THE Australian car scene lost one of its most important voices with the passing of Brisbane-based drag racing and burnouts commentator Kerry Digney on 16 November at age 77.
Kerry grew up in Sydney’s street scene in the late 60s and early 70s, hanging out and getting into trouble at Beefies, Brickies and Castlereagh.
He moved to Queensland in late 1971 or early ‘72 and took up drag racing with gusto, going into partnership with mates Pete Warrendorp and Archie McIlroy to score two Christmas trees with an LC GTR XU-1.
By 1975, Kerry was working as a scrutineer at Surfers Paradise Raceway and was learning the commentator game under the guidance of the late, great Milton Adey.
Drag racing was Kerry’s true love, until Street Machine Summernats came knocking, as he told us at ’Nats 29:
“I think it was Summernats 7 or 8 that Summernats founder Chic Henry asked me to come down and legitimise Radio Revhead, and then he said I could help Milton Adey out at the burnouts. Being a drag racing announcer, to me burnouts were for heating the tyres so you can race faster, and I saw my first burnout and thought, ‘What the hell am I doing here? I’m a drag racing announcer!’ But then Chic sent me the cheque and I haven’t had a problem with burnouts since!”
Kerry did 24 years with Summernats, 13 years with Powercruise and was a fan favourite at Kalbar, Warwick Dragway, Lakeside Park Raceway and countless events at Willowbank – especially Mopar Sunday.
Despite mucking around with both Fords and Holdens in his early years, Chryslers were Kerry’s passion. His signature vehicle in his later years was his wild black Plymouth roadster.
While Kerry was quick to take me under his wing when I first joined Street Machine, I think he really became fond of me when I threw him the keys to a brand-spanking Chrysler 300 SRT for a test drive. He sure did love his Mopars!
Kerry also formed an incredible team with Chris Diggles to commentate at Street Machine Drag Challenge from 2018 onwards. He was mad that his illness meant he was unable to work at the latest DC, but he did a great job alongside Diggles at our January/February event. He even did Drag Challenge Weekend 2022 solo – an impressive feat of endurance for any commentator, let alone while battling cancer.
Without Diggles to ride shotgun, Kerry rode with me in the Carnage Lexcen for most of that DCW – until the auto cried ‘enough’ on the way back from Mildura to Heathcote Park. I’ll treasure those hours we spent together on the road.
Besides his skills behind the mic, Kerry was also a talented artist, designing many event T-shirts and race car liveries – most famously Wild Bill Smith’s ‘World’s Fastest FJ’.
Our thoughts are with Kerry’s friends and family, especially his wife of 48 years, Lorri.
With over 50 years in the car scene, Kerry had a seemingly inexhaustible supply of stories, and he told them well. He wrote up some of his best for the mag back in 2016, capturing the vibe of the 60s and 70s perfectly. Check them out via the links below.