Suzuki Mighty Boy crowned Motorvation 36 Grand Champion

Boris rides shotgun in the Motorvation 36 Grand Champion

Photographers: Jordan Leist

Being crowned Grand Champ at an event like Motorvation – or Summernats for that matter – means you have to find the right balance between show quality workmanship, performance and driveability. This year’s champion may have left a bit on the table when it came to show judging points, but more than made up for it in the other areas.

With a wheelbase not much longer than a wheelbarrow and about 20 times more power than it originally left the factory with, you’d think Simon Birch’s Dove Grey Mighty Boy would be a little bit too much of a handful for any type of controlled driving event.

Well, as it turned out, after leaving the Elite Tent with Top Engineered and Top Japanese under his belt, he was definitely in with a fighting chance if he could do well in the driving events – and do well he did – taking out all three driving events! Admittedly the Go-Whoa was a bit sketchy as the little ute only has front brakes: “I ran out of money and can’t afford back brakes,” Simon joked, although it was built as a skid car initially. The car’s light weight probably helps out in that regard.

Where the car really shone was in the slalom where it even outperformed the Pro Tourers of Jason Janssen’s ’57 Chev and Mitchell Rando’s ’69 Camaro. To make the achievement even more amazing, this was the first time Simon had driven the car! A lot of that performance was because of Simon’s skilful and aggressive driving style, a skill honed after many years of campaigning his one tonner DOSILE in burnout comps. If the car got a little bit loose around one of the cones, instead of backing off like most competitors, Simon just sunk the boot in even harder and drove out of any trouble.

For Simon the whole experience was a massive relief because all he was worried about was that people would laugh at him. That definitely didn’t happen and the car was very well received and had people poring over it for the whole weekend wondering how it all went back together after Simon flipped the front forward and then tilted the body up. It’s a well thought out car that was almost entirely owner built, although Simon admits: “I set out to build a $20,000 skid car and failed miserably.”

It actually turned out way nicer than he expected and it probably won’t ever hit the burnout pad, but that didn’t stop Simon from chucking a couple of donuts as the Grand Champ contenders exited the Snakepit. It almost ended very badly when the master cylinder on the hand brake – that activates the caliper on each front wheel independently – popped a seal and the car lost all brakes. Simon had to choose between John Royce’s lowrider Impala, Simon White’s HQ Monaro and a gap barely wider than the Mighty Boy over a four-foot high limestone rock.

Simon chose the gap, made the jump and luckily no cars, and more importantly, no people were hurt. I can confirm it was a very hairy and rather panicked few seconds. How do I know? Because I was riding shotgun! It was an experience I’ll never forget, that’s for sure.

The other car’s that were in contention for the Grand Champ award were the aforementioned cars of John Royce and Simon White as well as the ’57 Chev of Jason Janssen and the XA coupe of Brad Fletcher. It was a colourful and diverse mix of cars in the Top Five, and any of them would have been worthy winners.

Simon would especially like to thank Matt from Stock to Shock, who painted the car and also Mark Lester from West Coast Autostyling. The biggest thanks goes to Jason from SOS Fabrication: “He pretty much threw me the keys to his workshop and let me use all of his expensive equipment. Without that I wouldn’t have gotten it done.”