Tuff Street winners at Summernats 35

The meanest cars at Summernats loitered with intent on Tuff Street

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

Skid Row may have eaten into the stretch of Summernats real estate that’s long been known as Tuff Street, but the fact that your senses are now assaulted by the unrelenting sound of blown bent-eights and air that’s thick with burnout smoke seems appropriate.

After all, Tuff Street is the place to be if you want to scope out the toughest mechanical monsters at Street Machine Summernats. These cars push and indeed exceed the boundaries of what can be done with a street car, which is why judging is divided into three classes: Street Tuff, for street-registered cars that might be mini-tubbed; Pro Tuff, for more hardcore pro street-style cars with full tubs; and Comp Tuff, for dedicated race cars.

Tuff Street cars aren’t judged on their interiors and undercarriages like their Elite brethren, because there’s an understanding that they are built and used for a certain purpose. As Tuff Street judge and past winner Mark Hayes put it, “They could have a full Nick Scali interior and it wouldn’t matter one bit.”

Cars that were on the judges’ radar at Summenats 35 included James Souvleris’s newly rejuvenated, insanely tough, blown methanol Hemi-powered GONUTS VY ute; Matt Bell’s Tuff Street-staple FAT G Monaro; BYE Performance’s blown and tubbed LS-swapped BMW 328i, REFINED (SM, Jun ’22); and Jake Myers’s iconic Mustang, to name but a few.

However, in ascending order of toughness, the class winners in Tuff Street this year were Nick Knight’s HQ sedan in Street Tuff, Frank Russo’s 100 per cent street-legal tubbed and big-blocked VC Commodore SL/E in Pro Tuff, and George Sotirovski’s profoundly mental blown and injected LX hatch in Comp Tuff.

And the overall winner? That was Frank’s VC Commo. “It was overwhelming, to be honest,” Frank beamed. “I wasn’t expecting to win that gold trophy. The car is all engineered and registered; you’ve got to get it right, I reckon.”

We reckon Frank got it right, and so too did the Tuff Street judges.


Matty Bell’s FAT G HG Monaro had to be one of the straight-up meanest cars at Summernats. The blown and injected fatty has a note all its own, and Matt wasn’t afraid to roll it out of the marquee and spin some tough-laps at the height of Saturday afternoon’s mayhem, much to the delight of the crowd.

The smiling face of a Tuff Street Champion. We were quite taken by Frank Russo’s mega-tough, big block-powered pro street VC Commo when we spotted it at the Adelaide Auto Expo, so we featured it in the December 2021 issue of Street Machine. The clinically clean engine bay, thumping 454ci engine and incredible tinwork are all impressive, but perhaps the car’s best attribute is that it is fully engineered and street legal in Frank’s home state of South Australia.

George Sotirovski’s epic LX Torana hatch is the absolute epitome of the Comp Tuff class at Tuff Street. The A9X-styled weapon looks just plain menacing, with the blown and injected mill bursting through the factory-style bonnet scoop and the knockout stance accentuated by the flares. Barbados Green is a winning colour choice, too.

Remember Ben Bray’s purpose-built VY burnout ute? It’s been under James Souvleris’s stewardship for a while now, and after an altercation with the wall at Powercruise a few years back, James has treated it to a big old birthday. The 520ci Hemi runs a BDS 14/71 pump, topped with a CHI carbon hat and pulleyed to deliver 1800hp on 40psi. The colour is Porsche Miami Blue, and it rolls on 24x15in Simmons wheels with a monumental 12in of dish!