THE Summernats Burnout Masters has certainly turned into an event of epic proportions. Even if you don’t like burnouts, it’s one hell of a spectacle, and the growing crowds at Summernats are evidence that it’s what the punters want.
The event was initiated to provide a forum for the very best tyre-shredders in the business, allowing the up-and-comers to fight it out on a more level playing field in the regular Burnout Championship.
The list of competitors for the Summernats 31 Burnout Masters is made up of the top five cars from the previous year’s final, along with the top three cars from the Summernats 30 Burnout Championship, with most of the remaining spots drawn from the place-getters at a number of Burnout Masters feeder competitions held around Australia throughout the year. The final three spots are not decided until the Thursday of Summernats 31 itself, when drivers compete in the Last Chance Wildcard Shootout for their chance to mix it with the big guns.
The reality is, you need to have one hell of a car and a bit of luck on your side to place top three in the Last Chance Shootout. Then you’ll need lot more luck, talent and a reliable ride to make the top 10 of the 30 Burnout Masters qualifiers, and then be prepared to take on the very best of the best in the Sunday Masters final. So to even be selected for the Last Chance Shootout is one hell of an accomplishment.
The burnout events at Summernats 31 will see a few changes. The first is that fire suits will now be compulsory for all drivers and passengers. Entrants can borrow one of the free Summernats-provided suits, or bring their own, but certainly the old single-layer overall deal just won’t cut it. Suits need to be SFI 3.2A/5 or FIA 8856-2000 standard.
Another change is that concrete barricades will replace Armco barriers at ’Nats 31. There have been grumblings by some competitors about the build-up of particulates around the edge of the pad as a fire hazard. When Armcos were used, this particulate (rubber, etc) was often blown off the pad by a car’s exhaust; with the change to solid walls, fuel can build up and be ignited by competitors’ exhausts. So for the 2018 event, the ’Nats team will employ a similar clean-up scheme to that used at Brashernats, where Bobcats fitted with sweepers will remove the build-up from the side of the pad.
Another significant rule change at Summernats 31 is that there is to be no riding on the back of utes. All passengers must be in a seat – and that doesn’t mean a couch in the ute tray!
Happily, there will be no changes to the dyno at ’Nats 31, with the boys from MPW Performance running the show. They were able to crank out more cars on a single dyno at ’Nats 30 than in previous years with two dynos, so well done to them.
Summernats 31 will also see Farmtruck and AZN from Street Outlaws returning, this time to actually compete in the Last Chance Shootout in a wild C10 pick-up with a camper-back, powered by a Magnuson-blown 6.0L with a Haltech ECU. It’s a real Farmtruck-looking deal, with all the mumbo fitting under the bonnet. At the time of writing, the truck wasn’t finished, so it should be an interesting thrash to the end.
The other Yanks getting a start in the burnouts will be the 1320Video guys, who will be running a tunnel-rammed LS-powered Corolla called Thelma (named after the original owner of the mint-condition car). They will need to have their big boy pants on if they hope to make an impression amongst a field of big hitters.
So what’s up for grabs? Well for the Burnout Masters winner, it’s a cool $15K, but as you survey the current field of qualifiers, it’s clear the event will be harder to pick than a broken nose.
Crowd favourite Andrew Lynch in his mighty Corolla is famous for his awesome wheelwork, but history has shown that it takes more than that to land in the top spot. With the build cost on many of the top cars exceeding $150K, drivers need to be lucky as well as good. It is really the burnout Olympics, where just the slightest hesitation, dip of revs, or touch of a wall can mean automatic elimination.
Last year’s winner Steve Nogas will have his work cut out for him in his KILLA-B Camaro, although his engine builder, Brett Niddrie from
BNR Engines, appears to be on a winning formula, with no less than 18 cars heading to the Summernats burnouts.
You cannot argue with Brett’s winning record, and if people want him to do an engine for them the condition is that they must bring the car to him and let him go over it.
“To make these motors live you need to do everything 100 per cent,” the Victorian says.
“It’s nothing for my motors to do 70 burnouts before we like to give them a freshen-up. You need to be on 8000+rpm to be in the zone, and most of the engines we build now are 510 cubes, 3.75 or four-inch stroke, and we like to go with a tall deck so we have a nice long rod with lower piston speed.
“We’ve got our tune-up pretty good and overheating is not an issue despite many of the motors punching 1400-1700hp. Dave Cufone (1FATRAT) is now heading into his fifth Summernats with the same motor; many of the guys do the basic servicing on them and I just like to run my eye over them before a big show like this.
“As for cost, they normally come in around $65K, hat to pan, but it depends on what blower and hat you want to run; blowers can go $12K for a 14/71 or 16/71, and $8K for a hat.
“Limiter-bashing is not good for them, so generally the driver plays a big role in longevity – that, and no shortcuts in the car build.”
For Victorian competitor Peter Grmusa, Masters preparation has been a little shaky, after losing a transmission behind the 702ci big-block Chevy in his F-DIS F100. Running no chip in the ignition, the motor went to 11,000rpm and sprayed the bottom end out.
The engine rebuild has been expensive, with new Oliver rods, titanium valves and all the good bits.
Pete has won the Burnout Masters once and the Burnout Championship twice, making him one of the sport’s most successful competitors.
For 2018 he is retiring the F100 and has gone back to his legendary XR Falcon, ATRISK, which has had over $60,000 thrown at it, with new paint, front end, brakes, power steering and the rebuilt motor.
The engine just sounds insane on the pad, and that’s because it’s punching over 2000hp!
“If you want to win, you need the sound. To get the sound, you need power,” Peter reasons.
“That motor has all the good gear, from blower to Big Chief heads, and Johnny Pilla from Powerhouse does a great job building it.
“Because I changed cars this year, I couldn’t use my third-place finish from last year, so I got a Wildcard entry, and this time I want to go all the way to the win on a Wildcard. I almost did it once before, but this time I’m going to do it.”
One thing’s for sure: You’d be a brave man betting against a top-three finish for him. s