Steve Loader had drawn the first place in the firing order and made his intentions clear from the outset, with huge revs and his usual tank-slapping tip-in. All seemed well until 20 seconds into the skid, when the thundering Powerhouse Chevy sprayed the bottom end of the engine and erupted into a fireball. The clean-up crew immediately cleared the pad, but the incident set the tone for the afternoon, with half a dozen monster fires eliminating a quarter of the competition.
Phil Kerjean was looking like a contender in his blown and injected SBC-powered Commodore wagon, with some pretty cool wheel-work – until the rear half of the car was engulfed in a methanol-fuelled fire. It was a killer blow for Phil after a huge thrash to get the car finished with the new Westend Performance engine combo.
New South Welshman Dom Luci had his work cut out for him in his tunnel-rammed 408ci LS-powered HZ Holden. You might think that turning up to the Masters with an aspirated engine would be a bit like bringing a knife to a gunfight, but, in what turned out to be something of a trend for the day, Luci well and truly showed the black-belt brigade a thing or two. With the tacho glued on 8200rpm, he won the crowd and the judges over with bountiful smoke and fearless wheel-work.
Craig Whiddett’s WM Statesman had been a clear standout in the Last Chance Shootout, and while he wasn’t his usual crazy self behind the wheel for Saturday’s eliminations, he still ticked all the boxes, and with two bags blown he got a big green light for the Sunday finals.
Andrew Lynch and his little blue aspirated Corolla were pretty much guaranteed to put on a big show, and that’s exactly what happened, with a signature high-speed tip-in from one end of the pad to the other and the tunnel-rammed LS glued to the limiter. It was a fearless display that put him up there with the best for the day.
For sheer entertainment and crowd response it was an even battle between Lynchy and Mark McTiernan in another aspirated car, the little LS-powered Mighty Boy. With the engine singing a merry tune, McTiernan pegged the car in every direction without ever looking like it was going to tag a wall. He finally bagged a set of tyres but just missed out on a thumbs-up from the judges for the finals.
While the NA cars were looking dominant, seasoned veteran Rick Fuller has won more than his share of skid competitions in his blown LSONE VK Commodore, and was determined to put on a show. While it wasn’t one of Rick’s best burnouts, it was without fault: instant (and constant) smoke, great driving display, no fires, no wall tags – and he banged a pair on the way out the back door. It was enough to bag a spot in the finals.
The ONIT Torana, owned by local boys Mark Siracusa and Matt Cowan, had been a serious contender in the past, and Cowan turned in a solid performance to put the car into the finals, before handing the keys over to Siracusa to try and secure a double shot at Masters glory. With the blown big-block screaming for mercy, the stunning LH launched off the startline and headed for the centre pad, before spearing nose-first into the wall. It ended Siracusa’s finals hopes, and meant a big night on the tools to get the car ready for Matt’s slot in the Sunday final.
At the end of it all, four aspirated cars – Luci, Lynchy, Colin Byrne’s SEWERSIDE L98-powered Holden Shuttle van, and Leigh MacKenzie in his wild LUXURY HiLux – nabbed a spot among the Top 10 cars headed for the finals; a stellar effort in an era where a supercharger is generally considered essential equipment in the world of high-end burnouts. Stand by for the showdown of the century!