Utter the word ‘Chrome’ in a crowded room and watch anyone that has ever sat behind the wheel of a remotely modified car click to attention. While the event, known formally as 2017 Prowear Chrome Expression Session, has actually been around for a number of years now, it wasn’t until Azhar Bhamji and his 4 & Rotary crew took over four years ago that it grew into the mammoth beast of a weekend it now is. And goddamn was 2017 a huge year for the event.
Now, while I like to think that I can pinpoint a feeling and deliver it to you, the readers, in written form, there are just some feelings evoked at Chrome that don’t do all that well when transferred to words. Especially when you take into account that everyone's Chrome experience seems to fall into different portions of awesome, depending on where they could be found at any given time over the weekend. From the conversations I had with entrants, and for myself included, it quickly becomes apparent that it isn’t solely about the cars — even though at the end of the day that’s what we were all getting our jollies over — and more so about soaking in the vibes.
Yep that sounds pretty generic, and I attempted to rewrite the sentence in numerous ways, but that’s exactly what makes Chrome what it is — the good ol’ vibes. Whether your vibe is blasting Biggie Smalls and packing all the boys into your car before chopping through the gears out of pitlane; slapping a fresh pair of tyres on the rear and hucking out countless laps of skid pan; peeling down the straight on the club circuit and stacking on big angle alongside four other cars; lining up against anything you dared race against in grudge match drag races; or even kicking back on the fenceline and yelling crude remarks and making obscene hand gestures at your mates as they fly by. Whatever you were into there was a place for you there.
So if I were to boil it down, it was really the people that makes Chrome stand out from the rest of the calendar, and without a doubt, it is best served in a large group of mates, packed into even the biggest of shitboxes, and simply getting amongst it. That’s how I most enjoyed being there and while I may have been ‘on-the-clock’ for NZ Performance Car — which meant I did a fair amount of sifting across all areas of the track — 90 per cent of the time you could find me shooting the shit for a solid hour or so with someone I already knew, or that I’d even just met. Hell I barely got out on the track in the end, and I sure as hell didn’t have my own broken-ass car there to drive either, yet I still felt just as involved as anyone else.
Perhaps one of the things I appreciated the most was the mix of machinery found there, too. You’d be a fool to expect to only fined ‘rice rockets’, as some may refer to imports, with a hefty dose of staunch American steel, classic European luxury, and everything inbetween present. That mix proved to produce one of my own personal favourite cars from the event as well. And even though it may not be your typical build, it was the out the gate choice of heart in the particular chassis, and perhaps even my soft spot for anything with a Lion badge adorning it, that led me to soaking in every detail of Dave’s 2JZ-powered Holden VZ wagon. Running a Master Power R596 atop a Sinco manifold, and backed by a stout R154 with six-puck clutch combo, it sure had some get up and go.
Some honorable mentions include the massive unveiling of ST Hitec and Dodson Motorsport’s latest creation; a gnarly tube-frame, carbon-fibre, R35 GT-R which produces a couple thousand horsepower and has aspiration of 400m world records. There’s even rumors that our own Rod Harvey will be brought in to pilot the thing ...
Fritz Leaning’s 26b FD RX-7 was finished only hours before the event and remained on the lips of pretty much anyone who heard the deep pulsating peripheral-port roll past. It runs twin 51mm IDAs and a Microtech LT16C ECU, whole the exterior is set off with a massive set of 18-inch Work VS-XXs that tie into the cars gold and chrome combo hit of lushness.
We were taken straight back to 2003 with Aaron Mckay’s ‘TNTEVO’ rocking a set of polished to hell Titans and a healthy shopping list on the door. It seems that wheels, and general styling for that matter, from this era are coming back in a big way. Nothing like a bit of nostalgia to get the juices going.
Philip Huynh caused a decent amount of confusion out on track with those in front hearing the distinct sound of an approaching V8 only to spot in their rearview mirror a nimble little MX-5 pulling up behind, and then peeling past, courtesy of a 1UZ heart transplant.
And the ed., Marcus, finally got to give his 13b turbo E36 a long awaited shakedown and enjoyed many a romantic catching of eyes (as seen above) with good friend Mark Strawbridge in his raucous Cappella that houses a stout 12A-PP.
You can catch a full breakdown of the weekends madness in the next issue of NZ Performance Car, hitting shelves 28 August (2017). But for now, here’s a glorious gallery to whet your appetite: