Earlier this month, Australian drag racing standout Terry Seng established a new quarter-mile standard for factory 4-bolt LS engines and also became the quickest and fastest racer in the nation with a GM LS engine outright when he powered his Les Winter-owned 1955 Chevrolet to a 6.733 at 199.94 mph at the Queensland Drag Racing Championship at the Willowbank Raceway.
For Seng, the astounding new record wasn’t the first in his racing career, nor was it even the first for the very engine that helped to propel him there; rather, for he and wife, Anita, the run is but one chapter in a decorated racing career. Terry, who began racing in his teen years in an 11-second Torana, returned to the sport in 2013 after a lengthy hiatus to get married and open and tend to his successful business, Paramount Performance. Upon his return, Terry turned the street legal world upside down with the construction of a new VC HDT275 Commodore. That car had its coming out when it was driven over 600 miles each way to Sydney and cranked off low eight-second laps.
The record-breaking LY9 engine in Seng’s Commodore street car, which holds some notoriety in its own right.
Seng continued developing the HDT275, eventually establishing it as Australia’s quickest and fastest street car with a staggering best of 7.37-seconds at 186 mph. The Seng’s have taken the HDT275 to Drag Challenge (Australia’s version of Drag Week) the last three years, in the process recording the fist seven-second run at such a venue.
The engine is a factory 4-bolt unfilled LY6 engine with factory cylinder heads ported by Nexgen that measures 364 cubic-inches. A set of 6266 turbos provide the boost. A Keith Neal Powerglide transmission delivers the power.
Seng’s 7-second, street-driven Commodore during one of the Australian Drag Challenge events.
Realizing the horsepower he had at his disposal and the performance possibilities in a lighter chassis —in addition to the obvious safety factor of a more purpose-built car— the Seng’s began searching for a new mount to prop their engine into.
“We were looking for a lighter vehicle with more bar work. To run HDT275 here in Australia on the street you are only allowed a six-point cage. It was getting to a point where HDT275 was teetering on being unsafe in the event of an accident, given how fast it was going at such a heavy weight with limited roll cage.”
An unexpected partnership with Winter, a longtime racer down under, presented that opportunity he was looking for to pair his engine with a Pro Modified-style machine.
“Les joining the Paramount team just sort of happened from a side conversation at the drags when Larry Larson was here in Australia, where talk that a possible world record may be achievable if we had a lighter car. It’s a great partnership with Les and we feel honored to be able to bring back such an iconic car.”
Winter, a former Wild Bunch and Top Doorslammer competitor, offered his iconic 1955 Chevrolet, which was actually the second door car in the country into the six-second zone — behind only John Zappia — for his endeavor.
“I had been admiring the performance and power Terry had been making out of that little engine, and the way he carried himself with a humble professionalism guiding his obvious passion,” Winter proclaimed.
The '55 currently campaigns in AA/APIA and Extreme 10.5. The car has run three hundredths of a second off the AA/APIA national record.
He continued, “I knew how good it made me feel over my years of racing, when people helped me out with support, and I wanted to give something back and to be able to do it with such a no carry-on, mature-beyond-his-youth guy. It was a great opportunity I just couldn’t let pass by”.
After swapping his engine and driveline into the ’55 and taking other necessary adjustments, Seng set his sights on the existing factory block LS record of 6.86-seconds and 205 mph, held by American Mike Moran.
The team ran into some not-unexpected issues in their initial on-track outing, leaving the record safe for the time being.
“After doing some suspension changes and finally having the time to corner weight the car, we were really happy with the half track time on our first pass. We knew our goal was within sight. So for the next pass the team said ‘Let’s send it!’ “ Terry says.
On the record-breaking run, he went 1.025 to 60-feet, 2.81 to 330, 4.313 at 160.61 mph to half track, and 5.611 to 1000-feet.
“We can still make some improvements from the data we collected. We’ll keep working on it and see where we end up!” Terry explains.
With the elapsed time record in the bag, Terry says the next hurdle is the speed record of 205 mph.
“Obviously our goal posts keep moving as we develop both cars. New goals have been set in place which we have already started working on – although we’re not ready to share them just yet,” Anita comments.
Terry added that “I did Drag Week last year with the Aussie Chevelle, and I would love to take a car to Drag Week myself next year. Making our work commitments and finances align together to achieve this may be challenging, but it’s definitely on my bucket list!”