Qld pilot aims to produce hair-cutting effort
MOTORSPORT: For sheer horsepower variety there are few events that surpass the Gulf Western Oil Winternationals.
Queensland racer Chris Diggles plans to showcase the hot rodding spirit that still underlies the four-day drag racing spectacular from June 6-9 at Willowbank Raceway.
Diggles' passion for the sport finds many outlets, as a competitor and as a commentator, where he turns to describing the on-track action of his fellow racers.
Following his uncles into the sport, Diggles watched events at the Surfers Paradise and Willowbank Raceway drag strips before beginning driving himself in the nineties, and later giving commentary a go.
"I used to run my dragster for three runs, park it after qualifying and then go and commentate the racing," Diggles said.
"I prefer to race, but commentary is still a big passion of mine. It gives me the opportunity to share my excitement for the sport through the freedom of expression that commentary gives.
"I'm lucky enough to have no real clashes where commentary and racing collide, but that might change in the future.''
Diggles' drag racing career has seen a succession of unusual vehicles including a Mazda Capella, a Datsun-powered dragster and a V8-powered Nissan Bluebird.
His current race car competes under the C/Modified Altered designation, notable for being one of the least-used classes in Australian drag racing with a national record that is almost three decades old. Once again Diggles has chosen a unique path, but he relishes the individuality.
"Bob Blackley set the Willowbank strip record in 1988 at 10.77 and the national mark of 10.36 was set by Mark Gedye driving the same car in Adelaide in 1991," he explained.
"I've vowed to not get a haircut until I set the record, so I may be a very hairy man before that happens.
"The goal was to build a car to break a national record on a budget. I remembered seeing a Ford Motorsport block in a 1980s catalog as a 17 year old and back then they were ridiculous in price. It was only a dream until I bought that engine from a Florida swamp buggy racer in 2016.
"The chassis was originally a Corvette Nitro Funny Car that raced in the USA in the early 2000s. It came to Australia and was later in a trailer that caught fire, twisting the chassis. "I bought it as a bare chassis and had it repaired and modified to suit the motor."
Diggles has never before competed at the Gulf Western Oil Winternationals. But as one of the few events that has the opportunity to reset a national record, he will be among those racers aiming to write their names into the history books.
"The Gulf Western Oil Winternationals is Australia's 'Big Go' and it's the one everyone wants to race at," he said.
"This will be my first crack at the big event, but there's limited chances to set the national record so it's either do it now or wait. The gathering of racers from all over the country make it the best showcase for mainstream drag racing that we have."