Young Gun CJ Murray-Smith’s VX Commodore

At just 14 years of age, CJ is still quite a while off from getting his driver’s licence, but that hasn’t stopped him from having a crack at some of the regional WA pads in his methanol-fed VX Commodore, THISKIDMAD

Photographers: Jordan Leist

THERE’S an ever-growing group of young guys and girls that love to tear it up on the burnout pad, including Perth’s CJ Murray-Smith. 14-year-old CJ’s dad Colin is massive supporter of CJ’s passion and did most of the talking during the interview, but assures us that his son’s not getting anything handed to him on a silver platter!

How did CJ get into skid comps at such a young age?

We started off doing motocross, and we’d go down to Wattleup and all the big kids would be skidding down there. CJ saw them, jumped in my ute and just starting practising doing skids. Every time we took the motorbikes down, he’d do some more practice. He was about 10 or 11 years old. I ended up building him an L67 [supercharged V6] ute so he could take it down to Westdale, and he skidded there last year when he was 13. He just said: “Dad, this doesn’t have enough power; I need a bit more power.”

What was your solution to that, CJ?

Dad bought me a VY V8 from the auctions and that was going to be my first V8 skid car. We got the car home and Dad had bought me a set of Walky rims from Central Tyres, and Poppy took me down to Matt Owens at Exclusive Whitewalling. I started talking to Matt about his VY wagon, EVYL SS. He had an LS1 in there, but he wanted to upgrade to an LS2, so it was going to be for sale. Dad had given me some extra cash, so I did a deal with Matt and I put a $200 deposit on it – didn’t even ask Dad! When Dad got home I made him dinner with a few beers, and after about the seventh beer I broke the news to him. Well, he went berserk. I said, “Dad, don’t worry, I’ve got a plan. I knew a car was going to come up for sale, Jake Proudfoot’s VX SS, FRY GMH, but it had a tap in the rear end. As soon as it came up for sale, I messaged Jake and sent him a deposit. Once again, I didn’t tell Dad!

I’m beginning to see a theme here.What happened next, Colin?

He stripped the VY V8 down and sold all the parts individually, then he sold his trail bikes off and found a black VX V6 roller for $200. We cut the back off that to fix the damage to Jake’s old VX, used the gearbox out of the VY and the methanol LS1 from Matt Owens. CJ was dedicated to it; every day he’d come home from school and we’d work on it together. All we needed to do was get an exhaust system done; we ended up taking it down to Kwinana Performance and they finished it off for us. We worked on it day and night for four months and got it ready for the Turner Gully Burnouts, and he did a big
skid there.

Tell us more about the combo.

The engine was built by V&A Mechanical. It’s an LS1 on methanol with a Victor Jr manifold, QFT carb and twin four-inch pipes, backed by a 4L60E with a 3500rpm Dominator converter, and a Truetrac diff with 3.9 gears. It’s got a MagnaFuel QuickStar 275 fuel pump, B&M Pro Ratchet shifter, and it’s also running an Astra electric power steering pump and VQ Statesman shortened rear axles and swing arms. The engine made 520hp on the Kwinana Performance dyno, which is plenty of power for now.

What other events will CJ be competing at?

The biggest problem is, because he’s 14 he’s not allowed to skid competitively anywhere. There are only a few spots that we can actually go to test the car. We took it up to Jason Rapoff’s [KING VH] and he gave CJ some training. It was absolutely brilliant; he’s a really good guy. He gave him some lessons on brake control – controlling the car under brakes, letting off the brake a little bit, which is important on the smaller pads. That’s why I’ve been getting him lessons, so he’ll be able to send it.

You’ve managed to pick up a few sponsors, CJ.

I have to give special thanks to Troy Candy from Eye Candy Motorsports; Maurice and the team at Kwinana Performance; Gerard Neesham from Neesham Carpentry for all the tyres; the boys from V&A Mechanical; Matt Owens from Exclusive Whitewalling; Josh Liebeck from Performance Towing; my uncle Jason Chambers for his excellent welding skills; Melissa Crafter; Jayke Connon; my pop and Nanna Murray-Smith; biggest thanks to the GJMC and the 710 Crew for letting me skid at Westdale and Turner Gully.

Aged around 21 or younger and have a neat ride? Send some pics and info to: Young Guns, Street Machine, Locked Bag 12, Oakleigh, Vic 3166 or email us at: [email protected]