JUST a stone’s throw from the legendary Symmons Plains Raceway near Launceston is Tas Dragway, a little drag strip in the middle of nowhere that once a year becomes a hive of revhead activity when Tassie Nats takes over. Now in its 14th year, Tassie Nats boasts days of burnouts, powerskids, drag racing and general fun. Having now experienced it ourselves, we can say that it’s well worth the trip over Bass Strait if you’re a mainlander.
While the majority of Tassie Nats action does take place at Tas Dragway, organiser Tim Parremore clearly didn’t want the people to be without something to do on Friday’s sign-in day, so he arranged for an opentrack cruise session at Symmons Plains Raceway just down the road. This gave entrants the opportunity to really hang their cars out at full tilt, making a game of seeing who had the biggest balls powerskidding the final corner onto pit straight. A number of the locals impressed with their killer car control, mixing it with the likes of Andrew Lynch in his Corolla and Matt Watts in the BLO202 Torana.
Later that afternoon, everyone slowly migrated back down the road to Tas Dragway for the start of a long weekend of burnout action, with the first expression session running until 10:30pm.
One of the key things that was obvious from the outset was the incredibly relaxed atmosphere. You might think that because Tassie Nats is a burnout festival held in a paddock in the middle of nowhere it’d be about as tame as a B&S ball, but it’s actually one of the most chilled-out car events you’ll ever go to, and the open burnout sessions probably go a long way towards that. Everybody gets their turn and there’s no tension between security and entrants; everyone just enjoys each other’s company, and it shows.
The never-say-die attitude is strong with the Tasmaniacs, and Shaun Leonard wasn’t going to let a bit of bottom-end trouble stop his weekend. The bearings in his VL’s RB30 got a bit upset during Thursday night’s burnout practice, so the boys spent most of Friday with the engine out
ONE OF THE KEY THINGS THAT WAS OBVIOUS FROM THE OUTSET WAS THE INCREDIBLY RELAXED ATMOSPHERE
While the burnouts were largely a General Motorsdominated affair, the drags on Saturday saw a rebalancing in the Ford versus Holden stakes, with plenty of Henry’s finest shaping up to put some times down and fly the flag for the Blue Oval
Alex Simonetis and Jimmy Morley clearly decided a turbo swap was a bit too mainstream for their BA Falcon, so they found a Mercedes four-cylinder supercharger and jerry-rigged it to the side of the LPG Barra. The plan worked: with Alex at the wheel the car won the Six-Cylinder class and a spot in the Top 30 shootout
Benny Burk has good reason for fitting the TREASON plates to his VK Blue Meanie replica – under the bonnet is a Barra nicked from a BA Falcon! The donk is completely standard bar a retune of the factory ECU, but still makes 225hp. Benny made top smoke shows all weekend, but in the Top 30 final he broke an axle and couldn’t get both tyres off
Darren Triffett made sure the locals had the last laugh on the pad, winning the Top 30 shootout in his blown SBC-powered VH HDT Commodore. The INJECTED beast always put on a quality show for the fans, the 1000hp, 427ci small-block singing its way to the top of the judges’ scorecards on both Saturday and Sunday, edging out mainlander Kevin Mackie in his Mini panel van
Cameron Tapping's plan of running some good numbers on brand new slicks in Saturday’s drags was cut short when the Turbo 400 ’box in his VK let go on Friday. It was a shame, as Cameron has a PB of 11.8 with the 500rwhp turbo LS combo on street tyres, so the slicks should’ve yielded a really solid number. There’s always next year!
Tassie Nats was the first real hit-out for Chris Marsh’s first freshly completed EA Falcon drag car. It was largely built in just six weeks, and in keeping with the theme of cross-pollinated Tassie cars, it rocks a 383ci small-block Chev. Chris only managed a few hairy passes, and even after backing off the throttle three times on his final run he coasted over the quartermile with a 9.86
Andrew Lynch was definitely the fan favourite in Tassie, and they made the sure fan he knew it every time he lined up to lay down some rubber in the LYNCHY Corolla. He used every single inch of the pad in all his runs, and probably would’ve taken home the win in the Top 30 shootout on Sunday had it not been for a wall tap during a ridiculously fast tip-in. He still came third in the final rankings
Craig Burr had a day out at the drags in his 1975 HJ Monaro, the 434ci Dart smallblock Chevy putting its 657hp to use to bring home the win in his class, beating Tassie Nats Grand Champion Jeremiah Gearman in his LSA-swapped R31 Skyline. Craig’s owned the car for the best part of 10 years, and underneath the skin lies a Turbo 400, 9in rear end and a rollcage. Tough stuff!
On Friday Matt Watts was in full-send mode, with his BLO202 Torana screaming its way around the back corner of Symmons Plains Raceway chucking some epic powerskids. When we asked if he thought he was pushing it a bit too hard on Day One, he simply responded: “It’s better to find out you have a problem at 7000rpm than zero rpm!”
Sadly, Lee Killen’s VN Commodore gave up the ghost early, not making it past Friday night. After some impressive powerskids during the Symmons Plains cruise in the afternoon, the freshly built LS started giving some low oil pressure readings. Lee decided to send it in the Friday-night expression session burnouts anyway, and it was all going well until the LS1’s bottom end let go at the end of the skid
Good mates Kevin Mackie and Troy Campbell travelled down from Sydney for Tassie Nats. Kevin’s Mini panel van and Troy’s Mazda 1000 are both blown, LS-powered burnout machines that have evolved alongside each other over the past seven years. Kevin proved he could run with the best, finishing second overall
Drag Challenge alumni came out in force during the Saturday drags, including David Best in his MPW-built, 1200hp twinturbo VY SS Commodore. After a scary moment racing a Torana, David took home a nail-biting victory over Chris Palfreyman’s Barra-swapped XD Falcon in the Heads-up Radial class
James McGregor shared the driving duties of his aspirated, LS-powered VN Calais with good mate Lockie Crawford, and as James put it: “We’ve come here to smash as many sets as possible!” The boys certainly did that, hitting the pad countless times with no issues. James finished fourth overall, a great effort considering some of the big supercharged boys he was up against
Jason Johnston’s D22 Navara was probably the sleeper of the event, the humble farm ute hiding 730hp worth of turbo LS under the bonnet. Jason put all that powe to use on Friday, shearing off the end of his axle. The ute was fixed that same day and continued shredding rubber for the rest of the weekend
Josh Grant was another Drag Challenge regular heading down the strip, his unconventional turbo Ecotec V6-powered Commodore proving a strong competitor both in the cruise session on Friday and the drags on Saturday, competing in the Heads-up Radial class
AFL legend Barry Hall made the trip down from Victoria with the Castlemaine Rod Shop boys, who brought their rolling showroom along with the WARBIRD XP Falcon and BLOWNHJ burnout cars. Marc Waddington got the driving duties of WARBIRD, while Barry did a couple of demo runs in BLOWNHJ, both fellas giving the crowd good value for money with their burnout performances
Saturday saw the running of both the drag racing and burnout qualifying. It wasn’t just drag cars filling the staging lanes, as many of the burnout competitors decided to test their machines down the strip as well. A number of the races went down to the wire, including Drag Challenge regular David Best, who edged out fellow Tasmanian Chris Palfreyman in his Barra-swapped XD Falcon to win the Heads-Up Radial class.
The burnout competition was unusual in that points from qualifying on Saturday carried over into the finals on Sunday. There were just two classes: a Four/Six-Cylinder class and the Outright class. The locals ruled the pad in the end, with Alex Simonetis taking out the Six-Cylinder class in his supercharged Barra BA Falcon, while Darren Triffett capped off a solid weekend of burnouts to win the Top 30 shootout in his blown small block-powered VH HDT Commodore, INJECTED.
Another local also took out the Grand Champion award, with Jeremiah Gearman thrashing the hell out of his LSA-swapped R31 Skyline in every event to win the big prize.
Tim Parremore rated Tassie Nats 14 as the best yet, stating the event has grown significantly in the past couple of years. “We changed the format three years ago to feature a lot more burnout stuff in the schedule, as the old drag-racing style of the event was dying,” he said. “As a result, the event has just skyrocketed in popularity, both here and with interstate interest. This year was by far our best yet, with over 200 entrants for the weekend.”
Put simply, Tassie Nats is awesome. If you love burnouts, drag racing, beer and a solid weekend of fun away with your mates, then it should be right at the top of your list. It’s probably one of the best of examples your age of or how budget. to have s fun with cars, regardless of your age or budget.