Any drag racer, anywhere, will take a round or race victory any way they can get one — even if it’s outright handed to them — but the last thing they want is a wild, butt-puckering ride bordering on disaster to get said win light. Although very rare, there have certainly been instances throughout history where the race-winning vehicle couldn’t appear in the winners circle photos because it was upside down or being tended-to by the local fire department, and back in 1995, Australian Top Doorslammer icon John Zappia nearly found himself in that very predicament.
At the Australian Nationals at Calder Park in Melbourne, the capital city of Victoria, Zappia met up with Brendan McSweeney in the final round of Top Doorslammer. The race was quickly over before it ever got underway — although the show itself wasn’t — when McSweeney fouled out at the tree. But whether he didn’t see the red light or just chose to give Zappia a run for his money anyway, McSweeney kept the loud pedal on the floor until his mount darted cross the centerline into the path of the oncoming Zappia.
McSweeney made a move back to his lane, then over-corrected and got even more up-close- and-personal with Zappia, forcing Zappia to take evasive action to avoid a nasty collision. Fortunately for him, however, Calder Park provides a baseball-like warning track, if you will, before you punt the concrete guardrail. And so Zappia, with nowhere else to go, went offroading at somewhere in the vicinity of 200 miles per hour, taking a spectacular, sliding ride through the grass and miraculously re-entering the pavement with the nose still pointed straight.
The excursion did rip part of the composite front end off, but considering the other endings this story could’ve had, we’re guessing Zappia was pretty content with that minor repair job. And, even if a little worse for wear, he was still able to roll his machine into victory lane. Because even a ugly win is a win.