Although I have been in Sydney since early March, I hadn’t photographed an event at Sydney Motorsport Park. Deep depression was setting in. I needed to shoot some circuit racing or I was going to explode. When I heard Nulon Nationals was bringing its third round to the Grand Prix section of Sydney Motorsport Park on July 23, I was straight on the phone to confirm my spot as close to the action as possible. 

Nulon Nationals is a race series here in Australia, held by Nulon Oils. It’s free for spectators, and it’s an event format run very similar to the NZ Superlap Series back in New Zealand. Different groups head out on track throughout the day on a mission to achieve the fastest lap time of their class. Cars are grouped by speed to ensure it all runs smoothly. 

To say I was blown away by the turnout would be an understatement — and the quality of entrants was extremely high. During the early hours of the morning I made my way to the scrutineering shed to take a closer look at each competitor’s vehicle as they rolled through for their checks. If you’re into time attack–style racing, this was total heaven. 

Morning sessions began at around 10am, so I made my way up to turn three and turn four to catch the action from the start of the circuit. The difference in speed between the three groups was instantly evident. Group one was dominated by street cars.

In group two, the cars became a lot more serious, with rear wings and semi-slicks. Group three, well, that was a completely different kettle of fish altogether — aero taller than the average man, and splitters extending far beyond the bodywork. 

My favourite car on the day was the Wootten Racing Nissan Skyline R34. Although it does look like an R34 GT-R, it is in fact an R34 GT-T. Some clever guard work, Z-Tune-style guards, and aggressive aero had me fooled from the get-go. Under the hood is a lightly tickled RB25DET engine outputting 300kW at the wheels. 

Soon after this session was done for the day, I was delighted to see that right behind me a drift demonstration had begun. I do enjoy cleaning my lens after a good smoke screen!

This tight little circuit is the one I featured in the Sydney night-drifting article. During the day it’s easy to see why drivers here love it so much.

You can basically link the entire thing over and over again until your engine, or your tyres give out. Unfortunately, I was facing the other way during this shot when a matte black Holden Commodore VE ute went up the mud bank causing severe damage. Woops! 

For the stance kids, there was an absolutely epic car show just behind the pits. The range of cars on display blew my mind. This R34 GT-R was my favourite, though — of course. 

Making my way through the pits, I stumbled upon probably the gnarliest car there. The PMQ Racing Mitsubishi Evo, owned by Mick Sigsworth, runs in the Pro-Amateur class in the Yokohama World Time Attack Challenge, and the body is completely made of carbon fibre, produced by Cawthorne Composites. Seeing this machine in person was amazing — I’ve never in my life seen carbon-fibre work like this. 

Check out where the struts sit. Linked using a rocker arm of sorts, a shaft then goes through where the conventional strut would be. I’ll be giving a closer look at the PMQ Evo in an upcoming feature here on The Motorhood soon. 

The facilities at Sydney Motorsport Park blew me away. A decent media room, and extremely easy access to each and every corner of the circuit. However, the day wasn’t complete until I caught the afternoon session at corners 15 and 18. 

Turn 15 is a technical downhill section where plenty overcook things. Pro cars use as much road as possible on corner exit, which is frightening the first time you shoot this corner. This one will no doubt be one to hang around during the evening hours of the Yokohama World Time Attack Challenge … 

One of my favourite corners at the circuit, and one I am going to need a longer lens for in the future, is turn 18. Hearing the high-powered cars ready to launch out of this corner and propel down the hill across the finish line is something else. 

I was extremely impressed with the Nulon Nationals. Probably the best thing I noticed, from a competitors point of view, was the amount of seat time. There was never a dull moment, and even during the lunch break, drivers were able to take their sponsors, friends, and family out for rides. I will most definitely be attending more of these events in the future. 

Got a few more minutes to spare? Check out more instalments of Wizard of Aus here.

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.