Hid­den Val­ley Race­way gets smoked out by some of the best skid­ders in the biz

Street Machine - - Contents -

AFTER one of the wettest and windi­est West Aussie win­ters I can re­mem­ber, I was more than happy to jump on a plane and head north to Dar­win for a few 32-de­gree days and a touch of hu­mid­ity. The rea­son? To check out the hap­pen­ings at The Shed Com­pany Gazzanats, a jam-packed one-day event held at Hid­den Val­ley Race­way. What a great venue for an event like this! Not far from the air­port and just a 15-minute drive back into town, the track it­self is a cracker, with a 1.1km straight and a good mix of cor­ners, all com­pletely vis­i­ble from the view­ing plat­form above the pits. The burnout pad is pretty tight – es­pe­cially when you’re used to the ex­panse of the Snakepit at the Perth Mo­tor­plex – but that didn’t de­ter any of the com­peti­tors when it came time to tip it in! The car park area be­hind the pits was per­fect for the show ’n’ shine, and be­yond that was a skid­pan where the drift dis­play ran non-stop.

Apart from the sunny weather, the other great thing about vis­it­ing Dar­win – or the NT as a whole – is the laidback at­mos­phere, where ev­ery­one is happy and smil­ing and hav­ing a great time. I ad­mit, we may have sam­pled a bit too much of that laidback vibe on Fri­day night and paid for it on Satur­day morn­ing, but the beers were cold and the mu­sic was great, so what’s a bloke to do?

The smell of methanol and the sound of blown and in­jected en­gines


warm­ing up soon woke us up, and the ac­tion was com­ing on thick and fast right from the start at Gazzanats, with the go-to-whoa tak­ing place on the main straight. While there were a hand­ful of Sky­lines in at­ten­dance, the cream even­tu­ally rose to the top and Eddy Furlan in his 1931 Ford Model A coupe took the gold – on crossply tyres no less!

Hid­den Val­ley is also per­fect for run­ning a su­per­skid com­pe­ti­tion. That afore­men­tioned 1.1km straight means there’s no prob­lems with peo­ple run­ning out of road. The skill lies in keep­ing the car in a straight line while blaz­ing the tyres at ever-in­creas­ing speeds – with con­crete walls on both sides of you. Prov­ing that he’s not just a pretty face, Barry Hall – yes, he of AFL fame – took the win in a car he’d never driven be­fore! He was in­vited by the Castle­maine Rod Shop guys to drive BLOWNHJ, an HJ ute that they’ve fit­ted with one of their tube front-ends and mas­sive Wil­wood brakes, pow­ered with a blown and carbed 6.2-litre LS built by BNR En­gines mak­ing al­most 1000hp on methanol. He also tack­led the burnout com­pe­ti­tion, some­thing he’d never done be­fore, putting on a pretty good show for a first time out but get­ting stuck a cou­ple of times due to very lit­tle wind and a hell of a lot of smoke. “I was just happy to give the car back in one piece!” said Barry.

The great thing about vis­it­ing an­other city is that you get to see a whole bunch of cars you’ve never seen be­fore, and there were a few that stood out for me over the course of the event. For a high-qual­ity cruiser, it was tough to walk past Mark O’cal­laghan’s ’69 Mus­tang fast­back. A beau­ti­fully built car with a few mod­ern up­dates, in­clud­ing a full coil-over sus­pen­sion, air con, power steer­ing and 18-inch Mag­num 500s. Pow­er­ing it was some good old-fash­ioned Ford mus­cle in the form of a 432ci Wind­sor, but it was also dragged into the 21st cen­tury with a Fitech EFI sys­tem. With al­most 600hp on tap and a TKO600 five-speed, it’s the per­fect car to soak up the miles.

In com­plete con­trast to Mark’s Mus­tang was Matthew Berry’s Toy­ota Star­let, but be­fore you start send­ing abu­sive emails about why SM is talk­ing about small Japanese cars, hear me out – this isn’t your usual Japanese ap­pli­ance. For a start, the car’s got eight cylin­ders, it’s just that they’re kind of spread evenly



around the car. There are four up front in the usual place, then an­other four mounted be­hind the rear seat. Oh, did I men­tion the tur­bos? Each en­gine also has a GTX 28/67 turbo at­tached to it, and on E85 each mill makes 300hp. So, just in case you don’t have your cal­cu­la­tor handy, that’s 600hp, all-wheel drive in a pack­age that weighs around 1100kg. Ab­so­lutely stark rav­ing mad – but bril­liant at the same time. A lot of thought – and trial and er­ror – went into mak­ing the car work, and when I say work, I mean not spit Matt off the road ev­ery time he sinks the boot in. The car has al­ready run 10.50s with just 420hp, so it should be in the sin­gle dig­its very soon.

There was plenty of other tough stuff run­ning around all day, with a strong West Aussie crew in­clud­ing Paul Set­ta­tree in HWY2HELL, Matt Hughes in MON5TA and even­tual burnout win­ner and show ’n’ go cham­pion, Sam Lord in BADHABIT. The Rod Shop boys helped Gazzanats head hon­chos Gary and Deby My­ers out after a few late with­drawals and brought up three cars: the pre­vi­ously men­tioned ute, the bare-metal REAL DEAL GTR To­rana, and the WARBIRD XP Fal­con. The lit­tle Torry was a big hit all week­end, smash­ing plenty of tyres and tak­ing a bunch of peo­ple for hot laps with the Rod Shop’s Heath Wadding­ton at the wheel. Un­for­tu­nately for his brother Marc, the Fal­con re­jected the big-block Chev early Satur­day morn­ing while be­ing warmed up: “We no­ticed that num­ber eight didn’t have any tem­per­a­ture in it. It turned out to be a cou­ple of bro­ken pushrods,” Marc ex­plained. “Luck­ily they fell down into the val­ley, so hope­fully there isn’t too much dam­age.” It was a real shame, be­cause the car per­formed flaw­lessly at its last out­ing and it would have been great to see it out on the track.

If you ever needed an ex­cuse to visit Dar­win, or the NT in gen­eral, then Gazzanats of­fers the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to get away and en­joy some sun and the Top End’s laidback lifestyle. There’s plenty to see and do, a wealth of his­tory and culture to ab­sorb and a thou­sand other places of in­ter­est you could visit with the whole fam­ily.

1: Chris Din­ning’s XR Fair­mont copped plenty of at­ten­tion from the pub­lic and the judges, tak­ing home a swag of tro­phies. A very tidy 347 Wind­sor fea­tures FAST EFI, and there’s an RRS front end and Cal­tracs to get the grunt to the ground 2: At any car event peo­ple like to see va­ri­ety, and there was plenty of that in Dar­win 3: Gary and Deby My­ers brought back the Dash 4 Cash event, where the driver had to re­verse out of a garage, go through a chi­cane into an­other garage, then get out and run around the car be­fore head­ing back through the course. John Cur­wen­walker didn’t win, but he sure looked good do­ing it 4: There were some big hit­ters that made the long haul to Dar­win, in­clud­ing the Castle­maine Rod Shop boys, who brought up three blown cars, in­clud­ing BLOWNHJ, just so Barry Hall could have a crack at the burnout com­pe­ti­tion 5: The stun­ning ’68 Ca­maro of Dave Car­pen­ter looked great at the show ’n’ shine but even bet­ter belt­ing down the main straight of Hid­den Val­ley Race­way BE­LOW: Eddy Furlan was all smiles after tak­ing out the go-to-whoa in his Model A coupe, prov­ing once again that age and ex­pe­ri­ence can win out over youth and en­thu­si­asm – and he did it all on crossply tyres!

The big win­ner for the week­end was West Aussie Sam Lord, who took out the Blown-class burnout comp as well as the Show ’n’ Go award for the best-per­form­ing and best-pre­sented car at the event. Sam had the HZ ute on song all week­end and it al­ways looked sharp

Barry Hall was in­vited by The Rod Shop boys to drive their BLOWNHJ ute, and he didn’t let them down, bring­ing the car home in one piece and also tak­ing out the su­per­skid com­pe­ti­tion. Not a bad ef­fort for the first time out in a car he’s never driven

1: I’m smil­ing be­cause not only did Matthew Berry man­age to squeeze 300hp out of a 1.5L Toy­ota 5E four-cylin­der, he did it twice! Yep, there’s a match­ing en­gine in the back, so what you’re look­ing at is a 600hp, all-wheel-drive Toy­ota Star­let! I can con­firm it goes like the prover­bial shit off a shiny shovel after ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a cou­ple of hot laps in Dar­win, and if you want to find out more, look up ‘Evil Twin’ on Face­book 2: There was a pretty heavy West Aussie pres­ence at Gazzanats, with Paul Set­ta­tree in HWY2HELL and Matt Hughes in MON5TA both tak­ing home prize money in their re­spec­tive burnout classes. They did a ton of cruis­ing and smashed plenty of tyres through­out the day 3: Benny Cir­cle and KERMITD made the haul across from Cairns after their re­cent win at the Trop­i­cal Melt­down, and put on a colour­ful show for the Dar­win crowd 4: The podium for the Nat­u­rally As­pi­rated burnout class (L-R): Paul Set­ta­tree (HWY2HELL) in third, win­ner Frank Pae­sel (RUB1OUT), and Mitchy (YAHOON) in sec­ond place all look jus­ti­fi­ably proud of their achieve­ments 5: It took Gary ages to catch and skin all the croc­o­diles for the tro­phies, but it was worth it in the end – they came up a treat! 6: This sweet Model A road­ster had a lit­tle B&M blower perched on top for a bit of ex­tra boo­gie

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