THE Chrysler faithful were treated to two days full of Mopar goodness in late July at the Ipswich Motorsport Precinct, west of Brisbane. Saturday’s Mopar Mayhem powered on with race and cruise sessions at Queensland Raceway’s circuit track, while Mopar Sunday’s action lit up the drag strip, dyno and show scene the next day at Willowbank Raceway.
Both are fantastic as standalone events, but when the planets align for them to cohabitate for the same weekend, the boost to attendees is significant and just the catalyst needed to inspire travellers from further afield. It also allows for a welcome social element, with many locals choosing to camp nearer to the tracks for convenience, which offers the chance to shoot the breeze after hours with likeminded folks.
Mopar Mayhem is now in its fifth year at Queensland Raceway, and is the brainchild of local Mopar identity Deb Young. Her passion for the Chrysler marque and relentless hard work – with help in recent years from Sal Neri – has created an event that mixes family-friendly cruise sessions with harder-core roll racing, street-style drags, powerskids and burnouts.
‘Handles like a wet noodle’ initially comes to mind when picturing all manner of Chrysler-based products attempting to tackle corners, but Deb’s vision was for an interactive event where friends and family can join in on the majority of the fun instead of just watching from the sidelines, in a much safer environment than the streets can offer.
Andre Mari from the Gold Coast is a Mayhem regular in his maroon and black Centura, and true to form he gave its 408 stroker small-block an absolute hiding for the full day’s schedule. Andre loves to smoke tyres, and the pink hue that billowed from his rears netted him Best Powerskid and a hard-fought second place in the burnouts, having been pipped at the post by Greg Wade in his hard-smoking yellow ’Cuda.
Adam Lane is a newcomer to the Chrysler scene, but drove the wheels off his red VIP-fronted VG hardtop, with its tunnel-rammed 383-stroker big-block dusting the competition in the heads-up eighth-mile drags.
Street Machine’s very own Scotty and Gus trekked north from Melbourne in Scott’s VG Safari wagon – stay tuned for their adventures in a future Carnage episode – with Scotty scoring the Furthest Distance Travelled award, while the Carnage boys’ travelling companion and Mexican compadre, Dave Greene, netted the Hard Luck trophy after the 318 in his ’70 Dart spat a lifter early into their road trip.
With the Mopar faithful well and truly primed for action after a cracker Mayhem event, Queensland turned on yet another sunny winter’s day for Mopar Sunday at the Willowbank strip.
With 15 years of Mopar Sundays under the Tatton family’s collective belt, chief organiser Sam Tatton has refined the event to a winning formula offering some of the best Chrysler race, show, dyno and merchandiser action around. It should be on every Mopar fan’s bucket list.
Qualifying kicked off bright and early, and saw Malcolm McIntosh waiting patiently in the staging lanes alongside his black VE Safari wagon. “I snapped an axle last year and that simple repair snowballed into a near-complete drivetrain rebuild; it was like scratching at a spot of rust then watching your whole car fall
apart,” he laughed. A bottom-end freshen-up of his 408 stroker and a completely new top end combo had the small-block feeling strong, with Malcolm keen to crack an elusive 10-second pass. A 10.84@123mph certainly didn’t disappoint; Malcolm is probably still grinning. “It’s a huge deal to me and I think the weight of the world has collectively lifted off everyone’s shoulders,” he said.
What surprised me was the amount of new cars in attendance, along with a bunch of first-time racers. It certainly confirmed the strength of the Chrysler love moving forward.
Local couple Angela and Guy Masson are a case-in-point, and have recently finished Angela’s pink champagne-coloured VF hardtop after purchasing it a few years back as an unfinished project. “We both love pillarless two-door cars and recently sold an XM Falcon coupe to help finish Guy’s Challenger, so yes, we’re more into this type of bodystyle than a specific model,” Angela said. “It’s the first time I’ve ever dragraced any car, and so far have run a 12.7@108mph. The engine is a 360 running a 727 auto and Dodge 8.75-inch diff. I can’t wait to race against Guy next year; it’ll be on for sure!”
One of the busiest people at any Mopar Sunday is the always-jovial Jason Sladden, who not only pilots his own 480-cube big-block CL ute, but looks after the driving chores for George Bourne’s ever-popular red VF hardtop. “My ute was very lazy off the line with the new tunnel-ram set-up, so it needs more stall and taller gears than the current 3.5s.
But it still ran an 11.60@118mph,” Jason said. “George’s 422-cube small-block VF now has a new fuel system and rear suspension set-up that saw it hook up hard, but it got a little twitchy in the top end so needs further sorting. It hung that front wheel for ages off the line, so we’re making serious power. It’s a matter now of refining the steering and suspension to help it run straight.” The VF cranked out a healthy 946rwhp on the dyno later that day, earning the pair the Highest HP Assisted and Horsepower Hero awards. “I think I was more surprised than anyone!” Jason laughed.
STREET MACHINE 099
With the qualifying sorted and dial-ins locked down, racing was underway and there were hard-fought finals for nearly all of the classes.
The Mopar Outlaw 0-10.99 bracket saw Rex Scholes in his tough white 500ci flip-front VF hardtop face off against Troy Currie in his Plymouth Arrow – that’s a Chrysler Lancer to us Aussies – with Rex edging out Troy for the win on the double breakout pass, with a 9.73 on a 9.74 dial-in to Troy’s 9.60 after dialling in at 9.65.
The Mopar Hot Street 11.00-12.99 bracket was an all-Centura, all- Gold Coast affair, with Nerang’s Joel McMahon snatching the win with an 11.58@121mph on an 11.50 dial-in after Ashmore’s Andre Mari broke out with an 11.06 on an 11.10 dial-in. But Andre isn’t the type to crack the sads, taking out the hotly contested Mopar Madman award for his crowd-pleasing efforts on Sunday.
Our Scotty was on-song and mowing through the rounds of 13.00- 14.99 Mopar Street Eliminator in his VG Safari, with its four-barrel 265 Hemi running a string of consistent 14.0s. But his starter motor cranked for the last time in the staging lanes and knocked him out for the semi-final round. Peter Klockner in his sinister-looking VC vintage gasser, Metal Mauler, had no such problems and was handed the win for the class after Jody Wentworth stalled on the line in her well-raced brown Dodge Charger.
The 15-second-and-over Street Mopar class saw the VH 770 Charger of Dan Robertson chasing down a near-two-second handicap against Mike Fry to take a close win at the line over Mike’s VH Ranger, with a 15.34@89mph to Mike’s nosing-over, secondgear 17.32@70mph.
When the sun set over what had been a great day and an even greater weekend, it was clear that the future of the Chrysler scene in Australia is in good hands. There are more first-class Mopar events being run in nearly every Aussie state than ever before, and as the years continue to rip by at a scary pace, we’re seeing a heap of younger-generation Chrysler fans coming of age and stepping up with their own rides. But don’t think you young ’uns can relax and get too cocky – there’s still plenty of show-and-go Chrysler action left in us oldies yet! s