Originally written by DEAN MILLARD
BRACE yourself Portland, the big boys are about to arrive.
This weekend will see the fastest sedans on the planet, the Top Doorslammers, descend on Portland en masse for the South Coast Slamfest for Wishes, with the biggest names in the sport all intending to race in support of Make a Wish Australia.
Top Doorslammers have been clocked hitting speeds of almost 192.8 miles per hour (310kph) over an eight mile track and the man who was behind the wheel on that run, legendary drag racer Victory Bray, will be in town on Saturday to try and go even faster.
Bray, a six-time Australian Champion and the most successful Top Doorslammer driver of all time, was in town earlier in the week to check out the track ahead of this weekend’s racing and said he was pleased with what he saw and was expecting some very fast racing.
“Yesterday was the first time I had come here and it is pretty amazing,” Bray said on Monday.
“The track is really good.
“I’ve been to lots and lots of regional tracks around Australia and this is one I’ve been trying to get to for many years, so it is good to be here because it rates right up there with the best of them.
“Looking at what they have got here it is pretty good.
“Very rarely do you see a concrete launch pad on a regional race track like this one, so this is excellent for us and what we want to see, and then you have got the transition there.
“They are the main parts you are looking at, the concrete start line, the first 60-feet and then the transition onto the bitumen, they are the really important parts to it.”
Bray is the current world speed record holder for Top Doorslammers over the standard quarter mile track, having hit 395.52 kilometres an hour in his 1957 Chev Replica, in while he has also completed the second fastest ever run.
As a rule Top Doorslammers are generally driven by nine or 10 litre engines and are capable of producing in excess of 3,500 horse power, almost six times the power of a V8 Supercar, however Bray said with the right weather conditions the cars can generate up to around 4,000 horsepower.
“It depends on the weather a lot, the weather conditions are very important to us, and down here they have some of the best wind conditions in Australia.
“Depending on which way the wind is blowing we are hoping for some good air and with good air these things will make upwards of 3,500 horsepower up towards 4,000, so it all depends on the weather conditions.
“We are pretty fussy.
“We want a nice warm day, but we don’t want the track temperature to go over about 75-80 degrees farenheit.
“We were like it overcast without too much humidity in the air and a nice high barometric.
“We get it and here in Portland gets it a lot more than other places, so this is certainly one place where a lot of people are going to be looking at the weather.
“Every team has their own meteorlogical weather station mounted on the roof and each team measures the weather every hour, watch what it is doing and puts the appropriate amount of fuel with it and that is what makes the horses power.”
Bray said it was not uncommon for Top Doorslammer events to draw crowds of between 3,000 and 5,000 at regional events, while when racing at major centres those numbers swell to between 30,000 and 40,000.
Bray has an outstanding record in the sport, having competed in 36 of the 87 championship event finals that have ever been raced for 17 wins, with a further 13 semi final appearances and an overall winning percentage of 67 per cent.
While his record would suggest he is certainly one to watch two other drivers to keep an eye on are “local boy” Mark Chambers, who has been a driving force behind the development of the South Coast Raceway to accommodate the Top Doorslammers, and in form driver Peter Kapiris, who has won the last two events.
Bray said fans could not possibly miss Kapiris in his 1959 Chrysler Saratoga, which is designed around the bat mobile.
“It is an unbelievable looking thing, people look at it and go wow what a thing and he has actually painted a bat feature on it, so it is pretty neat.
“We’re all Portland virgins except for Marcus Chambers, the local boy, we are all a bit concerned that he might have a little up his sleave for us, but that is how it happens.
“It doesn’t matter what you bring or if you have got a bit of a reputation it can all get shot to pieces one afternoon.”
Bray said when the idea was first put to the drivers about competing at Portland organisers had only hoped to attract around six or seven cars for the first event, but the response had been overwhelming with all drivers in the class expressing an interest in racing on a new track.
“Because we have never been at this track before we were hoping to get six or seven cars here, which doesn’t happen in regional tracks, but we have had so many people put their hands up to come to Portland that we had to say woo guys, lets just see how it all goes first.
“We ended up letting everyone come, so we have had 14 or 15 put their hand up and we think we’ll have 10 or 12 cars here.
“They are all very excited about coming to a new race track where no one has got any data.
“People have to come and get used to car, get used to track, see what the weather conditions are, see what the track conditions are and make the appropriate changes, it is not just sit in and flatten it.
“Each car takes about seven or eight guys to run for the day, so it is not just plain sailing.
“At the end of the day though everybody wants to win.
“Everybody who tows through the gate thinks they are going home with the winner’s cheque.”
There will be regular Friday night street legal drags from 5pm, while the big day of racing will kick off 10am Saturday at the South Coast Raceway.