THE SMC500 is a drag racing event held on the runway at Cootamundra Airport, in the Riverina region of NSW, with street muscle cars battling it out from a standing start over a measured 500 metres. However, one of the highlights of the event actually takes place before racing starts; the Street-Driven Shootout competition sees entrants meeting some 300km away from the venue, before driving – completely unsupported by tow vehicles or outside help of any kind – all the way to Cootamundra.
A record number of cars entered the Street-Driven Shootout this year, which made winning that much more difficult. Andrew Simmons’s nitrous 598ci big block-powered LH Torana stole the show this year, proving that bottles and cubes can still cut it on the open road as well as the race track.
Then it was on to the racing proper, and with Friday being a straight heads-up elimination format, Saturday saw the first timed passes of the event. The naturally aspirated category was contested by a huge array of tough Aussie rides, with Danny Nobrega in his LJ Torana eventually going down to Shadi Tobaji’s RAW TC Cortina in the class final.
The forced induction category just got quicker as the weekend progressed, as each driver got a handle on how to deal with the difficult pairing of radial tyres and an unprepared street-style surface. Friday’s shootout winner Andrew Simmons was eventually bested in the final by Tony Kassiotis’s twin-turbo LS-powered Torana hatchback. The car was the beast to beat all weekend, and despite a close race, Kassiotis took the ‘W’ as well as the fastest mph recorded for the event – a whopping 172.41mph!
Nathan Farrugia and Terry Androutsos’s twin-turbo big-block ’69 Camaro proved its genuine street credentials at the event. It drove the 300km from the designated start point at Pheasants Nest all the way to Cootamundra before running hard over the two days.
“The car was flawless,” said Nathan. “It drove three hours to the airport and raced all weekend. Terry did an awesome job getting to the pointy end of the blown class at the car’s first event.”
Tony Kassiotis took the overall win in the Prestige Motor Gallery Torana hatch. It’s powered by a twin-turbo LS donk making enough steam to send the loony LH down the Coota strip at over 172mph.
Tristan Triccas had the popular RO4RY Capri singing a sweet nitrous song at the SMC500, and narrowly missed out on making the forced induction final on Saturday.
Shadi Tobaji’s RAW TC Cortina packs a 443ci Windsor good enough for high-nine-second ETs on an unprepped surface, and was the event’s quickest naturally aspirated car.
As you can see, entrants were given the opportunity to cut loose at the end of the event!