There is no better way to kick off a new year than by blowing the froth off a couple at the Milwaukee Street Machine of the Year VIP Party, which takes place on the Thursday evening of Summernats. The invite-only event always pulls a bumper crowd of industry players who gather to honour the winner of the hallowed Milwaukee Street Machine of the Year award.
In more recent times, we have very proudly integrated the presentation of the Laurie Starling Memorial Scholarship into the evening’s program, and this year, we also added the inaugural Milwaukee Young Street Machine of the Year to the official proceedings.
The ‘Laurie Award’, as it has become known, was conceived by the Starling family as a means of honouring the legacy of the late, great Laurie Starling. It aims to encourage and reward young up-and-coming fabricators and engineers, and provide them with the means to develop their skills and further their studies.
Neatly, the 2022 SMOTY winner, Jasmine Green, is also a past scholarship recipient. Jazzy and many other scholarship winners have gone on to achieve great things within the scene and in their careers, proving that the Starling family has a knack for identifying and fostering talent through the program.
This year, the scholarship was awarded to Dean Fiumara, who works under legendary car builder Damien ‘Chubby’ Lowe as a designer and fabricator at Sydney-based workshop Lowe Fabrications. Dean is a mechanical engineering student and passionate car guy who is a gun with CAD and 3D-printing technology, both of which are integral parts of modern-day car crafting.
He’s also building a staunch little rotary-powered Datsun 1200 ute, which will allow him to further develop his skills and flex his creative muscles. “I’d like to thank everyone who encouraged me to apply for the award, because I usually like to keep to myself!” he laughed.
Young Street Machine of the Year was new in 2022, aiming to apply the SMOTY concept to younger, less established car crafters. Anyone aged 24 and under was able to submit their entry, all of which were then whittled down to a field of finalists and put to a public vote. The winner scored $2500 cash and $3000 worth of killer Milwaukee tools, along with a feature in Street Machine.
We were blown away with the quality and quantity of entrants, along with the variety of cars the competition unearthed. But the winner was Canberra local Max Edwards, who, as the son of Summernats Horsepower Heroes legend Jake Edwards of Jake’s Performance, comes from pretty good stock.
His VIP-style Toyota Crown Majesta scored the win in a landslide, and while Max would have loved to have had the car at the party, it’s currently off the road while he engineers a new twin-turbo system for it – a perfectly valid excuse, and something his new Milwaukee roll-cab full of tools will no doubt aid him with.
Then it was on to SMOTY proper, with 2022 recipient Jasmine Green officially having her name etched into the most coveted trophy in Aussie street machining. Telfo had already ambushed Jazzy at her workplace, Maskell’s Customs & Classics, with the trophy, so it was no surprise that she’d won the award, but formally accepting it in front of an audience of her peers was another thing entirely.
And as for the comically oversized novelty cheque for $20,000 from our homies at Milwaukee? “I’ll probably put it back into the car,” said Jazzy of her home-built, Elite level HiLux that had pole position out the front of the party. “The engine is pretty tired, so I’d like to freshen it and put a cam in it, and maybe a steering rack conversion too.”
With that, the official proceedings drew to a close, and the evening descended into a flurry of bench racing, whisky and assorted debauchery. I’d tell you about it, but the SMOTY party is a bit like Vegas in that what happens there is supposed to stay there. But rest assured that a beaut night was had by all, and we can’t wait to do it all again next year.