Finishing second is not an option for Stuart Bennett
Local panel beater and drag racer Stuart Bennett now boasts the fastest LS engine car in Australia and he has his sights set on claiming the world record.
At the Grudge Kings meet in Sydney last month, Stuart’s custom-built 2010 Pontiac GXP covered the quarter mile (402 metres) in just 6.39 seconds with a top speed of 225 mph (363kph). His run toppled the previous Australian record for an LS-motor of 6.58 seconds at 211mph.
“So, we made a considerable jump on it,” said Stuart, who has only been racing this particular car since May last year and believes there is much more they can get out of it.
“We are still developing the car and hoping for a bit faster now, the world record at the moment is 5.97 at 243 mile an hour and I think we can achieve that, but it is a lot of work—when you are going that fast, those little time increments are very large!”
Going fast is something Stuart has a lot of experience in, in fact it is something he has done competitively for most of his life.
“Yeah I raced motorbikes for quite some time and I was lucky enough I was fairly successful at it,” said Stuart.
By ‘fairly successful’ Stuart means he has claimed Australian titles in motocross, supercross, supermotard, endure, long track racing — pretty much every form of motorcycle racing he’s tried his hand at. He has twice represented Australia at international events and in 2012, two years after giving professional racing away, Stuart returned to take out the Australian four-day endure title in the veteran class.
“I haven't really ridden a bike since,” said Stuart, who now gets his speed fix on the drag strip.
“I’m a bit of a horse-power junkie and I've always had fast cars. I built one about five years ago and it made fairly good horsepower, drove it on the street only a couple of times and thought this is ridiculous I'm going to hurt myself!
“It was a fast street car I could take to the strip, but I had a reality check and went this is silly, just make it a race car. So, I cut that one up and made a race car out of it.”
Stuart sold that car 18 months ago and bought his current car — a purpose-built race car made by the legendary US Pro Chassis Builder Jerry Haas.
So what makes someone spend so much of their free time and money for a few seconds on the race track?
“I'm a bit mad, I suppose,” laughed Stuart. “But it is a hell of a rush! A lot of people think with drag racing you are going in a straight line, so it's pretty easy — it is far from that, very far from that.
“We leave the start line at a bit over three Gs and then it is about two and a half Gs negative once you pull the parachutes. People don’t realise how fast it is until they stand on the start line and see you there one second and gone the next! You basically just vanish down the end of the track. It’s a whole new level of excitement, just an adrenaline rush!”
But it is also a lot of work. For every fraction of a second shaved off the track time there are hours and hours of time spent in the workshop.
“You are continually looking at the way things are working on the car and when you start getting up to the realms we are, it starts to become rather expensive,” said Stuart.
“It consumes a lot of time, but I've got a very patient wife. She is very understanding. She knows that I am very passionate about the motor sport— I live, eat, breath it!
With a national record under his belt, Stuart is now focused on improving his car’s performance and getting competitive on the national racing circuit.
“The main thing now is to get competitive with the class racing, but I'd like the world record with it. Is that achievable? It is a hard task, but nothing is easy. Second is the first loser and I like coming first!”