If you were at Street Machine Summernats 36 and happened to wonder how our mates in NZ do things, you were in luck. Operating from the paddock side of the burnout pad were four epic burnout cars, fresh from a journey across the Tasman.
Premier Events coordinated the mission, with NZ performance scene stalwart Azhar Bhamji at the help. “The Chrome Horsepower Festival is our big event in New Zealand, and it’s been going for about 10 years now,” he said. “We did a massive promotion in partnership with Summernats, and the grand prize was that we’d bring four cars to Australia to compete against the best here.
“In August we had Chrome In Auckland, and we had about 35 of the best of the best of NZ turn up for the competition. As part of that we brought in a Summernats burnout judge, and these four vehicles won the competition.” The prize included an all-inclusive trip for each entrant to compete in the ‘Nats 36 burnout competition, get a feel for the Aussie burnout scene, and show us what the Kiwis can do!
“No-one has done this in the NZ scene before so we’re very, very proud,” Azhar said. “We’re also very proud of the four cars. We’ve got some unfinished business, so hopefully we’ll be back again, bigger and better.”
RYAN SHIRTCLIFFE – 1978 MITSUBISHI LANCER
22-year-old Ryan hails from Churchill on NZ’s North Island, and was the youngest driver to make the trip with his rad little Lancer dubbed ‘VIOLENT’.
What are we looking at, Ryan?
It’s a 1978 Mitsubishi Lancer. I’ve had it for four or five years, and it’s been finished and skidding for about three years. It’s got a Series 2 3.8 Buick turbo running 14psi, with a Th350 and stage three shift kit.
Any particular reason it’s got a six-banger?
The old man’s skid car’s got the same set-up so we know it works well. We were originally going to go LS but we couldn’t fit it between the strut towers. It’s been pretty strong and reliable; the first motor lasted through about two years of abuse! This motor’s freshly built with forged pistons and rods, a pretty decent sized cam and all ARP everything just to be safe. It’s making 456hp at the wheels and 946Nm of torque, and it was losing traction on the dyno so it could be a little bit more.
What’s your verdict on Summernats?
It’s been really awesome, I’ve loved it. I had a little nudge on the exit chute though. I had Jake Myers in the car; we did two 360s up the exit chute then came around, and just as I started to go back into my smoke, my left rear tyre popped and kicked my arse out. Next minute I was looking straight at the wall and couldn’t go anywhere. It was just a bit of bad luck that it popped so quickly. I was told it was about 45 seconds into the skid, which is really quick for a brand new set of coloured tyres!
GARRETT MATTHEWS – HQ ONE TONNER
Gaz hails from the South Island, home of Rangiora’s awesome Muscle Car Madness show. His LS1-swapped tonner ‘DSPRNG’ put on a great show, despite kissing the wall and bending the custom tray something major! He had to rip off the car’s timber rear deck to be allowed into Australia, replacing it with plywood sheeting once he made landfall.
Looks like your Tonner’s seen a bit of action. How’d it come to be?
I bought the car as a $100 rig seven or eight years ago, and started with a 283 small-block Chev, then just kept improving it. It had about seven motors to get to this stage, with different mods along the way. There were 283s, a 305, and 406 all with different cams and stuff. Then we went to the LS and it started getting serious!
What’s the combo now?
Llama Engineering in Wellington built the short block and me and my mates and mates did rest. It’s a TBS blower and twin carb manifold with Quickfuel 70s and it runs a Kelford cam. There was lots of modding and fab to get it all together.
Aside from smooching the tray on the barrier, have you had a ball?
It’s been awesome. We love the people here and the weather’s been too good for us – we got pretty sunburnt! The cars here are just next-level. This was just built to look the part and performance came with it, but it’s nothing compared to those cars out there. It’s got a stock crankshaft and the limiter’s set to 6500, so that’s the limitation of the car. It’s five years old and unopened, and we do a lot so it’s due for a freshen-up. It’s better to do it now than wait until it goes bang. We’ll set the limiter to 7500 or 8000 just to get on par with the guys here!
BRADEN SMITH – VF COMMODORE
If there was a Hard Luck award to be dealt, Braden would be a walk-up winner with his HAUNT U wagon. He faced weekend-ending dramas before making a single skid, and spent three days chasing the problem to no avail.
Sorry to hear you’ve had some dramas, mate.
It hasn’t been a smooth-sailing trip, that’s for sure! First we found the battery was dead-flat and the key was on for some reason, then we worked out the alternator had shat itself. When we finally made it to the pad we were rained off, and then cruising back we lost the ignition. It is what it is – cars give you a headache at the best of times!
Have you been here before?
Last time I came to Aussie was for Summernats 30, and I pretty much built the car for that. I was going good until I hit the wall! I took it back home and lunched the motor soon after. It’s pretty much been in the shed for the five years while I chipped away at the motor. It’s 509ci Dart big-block with all the goodies in it, and it revs to nine grand.
A VF is a pretty speccy base for a burnout car. Did you have something else beforehand?
I had an HQ Kingsood, and it was a full street-legal certified car with a blown big-block. Parts were just too hard to get for the old girls and I didn’t want to crash it, so I went to the local wrecker and they had all the new stuff sitting there. I picked the wagon because for doing events like Powercruise in NZ and Azhar’s stuff, I thought it would be cool to have more seats for cruising on the racetrack. It was only a year old when I bought it; it just had the front left smashed in.
LIZ GRACIE – 1969 CAMARO
The most Sumemrnats-seasoned of the four visitors, Liz has dressed EV1L69 in a colour-change wrap as a play on the JDM style that’s huge in NZ’s North Island car culture.
Welcome back, Liz! I’m told you’re no stranger to the ‘Nats.
“No! I’ve been here six times, and this is the car’s third time here. Before that I had a manual small-block Chev Torana, my first time was in 2004.”
Run us through the Camaro build!
It’s been campaigning for 6 years now. We do keep changing it, but it’s the typical recipe most people run. The engine’s a small-block Chev – none of this LS rubbish – at just over 410 cubes, with a Powerglide and nine-inch. The blower’s an 8/71 Teflon-tipped TBS with a couple of APD 950s we got over here. It’s dedicated to E85, but we run X85 as we’re proudly sponsored by VP Racing Fuels.
I’ve also heard you had a bit of a drama yesterday.
It doesn’t matter how well prepared you are, you can always have a mechanical demon. To be fair, we’ve had a ball; we managed to get out on the pad for the Wildcards on Thursday as we just missed the rain. I got down, did a decent tip-in, was just heading up the chute through the smoke, and that was it. Let’s say I had a very spectacular fire!
Ouch! Have you got a read on the damage yet?
It isn’t terminal, we can still turn the engine over, we’ve just lost the ends of a couple of spark plugs. Something’s not where it should be.
Being a Nats regular, how does this trip compare to other years?
It’s actually very different! I’ve enjoyed it because I haven’t had the pressure of needing to be at so many places at certain times. The atmosphere has certainly changed, which is not a bad thing at all, the calibre of cars is outstanding as always, and I actually think the show has progressed from 2004 to now. It’s just a whole other level. The prizegiving thing with the Masters added a bit of glam to the sport, which is pretty cool!