Steve Read Takes First Top Fuel Points
of the Season At Calder Park
By Paul Marinelli
Steve Read took Santo Rapisarda's Top Fuel car to the win at Calder Park.
Photo by John Doig
The combination of top flight Australian drag
racing and a perfect Melbourne summer day and evening gave Melbourne drag
racing fans a number of exciting battles for early season Championship
points. A total of eleven drag racing brackets competing at Calder Park in
the 2000 Victorian Drag Racing Championships. (Saturday December 9)
The Top Fuel battle for first points of the 2000/2001 season saw top
qualifier Jim Read in his Gregory's Top Fuel Team dragster line up against
Robin Kirby's Pennzoil dragster. In a close charge from the green light,
both drivers battled wheel spin most of the way through the close pass, Read
setting the quickest ET at 5.447s (212.56 MPH) with a 0.494s RT (Reaction
Time) despite the hard charging challenge from his Victorian rival who set
an ET of 5.516s (RT 0.511s) at a terminal speed of 267.77 MPH - the second
fastest pass of the event.
Melbourne driver Darren Di Filippo (Pit Stop Oil Change / Valvoline
Dragster) staged the Santo Rapisarda machine that he agreed to pilot for
this meeting against NSW driver Steve Read, but the pass was short lived for
the current Australian Top Fuel terminal speed record holder (Di Filippo).
The 28-year-old was forced to shut down soon after launch after a superb
reaction time of 0.473s, allowing Read to power on to a strong but
conservative 5.167s ET at a terminal speed of 251.67 MPH.
The Top Fuel final saw Steve Read power to the fastest pass of the event
after an 0.514s RT to an ET of 5.121s at an impressive terminal speed of
282.22 MPH, taking the win from fellow Sydney-sider Jim Read, who suffered
excessive wheel spin and tire shake after launch, forcing him to abandon the
pass. (RT 0.485s / ET 7.869s / 98.76 MPH).
In the highly competitive Pro Stock bracket, Bruno Cugnetto won his first
round eliminator with a 7.844s ET (175.37 MPH) but it was the spectacular
pass of Queensland based Ford Probe driver John Barbagallo that had the
Calder Park crowd on their feet. Despite Barbagallo's efforts to keep the
powerful car within his lane, he swayed across the centerline to find
himself directly behind Cugnetto by the end of the pass, wiping him out of
NSW driver Jason Grima powered his Probe to a resounding semi final win
over reigning Pro Stock Champion Peter Ridgeway (7.767s / 177.97 / RT
0.609s) in his Oldsmobile Cutlass. Grima's outstanding reaction time of
0.411s served him well to win a close battle despite his slightly lower ET
and terminal speed - (7.894s / 172.41 MPH). This was the first finals
appearance missed by Ridgeway after making it to every Pro Stock final last
A sensation in the Pro Stock final - a double red light affair with
Cugnetto winning the round because Grima fractionally red lighted first.
(Cugnetto's RT - 0.388s, Grima's RT - 0.379s)
This was Grima's first ever finals appearance in his rookie season and
Cugnetto's first event contested since April - making it directly to the
competitive Calder Park Pro Stock final. For Sydney based Grima this was a
sterling performance, considering that the former national Super Stock
Champion started his Pro Stock career at the Winternationals last June.
The only hair raising moment of the meeting saw Performance Distributors
Racing Modified Eliminator dragster driver Rachel Clancy barrel roll her car
at the end of her practice pass on Saturday morning, luckily escaping major
injury. The same cannot be said for her dragster chassis, which was
destroyed in the spectacular accident.
A full listing of 2000 Victorian Drag Racing Championship bracket winners
Bracket / Driver / State / ET / MPH
Junior Dragster - Shane Tucker - QLD - 8.674s / 71.98 MPH
Super Sedan - Matt Street - VIC - 9.079s (Ford Capri)
Super Street - Jim Denaro - NSW - 11.418s / 117.70 MPH (Cortina)
Modified Eliminator - Stephen Russell - VIC - 8.187s / 162.33 MPH
Super Gas - Lee Bektash - VIC - 9.850s / 143.76 MPH (Calibra)
Modified Bike - Darren Mason - VIC - 9.350s / 130.30 MPH (Katana)
Competition Bike - Perry Mackie - SA - 8.744s / 147.22 MPH (Harley)
Super Stock - Grant Williams - VIC- 8.890s RECORD ET / 162.54 MPH (Mazda
Competition Eliminator - Shane Baxter - VIC - 10.090s / 84.15 MPH
Pro Stock - Bruno Cugnetto - VIC - 7.670s / 177.40 MPH
Top Fuel - Steve Read - NSW - 5.121s / 282.22 MPH - Fastest pass of the
Next major Calder Park Drag Racing Events: January 27 2001 - Top Alcohol
/ Bandag Truck Feature / February March 15-17 2001 Australian Nationals.
A wide selection of images from this event is available from
1. Steve Read - NSW - Santo's Cranes Dragster - 5.144s / 242.71 MPH
2. Robin Kirby - VIC - Pennzoil / VDO - 8.114s / 100.24 MPH
3. Jim Read - NSW - Gregory's Top Fuel - 11.587s / 81.28 MPH
1. Peter Ridgeway - VIC - Oldsmobile Cutlass - 7.735 / 170.06 MPH
2. John Barbagallo - QLD - Ford Probe - 7.809s / 174.55 MPH
3. Jon Andriopoulos - NSW - Chev Lumina - 7.825s / 173.74 MPH
Modified Eliminator - David Patterson - VIC - Bantam Altered - 7.661s /
The staff and management of Calder Park Motorsport wishes all a safe and
happy festive season.