YOUNG GUNS

> THIS YEAR’S STREET MACHINE VIP PARTY HIGHLIGHTED SOME OF THE SPORT’S FUTURE STARS

STORY BRETT COLLINGWOOD PHOTOS CHRIS THOROGOOD

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LEGENDARY car builders, burnout royalty, several entrants in last year’s SM Drag Challenge, and the 2015 Street Machine Of The Year winner all turned out for this year’s annual Street Machine VIP party.

Around 250 invited guests gathered at the George Harcourt Inn just outside Canberra to enjoy a cracking barbecue, a few quality bevvies and some high-energy classic rock tunes from local band Third Party, as well as the presentation of two of our sport’s most sought-after awards.

The Laurie Starling Student Scholarship was established in 2014 to honour the memory of the exceptionally talented fabricator Laurie Starling and financially assist promising young automotive fabrication students, and this year the field was so strong the judges decided to award two scholarships.

Laurie’s dad Rob and older brother Jamie were there to present the awards to Sydney’s David Scenna and Melbourne’s Mick McCallum (Young Gun, SM, Sep ’14). The previous year’s winner, Tasmania’s Tom Saunders, was also on hand to display one of the fruits of his scholarship – a slammed, LS-powered Holden Rodeo minitruck.

Then it was time for editor Telfo and Valvoline marketing manager Tony McDermott to present the 2015 Street Machine Of The Year trophy and giant novelty cheque for $20,000 to Canberra local Nathan Booth, who was a runaway winner with his turbo RB25-powered HR ute.

With Nathan being the youngest-ever SMOTY winner, and two Starling scholarships being awarded this year, it was clear to all present that the future of the sport is in very safe hands.

LAST year’s Laurie Starling Memorial Scholarship winner Tom Saunders returned for this year’s SM VIP party to display this wild LS-powered Rodeo minitruck – all the way from Tassie! “It’s airbagged all ’round, with a built 383 LS motor, and pumps out high 300s at the wheels,” he said. “I pretty much project-managed the build, and did all the sheet metal and fabrication work in the front end. It was a real honour to get the award considering I knew Laurie personally. Only good things have happened from it in terms of recognition, people actually knowing about what you’re doing.”