Corvette, Satellite, ’57 Chev, and Mustang bodies pinpoint numerous sources of rich nitro fumes and banging header pipes that are alerting fans at tracks all over Australia that there is a new show in town. But wait!...there is a spaceship batmobile body...and your eyes do not deceive you - those header flames are way over the roof thanks to the 30+ gallon pumps installed on these funny cars in Australia. Welcome to the world of Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Cars – Australia style.
The concept of Outlaw Funny Cars in Australia is to appeal to a wider audience than the traditional “nostalgia” fan base and encourage crossover participation by owners of current blown alcohol funny cars. Hence the “Outlaw” title instead of “Nostalgia”: bigger fuel pumps and later model bodies permitted (though mercifully not many).
Some “nostalgia” purists are yet to be convinced if this new series is a good thing or not. Nostalgia drag racing has been a solid feature on Australian and New Zealand drag strips for decades although, apart from a few exceptions, it has never grown beyond a large group of guys and gals having fun with their “outdated” cars. That is not to suggest participants here don’t share the same passion and opinions of those at the March Meet or CHRR. Planeloads of Aussies and Kiwis make the pilgrimage to Bakersfield each year to spectate. A couple of teams from down under have competed loudly and successfully on the track, and most compete very loudly in the pits at night (as I can personally attest). So it is fair to say that nostalgia drag racers in the Great Southern Lands are well versed in the ways of the nostalgia movement as it exists in America.
Just about every class of vehicle competing at the March Meet would find a representative vehicle in Australia. Nowhere near as many as in the US of A, but we have them all: Shoe-box Chevy’s, HAMBs, Super Stock, ProMods, blown alcohol and injected slingshot dragsters, altereds, blown fuel diggers………did I say blown fuelers….as in AA/FD? Yes, we have two. As far as I recall, there were 4 or 5 blown fuel diggers at one time, mostly operating out of Sydney. However, the costs and returns equation drove all but a couple of the teams to the edge of ruin.
With the “Kings of the Sport” so under-represented, the nostalgia movement has been spinning its tires for years to attract the attention it deserves….. unable to get out of the water box so to speak. Despite the efforts of a few hard core nostalgia fanatics, efforts to build media exposure, introduce new fans, and develop any kind of plan for growth have not born much fruit until the recent explosion of Outlaw Nitro Funny Cars and their well-developed business plan.
Many nostalgia racers would argue that it doesn’t matter as long as they have a place to race occasionally, and they can still have fun doing it. Two of Australia’s major tracks (Western Sydney and Willowbank Raceway near Brisbane - both world standard) do hold a couple of dedicated nostalgia events each year. For most old skool racers, these events and a couple of appearances at their local track is enough to keep the fires lit, while leaving a few coins in the wallet for feeding the kids.
It will be interesting to see what effect the new Outlaw Funny Car group will have on the rest of the nostalgia movement. So, in the coming months I shall report on this aspect of our sport, along with plenty of feature cars and event reports. Thanks for taking the time to keep up to speed on Nostalgia Drag Racing in the Great Southern Lands!
Graham “Von Zoom” Slapp
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Nostalgia Drag World - by Graham Slapp