Corey Scragg wins the 2022 Laurie Starling Scholarship

We have a chat with Corey Scragg, the latest addition to the honour roll for the Laurie Starling Memorial Scholarship

Photographers: Chris Thorogood, Ashleigh Wilson, Simon Davidson, Povi Pullinen

Each year at our Street Machine of the Year VIP party in Canberra during Summernats, we get the pleasure of presenting the Laurie Starling Scholarship award to a young and talented up-and-comer in the industry.

This year’s winner was 19 year old Corey Scragg from Deluxe Rod Shop, who joins a prestigious list of Australia’s brightest young automotive designers and fabricators to have been recognised with the award.

The Laurie Starling Scholarship for Innovation and Excellence in Automotive Fabrication was established in 2015 by Laurie’s parents Rob and Julia, after the incredibly talented fabricator passed away at the age of 29.

The award supports the efforts of a person studying an accredited course in automotive design or fabrication, and for 2022 it also scored backing from the legends at Milwaukee Tools.

Along with $4000 to help with tuition fees, Corey also scored $3500 worth of tools from Milwaukee to help with his work at Deluxe Rod Shop, under the tuition of workshop owner Steven Alldrick.

We had a chat to Corey while standing in the Elite Hall at Street Machine Summernats 34, right in front of Kevin and Margaret Baird’s FX Holden, a car freshly unveiled by Deluxe Rod Shop and a machine Corey had a big part in resurrecting.

How did you feel when you found out you’d won the Laurie Starling Scholarship?

I couldn’t get over it when Rob called me. I wasn’t expecting it, and normally I don’t win anything, so it was a massive surprise. It means a lot; it’s a lifetime achievement. Dad and Steve were proud as, and so was the whole team from the shop. To be honest, it’s still kicking in for me.

This FX is a bloody impressive piece of kit; what was your involvement with it?

I did a fair bit on it, like the fabrication and a lot of the assembly work. Originally the owner just wanted to restore it, then he wanted a small-block, and then he went and got an LS. It went from there and just kept growing. We couldn’t put mags on it because it’d ruin the whole idea of the car. I did rust repairs in the guards, rear floorpan and sills, and did a lot of lead work too. I also made the air cleaner to suit the Edelbrock intake manifold, which helps hide the fact that it’s an LS.

You must be pretty stoked to finally see it unveiled, then.

Oh, for sure. I love the height. The whole building stage of the car is on stands, so you work with them up high. So when we put it on the ground for the first time around six months ago, we just couldn’t stop looking at it; it just sat grouse. This is more of a driver as well, so even though I’m a Ford man, it’s one of my favourites we’ve done. There are a few other cars we have in the build at the moment that I’m really excited about, with some big fab work going into them.

How did your love affair with cars start?

My parents always had cool cars the whole time I was growing up. Dad had two XP Falcon coupes, one as a daily and one as a weekender, while Mum had an XP wagon as a daily and a genuine HT GTS Monaro that she still has as her toy. We were always going to car things the whole time I was growing up, so my whole life has always been around rod runs and car shows like this and Springnats, Easternats and so on. So I was always surrounded by it, and the love for the scene grew from there.

Corey is also a member of the Misled Youth Australia Car Club, a group of young car people enjoying modifying and driving old school machines

You’ve got a pretty sweet gig with Steve Alldrick at Deluxe. How did that come about?

I’ve been working with Steve for about three years now. I always wanted to do cars, but everyone tried talking me out of it, saying I shouldn’t join my hobby and passion with work. So I started an apprenticeship as a chippy, but I only did that for two months because it just wasn’t what I wanted to do. Dad had known Steve for a while, so we went and saw him after Summernats. He put me on for the last three weeks of those school holidays, which turned into a school-based apprenticeship, and I never left.

Did you have any previous experience with this kind of work before starting with Steve?

I’d done little bits here and there, but nothing to this standard. My dad’s a panel beater, and we spent lots of time fixing stuff on the farm and working on cars on the weekend. But doing fabrication to this level was all new to me when I joined the team.

It seems like you’re loving the place.

They’re amazing; it’s an awesome place to work. I can’t thank them enough; they’re so encouraging and it’s such a good learning environment. It’s family oriented, and I never wake up going, “ugh, I have to go to work today”. You always look forward to getting up and going to work; I stay back late every night because of how much I love it. Steve’s an amazing teacher; he’s super talented and I’m so glad he’s passing some of that on to me.

Do you have any cars of your own in the works?

I’ve just got an XR6 Falcon for a daily, and Dad has an XT wagon we fixed up that I steal quite often. I’ve got an XP sedan I’ve been working on, but that’s about ready to be moved on to help my two-door XP build that I’ve had for a bit over two years. I’ve slowly been piecing that together, and I’ve finally got everything there to really get stuck into it. I’ve got a Windsor for it that’ll be blown, and I’ll mini-tub it, get rid of the front towers and do a Rod-tech front and all the good stuff. That’s my dream build, mostly because Dad always had tough ones growing up, and now I finally have one myself.

Will we see the coupe in the Elite Hall in the future?

Probably; I’d say the build will probably end up going in that direction. That’s kind of the only way I can do it now thanks to Steve, because it’s been drummed into me now about how to build them right. So it’ll probably end up being a Top 60 when it’s done in a couple of years, but I just want to get stuck into it now and then drive it.