Mother Nature can be a cruel master, waylaying even the best laid plans, and every event organizer would do well to remember this. Throughout the months leading up to the first ever New Zealand Burnout Championship (NZBC) event, the organizers — Ricky and Jenn Ireland, and Brett Kenny — knew how much influence the weather would have over the success of New Zealand’s first ever national burnout championship, and they went right on ahead in trying to make it the best series of burnout competitions the country has ever seen.
Did they succeed? That’s a big call to make, seeing as round one has only just been wrapped up, but it really does look like the NZBC is on track to do everything it set out to. While a handful of older petrolheads may possess rose-tinted recollections of the good old days of sustained loss of traction, the truth is that the word ‘burnout’ is one which conjures up negative connotations for many New Zealanders. What you see here is one more step, and a pretty big one at that, towards legitimizing it as a professional form of motor sport.
This was obvious in the series’ main attractions, with two of the big names in the Australian scene brought over to show New Zealand how it’s done. Australian burnout superstar Andrew Lynch is known across the world for his crazy pedalling behind the wheel of his ‘LYNCHY’ Corolla, while Sam Surace is a pro-level up-and-comer with his insane ‘MADSAM’ Ford Capri.
However, behind the excitement of the big-name Aussie heroes, a whole lot of hard slog was put into even getting the event off the ground. Think along the lines of organizing for the excavation and concrete pour of brand new burnout pads at Masterton Motorplex and the Rock Riverside Speedway in Invercargill, as well as extending the pad at Taupo’s Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, in addition to the innumerable hours spent planning — not to mention the substantial financial commitment required to pull something like this off.
Despite all their efforts, the weather forecast looked more positive than the skies over Masterton Motorplex on the morning of Saturday, August 12. Rain had turned the spectator thoroughfare and vehicle pit area into a cocktail of grass and mud, and it was clear that organizer stress was high. The spectators, on the other hand, were loving it as Andrew Lynch kicked things off with a monster burnout exhibition down the wet Masterton Motorplex drag strip, tipping it in at pace before pirouetting down the strip — all the while staying off the unforgiving concrete barriers, to the crowd’s appreciation. This was what they were here to see.
It was also Lynchy who christened the fresh Masterton pad, laying down the first set of rubber marks, and showing exactly why he is the burnout icon that he is. The wet surface, with not even a speck of rubber embedded in it, was no match for his wild wheelwork, although it would be later on in the day before he blew a pair of tyres off the rear.
This marked the open pad practice round, while the organizers waited for the skies to clear and the pad to be dried out for the judged competition to begin in earnest.
Australian burnout drivers Matt Watts and Matt Ellis flew into the country with Lynchy, and scored themselves a dirt cheap AU Falcon upon landing, which they lost no time in customizing to their liking. With over 491,000km on the clock, the old girl was still going strong after the flogging the boys gave it, and should be good to go at the following NZBC round at Taupo.
The Aussies were also very keen to see the Kiwi Carnage burnout team do their thing, after their performances at Tread Cemetery and Summernats 30 within the last year. Unfortunately, they weren’t gonna get it. Ricky and Jenn’s Holden HZ was present, but is not able to make it to Australia later this year, leaving just Arnie Donaldson’s ‘LOLIFE’ Ford XC Falcon to fly the Kiwi Carnage team flag. That’s just what he did for about half a minute, before pulling the plug early — with mud-coated front tyres due to the slushy pit area, his ute looked like it was trying its hardest to sledge into the concrete barriers.
With a dry pad, the heavy-hitters emerged en masse, and Steve Saul’s supercharged and methanol-injected Ford F100 put on a smoke show of epic proportions — something Steve’s been doing for a long, long time.
The fresh pad had been a concern for Sam Surace and his engine builder, Brett Niddrie of BNR Engines, who were concerned the methanol-fuelled warhead in Sam’s Capri wouldn’t cope with the slippery surface. Seeing Steve’s ripper burnout allayed any worries they had, and MADSAM hit the pad, amazing the spectators with its brutal soundtrack and effortless destruction of rubber.
Few other vehicles came close to the sheer aural brutality of Sam’s Capri, although Chris Daley’s ‘SYCO8’ Holden HQ Monaro certainly came close. Running a 10-71 supercharger on a 540ci big block, and a distinctive lack of mufflers, Chris hadn’t trekked all the way up from Te Anau, Southland, to sit on the sidelines.
He wasn’t the only one, either. Jacob Warren had brought his staunch Holden LH Torana up from Canterbury, and with a 6-71-blown 400ci small block for power, this thing has no problem blowing a set. The Southern contingent was rounded off by Rob Mitchell from Invercargill, who also happens to be one of the promoters for the Rock Riverside Speedway Burnout Comp in Invercargill.
As tough as some of the cars were, what really counts at an event like this is skill, and as far as that goes … well, how about Rob Toheriri and ‘AGROXB’? His control of the manually-shifted Ford XB Falcon coupe was pinpoint accurate, and as he finished off each set of tyres, it was made clear to the audience that they were watching someone who could rank as one of New Zealand’s top burnout pad navigators.
It looks as though Denver Hurndell might be ranking up there in due course, after an impressive demonstration behind the wheel of Isaac Carswell’s matt black Ford Falcon. Not only was his performance sufficient to net the Young Guns award, but he stomped all over most of the competition on his way towards the Third Overall trophy.
And we can’t leave out Darren Roberts, whose ‘LIMITR’ Holden VX Calais never fails to put on a show. Darren is a staunch proponent of the GM LS engine, and it isn’t hard to see why. With a completely stock engine, Darren’s LS1 has survived the absolute hell he’s given it to date — something few engines could cope with!
So, who’s going to take it out, and become the first New Zealand Burnout Champion? It’s still early days, with two more rounds to go, and some tough machinery and pedallers out there. Get to Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park on Saturday, August 19, or to Rock Riverside Speedway on Saturday, September 16, for the best burnout exhibition New Zealand has to offer.
Thanks to the hardworking NZBC team of organizers, volunteers, and sponsors who helped to make something like this happen. We’ll have an event report in the next issue of NZV8, but, for now, you can check out the photo gallery below.
First Overall — Rob Toheriri (Ford XB Falcon coupe)
Second Overall — Darren Roberts (Holden VX Calais)
Third Overall — Denver Hurndell (Ford Falcon)
Young Guns — Denver Hurndell (Ford Falcon)
Pro Class — Chris Daley (Holden HQ Monaro coupe)
V8 Class — Rob Toheriri (Ford XB Falcon coupe)
Six Class — Denver Hurndell (Ford Falcon)
Four Class — Billy McEwen (Toyota Starlet KP60)
Rotary Class — Smugz (Toyota Corolla KE25)
Lynchy’s Pick — Warren Shirtcliffe (Sunbeam Rapier)
Sam’s Pick — Fraser Macaree (Holden HZ One-Tonne)
Tip-in King — Stephen Gray (Nissan Skyline R32)
Lord of the Revs — Rob Macaree (Holden HQ ute)
Hard Luck — Chris Daley (Holden HQ Monaro coupe)
Judges’ Choice — Chris Daley (Holden HQ Monaro coupe)