Photo courtesy Gardner Broz.
For Sydney Pro Stock racer Jason Grima, the 42nd running of the Westernationals in Perth was bar none the biggest undertaking of his drag racing career. One transporter, crew including Brandon Huhtala and Grace Howell from the United States, two race cars, and accommodation for a week. And somewhere in all this Grima was able to celebrate his 42nd birthday on the Friday!
Why go to Perth?
"I could have made it a lot easier if I did this for the Nitro Champs in Sydney as it's my home track", said Grima. "But I wanted to help the class out and make sure we were racing with a 16-car field. As it was the 14 cars turned up but had it been 12 then it would have been reduced to an 8-car field."
"It was also our first time at Perth Motorplex. We had heard a lot about the great conditions they have here so we were keen to run fast and maybe quicker and faster then our current ANDRA records of 6.982 at 195.79. While the track is very similar to Sydney Dragway, Perth Motorplex is close to the ocean and that means horsepower."
Why two cars?
"Having the two cars is all about gaining data and give Brandon [Huhtala] the opportunity to get a Group One license. While they are set-up pretty much the same with the chassis and suspension, the engines are not identical twins. It gave us the opportunity to try out a few things because in Pro Stock every little bit counts", said Grima.
Test & Tune
On the Wednesday the team took to the track for some testing. It also gave Huhtala the opportunity to secure his Australian Pro Stock licence.
"The conditions were very hot and we had three sessions allocated, continued Grima. The air was around 2000 feet above and the track was cooking at 42C. Brandon's first run was an early shut off 7.45 with a 4.56 to half-track but this was still good to hand him his ANDRA licence."
"I clicked it just after top gear and went 7.31. Huhtala made a second attempt but was shut down with a misfire due to a spark plug failure. We were in the lane for the final session but it was cancelled, much to our disappointment as we felt we could have run some good numbers."
Official qualifying was held on the Saturday with three sessions. For the "Blue" Ford Mustang, Huhtala went 7.14, 7.12 and 7.11 while Grima's "Black" Mustang clocked 7.22, 7.05 and 7.06 times.
"On our first qualifier the car was on seven cylinders after breaking a push rod at the top of third gear", said Grima. So we had a mad thrash to replace the parts for the second session but it all paid off moving from the number eight position to number one with a 7.056."
"For the third session the high humidity was causing us grief and giving us less than ideal conditions. The car was loose and on the chip between second and third gear changes but we still recorded a 7.069 ET. Unfortunately we lost the number one to Wayne Daley who went 7.05 in the session. Still I was very happy with the team and we had both cars in the field."
Race day and unfortunately Huhtala stumbles on the line and lost round one to Aaron Tremayne. Grima went 7.08/194 to pick up a win and record Low ET and Top Speed of the round.
For round two Grima defeated Aaron Tremayne with a 7.09 but the PC Group Mustang was on the chip again and got loose. Despite that Grima was again quickest of the round.
For the semi finals the humidity was 78% and the air 1625 above sea level. Grima was lined up against Chris Soldatos but under a controversial cloud Grima was timed out when Soldatos went into stage and was given a red light. A protest was lodged with the decision in favour of Grima handing him a re run.
Some 30 minutes later the pair faced the tree for the second time. This time we had clean greens with the advantage to Grima taking the holeshot with a .055 to .109 reactions. But just before the finish line the PC Group Ford Mustang got loose and Grima got off the pedal, losing the race with a 7.19 at 189.47 mph to a 7.13/192.30 from Soldatos.
"Overall I was happy with the outcome of the weekend. Obviously it would have been better to have gone into the final, however it is what it is", said Grima.
"It was our first time in Perth and we were excited to be racing at Perth Motorplex because we had heard from many that it was a great track with awesome conditions. Sadly that never happened over the entire week we were there. The humidity made it tricky for all of us. In fact I think the conditions on Wednesday were better than the weekend."
"We were hot, we were stressed and we gave it our best shot. The semi final finish kept our championship chase alive. Now we reload and get ready for the next round of the championship in Sydney in May."
"I'd also like to thank all our Facebook friends who took part in the Jason Grima Motorsports Competition. We had two prize packs for our quickest ET and best speed and nominations had to be in before the first qualifying session on Saturday. In the end two of my customers picked up the prizes so congrats to MSK Racecars (7.03) and Jamie Winter (194.78). My best numbers over the weekend were 7.056 and 194.38 mph. Keep an eye on Jason Grima Motorsports as we will be running another one for the Nitro Champs."
Jason Grima Motorsports is proudly sponsored by:
- PC Group (Cranes, Engineering, Earthworks and Scaffolding)
- Westside Auto Electrical
- Jerry Bickel Race Components Australia
- Rick Watters Racing Engines
- Diff Technics
- Blast It
- Auto West Paint Supplies
- Charlies Electrical Services
- Redarc – The Power Conversion Specialists
- Rencool Air Conditioners
- La Rumbla Ristorante