Powerplay 38 at Brisbane Raceway

The tyre-hating citizens of Queensland are let loose on Queensland Raceway to exorcise their COVID demons


THE 2021 Powercruise season kicked off in hot and smoky style in mid-February as Queensland Raceway hosted Powerplay #38 for some 450 entered modified cars. Much like the Big Bash is to test cricket, Powerplay rolls all the cruising, drifting, powerskids, off-street racing and show ’n’ shine of a three-day Powercruise into just one day. It makes for non-stop action – a token lunch break of just 20 minutes highlights this – from the first cruising session at 8am all the way to burnouts under night skies.

What did we learn? Well, the track at Willowbank is a brutally hot place in February; locals come out in force, with many building cars specifically for these events; the racing action is very competitive; and the mullet has made a glorious comeback in the great state of Queensland.

Aaron Stubbs’s CLOUDZ Commodore was given to Hi-Torque Performance with the request for 1200hp. Mission accomplished, thanks to an 8/71-blown, methanol-fed Dart Pro 440ci block. “The car’s been built for exactly what this kind of event offers,” Aaron said. “Get all your mates to jump in, do some powerskids, cruise, race, blow tyres – it’s perfect.”

Scott Hipwell’s EVIL64 Chevelle coupe rocks a twin-turbo small-block, Turbo 400 and built rear end. This low-to-mid-8sec Chevy (with a bonnet the size of a pool table) remains a street car, and aside from the race seats and ’cage, it’s fairly original, with a stock dash, rear seats and carpets.

Dragged out of a bush and now with a S480 turbo 5.3L, Alex Hayward’s TETNUS RX-3 lives up to its name, with the tinworm really working its magic on the old Mazda’s body. It was never going to win the show ’n’ shine, but it’s always a rapid crowd-pleaser.

Ben Thistleton’s 1970 HG Premier runs an LS1 with ported and polished heads and a cam giving 380hp. “It’s so good here because of the turnout and the serenity. You’ve gotta love the serenity,” Ben said. “Cruising’s the best bit – racing everyone and lining them up – but it’s also done the skid pad and the drags.”

Running a small-block 350 Chev, mild cam, alloy heads and 750 Double Pumper Holley, Luke Peat’s ’72 HQ Kingswood was a crowd favourite, popping tyres for fun on the hot pad. “It’s good for us amateurs; we don’t have to get too close to the walls,” said Luke of the pad. “We can go and thrash the cars as they should be.”

Shane Barnard’s 1971 XY Falcon 500, FUCOPA, was built with his late brother. “I’m keeping the dream alive,” he said. “It has a fabricated rear end, Turbo 400, Dart Windsor block, 434 stroker, Cleveland heads and 1150 Dominator carby. It runs 8.90 down the quarter-mile with nitrous, but we don’t run it here, as it can hurt the motor. It lost second gear today, but I could still drift it in top gear.”

With its Barra, GTX45 Garrett snail and nitrous, Steve Farrelly’s’88 VL Commodore has managed 1444hp on a hub dyno. Incredibly fast all day, the car was runner-up in the off-street racing.

Aiden Maloney’s ’87 Corolla was in the middle of a killer burnout when the Toyota’s rear end went up in flames. “I don’t know what happened, but I got out quick,” he said. “There was a lot of smoke inside, and I knew it wasn’t just tyre smoke.”

Shane Ardouin’s VY SS Commodore boasts giant 4in rear pipes to amplify the noise of its 800hp, 6/71-blown Warspeed 428ci donk. “No other event out there in Australia lets us do this; I love the freedom you get here,” Shane said. “I brought five sets of tyres, but I think I’m gonna need a few more now.”

FLAT RAT is David Power’s suicide-door HJ One Tonner. The 4in roof chop was already in place when he bought it, but he re-did the body drop, now 5in lower. The front V8 springs are still standard, and David swears the diff’s never blown in all his years of using it. But at Powerplay the freshly built, 520hp, blown 355 Holden V8 misbehaved. “I did my powerskid and it dropped a couple of cylinders, but I hope it’s just fouled a couple of plugs,” he said.

Mark Stumer’s1973 LJ coupe packs a 6/71-blown 408 stroked out to 428ci and running on methanol, backed by a two-speed Powerglide. “I’ve been doing Powercruise since the first one,” he said. “It’s the atmosphere, being with your mates and taking people for rides that make it so good.”

Leonardo Neves, Bianca Dunstan, Paulo Neves, Brent Davis, Goran Ivanovic, Jai Ivanovic and Benny Conissis with Goran’s Barra-engined 1975 TD Cortina. A Garrett GTX4202R turbo, CP pistons and Kelford Stage 4 cams help the Ford six produce 1100hp at the wheels on 35psi. “There’s nothing as good as Powerplay if you like street cars; the variety is awesome,” Goran said.

Troy Listkow gave his matte red-wrapped SS VE Commodore ute a hard time in the cruise sessions. “It hasn’t got an LS in it!” Troy declared. “It’s a small-block Chev with the blower, good for 550-600hp. Powerplay’s a good day out, but it’s better if you go with VIP entry, as it’s a busy line-up and wait otherwise.”

Mandy Reditt’s ’92 Triton ute with standard LS1 is her burnout special, adorned with CONTRL ME plates and ‘yeah the girls’ sticker. “I’ll show the boys how it’s done,” she said pre-run, backing it up with a solid third place after some measured tyre-smoking control.

Matt O’Kell’s ’64 EH ute took out the burnout comp, despite the LS being in pieces just a week before. The TUFF64 classic didn’t go out on QR’s main track (“the temperatures are too high and I’m just on pump fuel,” Matt said) so Matt saved it all – and three sets of tyres – for the pad.

This was Gus Northard’s first time on the burnout pad with his LS1-powered VY Calais, and he decided to sling mum Wendy in the passenger seat. “It was fun, very good – now he can’t do burnouts on the street,” Mum said. “This is the one where we just send it, so I sent it as hard as I could,” said a buzzing Gus.