Held over the weekend of August 6–7, the Mothers Chrome Expression Session 2016 was the best yet. It was certainly the biggest, having become the ultimate event for car lovers throughout the North Island of New Zealand. And for 2016, the event happened to be perfectly timed to make full use of the new and improved Hampton Downs Motorsport Park facility — the first event of its scale to be held at the updated track.
This year’s was unquestionably the largest Mothers Chrome Expression Session to date, and to understand its popularity, it is necessary to understand the event. Chrome, as it is more informally known, is run by Azhar Bhamji and the team at Premier Events, best known for the huge annual V 4&Rotary Nationals. However, rather than catering solely to the younger demographic of performance import enthusiasts, Chrome welcomes car enthusiasts of any persuasion.
It’s about encouraging unity within New Zealand’s car scene, which is a relatively small one by global standards, and it sure is working. The event is broken up into myriad different categories, with a show and shine for those who didn’t feel the need to hit the track, as well as drifting sessions on the new Hampton Downs extension, burnouts, drop-flag drag racing, powerskids, and relaxed on-track cruising sessions. More than 500 people had registered as entrants this year, and, as such, there was no shortage of cars in attendance.
There were a lot of ‘you don’t see that every day’ scenarios to be observed over the weekend, including Neil Rutherford’s flawless Holden Monaro HK going for gold against a staunch Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R …
Or the bizarre sight of Sloan Cox’s Mitsubishi Evo getting fully sideways around corners, all four wheels struggling for traction and the boosted 4G63 banging off the limiter.
If drifting action was what you were after, more traditional displays could be found courtesy of the Rattla Motorsport team, putting the hammer down in their newly completed Ford Mustang drift car. With a 468ci small block Ford backed by an HGT sequential box and alloy nine-inch diff, this is one car that has no problem getting sideways and staying there.
No less serious is the FC RX-7 campaigned by local drift hero Carl Thompson. Better known for his ‘FATBOY’ 26B-powered Aristo, the FC RX-7 bucks the rotary idea in favour of a turbocharged LS. While it produces bucketloads of power and torque, Carl mentioned the shorter-wheelbase FC felt twitchier than the bigger Aristo, although we’re hoping to see more of this wild machine in the future. As a side note, the missing panels were the result of suspension squat plus slammed ride height plus seriously fast sideways action, and not from any off-track excursion.
Others just felt the need to get a little sideways when the opportunity presented itself — if you’ve got the power for it, well, why not?
Then again, this seriously tough Monaro was getting the tyres punished all weekend, so a little sideways action would have given the tyres a nice break from their usual smoke-making duties …
And there was plenty of smoke-making action! While the burnout sessions on the Saturday were pretty underwhelming — thanks to crap weather and a wet surface — Sunday presented far more favourable conditions. It was the first proper burnout for Rob Macraee’s tough Holden HQ skidder, powered by a blown small block on meth.
In addition to Rob’s crazy machine, the burnouts seemed awash with load-haulers, including Rob’s son Fraser, frying the hides in his Holden one-tonner, as well as this rotary-powered Mazda pickup.
However, some of the usual suspects were missing in action. While Liz and Ryan Gracie’s ‘MAIHEM’ XA coupe was sitting pretty for most of the weekend, these two iconic Kiwi skid machines were conspicuous in their absence from the burnout pad. Dion D’Anvers and Justin Morgan, both with fresh new blown big blocks under the bonnet, elected to take it easy and chill at the show and shine.
There are a lot of ways to destroy tyres, though, and that included the drop-flag drag racing. If you can’t out-drag them, you can always out-smoke them, although in some cases it’s just luck of the draw. With Shyam’s turbo LS-powered ‘BOSDOG’ Commodore up against this tough RX-2, the winner would be anyone’s guess.
Dave Reid’s little Mitsi Mirage is always a fun car to watch. We all remember that time he destroyed an R35 GT-R at the drop-flag drags during the 2014 event, and the legit nine-second street car was taking no prisoners here either.
While competition is not really the idea of the weekend, the drop-flag drag racing is always a seriously contested session. Sunday’s winner return session saw veteran drag racer Justin Weir take home the honours in his new ‘NITRO’ Supra.
Other cars you wouldn’t want to see in your rear-view mirror were these two — some of the quickest street-legal cars in the country, and both 13B-powered. While Azhar’s R100 is finished to a clean-enough-to-eat-off standard, the old 323 wagon piloted by Chris Green is the total opposite. We can’t think of any car that’s even anywhere near as unassuming — short of the fat rears and semi-visible traction bars, there’s no indication that this thing runs eight-second quarter-miles.
Rather more attention-grabbing than the Green Brothers Racing 323 was this RE Amemiya–kitted FD RX-7. A number of confused ‘Porsche’ comments were overheard whenever this car was in the vicinity.
And speaking of wild bodykits, not one, not two, but three RWB Porsches spent the weekend out on track. This one was imported from Japan by owner Jin. Having all three out on track at once was certainly a sight to see.
Unfortunately, an event the size of Mothers Chrome Expression Session 2016 is something that’s a little too big to package up into a bite-sized article, so we’ll have to let the photos do the talking. Enjoy the bonus image gallery below, and look out for a full event report in an upcoming issue of NZ Performance Car and NZV8.