René heads to Sydney’s very own Just Car Insurance Jamboree to check out the drag racing scene in Australia

It’s been awhile since I’ve been active here on The Motorhood, but I have been busy working away in the background making sure the content you fullas and fullesses want to see gets published. This time I write to you from my home in Sydney, Australia. I’ve found so far that it’s a unique place; the weather has been beautiful, the beaches are just as you’d expect, and as I found out over the weekend of March 19–20, the import-car scene is booming. 

I’ve been working hard lately with a new contact here in Australia — Motive DVD — and they invited me along to help cover the Just Car Insurance Jamboree. I willingly obliged, charged up my camera gear, and made the one-hour trip west to Eastern Creek, where the event was held at the Western Sydney International Dragway (WSID). 

It’s safe to say that after heading to Meremere Dragway for the last 10 years or so, seeing a new drag strip — and one the size of WSID — took my breath away. It’s a sight to behold, and one that I would become very familiar with over the next 15 hours. 

After signing in as media, and locating the Motive DVD stand to house my gear, I made my way through the pits. No easy feat though, as they’re more than twice the size of what New Zealand has, and they’re a place teeming with activity, trade stands, and merchandise — something the Kiwis should learn from. 

Yes there were hectic rotaries, but there were just as many straight-sixes, four-cylinder turbos, Hondas, and V8 dragsters. A great variety that would soon be pitted against each other in a lavish fight to the death. 

That was the case however, until the timing gear failed to operate, causing major delays and setbacks. The Jamboree team made do though, and prepared the grid girls for a series of drop-flag runs until the timing gear was remedied. 

After that dulled down, the Australian Drifting Grand Prix crowd sent out a few competitors for a bit of lunchtime entertainment on the skid pan, some drivers even going as far as popping a few sets of rears! 

I have to take my ‘Crocodile Dundee’ hat off to the few that took the time to repair the damaged timing cables. The lights were back online, and a few timed runs ensured the gear was operational. It was then drag racing time! 

Sixes, sevens, eights, and everything slower up to the 14-second mark caused havoc on the tarmac until midnight. I’ve never hung around at a drag racing event for so long before, however due to the timing gear issues, nobody had a choice!

It was a unique experience shooting at night, too, something that I wasn’t prepared for, but I found my new Sigma Art lens stood up to the duty well. 

Although the drag racing was out of this world (yes, the Aussies know how to boogy), photographing drifting again after a long hiatus was extremely entertaining. The Australian Drift Grand Prix scene here in Australia reminded me of the grass-roots scene in America, as seen in Ashleigh Monaghan’s articles.

It was casual, laid-back, and featured the occasional Nascar-powered Nissan taking on numerous school cars — a diverse range that made for an entertaining watch on the small, yet technical, drifting layout. 

It’s been a long few weeks without cars to entertain me here in Australia, but I can now say I’m fully immersed, with events rapidly filling my calendar. 

And no, I still haven’t purchased a car here yet, but more on that next time. Talk to you guys soon! 

René Vermeer

Dutch, French, or just a Kiwi, René isn’t quite sure, but he does know he has a passion for Japanese vehicles like no other. A well-seasoned Gran Turismo player dating back to his single-digit days, René has a comprehensive knowledge of a wide range of performance vehicles and has owned more than 30 performance cars here in New Zealand, ranging from Nissans to Hondas. A lover of photography, you’ll find him either peeping under someone’s bonnet to snap a detailed shot, or on the side of the racetrack, perfecting his panning.