RED CentreNATS is in full swing at Alice Springs this weekend and things have levelled up in a big way.
One of the big attractions of the event is the special permits that the local authorities grant to highly-illegal vehicles to cruise the streets for the weekend. We’ve seen crazy burnout cars and seven-second drag cars take up the offer, but things have gone the next level, with two of our favourite gassers getting the all-clear!
Damien Kemp’s blown and injected Funderbolt is the fastest gasser in the country – if not the world, with high eight-second passes to its credit. And Biggsy’s Loose Cannon ’55 Chev isn’t far behind, with a PB in the nines.
Waiting to turn onto the Stuart Highway, Damo is a picture of concentration; his eyes constantly glance at the scant few dials on the dash. His left arm darts out trim the radiator fan, “It’s running E85, so it sits nice and cool; it’s on 165 right now,” he yells, barely audible over the noise.
A gap in the traffic means we’re on and the 1964 Ford Fairlane 500 vintage gasser begins what is a very rare journey; a fully legal road run to the local takeaway. Perspex windows shake and suddenly the Stuart Highway’s roadside trees start to blur. The slicks give a twist and shout and we’re at the speed limit in the blink of a watering eye.
Nothing quite prepares you for the brutality of going for a Macca’s run in an eight-second, 1000 horsepower vintage gas drag car. As the Highway screws through The Gap that parts the MacDonnell Ranges, and the bark of Damo’s 440-cube Dart Windsor echoes off monument’s ancient red walls. A second later, our hedonism is repeated back unto us, it is the anger and fury of a blown, mechanically injected big block holding itself back on public roads; very unfamiliar territory.
The Stuart Highway spreads into four lanes and Steve ‘Biggsie’ Biggs lines up next to us, his similar-prepped 1956 Chev standing tall on a solid front end. As photographer Chris Thorogood hangs out of the back of our rented Nissan X-Trail, I’m almost certain we’re about to slide out on his tears of joy, amongst other fluids.
Turning right into the McDonald’s drive through, Damo’s head ducks and weaves around the 440-cube mechanical monstrosity that appears, quite literally to have burst from the Fairlane’s bonnet. Sitting up so high, it would be easy to lose a child or even a short-wheelbase Holden Jackaroo in the blind spots. He twirls the tiny vintage steering wheel and with a few deft moves, we’re lined up for some McFood.
I look to my right and see Damo has relaxed a bit, cracking a grin for the first time on the trip. “Hi, can I take your order please,” the muffled girl asks through the speaker box. His answer isn’t quite what she is expecting, “That was f*cking awesome!”
Parked in scrutineering on Thursday, the organisers are having a problem. They’re willing to give Damo a road pass, but only if he can do something about the zoomies.
Enter local copper Cameron Vivian, “I saw they were having some troubles,” he says, “and I like to help out.” Cameron’s solution; rocking up the next morning with a couple of bits of steel bent up to protect the innocent from the zoomies’ savage blast. Legend!