THIS year’s Street Machine Summernats Grand Champion is Rick Werner and his 1932 Ford Pickup. It’s a ripper win for the bloke who had a crack at Summernats’ ultimate award last year but had his chance messed up by a loose distributor that stalled his engine during the driving events.
But even with his attempt last year – he finished in the Top 3 – this year’s win came as bit of a shock and a great source of pride to the Gold Coast-based rodder, who had the covers pulled off his car at the Brisbane Hot Rod Show in 2017.
Beginning with a floppy fibreglass body, Rick crafted much of the car himself, hand-building the chassis with a traditional beam front and triangulated four link rear suspension, and a terrific tilt tray.
Daughter Danielle – an interior designer – had a big role in the crafting of the car, sketching the paint scheme and working with her dad to turn their ideas and hand-drawn sketches into CNC files, then laser-cut metal pieces that after a lot of filing and polishing, became metal trim pieces highlighting the Rides By Kam-trimmed interior.
Up front is a stroked, blown and carby-fed 383-cube Chev small-block (the carby sitting under a faux injector hat) running 5psi of boost. Behind it is a TH700 four-speed auto, and the car has been driven more than 7000km in the last year.
“I’m not sure how much power it has but it’s more than what I need!” he laughs.
And enough power to drive it into Summernats history. Congrats!
BEST OVERALL STREET
IS THERE anything more ‘Aussie’ than a V8 Monaro? Probably not. And this classic Holden Monaro is Summernats 32’s Best Overall Street winner.
It’s owned by Mick Sapienza who cruises it around the NSW South Coast with his wife Kristy and kids Olivia and Luke. Ex-mechanic Mick did most of the work himself in the shed at home, beginning with a tatty, time-warp Monaro he bought in Canberra 15 years ago. Mick blew it apart, stored the original Holden V8 and re-powered it with a mild 350 Chev and a well-spec’d driveline: Muncie four-speed gearbox, rebuilt Salisbury rear end and a set of Wilwood brakes behind 17- and 18-inch Foose Legend wheels.
A big part of the car’s success is the fact the Chev isn’t too cranky, and even with street machining tricks such as the alternator and power steering being mounted low in the engine bay for a neater appearance, the car has been built to a plan that retains dependable, drivable factory hardware.
It might surprise a few people that this Monaro is a Summernats first-timer, although Mick has spent plenty of time at Summernats as a spectator. But 15,000km of street cruising since it was built is a nice foundation for its worthy win.
MINIS. They can be quick little bricks when the corners become curvier, and few people know that better than Jamie Ericson, who – again – pedalled his red-with-white-roof 1967 Morris Mini to victory in the Summernats Drivers’ Championship.
“It’s great fun!” said Jamie. “The change to the tarmac for the motorkhana (the course has always been on grass before this year) means a lot less dust and a different driving style. You need to be a lot smoother and gradual with how you apply the power or the brakes.
“On the grass you can let it all hang out!”
It’s not Jamie’s first win here. In the past he’s won in both this twin-carby 1275cc Mini and in his mate Steve Smith’s Lancer Evo. And Steve has also won in Jamie’s Mini! Plus, Jamie’s just grabbed a second place in the Australian Motorkhana Championships, so yeah, he knows how to chuck a car around.
After half a dozen wins here it’s not surprising that Jamie plans to be back. “I’m building a VZ Maloo,” he reveals. “It will be good to come back and have a crack in a V8.”