BURNING DESIRES

PART TWO OF OUR LOOK AT AUSTRALIA’S THRIVING BURNOUT SCENE. WE SPOKE WITH SOME OF THE HEAVY HITTERS AND UP-AND-COMERS TO GET THEIR VIEWS ON THE CURRENT STATE OF PLAY

STORY MATT REEKIE, BORIS VISKOVIC & ANDREW BROADLEY PHOTOS SIMON DAVIDSON NATHAN JACOBS

ANDREW LYNCH

Machine: LYNCHY, 1981 TOYOTA KE55 COROLLA Engine: 6.0L L98 SMALL-BLOCK

YOU only need to listen to the chanting crowds to know who the most popular driver in burnouts is.

It’s Lynchy first, daylight second.

The whirling dervish from Horsham, Victoria solidified his reputation as a balls-out tyre-shredder a few years ago, but Lynchy Mania reached fever-pitch at Summernats this year, where, despite ripping off two incredible skids in the Burnout Masters, he and his Corolla had to be content with fourth place.

“I don’t do it to win, I just like travelling places and smashing tyres off,” he says. “I like to get out of the car at the end, not having hit any walls, tyres off, and be happy.

If I did a slow burnout to please judges, one that wasn’t my style, I just wouldn’t be happy.”

Given the enormous number of blown cars on pads these days, it’s a credit to Lynchy’s driving skill that his KE55 Corolla remains naturally aspirated. And, until his budget improves, he’s sticking with it. “Junking motors would take the fun out of it if it cost me five grand every time I did it,” he says. “I junked a motor three weeks ago and it cost me $500 to fix.”

JUSTEN BROWN

Machine: STRUGLIN, VF COMMODORE WAGON Engine: 377CI CHEVY SMALL-BLOCK, 8/71 BLOWER

THIS bloke really doesn’t need an introduction, but any story on burnouts in Australia would be incomplete without him. With some 14 seasons under his belt and countless tyres blown, Justen – or Bushy to his mates – is a crowd favourite with his immaculately prepared cars and burnouts that quite often end in a blaze of glory. Bad for points, but the punters love it. He even managed to set both ends of the car on fire at Summernats 30!

Justen started off with a Commodore ute: “I pieced together a 5.0L manual skid car and that became WONA GO. Then I tubbed it, put some big wheels on it and then I bought a motor from George Separovich and life went on from there. I went from a on from there. I went from a 355 Holden with 300hp to an SBC with 1000hp – I didn’t know what was going on!

“All my motors are the same, which makes it easier for spares, and you can rob motors out of each car then.”

JASON RAPOFF

Machine: PARALINES, VH COMMODORE Engine: 416CI LS3, 8/71 BLOWER

JASON Rapoff is one of several wheelchair-bound burnout competitors on the scene, but you wouldn’t know it from watching him throw the car around on the pad. Steering with his left hand while controlling the brake and throttle with his right, Jason’s car control is as good as anyone out there after just three years of competing.

“I had a couple of RX-3s and an R32 Skyline GT-R,” he says.

“The Commodore started off with a naturally aspirated LS, then I tubbed it, built another motor, blower, methanol. I’ve had it just over three years and finished second at the Good Fryday burnouts, so this year was my second Summernats and my first time in Burnout Masters. Can’t complain about that!”

The car is getting a bit of a freshen-up after tagging the wall at Summernats and will come out with a completely different look. When asked how he got into the burnout scene, Jason’s answer was simple: “I just wanted to stay out of trouble, I guess.”

MATT JAMES

Machine: UNWANTED, VF COMMODORE UTE Engine: 480CI CHEVY BIG-BLOCK, 14/71 BLOWER

MATT James is another bloke who reckons one skid car just isn’t enough. Parked alongside his UNWANTED VF ute, you’ll quite often see TUFFLS1, a VP sedan that Matt shows absolutely no mercy to, and by the time this goes to press, he will have done his first competitive skid in his COMPACT Fairlane, using a George Separovich-built 340ci small-block Chev. Yes, you read that right – Chev!

“I came into contact with George at the beginning of last year and it changed the whole way I play the game,” Matt says. “I’ve got the best of both worlds [with the big- and small-block], but I definitely like the small cubes/big revs thing.

Then again, I’ve got the big cubes and getting some big revs as well.” Having said that, Matt admits that he turns the BBC to 8500rpm, but it will go over 9000. He also mentioned that a new small-cube, dry-sumped LS is being prepped for TUFFLS1, so watch out!

TOM BELTRAME

Machine: INFERNO, 1978 TOYOTA LAND CRUISER FJ40 Engine: 510CI BIG-BLOCK CHEV, DART BIG M BLOCK, 16/71 LITTLEFIELD BLOWER

“I WENT with the FJ40 because I just wanted something different,” says South Australia’s Tom Beltrame. “There wasn’t anything around like it, and while there were some four-wheel drives, they were all jacked up, so I thought I’d see if I could lower it.

“It’s my first burnout car, and until I debuted it at Summernats 29 I hadn’t been on a pad before – even as a passenger. I was a little bit nervous. I think everybody gets nervous until you stand on it.

“I’ve always liked burnouts, but since I got involved I realised the scene is full of really good people, and the social side of it has become a really big part of it. But so are the cars – I love cars! If you do a good skid you’re over the moon, but if you do a bad one you’re angry! The competition is really strong, and being a rookie in that car is hard. But I did have a win at Summer Slam, which was great. We’re slowly getting on top of the car’s set-up.”

NATHAN MAGRI

Machine: QUPNCY, 1970 HG HOLDEN WAGON Engine: 403CI LS, 8/71 BLOWER SHOP BLOWER

“I STARTED doing burnouts because everyone around my area had skid cars,” says Nathan Magri, who hails from the Hawkesbury region in Sydney’s north-west. “We’d all get together and help each other build cars, and that’s how we formed H8TREAD Racing.

“Back in the day I had a VL that I did two or three burnout comps in, and I won Top V8 with it one year at Supernats. But it was a street car and no one else in my group of mates had a street car at that time, so I sold it and started building the wagon as a dedicated skid car. I started out with a tunnel-rammed methanol 6.0L in it, and I went to the blown combo about 18 months ago.

“I’ve had a lot of fun with it, and I like the people you meet when you get out there and go to all the events. But burnouts are a real thrill. You’re shaking at the start, and then you get the adrenaline hit go through your body!”

JAKE MYERS

Machine: S1CKO, 1966 FORD MUSTANG Engine: 302CI WINDSOR, WORLD MAN O’ WAR BLOCK, LITTLEFIELD 6/71 BLOWER

“MY FIRST demo skid was at Portland Powernats when I was 15 years old,” says Jake Myers, son of burnout legend Gary. “I waited a year, then competed at the Pro Burnouts at Dubbo when I was 16, and came fourth against a lot of the big guys. I did some comps that year; then I got a start in the Wildcard competition for the Masters at Summernats.

I qualified, made it into the Top 10, and finished fifth – two spots ahead of Dad, actually!

“I’ve grown up around burnouts and travelled to every show in Australia. I guess it’s in the genes. But I just go out there and have fun. For me, it’s all about the burnout family. I love to hang out, have a chat and do skids with my mates. I’ve won a couple of comps now, but a win is just a bonus that helps you get to the next show. I get butterflies every time, but it all goes away when you get on the loud pedal. Even Dad says he gets nervous, and he’s been doing it for 30 years!”

ANTHONY PAGE

Machine: PAGEY, HZ HOLDEN UTE Engine: 410CI CHEVY SMALL-BLOCK, 8/71 BLOWER

ANTHONY Page is another long-time competitor, having battled it out on small country pads in the early days of his career with a Torana some 12 years ago.

“We all started off with bunky heaps of shit,” he laughs. “I used to watch guys like Dennis Harley in ACDC308 and Earl Salter in FERAL when they used to be the big boys. I used to love watching them and that’s how I got into it. Now I work up north, getting more money has made it a lot easier to do it.”

The current Summernats Burnout Champ is still doing it with carbies: “I’ve got a hat at home but it’s been such a reliable deal that in the back of my head I’m thinking: ‘Do I really want to screw with it and maybe wreck it?’

It’s sitting there, so I’ve got to do it soon.”

PRO TIPS:

~1~ ENGINE – A strong rotating assembly and valvetrain are essential, as is a thorough maintenance regime. Regular oil and filter changes and bearing inspections can save big bucks in the long run. ~2~ INDUCTION – Blowers are still king, but big-revving naturally aspirated engines certainly have their place in the burnout landscape. In either case, a bit of fruit through the bonnet never goes astray! ~3~ DRIVELINE – Heat kills transmissions, so a quality transmission cooler with an electric fan is a wise investment. An automatic transmission with a manual valvebody is favourable, as is a locked diff with strong axles. ~4~ TYRES – A top-level burnout car can lay a brand-new set of tyres to waste in a minute flat, so it’s best to start out with plenty of tread. Experiment with rear tyre sizes, compounds and pressures to find out what works best for your car.

~5~ BODYWORK – A set of tubs and a shortened diff will help keep your bodywork out of harm’s way from flapping belts. Late-model cars with plastic bumpers are more susceptible to damage than steel-bumpered cars. ~6~ BRAKES – Plenty of dedicated skid cars don’t run rear brakes at all. If you do have rear brakes fitted, use a line locker or similar device to isolate your rear brakes while you skid. ~7~ GAUGES – Stay in the loop with what’s happening under your bonnet. Water temperature, transmission temperature and oil pressure gauges are all advisable, and a tacho with a shift-light isn’t a bad idea, either. ~8~ CHASSIS – In modern-day skid comps, drivers are favouring lighter, shorter-wheelbase cars that they can hurl around the pad with reckless abandon – did someone say LYNCHY?

STEVE EDSALL

Machine: ROGUE, 2010 VE COMMODORE Engine: 532CI BIG-BLOCK CHEV, 8/71 BLOWER SHOP BLOWER

“I’VE never really been specifically into Fords or Holdens, which is why I have one of each,” Shepparton’s Steve Edsall says. “My XC ute SKDUTE had a few problems and the VE came up at the right price, so I jumped on it. I’ve been skidding the ute since I was old enough to do a burnout, and I’ve had my VE, ROGUE, for almost three years.

“I like travelling with the boys, partying and doing skids; that’s the name of the game in my opinion. Doing skids gets your heart racing. You make some smoke, smash some tyres and jump out and have a party at the end. That’s what I do!

“For me, winning Summernats in the VE was massive. But with the Ford, my biggest win would be Gazzanats Bairnsdale in 2013, because the whole field was full of Masters and it was a real test for me and the car.

“It’s hard to believe that the sport has got this big. We were just a bunch of guys doing burnouts, and suddenly it all started going crazy. But it’s really just about hanging out with the boys and getting on the piss!”

PETER GRMUSA

Machine: ATRISK, 1967 FORD XR FALCON Engine: 702CI CHEVY BIG-BLOCK, 6/71 LITTLEFIELD BLOWER

OVER more than a decade in the skid business, Peter Grumsa and his ATRISK XR have collected two Summernats Burnout Championships, one Burnout Masters title, and three Street Machine cover features. Peter and the car have changed with the times and stayed on top, but he still gets the same kick out of driving a show-quality car onto a burnout pad and giving it all seven bells of hell.

“I put a lot of effort into the XR, but when it’s on the startline and people can see how nice the car is and they’re thinking: ‘I can’t believe he’s gonna do this!’ it brings more hype to the show,” says Pete, who also runs his own event, Xtreme Powerfest, in Shepparton.

ATRISK is currently undergoing another transformation and is expected to be unveiled in the coming months with muchimproved handling capabilities underneath, as well as a new interior and candy paint. In the meantime, Peter is using the car’s 702-cube motor and gearbox in his low-buck, big-fun F100.

DOM LUCI

Machine: LITMUP, 1978 HZ HOLDEN KINGSWOOD Engine: 400CI LS, MODIFIED EDELBROCK EFI MANIFOLD

“THE original idea with the HZ was to keep it as a budget set-up: stock 6.0L with a cam and carby. But the car ended up doing all right, so we stepped it up. I thought I’d do the best I could with an aspirated engine and see how far I could go.

The aim was to make the Burnout Masters Top 10, and I did that at Summernats 30.

“I’ve had the car for six years and have just done upgrades as I went. You try different things; some work and some don’t. I’ve gone from a Powerglide to a Turbo 400, and I tubbed it because I like it to look nice and I got sick of painting the quarters.

painting the quarters.

“I drive the car on the street and drag race it, but skids are more fun to me. Racing is too serious and competitive for my liking. Burnouts are heading that way too, though!”

DAVE PENDLEBURY

Machine: PROPSI, 1990 TOYOTA HILUX Engine: 366CI SMALL-BLOCK CHEV, WEIAND 6/71 BLOWER

“I DID my first skid comp when I was 17 at the old track [Eastern Creek Raceway, now Sydney Motorsport Park], so I’ve been doing it for at least 15 years,” Dave Pendlebury says. “I started out with a VN V6 and worked my way up to a 5.0L and so on and so forth.

“I love the adrenaline rush; coming out the other side, hopefully having not hit anything and with the motor still going. And the skid family and the H8TREAD Racing boys are the best. You can turn up to a show and bump into people you haven’t seen for 10 years and just pick up where you left off. We’ve travelled all around Australia skidding and it’s been great. [Mick] Brasher has taken us to Darwin three times now, and I’ve also been down to Melbourne and up to Queensland. I really want to skid over in WA one day, because the crowds look mental.

“It’s a lifestyle and it’s not always easy, but luckily I have my family behind me.” s