Northern Nats 2021 wrap-up & gallery

We speak to some of the hottest performers from Northern Nats 2021

Photographers: Ash Wilson

A MASSIVE $15,000 cheque has landed in the talented hands of Jake Myers as his ‘S1CKO’ Windsor-powered ’66 Mustang took out the Pro Burnouts title at Northern Nats 5 at Springmount Raceway in Far North Queensland.

Jake performed spectacularly over three days of competition – final scores tallied across Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon’s skids – his driving skills, huge smoke and consistency doing the trick in the face of mighty competition chasing the big payday. Rick Fuller was second in his blown LS1 VK ‘LSONE’, and Townsville’s Bubba Lofts third in his LS-powered ‘ORWHAT’ ’02 Calais.

Bubba snared second in Mod class too, just behind an epic showing by Keelan Heit in his ’75 HJ one-tonner ‘SKRTLIFTA’.

The overall win adds to Jake’s Street Machine Summernats 32 Burnout Master, Steel City Nats and Bathurst Autofest titles. Jake’s dad, Gary, didn’t go home empty handed, either. Gary dusted off his ’05 ‘2INSANE’ Mustang GT for the power skids, triumphing over Joel Sykes in his ’68 HK Belmont with blown, injected small-block 406.

With 2INSANE up for sale, Gary was keen to show off this legendary skidder’s ability, and just inched out Joel across two runs each in the final. The Belmont was awarded Car of the Show, reflecting the HK’s looks, performance and Joel taking part in practically everything he could across the three days.

Participant numbers were down for the power skids, no doubt due to a nasty roll suffered by Cairns’ Greg Smith in his nine-second 1970 Datsun two-door coupe on Saturday. “It was like I got bucked off a motorbike,” Greg said. “The left-hand rear wheel went off the ground and when it landed it bit and just shot me into the wall.” He walked away okay and while he reckons the car is a mess, the chassis looks straight-ish and will be repaired.

On the strip, Cairns local Jayden Gray won Quickest ET with 7.38, notching Highest MPH too at 187.34mph in his turbo BBC-powered ‘2NASTI’ ’69 Camaro.

Roll Racing victor was Brian Bull in his LSA-conversion VB Commodore street car, who was grinning from ear-to-ear as the new motor had only been dropped in four days ago.

Back on the skid pan, John Murphy’s ‘TUFF20’ Corolla KE20 didn’t make the final Top 10 after engine dramas saw him leave Saturday’s burnouts on a tow truck. Some compensation came with being awarded Best Tip-In, richly deserved for some rapid, dizzying loops after speeding down the chute.

Leteisha Chun Tie’s ‘PARTY TIME’ VK was epic in scoring Top Ladies, while Adrian Sitera won Top Six-Cylinder in his GT4 Celica ‘FKNLOCO’.

For most of the Pro class drivers, Springmount Raceway is a massive journey from home base. The prize money is a big draw, of course – second place took home $4k, third $3k, fourth $2k and fifth $1k – but the format of being judged over three days and the pad itself are attractive too.

Organiser Lee Harvey explained: “It’s like a marathon and not just a single burnout to win it,” he said. “Drivers are pushed in three burnouts and if you miss one and don’t score then you won’t win.”

Runner-up Rick Fuller – defending champ from NN 4 – has seen his share of burnout pads, but said Northern Nats’ is “probably the most fun of any in Australia. The speed of it is the reason we drove 3500km to use it. There’s a super long run in, which is unlike any other. It gives you that adrenaline rush before you tip-in because you’re going that quick.”

Rick enjoyed the three-day format, adding, “My car and driving has always been pretty consistent, so I like it.” Eventual winner Jake Myers said he probably prefers a couple of qualifiers then a final, but understood the excitement of the unknown until the winner’s revealed on Sunday night.

“Doing three consistent killer skids is tough; you make one mistake and that’s it, it’s over,” he said. “It’s a big pay cheque here, up there with Summernats Masters, and it’s a really cruisy event, so as an entrant it’s very good. It’s one of the biggest pads in Australia. I love it. The pad’s quite long so you can do quite a few doughies there; it’s good fun.”

Hot days, smoke-filled nights and thousands of entertained North Queensland fans made NN 5 a memorable one. Trucks and trailers loaded, it’s a massive trip home for many, and for Jake Myers and S1CKO, another handsome payday.

Three was the magic number for Jake Myers as he skidded, looped and smoked S1CKO across Friday, Saturday and Sunday burnouts – his total score combining to make him Northern Nats 5 Pro Burnout champion and $15k richer. His legendary 1966 Mustang with 302 Windsor boasts the same set-up as when he won Burnout Masters in 2019, except for a new RRS power steering rack

Many burnout drivers describe Springmount Raceway’s pad as the best in Australia. Entry is slightly downhill and very long, so you can carry serious speed into the tip-in making for some epic loops. How judges could pick a winner from so many rapidly rotating efforts is beyond us, but John Murphy’s TUFF20 Corolla KE20 scored the event’s Best Tip-In prize. Decent compensation for the fan-favourite Toyota failing to make the Top 10 after engine trouble on Saturday’s run. You can’t afford to have an off-day on the NN pad.

Joel Sykes’s ’68 HK Belmont with blown, injected small-block 406 was runner-up in power skids and awarded Car of the Show. With Turbo 400 and nine-inch rear end, this 1196hp beast was seen power skidding, roll racing and at the burnout pad across the three days. “It’s mint, really good event, very laidback and it’s a massive pad,” said Joel, a first-timer at Northern Nats. “The car’s a 1968 boat but I’ve put a new front end in and can now actually steer it where I want to.” He arrived with 13 sets of tyres, and was looking like returning home with none of them.

Rick Fuller was burnout champ at 2019 Northern Nats in his ‘FULL ON’ VF Commodore ute, and almost backed it up this year in his blown LS1 VK ‘LSONE’. Double loops on tip-in, endless whip arounds and great skill in using the whole pad was met with huge cheers. Rick went big every day, and must have just missed out on scoring the top prize again.

Cairns local Brenton Miller was gifted his son’s beautifully presented ’94 Hilux for a weekend of skids and scored a deserved Top 10 finish. With a blown 1UZ good for 320rwhp on 9psi, it punched above its weight, lighting up the pad with its mad glowing exhaust during each epic session. “It’s really well set up,” Brenton said, “and every time I drive off the pad, it’s a win. These motors are fairly bulletproof.”

Hours of drag racing over each day at NN 5 finally saw Jayden Gray take out Quickest ET with 7.38 and Highest MPH at 187.34mph. His stunningly well-prepared 2NASTI ’69 Camaro with 509 big-block Chev and single Garrett GTX5544R turbo tore up the Springmount strip. It’s Jayden’s home track, so it was ideal the top prize went to a local.

Grant Morris from RRR Racing in Kuranda lives just a stone’s throw from Springmount Raceway. “We’ve been to every event held here in the last three years,” he said as he lined up in his mint 1969 HK Monaro GTS. It uses a 434 small-block Dart built by Brody Automotive, giving him roughly 700hp. “It’s not huge horsepower, but it’s reliable, and at this high-altitude track our best is a 9.7. It’s a privilege to have this event here; it’s fantastic for us drivers to see and race in front of such a huge crowd each day.”

Photographers: Ash Wilson