AS I TYPE, we’ve just made it back from five days of automotive action at Street Machine Drag Challenge. This was our second year of running the event, which was inspired by Hot Rod Drag Week in the US. This time around, we had 50 entrants who were ready to spend five days driving over 1500km between five race tracks.
With cars ranging in the main between the 11-second and seven-second mark, we had a fantastic variety of combatants, with everything from twin-turbo V8s, to monster big-blocks, nitrous-sucking sixes and even a stupidly fast hot-hatch.
The rules are simple – entrants have to drive their cars from track to track without support vehicles, and they need to make a pass at each track before the cut-off. Failure to do either means you’re out. It is a brutal test of both driver and car, but that is why it is called Drag Challenge – if it was easy, everyone would do it!
We started racing at Calder, and lost two cars to breakage before the day was over. From there we convoyed to South Coast Raceway in Portland, up to Mildura’s Sunset Strip, then across to Heathcote Park and back to Calder for the final day. The vast majority of cars made it to day five, but even those who were out of the competition thrashed hard to get their rides to Calder to make some runs for glory.
The competition was tight and came down to the wire in most classes. You can check the results on page 10, and make sure you come back for our epic coverage next issue.
Thanks heaps to the tracks and track staff for their hard work; the competitors and their crew for their courage and commitment; and the Street Machine staff who ran the event, including main organiser Scott Taylor and hard-working volunteers Carolyn and Theo Tzortzas. Thanks also to our sponsors: Haltech, 247 Hose & Fittings, Turbosmart and Castlemaine Rod Shop.
Congratulations are also due to Nathan Booth, winner of this year’s Valvoline Street Machine Of The Year award. The 23-year-old Canberran is the youngest-ever winner of the award, and his RB25-powered HR ute is the first six-cylinder to win, too.
It was a tough field, with some super-high-quality cars in the running and the top six cars all nabbing plenty of votes. Runner-up was Greg Trapnell’s HQ Monaro, a popular car for its wheelstanding antics and all the more famous for its recent trip to take on Drag Week in the US.
Behind the HQ was Brock Mahoney’s XC coupe, INENVY. As we’ve seen in previous years, having a number of cars of the same body style in the running tends to split the vote, with HQ fans having to choose between Trappy’s Monaro and Lou Ackovski’s slammed and chopped TOXIC Q. Same goes for Brock’s XC and Kynan Hall’s tyre-frying DVLXC.
That said, Nathan’s ute was a clear winner, and while wild-and-crazy monsters are what make people pick up magazines – we know that from looking at the sales of each issue – a lot of folks were clearly attracted to the HR’s mix of Top 60 build quality, cool retrotech driveline and pure streetability.
Nathan, his family and his mates all put in a monster effort to build a Street Machine Of The Year winner in Nathan’s dad’s humble two-car shed, and it was a pleasure to present them with their $20,000 prize thanks to Valvoline. Nathan treated me to a ride in the HR, and hoo-boy, it goes as well as it looks! The RB25DET would sure look cool in the engine bay of my EJ, but I don’t think I’m ready to swap tradition for horsepower just yet. Still, I can dream. s