In drag racing, the objective always remains the same: reach the other end of the strip as quickly as possible — a goal that Craig Hedley has been pursuing for the last eight years
To most, a quarter-mile is nothing more than an unfamiliar measurement of distance calculated using a system foreign to our soil. But, while we may be a metric-based country, there are a dedicated bunch of racers who know the distance all too well. Us Kiwis have long had a love affair with the quarter-mile, with drag racing setting the benchmark as the be-all and end-all of truly fast cars — the proving ground for those looking to rule the roost both within the import racing world and out on the streets.
Anyone who has set foot on the hallowed grounds of these time-slip warriors will be able to tell you one thing about it, too: there is absolutely nothing subtle about drag racing. It’s a discipline built on extremes — the ridiculous amount of power being put down, the mammoth consumption of fuel, the ear-splitting noise, and the ungodly sums of money spent as you smash personal bests (PBs). All this takes place in the endless pursuit of maximum acceleration.
And best of all, it’s one of those sports that isn’t hard to get into. You don’t need a fat wallet or even a long attention span, because passes are made in short succession — naturally. But, make no mistake, what may appear to be a simple hit of entertainment can be more addictive than the mixture of substances your local corner pedaller is packing.
It was this kind of sampling that sparked Craig Hedley’s love–hate relationship with the sport some eight years ago, taking his car of the time, an R32 Skyline, to the Naki Drag Wars street race and finding out just how dangerous one small fix could be. This led to Craig undertaking a complete rebuild and investing a fair chunk of money into the car, only for the joker building it to go bankrupt and take it all with him. Naturally, Craig was spewing, and fair enough, deciding to sell up and get out as quickly as it started. Over the following year, the urge to do things properly festered, and a chance sighting of a well-known drag-prepped Supra for sale online forced his hand.
Three motor builds deep, Craig has finally found a winning combo to push the car into the eight-second bracket, with a current pb of 8.46 seconds at 164.19mph (264.23kph)
That car was the ex–Justin Weir example, a car that has probably done more laps of Meremere Dragway than any other import still in existence today and is clocking up a bucket load more with Craig behind the wheel.
“I went and took a look at it, and couldn’t help but think, f**k, this is me, and took it home that day,” says Craig. “It went really well. I raced it as it was for a few years, dancing on the cusp of the 10-second bracket.”
The car wasn’t caged and was already capable of clocking up a decent 10-second pass, as proven by Justin, so when Craig unintentionally dipped below the line and was subsequently slapped on the wrist for the lack of roll-cage action, the car was sent down country to friend Mark Graver. He was tasked with chucking in the jungle gym, and, while there, the pair agreed that it would have been silly not to whip up a new hot-side that would mean the addition of a BorgWarner S400 snail.
A testament to the capability of the 2JZ, it’s a rather simple package that makes use of forged components and a whole lot of boost to crank out a massive 800kW and 1000Nm of torque
Keeping in mind that at this point the bottom end was completely stock and the head housed all factory gear apart from a pair of Kelford 264-degree camshafts — it spun the dyno up at a baffling 700kW! It was straight back to Meremere to test out this new-found push, with Craig quickly eclipsing Justin’s 10.703 seconds at 129.57mph (208.52kph) PB with the car. Over the course of that year’s comp season, Craig continued to go quicker and quicker, with a few components ripped out in the name of weight saving. There would be a 10.10-second run at Night Wars before things took a turn for the worse — the indestructible 2JZ called it quits after an oil-cooler hose came off.
“Ah f**k, it’s f**ked,” Craig recounts thinking at the time. And things were only going to get worse as a (now former) friend of his stepped up to help with the rebuild. This would stretch out over a year of seemingly endless waiting, only for Craig to discover when running it up at Dtech Motorsport that he had been dicked. The ‘brand-new’ build proved to be a warped head and sketchy bottom end — the only good thing to come out of it was a switch from the Getrag V161 six-speed manual to a TH400 three-speed auto.
Craig’s luck didn’t improve; he had purchased a new head and block for the rebuild, but what was supposedly a set of Manley rods turned out to be a rip-off — something they discovered when the second brand-new build lunched itself.
Normally, this would be the point at which you’d call it quits and take up gardening or some other mundane hobby, but, in an effort to keep the love affair alive while Dtech took care of the third rebuild, Craig opted to race his GSX R1000 motorbike, setting the 1000cc record while he was at it. Meanwhile, the Supra rebuild saw a brand-new 2JZ-GTE block stuffed with CP forged pistons and genuine Manley rods, while up top a used head was rebuilt and lightly ported, making use of new oversized valves and the same Kelford cams.
The Getrag V161 six-speed stayed in place right into the low 10s before being switched out in favour of a GM TH400 three-speed automatic for better shifting
“When the car was finally back on its feet, I said to myself, if I can better the bike record, I[’ll] keep going with the car. Straight off the bat, the car did a 9.8,” explains Craig, “Then, on the second run, I got a 9.477 — the exact same time as the bike. So I thought, shit, OK, maybe I should carry on with the car then, and [I] managed a best of 9.2 that night.”
With the four-wheel fire firmly rekindled, the BorgWarner was retired to the garage shelf in favour of a Precision 8385 that feeds all 31psi of boost through a Hypertune intake plenum, with Bosch 2200cc injectors taking care of the fuel. These days, it’s producing a solid 800kW at the rears, with 1000Nm of torque on top, thanks to the use of E85, as tuned by Dave at Dtech.
But all the power in the world means squat if you can’t get it to the ground, which is why the engine is only part of the equation. Although the car remains relatively humble, the combination of a few key components makes those power and torque figures more than just numbers on a page. Making use of the factory RZ limited-slip diff (LSD) and the same Koni three-stage adjustable shocks with slightly lowered springs, along with a set of 17x4- and 15x10-inch US Weld Racing shod in 4.5x26-17 front runners and 28x11.5-15 Mickey Thompson slicks, Craig’s current PB is chalked up as a 8.46 at 164.19mph (264.23kph) — made even more impressive by the fact that, by Craig’s own admission, the Supra is quite a hefty unit, weighing in at somewhere around the high 1400kg mark.
“Since the last rebuild, it’s gone better every run. It hasn’t stopped, and, all going well, we think [that] there’s a seven in there for sure — it’s all operator improvement at this point,” he tells us.
With Craig behind the wheel, the car has gone from the high 10s to a mid-eight-second killer and holds a number of accolades, including the claim to New Zealand’s fastest street-legal import — yep, that’s right kiddos, this is a genuine eight-second street car. Only time will tell how far things will go from here on out, or if it will ever see that seven-second bracket, but, with the better part of two decades’ worth of drag racing history behind it and plenty of potential left in the chassis, this won’t be the last time you’ll be hearing about it.
DRIVER/OWNER: Craig Hedley
LOCATION: South Taranaki
OCCUPATION: Share milker
BUILD TIME: Eight years
LENGTH OF OWNERSHIP: Eight years
THANKS: My partner, Susan; Dave and the boys at Dtech; Andrew Larson; Mark at Proworks; Speedy Signs; Simpsons Tyre and Service Centre; Fenix; and of course, Arthur Coles, for pointing me in the right direction
1994 Toyota Supra (JZA80)
ENGINE: Toyota 2JZ-GTE, 3000cc, straight-six
BLOCK: CP forged pistons, Manley rods
HEAD: Lightly ported, Kelford Cams 264-degree camshafts, oversized valves
INTAKE: Hypertune plenum, Frozen Boost water-to-air intercooler, Simota air filter
EXHAUST: Four-into-3.5-inch system, Adrenalin R muffler
TURBO: Precision 8385, custom manifold
WASTEGATE: Twin Turbosmart 38mm
BOV: Turbosmart 50mm
FUEL: Bosch 2200cc injectors, twin Aeromotive Eliminator fuel pumps, Aeromotive fuel regulator
IGNITION: Custom coils by Dtech, NGK V-Power plugs
ECU: Link G4+ Xtreme
COOLING: Fenix radiator, twin fan shroud, oil cooler
EXTRA: Custom catch-can
GEARBOX: GM TH400 three-speed auto
DIFF: Supra RZ limited-slip (3.266:1)
EXTRA: Custom driveshaft
STRUTS: Koni three-stage adjustable shocks, factory springs
BRAKES: (F) RZ calipers, (R) non-turbo calipers
EXTRA: Hardrace adjustable rear camber arms, eight-point roll cage
PAINT: Speedy Signs livery
SEATS: NZKW bucket, factory passenger
STEERING WHEEL: Factory
INSTRUMENTATION: Race Technology Dash2 Pro
FUEL TYPE: E85
TUNER: Dave at Dtech
QUARTER-MILE: 8.46 seconds at 164.19mph (264.23kph)
This article originally appeared in NZ Performance Car issue No. 258 — you can get your hands on a copy of the mag by clicking the cover below: