John Zappia has a long history of crushing his opposition with achievements such as 1990 Drag Racer of the Year, 1995 Top Doorslammer Champion, the World's first Super Stock car in the sevens, the first doorslammer in the sixes and the second racer in the 200mph club. John Zappia has defended West Australian honour against the Eastern States and America on many occasions. In the 1989-90 season Zappia won every time he staged the car. Serious domination! Zap's Rat was the 1990 National's winner and top qualifier in 1990, 1992, 1993 and 1995.
Fremantle Boy makes good
John Zappia grew up in Fremantle - Western Australia, and earned a reputation as a serious rev head on the street. John left South Fremantle High School early, securing an apprenticeship with ALCOA as a Mechanical Fitter, and became a fully qualified tradesman at nineteen years of age. John tells with a smile, of his passion for going fast and having heaps of grunt under the bonnet. His first hot car being an XU-1 Torana - serious streetcar material back in the 70's. "We used to do laps of Fremantle on a Friday or Saturday night, just waiting for a drag" John remembers.
The XU-1 was not fast enough, so John purchased a 4 door HQ Holden sedan and fitted a 383 Chev and installed WB front and back ends on the car. A 454 Chev soon replaced the 383, and had so much grunt John reckons it would smoke in any gear (regardless of how many people were in the car), just by dumping the boot. "When the rear barrels of the Dominator carb cut in - it was insane on the street!".
John married Marie and started a family, and eventually opened his own small business spray painting vehicles. The venture into business and spray painting was not to John's liking, so he closed up and returned to ALCOA as a Maintenance Fitter tradesman, and has been there for 15 years.
To better understand the character of John Zappia, the following extracts from an interview in National Drag Racer No 23 give insights:
It was a bleary eyed John Zappia who was not prepared for a 9 am start to an interview which was to last nearly three hours. "I don't really function too well this early in the morning:, he conceded. A breakfast of hot coffee and the passage of time saw "Zap" come up to warp speed. The man is a total contrast to the balsy driver who was quite at home getting the best out of his former mount. This man's wild driving antics are the direct opposite to his quiet, amenable manner. He is articulate yet intense and thinks long and hard before answering my questions.
The man is a paradox. When ever he gets into the car he drives it like there is no tomorrow. His high speed runs through the water, his long smokey burnouts nearly to the finishing line were always matched by the high speed backups to ensure the show would go on. The whole ritual was then finished by Zap wringing the car's neck ever so completely.
In stark contrast to his flamboyant driving style is his quiet and unassuming personality. The time I spent with John saw him remember virtually every run, every meeting and the problems that he encountered on these passes. His incredible memory is only matched by the respect he has for the people who have helped him on the way.
For the full story on John's drag racing - go to History
Official Career Achievements: [under construction]
First 7 Second Doorslammer in Australia
John Zappia recorded the first Doorslammer 7 second run in Australia, and the World's first Super Stock car in the sevens, with a 7.98 second pass at 174.40 mph, on December 26, 1988 at Ravenswood International Raceway, Perth, Western Australia, in his AA/Gas HQ Holden Monaro.
1990 Australian Nationals
Ravenswood International Raceway
Winner - Super Stock. AA/Gas HQ Holden Monaro.
Drag Racer of the Year.
First 6 Second Doorslammer in Australia
John Zappia recorded the first legal Doorslammer 6 with a 6.912 pass at 209.79 mph,
on December 26, 1991, in his AA/Gas HQ Holden Monaro,
at Ravenswood International Raceway, Perth, Western Australia.
At the time it was the fastest pass by a doorslammer in the world.
1995 Australian Nationals
Winner - Top Doorslammer. HQ Holden Monaro. [first Australian Top Doorslammer title]
2003 - 2008 World's Quickest and Fastest Tin Top
First 5 Second Doorslammer in Australia
John Zappia recorded the first legal Doorslammer 5 with a 5.967 pass at 241.97 mph,
on 17th Sept 2005, in his Rentco Monaro Top Doorslammer at Western Sydney International Raceway, NSW. [Story] [Video] [Zap's Letter of Thanks]