Must be something about the strict street-rules in their country, but every time an Australian team comes over to the states you just know things are going to get out of hand. Such is the case with the junkyard Chevelle that a trio of Aussies introduced to a delighted audience during Drag Week 2015. Yup, if someone said “The Australians” during that race, every one of the 300 competitors would know exactly who you spoke of. Even though there were five entries from Australia, “The Australians” referred to the guys who had paid $1,500 for an original Chevelle SS 396 from a back lot in Kansas and immediately had taken the rusty, janky heap racing all week. Harry Haig, Shannon “Pyro” Jennings, and Brett Ford all took part in keeping the four-speed pile together, running a best time of 14.0 seconds at 100 mph with Haig at the wheel. Now that it’s time for Drag Week 2016, “The Australians” are back this year and they hope to get better than 14.0 from the Australian Chevelle.
Gone is the Chevelle’s original 396 and its place for 2016 will be a 540 cubic-inch Dart block with Edelbrock heads (You can get more engine details over on HOT ROD) prepared by Abbott Engine Reconditioning in Queensland. But that’s not all: A pair of 72-millimeter BorgWarner turbos will stick out above the hoodline to feed the engine 14 pounds of boost. Tuning wizard Terry Seng of Paramount Performance put the Chevelle’s engine on the dyno before shipping it stateside and the twin-turbo setup made 1,300 horsepower without an intercooler.
The car itself has been in storage with Drag Week competitor Dustin Gardner in Kansas since last year’s Drag Week until this week, when The Australians, including tuner Seng, descended on Gardner’s shop to install rollcage, the engine, an intercooler probably good for another couple hundred horsepower, and a couple dozen other integral parts.
The turbos were originally intended to peek through the hood, but clearance issues with the engine install forced them to raise the engine. Now, the twin snails sit proudly above the fenders with exhaust tips fitted directly to the turbos.
The goal for the Chevelle, which Haig hopes to run in the Street Race Big Block Power Adder category, is to make passes close to the 8.50-second index in the class. With the shortened exhaust from the turbos, it should do so with a great smoke-and-flame show from the abridged exhaust. Given how Haig’s eight-second Holden HQ runs in Australia, you also might see some spectacular wheelstands when you tune into the live stream.
Aside from some new bumpers, a parachute, and the big Mickey Thompson tires on the rear, the Chevelle wil have the same ratty look it had in 2015. The Australians’ misadventures last year are too numerous—and occasionally extra-legal—to list here, but they did spend most of the first night of HOT ROD Drag Week™ 2015 helping Jeff Lutz lap valves on his Pro Mod Camaro. This was just after all the bolts on the Chevelle’s 10-bolt rear end (now replaced with a Ford 9-inch) backed themselves out on the road.
Of course, the Chevelle’s fancy new engine doesn’t make it any less prone to disaster and weirdness. On Harry’s FB page we’ve already seen them cushioning the radiator with used flip-flop rubber (they call them “thongs,” crazy Aussies). Even getting into the race is in question, since the team is on the waitlist. Whatever else befalls them, you can bet you’ll find The Australians up to something exciting next week starting at National Trail Raceway in Hebron, Ohio, on Monday.