WORLDS COLLIDE

Sydney’s automotive tribes meet at Fitted Friday

STORY IAIN KELLY & SIMON TELFORD PHOTOS SIMON DAVIDSON

WE HAVE covered many events at Sydney Dragway since it opened in 2004, but Fitted Friday IV was the first we’ve attended that didn’t involve any actual drag racing – if you don’t count meetings disrupted by rain! Despite the absence of any quarter-mile action, a large crowed packed the pits on a freezing evening for the fourth running of Tarik Aly’s annual event.

Why would thousands of punters give up Fridaynight Netflix to pay for the privilege of standing around in icy conditions to look at cars? For starters, anyone living near a big city would have noted the massive resurgence in cruise nights and Donut Derelicts-style car park meets over the past few years, but not many cater for the latemodel brigade – often due to the heat they attract from law enforcement. At the same time, there has been a large void in the more formal show scene for those who dig newer Japanese and European rides, with nothing of substance filling the gap left by the Auto Salon series. So, inspired in part by the original Hot Import Nights events in the US, Fitted Friday aims to meet that demand, combining the casual vibe of a cruise night with some of the trappings of a serious static car show.

To give the event a nightclub feel, Tarik brings in a stage and adds a professional light show, sound system and DJs. To help build the hype further, a number of new cars are debuted on stage, and there is a raft of trophies on offer, all with goofy names like ‘Ride Low, Live High’ and ‘Damn That’s Clean’. The trophies themselves are all class, each being constructed from sections of Trofeo rims. Given these are made from T6061 aerospace-grade forged aluminium, they’re quite spendy dust collectors!

So far, so good, but what does this have to do with street machiners? Well, the reason we made it to this year’s event is that Tarik made a

OF CARS TOGETHER AT ONE SHOW THE CONCEPT WAS TO BRING ALL THE STYLES

concerted effort to invite plenty of tough V8s, from daily-driven cruisers right up to a Top Fueller! The result was several hundred cars turning up, of almost every genre imaginable.

“The concept was to bring all the styles of cars together at one show, with great entertainment and a family-friendly atmosphere,” Tarik said.

“Fitted Friday has grown every year we’ve put it on, and that shows the concept works. We have had some crazy old-school drag cars right next to wide-body Lamborghinis and Time Attack Nissan GT-Rs, with restored classics from all over the world.”

And you know what? Bringing the tribes together worked like a charm for the most part. There was some limiter-bashing from a few of the younger import guys, but they were literally drowned out when the blown and injected fury of the Goin’ Nuts crew returned fire. From what we saw, the import guys looked at the street machine stuff with genuine awe for the work involved – and the street machiners were impressed by some of the wilder street-driven creations and had plenty of questions to ask the mini-truck guys about their cantilever suspension set-ups.

According to the program the show opened at 7pm, but spectators were rolling in from 5pm, with many coming straight from work for a look.

And boy was there a lot to eyeball, with dozens of traders setting up elaborate multi-vehicle stands, multiple food trucks serving wicked burgers, and for the kidlets a fun fair complete with Ferris wheel down the end of the car park.

And while there was no racing, there was plenty of automotive thunder to keep everyone amused, starting with the 2-Step Challenge, which drew huge crowds to watch the Mariani Motorsports Top Fuel car blow minds with how apocalyptically awesome 9000hp is up close. The crowd was 20-30 deep at most spots around the arena, with a warm-up courtesy of the Mazfix RX-7 drag car, before the nitro monster started up and created some real noise.

The unveils offered attendees another chance to see some action. A handful of carefully

FEW OF THE YOUNGER IMPORT GUYS THERE WAS SOME LIMITER-BASHING FROM A

selected cars and bikes were revealed for the first time, with the owners spending pretty much the whole day setting them up and getting them ready while locked in the Sydney Dragway scrutineering sheds.

They were then released one by one through the crowd and up onto the main stage under lights and disco smoke for a quick chat with each owner, before driving off to park up and show off their hard work. Three cars stood out for street machiners: Louis Younis’s new yellow LJ Torana; Pro Touring Garage’s slick black ’69 Camaro convertible; and Anthony Safar’s CU H8N VK Commodore.

The show wrapped up at midnight, by which time the temperature was almost down to freezing point and many punters had already called time. We reckon the show could have started and finished earlier (the SM team was risking frostbite towards the end of the night), and there are definitely some improvements needed with regards to getting people into the event, with an hour-long queue forming on Ferrers Road at one stage. But these minor issues (which are easily fixed) were well worth enduring for the eyeopening melting pot of modified cars that Fitted Friday brought together.

As different as we all may be, we have a lot more in common than you’d imagine, and that has to be worth celebrating. s

BIKES WERE REVEALED FOR THE FIRST TIME A HANDFUL OF CAREFULLY SELECTED CARS AND