Darwin’s Hidden Valley Raceway may host a yearly Supercars round, but if you’re keen to see massive horsepower driven in anger in the Top End, Gazzanats is really the one to mark on your calendar. Organised by the burnout-mad Myers family, this year’s gig at Hidden Valley expanded to two full days of tyre-smashing action across track cruising, roll racing, powerskids and monster burnout pad sessions. With financial support from Gary and Deby Myers, fully laden transporters rocked up from as far away as WA and Victoria, contributing to a bumper number of entrants, including over 40 blown burnout contenders – an unprecedented turnout for Darwin.
While our man from the west, Boris Viskovic, would normally jet over from WA to soak up the atmosphere, this year it was my turn, and my first-ever Gazzanats was also my first time in the NT. Migrating from a wintry Geelong to dry-season, 30-degree Darwin was a shock to the senses, but certainly not unwelcome. Plenty of entrants brought their families along for the trip, enjoying the country pubs and gorgeous swimming holes on offer a stone’s throw from Darwin. If you ask us, it was the perfect lead-in to a jam-packed, smoke-filled weekend.
Unfortunately, Gazzanats NT’s opening skid was less than ideal. Kevin Mantach’s FIFTY Chev (SM, Mar ’20) fired up on the main straight and suffered a stuck throttle. Kev threw the chopped, blown 1950 coupe into a spin to shed some speed, but he tagged the wall hard enough to fling the fuel tank clear of the boot.
Thankfully, he was walking and talking after the stack, and headed to hospital for some stitches and a look-over.
Things ran more smoothly once track cruising opened, offering punters a chance to hold it flat across the Supercars circuit (albeit with orders to avoid the grass at all costs).
Evening burnouts at Hidden Valley were an amazing experience as spectators found a spot on the hill overlooking the pad, backed by a blazing orange sunset. The burnout smoke wasn’t a worry either, as it helped keep the mozzies at bay. Qualifying was fairly drama-free aside from Jay Bouchere’s RAMPAGE VF Commodore ute catching fire and hurting its tailshaft.
The carnage ramped up for Saturday’s four-hour finals session, with Ryan Pearson kissing the wall in his HOLDON HT Premier before suffering a fire of his own. Wayne Daw’s burnout in his SLYLUX ute was also cut painfully short by a mechanical failure just seconds after tip-in, leaving the serious contender frustrated.
Dwane Pallentine claimed victory in the packed Blown class with an incredible display in his PEPERIT Torana, with Billy Seton earning top spot in the Naturally Aspirated V8 field behind the wheel of the SILYTOY VK.
The show ’n’ shine also brought out plenty of cool local rides, complementing the balls-out track driving nicely. The space featured an eclectic mix of burnout missiles and gleaming feature cars, plus neat corner-carvers and oddities like Aaron Clark’s Mad Max-style Peugeot saloon. Japanese stuff fared well, too, with Supras and Stageas featuring prominently alongside a bevy of HiLuxes.
Aaron Webber dominated the roll racing to earn the trophy and a Meguiar’s detailing pack. “I don’t know what I’ll do with this, because I don’t wash it,” he laughed.
If you’re a regular Street Machine reader, you’re probably familiar with the Myers clan, given both Gary and son Jake are Aussie burnout royalty. But if you haven’t seen them run an event, it’s a sight to behold. Alongside their dedicated crew, they take ‘hands-on’ to a new level.
You’ll find Deby manning the gates and looking after drivers, Gary raking burnt rubber off the pad each night, and Jake live-streaming the whole thing on Facebook. Their dedication to the art of the burnout, coupled with Darwin’s great weather and laid-back vibe, makes Gazzanats NT a must-do.
Sheehan Varney’s VZ-fronted VU SS ute put on a big flame show on the Friday night. Power comes from a BYE Performance-assembled, iron-block 427ci LSX, topped with a 6/71 TBS blower and carbonfibre injector hat. Debuting at Motorvation about 18 months ago and fresh from a full WA burnout season, it’ll be at Street Machine Summernats 35
Robert Cottrell’s methanol-drinking, LS2-swapped XD was one of the hardest chargers during each cruise and superskid session, and put on an equally impressive show across the burnout pad to earn a Top 10 finish
Daniel Catalano describes his leaf-sprung, 8/71-blown Chev-powered FJ40 as an animal around corners. “It’s very hard to cruise the track, but on the pad it’s wicked,” he laughed. “It’s a handful, but it’s good fun!” The Cruiser met the wall on Friday night, but returned on Saturday after Daniel and his crew straightened the front end using some straps and two support vehicles
Dayne Bairstow’s HAVEAGO XG ute was a highlight of the Four/Six-Cylinder class, laying down a thick cover of smoke from its crazy-sounding aspirated Barra and blowing both tyres off
Ever seen a real-deal VX GTS 300 track car? Troy Sutherland bought this Callaway-powered weapon essentially as-is from the original owner. The rebuilt mill wears Harrop ITBs, paired to a full brace of coolers and super-firm suspension. There’s also six-pot HSV stoppers all ’round, a carbonfibre tailshaft, plenty of negative camber, and even a rear cradle from an American GTO racer
Aiden Leist paid just $150 for this real-deal VK Calais when he was 15. With a stout 355 lion under the VK’s bonnet, the Benalla bloke ran a 10.68@129mph before swapping to a methanol-sipping 6.0 and then an SBE All Gen Engines-built 5.7 for simplicity and reliability. “It’s just something we can get in, throw caution to the wind, and just smash tyres off,” Aiden enthused
Katherine’s Mark Ryan debuted his Capri GT at Gazzanats, taking home first in the go-to-whoa. The car uses the 369 Windsor stroker driveline from his CHEEKY8 Capri, which was lost in a shed fire. “It was a drag car, so we’ve gotta turn it back into a street car,” Mark said. “This is literally the first event it’s been to and I couldn’t be happier; it’s going great”
In addition to his VX, Troy Sutherland also brought along the artist formerly known as MR PSI. In the late 2000s, the twin-turbo, 416ci VU was one of the first Aussie cars to crack 1700rwhp. It changed hands a few times after owner Lyle Lemon suddenly passed away in 2008, eventually becoming a roller. It now runs a tough aspirated LS combo, though Troy still has the original bonnet with turbo cutouts hanging on his wall
Brad Schluter went for an early doughnut in the entry lane during Friday night’s burnouts. It didn’t quite work out, but he backed his Datsun ute out and finished his skid in impressive fashion. He went hard on Saturday too, almost hitting the far wall before hitting reverse and starting again
Kerry Kyriacou’s LX Torry is a local gem, running a 6.0L LS2 and T56 combo, with a 9in and Wilwood discs underneath. “You can afford to have a low diff and still be economical on the highway,” he said. “It’s good to get an old car and modernise it, you know?” Kerry took on the go-to-whoa, roll racing and track cruising with gusto
The HX of Corey Johnston brought some grandpa-spec flavour to the cruise sessions. It’s seen a few different combos, but it now packs a 6.0L L98 with a TBS 8/71 blower and twin 850 carbs, making 700hp at the treads. “It’s a pretty low-maintenance set-up so far, touch wood,” Corey said. “Right now I can just jump in and enjoy it and not stress too much”
John Curwen-Walker’s stunning 90s-built FX did well come awards time, taking home the Top Cruise Car and Top Holden Four-Door awards. It’s a regular at both Gazzanats and Red CentreNATS, where John campaigned it to a Grand Champ win in 2015
This HQ GTS 350 Monaro was a simple and uber-stylish addition to the show ’n’ shine. The mini-tubbed car runs a Turbo 400 and 9in rear, bolted to meaty 10in wheels. “I drive it as much as I can through the dry season, and even in the wet season I take it out,” said owner John Lara. “It’s a family thing; we take our baby with us all the time”
One unusual visitor from WA was Kevin Mason in his FIRE BUG Rambler, which copped an EFI, methanol-drinking LS1 last year. Kevin smashed eight sets of tyres over the two-day show and earned a Top 10 Naturally Aspirated finish