RED CEN­TRE NATS

OVER 700 OF THE FAITH­FUL FLOCKED TO ALICE SPRINGS FOR A MAS­SIVE CEL­E­BRA­TION OF HORSE­POWER AT THE SEC­OND RED CEN­TRE NATS

Street Machine - - Contents -

Horse­power acolytes gather in the Alice for the sec­ond go-round of RCN may­hem

AF­TER cruis­ing my hum­ble EJ Holden to the first Red Cen­tre­nats in Alice Springs last year, I thought it would be cool just to fly in from Mel­bourne, grab a hire car and en­joy the event street ma­chine-free. Af­ter all, I’d spent all year telling any­one who’d lis­ten that RCN was a great event and even if you didn’t have a week or two spare to drive there, you could fly in, fly out and have a bunch of fun. Which is true – I had a blast – but man, I missed be­ing able to par­tic­i­pate in my own car.

I flew in on the Fri­day and headed straight out to RCN head­quar­ters at Blather­skite Park, where the en­trants were as­sem­bling for the Street Pa­rade. Last year, the assem­bly point was on the north side of town, but with a mas­sive in­crease in en­trants from just un­der 300 last year to 723 cars and bikes this year, there was no way they were all go­ing to fit in that spot. We parked the car and hit the ground run­ning with some video film­ing, and the scale of the cruise hit me – this thing is mas­sive and I can’t be part of it! In fact, I didn’t even get to see the cruise proper. By the time I had filmed the en­tire line-up, the cars that had left first were al­ready back be­fore the last cars could make a start.

From all ac­counts though, the vibe was sensational the whole way along, with the lo­cals out in force to en­joy the spec­ta­cle. And no won­der, with some truly wild ma­chin­ery tak­ing part, in­clud­ing Fred Wat­son’s FEAR GTO, Ge­orge Par­adiso’s bru­tal ’41 Willys and Dave Carter’s out­ra­geous BUILT one-ton­ner. Not that the crowd turned their noses up at milder cars, giv­ing a warm re­cep­tion to just about any­thing on two or four wheels. It was truly some­thing to see, and to pre­vent post-cruise de­pres­sion set­ting in, the RCN crew put on a con­cert af­ter­wards, star­ring Oz rock roy­alty The An­gels, fronted by Dave Glee­son of Scream­ing Jets fame. Mint!

THE LO­CALS TURNED OUT IN FORCE TO EN­JOY THE TRULY WILD MA­CHIN­ERY TAK­ING PART IN THE CRUISE, GIV­ING A WARM RE­CEP­TION TO JUST ABOUT ANY­THING ON TWO OR FOUR WHEELS

The next two days were a blur of au­to­mo­tive awe­some­ness. From a spec­ta­tor point of view, you might head out to Blather­skite Park first and check out who made it into the RCN equiv­a­lent of the Summernats Elite Hall, The Shed. And sure enough, there was plenty of su­per-shiny metal in­side, such as Mal Apps’s FC (SM, Feb ’16), along with some others that might not be shiny but are tried-and-tested eye­ball mag­nets nonethe­less (in­clud­ing Leon Davies’s in­fa­mous Trucky, driven all the way from Gee­long).

To be hon­est, the out­door show ’n’ shine was just as good, mix­ing barn-find mus­cle cars with highly mod­i­fied streeters, kit cars, bikes and more.

Blather­skite also of­fered dyno ac­tion all week­end, plus grass driv­ing events and a chance for the kids to op­er­ate a digger, thanks to the blokes from Charles Dar­win Univer­sity. The tucker on site was a cut above the usual car show fare and the vibe was as chilled-out as you’d like.

How­ever, nois­ier fun at Alice Springs In­land Drag­way was call­ing, just 9km down the high­way from Blather­skite Park, and thanks to the spe­cial per­mits or­gan­ised by the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, heav­ily mod­i­fied cars that would nor­mally be im­pounded by the SWAT team were welcome to cruise on spe­cific roads in town, in­clud­ing out to the track.

Af­ter watch­ing the con­tenders for Grand Cham­pion do their thing on the grass, we fol­lowed them out as they con­voyed to the drags. Yep, that’s right, to be el­i­gi­ble for Grand Cham­pion at RCN, you not only have to score well with the judges and the Peo­ple’s Choice vote, but you have to suc­cess­fully com­plete a bunch of driv­ing tests as well.

There were a bunch of neat cars in con­tention this year, in­clud­ing last year’s win­ner John Cur­wen Walker in his

IN­SIDE THE SHED WERE SHINY CARS LIKE MAL APPS’S FC, AS WELL AS SOME NOT-SO-SHINY RIDES LIKE LEON DAVIES’S IN­FA­MOUS TRUCKY

im­mor­tal FX Holden. Join­ing him in the chase were lo­cal span­ner man Peter Hon­dow’s brand new ’33 coupe, Bren­dan Find­lay’s two-door VE, Ian Wicks’s killer Model A tu­dor and Gregg Foss’s XP sedan. It was neat to see them all on the high­way to­gether and even bet­ter to watch them have a go at the drags.

Dave Carter’s out­ra­geous one-ton­ner was the most im­pres­sive of the group. Dave usu­ally races a nine-sec­ond Torry, and de­spite get­ting off the throt­tle early, still ran an easy mid-12 in the ton­ner. Brad Thom­son’s HX Sand­man from Queens­land was look­ing pretty good, with a 434ci Chev and Tre­mec five-speed driv­e­line combo. That was un­til it lunched a tail­shaft on the start­line, re­sult­ing in a visit from the tilt tray. Af­ter the drags, the Grand Champ con­tenders headed to Las­seters Casino to take on a tight mo­torkhana course. Again, no one was rac­ing for sheep sta­tions, just demon­strat­ing that their cars have some go to back up the show. With that done, it was up to the of­fi­cials to cal­cu­late the over­all win­ner, so we headed back to ASID to take in the delights of burnout qual­i­fy­ing (see page 60).

Sun­day was all about the fi­nals of the drags and burnouts, though there was still a re­laxed at­mos­phere back at Blather­skite, with plenty of fun (in­clud­ing Adam Ro­gash’s NOSHOW test­ing out the lim­its of the dyno) to be had. The site wasn’t as packed as Satur­day though, with many en­trants ei­ther tak­ing their cars to the drags or just en­joy­ing cruis­ing around Alice Springs it­self.

The event con­cluded with a semi-for­mal din­ner for the en­trants at Las­seters, where backs were slapped, drinks were drunk and the win­ners of the var­i­ous com­pe­ti­tions awarded their tro­phies. NT leg­end Mar­shall Per­ron scored the Chief Min­is­ter’s Choice award with his ’66 Mus­tang ’vert (and promptly do­nated his prize money to char­ity), Top Red Cen­tre En­trant went to prodi­gious car builder Peter Hon­dow, Peo­ple’s Choice was won by Mal Apps’s stun­ning FC, and Gregg Foss’s unas­sum­ing but slick XP Fair­mont nailed Grand Cham­pion.

While most peo­ple headed home on Mon­day, the per­mits for the wilder cars to cruise the streets re­mained in force for the ex­tra day, giv­ing those who couldn’t let go of the dream an­other day of par­adise – that is, a world where the owner of a safe but mas­sively over­pow­ered street car can en­joy the sim­ple plea­sures of a Macca’s run with his or her mates with the full bless­ing of the law. It was a brief, beau­ti­ful win­dow into an al­ter­na­tive Aus­tralia, and we’ll be back to gaze through it in 2017.

ABOVE: Fred and Mau­reen Waite got the big­gest ova­tion dur­ing the awards din­ner, tak­ing out Top Re­stored with their 1968 Toy­ota Corona ute. The pair are in their 80s and brought the beau­ti­fully re­stored fam­ily work­horse 4500km from Bod­ding­ton in West Oz. What an ef­fort!

BE­LOW: Adam Ro­gash has re­vamped his Clubby and brought the beast up to RCN for a bit of fun and to iron the bugs out. Adam ran the quick­est pass of the event, with an 8.68@169mph on the newly resur­faced strip. He also took out the dyno with a 763rwhp pull on low boost at just 5835rpm

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