WHAT a year. 2018 had some rough edges, but we were never bored!
Project cars will keep you you the tip. In 2018 we’ve drifted our twin-turbo MX-5 around Symmons Plains (thanks, Bubba) and finally got it into the nine-second zone at Red CentreNATS (thanks, Luke Foley). Turbo Taxi failed to get into the 10s by the barest of margins – and destroyed its engine in spectacular fashion. We cut up a Ford Territory, raced it and set it on fire, and had way more fun than we expected with a super-budget Holden Barina racer. We rounded out the year with our epic Dodge Phoenix build and got it to the incredible Running On Empty Festival, both of which you can read about in this mag. On the event front, we hosted the Street Machine Hall Of Fame at Meguiar’s MotorEx, celebrating 30 years of the Valvoline Street Machine Of The Year award. We’ll be hardpressed to top it in 2019, but we’ll give it a red-hot go.
We also pulled off our biggest-ever Drag Challenge event and ran our first Drag Challenge Weekend. They’ll both be back next year and, if we really get carried away, we might hold a third. These events are a ton of work, but they are powerfully addictive, not only for the racers, but for us too! I was live-streaming the action to social media from Calder on Day Five, and as the top contenders battled it out until the final seconds, I was euphoric – like I’d won the damn thing!
The coolest part of Drag Challenge for mine was that Bob Kotmel – our longest-serving columnist – rode his Harley with a swag on the back all the way down from FNQ to follow along for the week, take some photos and meet the entrants. Bob has inspired and helped countless folks to get involved racing their street cars over the past 40-odd years, and his enthusiasm for everything he saw was infectious.
The wider SM crew have been busy with their own car-building and racing adventures, too. Craig Parker has a shed full of projects on the go, and our Aiden is oh-so-close to finishing his VL turbo. Iain Kelly’s Pontiac? It’s still a fair way off. Victor Bray fought off a particularly nasty form of skin cancer to make a triumphant return to competition. Mark Arblaster returned to Hot Rod Drag Week in his POR440 Valiant, only to be put out of the game on Day Four. Even our man in the West, Boris Viskovic, got into the act, cracking the 12-second zone in his Rambler on skinny 195 whitewall rubber.
A new adventure for 2019 that we’re involved with is the WhichCar show that is premiering on Network 10 on Sunday 13 January. The SM crew aren’t featured in that first episode, but we’ll show up in later editions, taking the viewer behind the scenes at SEMA, Street Machine Summernats and more. It is a great opportunity to show off our sport to a wider audience and maybe convert some wide-eyed kids into feral street machiners. We can only hope!
We thought the year had done its worst, and then we heard the news in November that custom car legend Mario Colalillo had passed away. Street Machine has featured many of Mario’s creations over the years, and a more passionate, creative and generous bloke you couldn’t hope to meet. We’re putting together a tribute feature for Mario for next issue – some folks only familiar with his work in later years will be blown away at how many amazing cars Mario created over his lifetime. It is an incredible body of work, and one that leaves a living legacy of those inspired by Mario’s enthusiasm