The Scrap Palace Burnout and Wet T-Shirt Competition 2015 was a class act, showcasing the country’s finest skid weaponry

The Scrap Palace Burnout and Wet T-Shirt Competition — more commonly referred to as, quite simply, the Morrinsville Burnouts — is widely regarded as New Zealand’s best burnout competition. This year's was the eighth such event, hosted by Morrinsville local Dion D’Anvers on a purpose-made burnout pad situated in the backyard of his property. 

While this may sound rather agricultural — and it is, to some extent — the way in which the events are organized and run are far from it. Safety, for both drivers and the crowd, takes priority, and there are police and medical staff present, as well as a licensed bar on-site. This is a rather abridged version of the lengths to which Dion and the organizers have gone in order to make the Morrinsville Burnouts as great an event as can be, but we feel the need to spell this out quite clearly. Unfortunately, burnouts are still widely considered by the unenlightened populace to be an ‘outlaw’ type of pastime, despite the huge professionalism that goes into these sorts of events. 

The rapidly growing success and popularity of the event has also seen it become inundated with entries, and to keep the burnout action entertaining for the crowd, 2015 saw Dion forced to shake the recipe up a bit. This year, entry was by invite only, ensuring the crowd would be guaranteed the finest skids by a carefully curated entrant list. 

As well as some of the best entrants from previous Morrinsville Burnout competitions, Dion extended the invites as far south as Christchurch — and the South Island assault came in with all guns blazing. Headlining the act was Steve Saul’s ‘MRSCKO’ — the tubbed and blown 1979 Ford F100 featured in NZV8 Issue No. 86

Better known as the man behind the South Island’s huge Kiwinats festival, Steve’s F100 is an appropriately tough tyre-fryer. 302 cubes of 6-71–blown Ford Windsor guaranteed a treat for the Morrinsville crowd’s ears as Steve obliterated the rear tyres.  

Coming back for seconds, following a strong performance at last year’s Morrinsville Burnouts, was Darfield-based Hamish Pankhurst in his ruthless Nissan Laurel C34, better known as ‘SHTBOX’. 

In-your-face patina aside, it’s quite obviously a little tougher than your standard-fare Laurel, with the tunnel-rammed 440ci big block Mopar engine making little effort to hide its presence. A shift-kitted and manual-valve–bodied 727 TorqueFlite transmission harnesses the 440’s anger, feeding it to a locked Nissan R200 diff out back. Tein coilovers at each corner, coupled with the V8 torque and manually shifted 727, means Hamish also enjoys taking the Laurel to drift events, ensuring it’s not just a one-trick pony. 

And, even with half the number of cylinders, Michael Ledgerwood still managed to have just as much fun as his South Island compatriots. His 1980 Toyota Corolla KE36 wagon runs a 4A-GZE with a Garrett T28 turbo in place of the supercharger.

While 4A-swaps are a dime a dozen in the KE world, Michael’s really stands out thanks to the clever engineering work that’s been put in beneath — a subframe from a Nissan Silvia S13 has been grafted into the KE36 chassis, gifting it with independent rear suspension, and the ability to get pretty damn low. Michael’s Corolla was featured in NZ Performance Car Issue No. 219, and managed to be a strong standout in a field of loud and angry V8s — not bad going!

Of course, the South’s contribution had to be hard-hitting for a reason — the event’s entrant list looked tougher than a heavyweight boxing press conference. With names such as Chris Brennan in attendance, whose tough, blown Falcon XF was featured way back in NZV8 Issue No. 33, all entrants had to pack a hell of a punch to stand a chance. Chris actually laid down what must have been one of the day’s most memorable skids, smashing the limiter and dousing the entire venue in pink clouds, thanks to special-compound tyres. 

Chris had his work cut out for him, though, as he was up against some tough competition. Ricky and Jenn Ireland’s brutal Holden HZ ‘ENVEED’ was present in all its blown glory.

Both Ricky and Jenn took turns on the burnout pad, blowing the tyres with consistent haste, and cemented their ute’s place as a crowd favourite. Keep an eye out for a full feature on ENVEED in an upcoming issue of NZV8

Jenn wasn’t the only female having a good time on the pad, either. Rachelle Goldfinch cruised down to the event in hier 304-powered Commodore VR, albeit with no intention of entering.

All it took was a bit of peer pressure from her mates, and she was out there, making clouds and destroying rubber — not bad for her first burnout!

Remember that this is a burnout competition, first and foremost, and the female entrants were up against some serious heat: Tracey Beer, last year's top-placing female, returned in the distinctive Holden HZ ute, and Ryan and Liz Gracie’s tough 1969 Camaro — which seems to be at every event with burnouts on the menu — was in attendance and ready to smoke ’em. With Liz behind the wheel, and a fresh supercharged small block under the bonnet, the swift destruction of tyres was guaranteed each time. As a bonus, the Camaro’s soundtrack was perfectly on-key — it’s still got one of our favourite sounding exhaust notes out there.

Rotorua’s Corey Sharp was present with his Nissan Skyline R32, powered by an RB25DET with a GT3540 turbo strapped to the side. Spending his money in the right places has allowed Palmerston North-based EFI and Turbo to extract 410kW at the rear wheels on 19.5psi of boost. A Tremec T56 six-speed manual has been adapted to the RB engine, in pursuit of driveline strength. 

As a car built primarily for drifting, Corey’s running BC Gold adjustable coilovers and, thanks to 25mm extended LCAs, 30mm extended tie rod ends, and custom hubs, the R32 has impressive steering lock for its sideways tendencies. He hopes to be drifting later this year, and will be entering D1NZ’s Pro Street class next year. Corey was taking it easy today, though, after hearing a “funny noise” from the engine while skidding earlier on in the day. 

As shown by the selection of machinery on offer, it wasn’t all purpose-built skidders, either — not with cars like Dave Bail’s beautiful 1977 Holden Torana A9X present. Dave hasn’t owned it for long, but he’s making the most of it, with every weekend an excuse to take it out for a thrash. A C.O.M.E. Racing 388ci Holden V8, with a blue bottle in the boot, ensures it’s a barrel of laughs to drive, and the Torana has run an 11.2-second quarter-mile without using nitrous.

But, for all the tough cars present, what really makes the Morrinsville Burnouts so interesting is the variety on offer — especially when it comes to engine swaps. Keith Millar’s tubbed, caged, and small block Chev-powered Ford Cortina was a real standout here, but it wasn’t the only one.

From a Pontiac-powered Mitsubishi L200 ute to a Holden 304-powered Mitsubishi Lancer, to a Ford four-litre straight-six–powered Toyota Hilux, the guessing game over what you’d find under each bonnet is what really made the pit walks so interesting. 

Of course, no engine-swap there could hold a candle to Ian ‘Sambo’ Smith’s crazy Mazda RX-7 FD3S. The blown small block Chev has gained an Enderle Big & Ugly injector hat, making it even more of a head turner, as one of the toughest-looking cars there. It wasn’t all looks either, as Ian ripped his fair share of hearty skids, showing the crowd exactly why he was there. 

And skids — glorious skids — were exactly why we were all there. Dion’s plan worked, and the burnout action this year managed to outshine previous efforts — an amazing achievement. The other reason some may have attended is contained within the event’s official title — the wet T-shirt competition — but this is a motoring site, and you’re already on the internet if you’re really in need of any of that. 

The day closed with the surface of the burnout pad, and the faces of most of the crowd, covered in particles of destroyed tyres — the only way to close such an event. We really must thank Dion and all the sponsors who allow this great event to happen year after year, as well as the entrants who put their cars on the line for our viewing pleasure — we’ll see you next year!