NOW in its 27th year, Springnats is one of Australia’s longest-running car events. The 2019 outing was held 22-24 November at the Shepparton Showgrounds and featured one of the biggest burnout pads in the country. As well as burnouts, the event offered a show ’n’ shine, a massive street cruise through the centre of town, autokhana and go-to-whoa competitions, and heaps more. It’s not hard to see why people travel from as far away as Adelaide or even Kandos in northern NSW for the three-day party.
First Overall, First Place 8 Cyl Pro Class
First place in the burnouts for the third year running was Tim Barby in his blown LS-powered Austin A50, MOJO. We spoke to Tim just before his finals run: “You better get your camera ready; I reckon this is going to end with a fire or the rods out,” he declared. “There’s a rattle somewhere in the engine; it might just be in the blower gears, but I’m just going to send it anyway.”
Tim did just that, throwing the Austin from one end of the pad to the other, riding the limiter all the way out the back door to take the win.
Second Overall, Second Place 8 Cyl Pro class
Russell Harris came second in the burnouts in his blown, injected pink VL, LOO5E – despite giving the barriers a tap during his finals run.
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Third Overall, Third Place 8 Cyl Pro Class
The QUIET1 VS Commodore of Trent Brooks scored third place in the burnouts. The airbrushed wagon was anything but quiet though, with the blown, injected LS screaming its way around the pad all weekend.
Fourth Overall, First Place 8 Cyl Aspirated
Just days before Springnats, Luke Manolis and a few mates fitted a brand new engine (built by BNR Engines) into his VE Commodore, NONAME, before taking it onto the burnout pad at Springnats, where he put several big names in blown and injected cars to shame by taking home fourth place overall.
Aaron Doutch lit up the pad in ILURVIT. Aaron had tyre fires in both the Friday expression session and Saturday’s qualifying run, the back of the LC Torana looking a bit worse for wear by the end of the weekend.
Adrian Cuthbertson was a man on a mission all weekend in the SKIDMA Sigma. He had the blown, injected small-block at full noise in the finals, until the blower belt cried ‘enough’ and snapped, bailing out of the engine bay and onto the pad.
Braden Phillips’s Mopar-swapped Corolla wagon was another interesting creation at Springnats this year. “I’ve had the wagon for years; it was my first car and my paddock basher that I learnt to drive in,” he said. “In the end I decided to put a V8 into it and turn it into a burnout car just for a bit of fun.
“The motor is a 318ci Chrysler with H-beam rods, forged pistons and a steel crank, with a set of Proflow alloy heads bolted on top. I got hold of a cheap tunnel ram and fitted that and a pair of 450cfm Holleys. Then I added an ICE ignition system and some homemade extractors. The gearbox is a 904 Torqueflite, and it runs a shortened HiLux diff.”
Jamie Birthisel’s Datsun ute is a blown LS beast. “I bought it basically as- is, changed the colour from white to black and have been out playing in it ever since,” he said. “The motor’s a blown, mechanically injected LS2 with forged internals, with a Turbo 400 transmission and a nine-inch rear end.” The little Datsun was on-song all weekend, but Jamie’s finals burnout came to an abrupt end when the motor shut down and the car had to be towed off of the pad.
Joe Tyler’s EH wagon graced the cover of the October 2019 issue of Street Machine, but Joe proved the car is no show pony, taking the Deputy Mayor of Shepparton Dinny Adem for a wild ride during a demonstration burnout on Saturday. Joe was back out again on Saturday afternoon for the qualifying round, once again punishing the wagon and earning him a spot in the finals. Unfortunately, his Sunday finals tilt ended when the spline on the throttle pedal failed under the dash.
Falling into the ‘now that’s different!’ category was Jock Clayton’s FG Barra-powered 2001 Ford Ka. Jock explained the method behind the madness: “I was thinking little car, big engine, as it seems to be the go with burnout cars these days. I’m still fine-tuning and developing things at this stage, but it’s been going well so far.”
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With the Ka having a tiny factory engine bay, Jock had to get inventive to squeeze the naturally aspirated Barra into place, setting the motor back a country mile to clear the front crossmember, as well as offsetting it four inches to the right to clear the power-steering rack. “It ended up getting converted to left-hand drive because the steering rack needed to be front-mounted on the crossmember for better engine clearance,” Jock explained. “It’s the factory power steering rack flipped over with the struts swapped side-to-side to suit.
“I believe in having a go and using what you have, and as the Ka only cost me $100 when I bought it, I wanted to use as much of the original car as possible to keep costs down.”
Paul Coulson’s HQ coupe is one to make the purists cringe! There’s not a lot of original factory steel left; the original floor and boot pan are long gone, and the rear quarters are opened up to fit 33-inch slicks on 15x15 rims. Even the firewall has been cut out and recessed.
“It’s an ex-drag car,” Paul said. “People told me I should put it back to stock and put it back on the road, but it would’ve taken a heap of work. So I put in my LS1 to have some fun with it doing skids. The motor has a few mods; it runs a decent cam, tunnel rams with twin throttlebodies and has a Turbo 400 gearbox behind it. The rear end has four-link suspension and a short nine-inch diff.
“Some folks don’t even like me skidding it, but what else do I do with it – just sit it in the shed and look at it?”
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SHOW ‘N’ SHINE
Ken Logue and his HT Monaro took home the Grand Champion award at Springnats 2019. Wins in the go-to-whoa and Top Coupe/Tudor (Show Car) helped Ken bag the big one.
Best Overall Show Car
The immaculate 1968 HR Holden ute of Craig McKenzie picked up Champion Overall Show Car, the former Street Machine cover car still looking as good as ever.
Best Street Car of Show, Best Street Coupe, Best Interior
Mick Sapienza’s HQ Monaro booked a spot in the Top 10 Overall and picked up Champion Overall Street Car, Best Street Coupe and Best Interior awards, earning him an invitation to Autofest Bathurst 2020.
Found as a rough shell around 15 years ago, the coupe has had a full ground-up rebuild, done mostly by Mick at home in the shed. Powered by a 350 Chev and Muncie four-speed, the HQ sees plenty of street miles, and was Street Machine Summernats 32’s Street Champion.
“I thought that Springnats was great,” Mick said. “We made new friends at this event and really enjoyed it. We’ve found the local community very welcoming and wanting to talk about the car and the show. The cruise throughout the town centre was awesome, with all the locals out supporting it – even the local police.”
Chris Ioannou’s immaculate genuine GTR LJ Torana was a standout in the show hall. “I bought it as a bare shell with no floors and a heap of other stuff missing,” Chris said. “It took me 12 months to rebuild the whole thing from end to end.
“The motor was built by Shane Cable; it’s a 202 blue-motor bottom end with a Yella Terra head,” he continues. “The individual EFI throttlebodies are controlled by a MicroTech computer, and I modified a Ford distributor to give it ‘real-time tuning’. The gearbox is a Supra W58 five-speed, and the rear end is a banjo diff with a Harrop Truetrac centre.”
Jed Sheppard from Bendigo had two cars on display in the show hall: a supercharged 1955 Studebaker President Speedster and an FX Holden ex-race car.
“The Studebaker is one of 2215 built worldwide,” Jed said. “I found it in the States when I was on holiday and brought it back with me. It was a driver, but I completely stripped it down and rebuilt it once I got it home. It’s running a 289ci Studebaker R2 motor that’s been mildly worked over, with about 10lb of boost being fed into it from the Paxton supercharger.”
Jed’s other car is a virtual time capsule of Australian circuit racing. “The FX is Ron Hassock’s old race car,” he said. “He’d had it for over 55 years before I bought it from him. Since I’ve had it the whole car has been restored with all period-correct parts. It still has Ron’s old race motor in it with triple Stromberg carbies, ported head and a three-speed crashbox behind it.”
Tim McEwan’s HQ GTS Monaro tribute was one of the eye-catchers at the show. “The plan was to build a street-driven car that I could drive any day of the week and take out onto the pad to put on a show with,” Tim said. “I wanted to build an aspirated big-block that would handle big revs; 8000rpm was my goal.
“The motor was built by Melway Competition Engines; it’s a truck block with a nitrided steel 427 crank, H-beam rods, custom high-comp pistons and Brodix alloy heads. It runs on E85 and made a healthy 700hp naturally aspirated, and with a little shot of nitrous it made 900hp. Due to the big revs I decided to dry-sump it too. Behind it is a full-manual Turbo 400 with a Dominator 5500rpm converter and a chrome-moly tailshaft down to a nine-inch with a Strange 3.55 centre, with 31-spline axles.”
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Promoter of Springnats and the Autofest series, Les Adams, is a diehard car enthusiast who has been part of the Aussie street machining scene for decades. Les has built some pretty cool cars over the years, but one hasn’t been seen in public since 1999: his blue chop-topped Holden ute. “I parked it in the shed back on my 40th birthday, as I’d shouted myself a brand new twin-cab with air, power steering and the like,” Les said. “But I’ve been paying rego on it ever since, so it was time to give the ol’ girl a wash and some Sandman stripes.
“I built it in 1984 for my LD Custom Autos business to serve as the shop ute, but got carried away as normal and gave it a five-inch chop, extended roof pillars, old-school flares and Dragway wheels, as well as fitting a 350 Chev, Top Loader and nine-inch rear end. It’s finished off with a solid tonneau and custom-trimmed interior – and yes, that is the original 1985 paintjob.”
Parked next to Les’s ute was Springnats regular Brian Montasell’s XY Falcon ute, built in the Ballarat area in the late 1980s and early 90s, when it was given the 3.5-inch roof chop. The ute runs a half-chassis with a tubbed rear end and is powered by a 600hp Cleveland with a Powerglide behind it.
Brett Parkes brought his Cortina, BADEGO, up to Springnats from Portland in south-west Victoria. “It’s a TD with a TC front,” he said. “When I first started building the Cortina it was going to be a burnout car. Then the project changed direction and it was going to be a drag car; hence the rollcage. But finally it ended up being an all-’round car that I could take to all sorts of events and just have fun with.
“The motor I got from an old bloke that had it sitting in his shed for decades,” he continued. “He was going to put it in a salt lake racer, but it never happened. It’s an ex-NASCAR 358ci Boss engine from the late 1980s, so basically a Windsor bottom end with alloy Cleveland-style heads and a dry sump, and I’ve added an ICE ignition system. It was dynoed in 1988 and made a bit over 650hp, and hasn’t been apart since.” The Boss motor is backed with a C4 ’box and nine-inch rear end.
Michael Wilkinson lent his HQ ute to his son Paul to display at Springnats. The Sandman tribute is powered by a 6.0L L98 and six-speed auto out of a VE Commodore, backed by a disc-brake nine-inch. Alloy 17-inch GTS-style rims complete the cruiser’s retro-style exterior, while the inside is trimmed in original period-style black vinyl, with air conditioning and power steering rounding out the package.
Cameron Borserio’s 1970 Toyota HiLux is powered by a turbo 13B Mazda rotary. “I bought it from Queensland to go drag racing,” Cameron said.
“It makes 425hp at the wheels and has run an 11.2sec quarter-mile. The turbo is a Garrett T04, the trans is a Jatco and the rear end is a later-model HiLux diff. It’s fully engineered and street-registered too.”
Kelly Dunstan won the Top Female Vehicle gong in the Show and Super Street Awards. Kelly bought her 1980 KE5 Corolla with 118,000km a few years back from the original owner. “One of the female Springnats judges spoke to me about taking the car to Summernats,” says Kell. “She inspired me and a year later the car was restored and at Summernats 32! I was blown away by the reception the car got from everyone there. I’m going back next year and might even pop her on the dyno.”
SHOW & SUPER STREET AWARDS
|PLACE||NAME & CAR|
|1st||Top Hot Rod (Showcar)||Ross Mayes - Ford 1932|
|1st||Top Hot Rod (Streetcar)||David Cornthwaite - Ford 36|
|1st||Top Sedan (Showcar)||Adam Haldane - Holden HQ|
|2nd||Top Sedan (Showcar)||Tim Polsen - Holden HQ Premier|
|1st||Top Sedan (Streetcar)||Brett Finn - Holden 68|
|2nd||Top Sedan (Streetcar)||Jody Vincitorio - Holden HQ|
|1st||Top Coupe/Tudor (Showcar)||Ken Logue - Holden HT GTS Monaro|
|2nd||Top Coupe/Tudor (Showcar)||Joe Cannata - Holden Torana|
|1st||Top Coupe/Tudor (Streetcar)||Mick Papienza - Holden HQ|
|2nd||Top Coupe/Tudor (Streetcar)||Chris Ioannou - Holden LJ GTR Torana|
|1st||Top Ute/Pickup (Showcar)||Craig McKenzie - Holden 1967 HR|
|1st||Top Ute/Pickup (Streetcar)||Darren Pascoe - Dodge|
|1st||Top Van/Wagon (Showcar)||Frits Pel - Ford XC|
|1st||Top Van/Wagon (Streetcar)||Mitchell Leist - Holden VK|
|1st||Top Interior||Mick Papienza - Holden HQ|
|1st||Top Engineered||Craig McKenzie - Holden 1967 HR|
|1st||Top Undercarriage||Craig McKenzie - Holden 1967 HR|
|1st||Top Standard Paint||Brett Finn - Holden 68|
|1st||Top Custom Paint/Special Effects||Frits Pel - Ford XC|
|1st||Top Engine Compartment||Craig McKenzie - Holden 1967 HR|
|1st||Top Import||Gerard Sheppard - Studebaker Speedster|
|1st||Top Restored/Authentic||Wayne Elliott - Holden Statesman|
|1st||Top Female Vehicle||Kelly Dunstan - Toyota Corolla|
|1st||Top Club Display||Southern Rod & Custom|
|1st||Top Participating Club||V8 N Mates|
|1st||Top Custom||Craig McKenzie - Holden 1967 HR|
|1st||Top Pro Street||Anthony Trevaskis - 1964 Black EH|
|1st||Pro’s Choice (GM)||Anthony Trevaskis - 1964 Black EH|
|1st||Pro’s Choice (Ford)||Darral Earnshaw - Ford BA|
|1st||Pro’s Choice (Other)||Gerard Sheppard - Studebaker Speedster|