Tread Cemetery is fast becoming one of Australia’s must-attend burnout events, hosting a number of the country’s coolest burnout cars, as well as this year’s event having a sought-after golden ticket to the Summernats 30 Burnout Masters competition up for grabs. 

Tread Cemetery 3, which took place on November 13 at Lardner Park, Victoria, was — as the name suggests — the third of its kind, but it was also a day of firsts. Among them was the first time the promoter skidded their own car at their own event, tagging a wall in the process; the first time holding a minute’s silence for Remembrance Day; the first time they’ve played the national anthem; the first time they’ve had an on-pad marriage proposal; and the first time they’ve had a woman do double-up skids — JoJo Banfield in ‘HIZNHERZ’ VH Commodore… 

But, among all of those firsts, the one we were most interested in was it being the first time a Kiwi car — let alone a whole team of them — had put on a show over there. “I had a conversation with Liz [Gracie] some months back, and floated the idea of a New Zealand team heading across the Tasman,” said Event Organizer Aaron Mackley. “Six months or so later, five cars and 40 Kiwis lobbed into Lardner Park.”

The day actually began wet and miserable — at odds with last year’s sweatfest — although things began to clear up just before go time. Things got under way as the ‘MOIST’ Commodore helped dry the track, joined by Daniel Medley, Mathew Dale, and David Watson. 

And then it was time. The Kiwi Carnage burnout team were up, and would actually end the day in sixth place — bloody good going, considering there was a total of 19 teams entered. Team Captain Liz Gracie was up first in her blown ’69 Camaro, and made a decent go of it to show that the Kiwis weren’t here to make up the numbers. 

Ian ‘Sambo’ Smith’s FD RX-7 was up next, and he put the new blown and injected LS1 engine combo to good use, with a textbook burnout effort. Despite the apparently fervent opposition to putting LS engines into iconic Japanese sports cars, Sambo’s RX-7 seemed to be a huge hit with the Aussie crowds. If it doesn’t have a rotary, it better have a ‘Big & Ugly’!

Then came Shane ‘Arnie’ Donaldson, in the chopped Falcon XC ute. He’d recently fitted a methanol-injected small block from a sprint car, which performed well during the pre-event shakedowns, but, halfway through copping a whole load of jandal at Lardner Park, decided it’d had enough. Fortunately, it sounds as though it was only a head gasket issue, and the engine is being given a freshen-up and re-tune at the legendary Powerhouse Engines. 

That was an unexpected setback, but Kiwi Carnage had a secret weapon. Sarina Mitchell of Burnouts Australia Magazine hopped into Ricky and Jenn Ireland’s ‘ENVEED’ Holden HZ ute, blessing it with never-before-seen skid ability, or maybe it was the coloured-smoke tyres that made the impressive burnout even cooler. Whatever it was, the Kiwis were putting on one hell of a show.

This all culminated as Braden Smith’s newly completed ‘HAUNT U’ Holden Commodore VF ripped the pad up for the Kiwis’ first-round finale. Having been completed literally the week before it was shipped out, the apprehension surrounding Braden’s burnout was palpable, but it passed the torture test with flying colours. This is one seriously mean machine! 

Of course, Tread Cemetery is a non-stop action fest, and a bunch of local big-hitters were out to show who’s the boss. Chris Genter’s ‘FROM HELL’ VC Commodore isn’t just for show, with a Powerhouse Engines–built blown and injected 515ci big block towering above the roofline — good enough to net him the award for Best Individual Skid of the Day. It was also a special day for Grant from Burnouts Australia magazine who hopped in for a shotgun skid, only to surprise the crowd and his partner Sarina Mitchell with a post-skid wedding proposal!

While Grant said hello to the rest of his life, Mick Burton took the opportunity to say goodbye to the end of a mate’s. His ‘RUFFAS’ Commodore ute burnout was dedicated to ‘Big Red’, whose ashes had been put in his tyres, blown into the wind in the only way the bloke would have wanted to be sent off.

In a day of ups and downs, the seriously tough ‘LUKIE’ Commodore ute ended up losing both the rear wheels over two skids. Meanwhile, others enjoyed better luck with the rears, like Sam Davies’ ‘ABUSED’ Holden, which put on the best fire show of the day, closely followed by Jai Trahar’s ‘FRNKNSTN’ Ford Cortina. 

However, in contrast to the bountiful supply of smoke and fire, the day would end up being held hostage by rain, meaning the grand final ended up being based on semi-final scores. This saw team Roadkill take first place, comprising Jay’s ‘MOIST’ Commodore, JD Gonzalez’s ‘XBACON’ Commodore, Troy Roberts’ ‘GTNWLD’ Commodore, Jayden Randall’s ‘TYRH8R’ Commodore, and Leigh McKenzie’s ‘LUXURY’ Hilux. The other top-placing teams were Donut Kings in second, Screw Loose in third, Addicted to Skids in fourth, Entyre Meltdown in fifth, and Kiwi Carnage placing sixth. 

And the last Summernats 30 Golden Ticket was snapped up by JD Gonzales, in the ‘XBACON’ Commodore. It’s a fair reward for someone who consistently fries the rears the way he does, and is no stranger to duking it out with the big boys. 

The rest of the awards could then be distributed, and it would have been a tricky one for the judges! The trophy for Best Celebration went to Steve Gorell in ‘SKIDEM’, Lord of the Revs went to Lee McKenzie in the ‘LUXURY’ Hilux, Biggest Cheer was won by Lisa Howie and ‘BRNRBA’, and the coveted Best Individual Burnout went to the one and only ‘FROM HELL’ VC Commo, piloted by Chris Genter. 

A bloody awesome event, and one that — if we may say so — was certainly made even better by the addition of a certain additional element. Something that could only be sourced from the other side of the Tasman Sea. We’ll see all you Tread Cemetery mongrels at Street Machine Summernats 30 in January 2017!