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Craig Burns and Leonard Azzopardi are amongst a keen line-up of racers who are counting down the hours until this weekend’s Nitro Champs event at Sydney Dragway.

Amongst a line-up of more than 200 racers, the event will host the latest and penultimate round of the 2022/2023 Australian Drag Racing Championship for Top Doorslammer and Top Fuel Motorcycle, as well as for the Burson Auto Parts Australian Top Fuel Championship.

After a problematic outing at the event last year, local Top Doorslammer racer Burns is hoping his 2023 Nitro Champs campaign goes much better.

“Last year’s Nitro Champs didn’t go well for me or the AC Delco Team, after a parachute failure saw us end up in the catch nets following a 238 mile per hour pass,” Burns said.

“I guess this is something that plays on your mind a little, and it is something that can happen to anyone, but the safety systems at Sydney Dragway are world class and something I hopefully won’t have to use again!

“Hopefully everyone this year can have a good, safe and fast event, and we can just keep chipping away at the little things to improve our car’s performance while putting on a good show. For us, our focus is on trying to compete well while having some fun with family and friends – and if we can win a round or two, then that is a bonus!

“You could say we are bringing a knife to a gun fight with our steel-bodied, stock wheelbase Mustang, but it just keeps turning up and making good laps, so you can’t count us out!

“The Nitro Champs is a great event and is held at probably the best time of year to race. With what are expected to be awesome conditions on what I think is the best racing surface in Australia, this will be a race not to be missed!” he concluded, while thanking Jeff Cutajar (JC Racestuff); Jason Cunliff; John Fenech (Westend Performance); Menscer Motorsports; Al Makdessi (ALS Race Glides); Danny Makdessi (Custom Body Works); SCFRaceCars; Cory, Joel and Shellie Burns; Dennis Makko; and Natalie Bishop for their support.

Top Fuel Motorcycle competitor Leonard Azzopardi wasn’t in action at last year’s event, having stepped away from fuel bike racing in 2014 to focus on his passion project, the Extreme Bikes bracket. After returning with a customer’s bike at January’s Top Fuel Slam, the Sydney sider is looking forward to making further strides forward with the turbo funny bike this weekend.

“The bike is owned by Jim Lucas who owns Force9 Surfboards and is a new age funny bike with all electronic fuel injection and all the latest stuff on it. We took it out onto the track for the first time at Top Fuel Slam and we had clutch problems the whole time and, in the end, it completely exploded the clutch hub, and we were out,” Azzopardi explained.

“We think we are on top of it now and if we can get things to line-up, we fully expect to run six second passes. We have run 7.60 with a broken clutch and absolutely no drive, rolling over the finish line, and we have been running it on low power as we were trying to calm it down due to the clutch, so there is a lot we can extract out of it and a lot we can turn up.

“The event will be one not to be missed, and everyone I talk to is keen to get on track for it. We will certainly be doing the best we can, and I am very thankful to the people who help out as part of our team: my wife Deanne – who will also be racing in the event in Extreme Bike – my daughter Bianca, Brandon Gosbell, Alex Borg, Brant Gilliver, and the rest of my family,” he concluded, while also thanking Force9 Surfboards, Azzopoardi Earthmoving, Atlantic Oils and FuelTech Australia.

The Nitro Champs will be held across Friday May 5 and Saturday May 6 at Sydney Dragway. For full event information including entry lists and scheduling information, and to buy tickets, visit

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