SNAKES AND SKIDDERS
Well, where did that year go? Remember when you were a kid and it felt like an eternity between Christmases! In this gig, our years seem to be structured by Beach Hop, and it feels like only a few weeks ago that we were gearing up for the most full-on week in the calendar. Now, just a few weeks back into the working year, we’re beginning to make our preparations for Repco Beach Hop all over again. It was nice to get a break, though. The pressure to produce the best damn magazine we can, while sticking to unrelenting deadlines, can and does get a bit hefty — sorta like a gerbil on a spinny wheel, even though that cliché could also be applied to many aspects of normal life if you were so inclined. Anyway, time off over summer: it was pretty neat; the highlight of it took place in that continental oven filled with snakes and spiders — basically a few days at Summernats in Canberra, followed by a road trip up to Goldy in Joe Dirt’s VC Valiant. It was a good year for it — possibly the last time the Kiwi Carnage team will go to the effort and expense of shipping a bunch of cars across the Tasman. It must have been the year the Kiwis took over; it seemed that everywhere I turned, there was a Kiwi or an expat Kiwi to chat with. Unlike last year, I didn’t take a camera, and went with no intention of doing anything work related … so I’ll apologize to those of you who liked the big event report we ran last year in Issue No. 142. I really didn’t want to deal with the stress of being responsible for a bunch of expensive camera gear. That, I think, turned out to be the right call. The ’Nats is a massive event, and it’s surprising how different it felt to last year — being able to cruise through it without feeling the (futile) need to try and capture it all. Since, true to form, I’m writing this while we’re putting a magazine to print, I don’t really have time to get my grammar real good, so I’ll just bang out some bullet points as to why: Through some unknown power, Liz of the ‘EV1L 69’ Camaro managed to wrangle a couple spots for the Kiwis, including myself, in one of the big marquees on Tuff Street — i.e. Summernats central — with a bunch of pretty big names in the business. Not a camera-friendly environment! Since I wasn’t running around the massive venue all day, there was a lot more ‘right place, right time’ going on. The highlight of that was … Being able to ride shotgun on the Summernats burnout pad — not once but twice. First off was with Napier boy Arnie ‘Swizz’ Donaldson in his ‘LOLIFE’ Falcon XC ute, and what a skid! The methanolinjected 410ci Gaerte sprint car motor was on song, and Swizz managed to blow both tyres on the Nats pad for the first time, while keeping the ute off the wall — no doubt to his panel beater’s relief. Then Ian ‘Sambo’ Smith invited me to ride shotgun in the ‘SAMBOS’ blown LS1 Mazda RX-7 on the Sunday, and the crowd seemed to seriously love his performance — it’s pretty out there, hearing a crowd of that size, half-cut on VB, getting that revved up about something. Breaking down — old cars break down. It’s a fact of life. We had the misfortune to leave Canberra for Goldy on maybe the hottest day of the year, and the 41-degree ambient temperature and road heat basically had the Valiant’s fuel boiling and vapour locking. Not pleasant — but definitely a lot more fun than smashing out a two-day trip in some airconditioned palace on wheels. So, now that I’ve been able to indulge in a bunch of automotive debauchery without bringing work into the mix, it’s back to business as usual. As you’ll see in this issue, we’re not skimping on event coverage, and we’re just getting started — 2018 is looking good.