With 15 entrants and a tense championship battle looming, the Top Doorslammer category at Willowbank Raceway's FUCHS Winternationals is shaping up to be a 'must-watch' for the estimated 40,000 spectators expected over the event's four days (7-10 June).
The top three in the national points share 12 titles between them, one long-time friendship, and one simmering on-track rivalry that has reached boiling point during the current season.
Victorian Peter Kapiris leads the trio with 349 points, ahead of West Australia's reigning five-time champion John Zappia (252 points) and six-time champion Victor Bray (251) of Kallangur, Queensland.
A long-time friend of the local Bray, who is currently doing everything he can to stop Zappia from equalling his record six back-to-back titles, Kapiris has enjoyed two round wins so far this season.
"I am certainly enjoying the points buffer I have over Victor and John currently but I am at the same time very mindful that it could be cut down very quickly, such is the temperament of our sport," said Kapiris.
"As such, we will be making sure we do everything we can to continue the winning form we have displayed so far, and hopefully we can continue to expand our lead and maybe even take home a Winternationals gold Christmas tree!"
Reigning champion Zappia has been enduring an up and down season.
"There is still three rounds to go and all of the current three leading drivers will be out to improve or consolidate their positions at the FUCHS Winternationals," said Zappia.
"The Top Doorslammer bracket is a tough one and just one mistake could cost the Championship."
Local hero Bray has been enjoying a return to form this season and is determined to do everything he can to stop Zappia from equalling his record six back-to-back titles after the West Aussie declared it his goal earlier this season.
"At Team Bray Racing we have been lucky enough to be experiencing a resurgence in form this season, which is owed in no small part to the hard effort and work of our team," said Bray.
"Over the four rounds so far we have set and re-set my first 'five second' pass, claimed a event win against the reigning champ Zappia at his home-track, and secured a runner-up result against my great friend Peter Kapiris.
"Peter is certainly the in-form racer and the man that everyone is chasing, but it is a very good field and it could be anyone's race, especially given the fact that thanks to the prestige of the Winternationals, everyone always looks to up their game for the Queen's birthday long weekend."
The FUCHS Winternationals, held across the Queen's Birthday long weekend (including the Monday public holiday) on 7-10 June, is the largest drag racing event held outside of the United States. Entries for the event closed last week, with 476 racers signing up for the event which is expected to host up to 40,000 spectators over its four days, with competitors travelling from across the country as well as from New Zealand and the United States to take part.
For spectators, a range of ticketing options are available including special pre-purchase online-only multi-day event passes. Students and Concession Hard holders with ID gain discounts, while children aged 13 and under gain free entry. For full information, please visit www.willwobankraceway.com.au.