As we put the last issue of NZV8 to print, I did the maths that it was actually the 100th issue that I’ve been the editor of.
Over that eight-year period (12 issues a year remember) there’s been countless cool experiences, and so many cars that I’ve thought to myself, I’d love to own that one day. While, sadly, my bank balance dictates that’ll never happen, I’ve been lucky enough to have either scored rides or drives in many of them.
Here’s a few passenger rides that stand out as being the best. In no particular order may I add.
Brent Hyde’s 1972 Plymouth Road Runner
Street cars don’t come much cooler than Brent Hyde’s 604ci Hemi-powered Road Runner, and, while it’s one thing to see it on a page or watch it on TV, it’s not until you go for a drive in the car that you are able to fully appreciate where all the hard work has gone. Brent’s certainly not afraid of driving it hard either, which made the experience even better. I’d sure hate to be the one paying for tyres on it; then again, it’s a small price to pay for the experience it offers. This car defined ‘Pro Touring’ before that term was really even used.
Paul Urqhart’s 1972 Ford Falcon XA GT
I love the Central Muscle Cars race class as the cars are just so cool. But once you’ve been for a ride in one, that level of appreciation really steps up a level, and you soon see how addictive it would be to drive one. Helping the fact was that when I went for a few laps of Hampton Downs in Paul Urqhart’s XA Falcon, his brother-in-law, Andrew Sinclair, was slightly in front of us. There’s nothing like a bit of family rivalry to really make someone drive at ten-tenths.
Larry Kerridge’s 1966 Pontiac GTO
Any street car capable of running low 10-second quarters is seriously quick, let alone one that weighs as much as Larry Kerridge’s GTO does. My ride in the car was just one of those ‘right place at the right time’ moments, and despite Larry being barefoot, he certainly wasn’t afraid to make the most of the opportunity we had available to us. Lets just say it was a good demonstration of rapid acceleration.
Gavin Oram’s 1980 Plymouth Arrow
I was lucky enough to be strapped into the passenger seat of Gavin Oram’s eight-second 1980 Plymouth Arrow for a run down Meremere Dragway, and I was surprised by just how rapid it felt. I’ve driven 10-second street cars before, but this was something else. The G-forces that push you back in your seat as the front wheels come flying off the ground need to be experienced to be appreciated. Add to this the sheer noise of an un-muffled 700-odd horsepower small block sitting almost between your legs and you’ve got an experience like no other. I completely understand why drag racers are so passionate about what they do.
Gup’s 1974 Holden HQ
Massive cubes and a massive turbo can only mean one thing, and that’s ridiculous amounts of power. The man behind Powercruise created the event so that cars like this could be used to their potential, and that’s exactly what we did around Taupo Motorsport Park, or more specifically down the back straight. Hands down, this thing had the most G-forces pushing us back into our seats that I’ve ever experienced … and that was with three passengers in the car.
Malcolm Udy’s Dodge Viper
One of the fastest circuit cars in the country (at the time at least) that has a passenger seat in it is Malcolm Udy’s Dodge Viper. The car is capable of running sub-minute laps around the old Pukekohe circuit, and with a monster 760hp V10 under the hood, I don’t think my added weight was slowing it down at all. Malcolm threw the car around the track like it was a $1000 Toyota Corolla, rather than one of the more expensive race cars around. The sheer grip from the 13-inch-wide rear wheels and tyres blew me away, and the grin on my face lasted for days after.
Raana Horan’s Nissan off-roader
Massive jumps, insane powerslides and a fire … yep, the ride I managed to score with off-road champion Raana Horan, in his supercharged Nissan, was certainly one to remember. The action on track was awesome, but little did we know that the rear-mounted engine was on fire towards the end of our sprint race … I’m not sure I’ve ever undone a harness so quickly once the marshals finally flagged us down.
Ben Bray’s ’57 Chev
Many of you will remember that Castrol bought Ben and Victor Bray out from Austrailia for Beach Hop a few years back, and with them came Victor’s original ’57 Chev. The methanol-drinking machine clocked up plenty of laps around Whangamata, complete with crazy-sounding idle, that left no doubt this was just a pure drag car under the skin. Although we never went fast, you could tell the sheer power it had on offer, and that was enough to leave passengers, and spectators alike, grinning from ear to ear.
Dean Perkins’s Ford Falcon
I was invited to go for a spin in LG Motorsport’s V8 Falcon at a sponsor day. Although regular driver Angus Fogg was out of action due to injury, as soon as I heard who the stand-in would be, I knew I was in for a good ride. Dean Perkins has probably given more passenger laps around Pukekohe Park Raceway than any other driver, and knows how to impress. Better still, since I was the last ride of the day, it was no holds barred. Full power into the sweeper, and full tail-out action through the esses. A wild ride and a whole bunch of fun.
Matt Juckich’s 2001 Holden Ute
Matt’s ute, which graced the cover of NZV8 Issue No. 1 was the first-ever supercharged V8-powered car that I ever rode in, and it’s a ride that I guess I’ll never forget. Sustained loss of traction anyone…
Check back in for my top drives soon.