Street Machine Summernats 34 Grand Champion

Jason Mansweto takes out Grand Champion and the Summernats Grandstand is renamed in honour of Chic Henry

Photographers: Povi Pullinen

Jason Mansweto has taken out the Street Machine Summernats 34 Grand Champion title in a hard-fought contest this morning in Canberra.

Only one point separated Jason’s XW from the two runners up – Jason McGrath’s LC Torana and Peter Beauchamp’s FB Holden.

The Grand Champion title is the pinnacle award at Street Machine Summernats. In order to win, a car must score highly in the show judging, score well in the People’s Choice vote and kick arse in the driving events.

And the field contending for the award this year was a tough one. Aside from the top three finalists mentioned above, we had Judith Menso’s Top Ten-placing LX hatchback, Simon Pickrell’s XW Falcon, Dean Rickard’s HT Monaro, Jason Sandner’s evergreen LX sedan, Geoff Seiter’s XY, Arthur Misoulis’s Valiant hardtop, Adam Kruger’s Mustang and Dom Luci’s VK.

We sat down with Jason for a chat in the shade shortly after he was presented with the Grand Champion blade by Summernats founder Chic Henry. Chic himself was honoured, with the iconic burnout pad grandstand being renamed as a permanent tribute.

Congrats on winning the big one, Jason. When did you first come to Summernats?

It would have been pretty early, maybe Summernats 4. I was 17 years old, on my p-plates. I came down with my cousins and a few friends and camped.

What car did you bring?

This one, the XW! This very car. I bought it when I was 14. It was Lime Frost, but I rebuilt it and restored it as a white XW Fairmont. We just cruised it and did the fun things. In 1997 I painted it blue and it became AGRO69, then in 2000 I painted it silver, it became 2ENIL8. Not long after that, I teamed up with Tristan Triccas and we dominated from there. The XW won Horsepower Heroes twice and also won Tuff Street numerous times.

This is your first time back with a car in a long time, yeah?

We made 1000hp at the rear wheels with our Capri and that was the last time. I had an incident with the XW at Powercruise in 2008 and that was the impetus for the rebuild. I had this theme in my head back then.

And people get what you were trying to do with the factory-style detailing under the bonnet?

They loved it. Building the car, putting it together I was just hoping that people would recognise what has gone into the car. I forget half of it myself!

I didn’t build the car as a showcar. I built it how I wanted to build it as a nice muscle car resto, but something we can race. I could have cleaned up the spot welds, got rid of the sharp edges and cleaned up the sill lines, but I didn’t want that. I wanted a factory look with everything. I didn’t want the smooth look. I didn’t want to do that to get points.

It’s not too loud, nothing hanging out the bonnet, you can’t see the cage – I just wanted a stress-free car that’s capable of running eights and sevens on the bottle.

Even before you won Grand Champion, you’ve had a pretty good weekend.

Just to have the car be up there competing with the high-end cars in the Top Ten was an honour. And winning Master Craftsman and Top Engineered was mind-blowing.

It must have been nice that you didn’t have to rush to finish the car to get it here.

It was supposed to be at MotorEx in 2020. I was rushing to get it ready for that, then it got canned, so it gave me a few extra weeks to get ready for Summernats. Then that got canned! So we shot the car for the mag in January 2021, while it was looking its best. Then I bought a cocoon to store it in and kept it at home for 12 months. The last two weeks, I brought it back to the shop, tidied up a couple of small things and polished it up. And here we are.

Nice skid today!

I’m content now! We’ll stay here tonight, relax and let it sink in.

Anyone on your team to shout out?

Con Constantinou from Pro Street Metalcraft, Steven and Con from Panel Worx, Paul Zammit and my good mate Matt King. My cousin Sharon and her husband Jason – he has been helping for the last two weeks prepping for this. I’ve known him since I was 17! And of course my partner Doreen. And last by not least, my younger brother David Mansweto at DCM Joinery for the awesome display he made for me over the last two weeks.

And of course, you can check out the full story on the XW in the January issue of Street Machine, on sale now!