AS WE rumble towards the burnout pad, there’s no mistaking the noise coming from up front. Shannon Heraud gives the throttle a jab and the blown 253ci Holden V8 offers a mighty roar in all its thongslappin’ glory.
Shannon’s TUF253 Escort (SM, Aug ’18) is as famous as it is infamous. His choice of a Holden V8 to power one of Ford’s most iconic models has been a divisive one, but for Shannon it made perfect sense; he knows how to build them and keep them built.
Now Shannon’s behind the Esky’s wheel at Summernats 32, about to careen onto the burnout pad, and I’m lucky (or foolhardy?) enough to ride shotgun. As I momentarily ponder whether this will be the skid that sees a rod escape the block, the staging light switches to green. My thoughts are shattered as Shannon tromps the accelerator and TUF253 screams down the entry chute.
Shannon sends the car flinging onto the pad with a tidy 360, and we’re enveloped in thick white smoke within seconds; not even the bug catcher is visible. I’m lost and am wondering if my driver is too. A wall appears out of the smoke, but Shannon isn’t worried. With a flick of the wheel, he gets us facing the other way, a 180-degree turn deftly executed in the tight confines of the chute.
We’re mid-doughnut when we notice the fire marshals are triggered; we stop and one drops to his knees, putting out TUF253’s under-car barbecue with a few well-aimed blasts of CO2.
The fire extinguished, Shannon restarts the skid, and it doesn’t take long for both bags to blow. We hop out, giving the ubiquitous metal horns and pointed fingers, whooping and hooting as we play to the crowd and they holler back. The skid isn’t finished as far as they’re concerned; they are baying for more. Who doesn’t love a Holden V8-powered Escort?
We drop back into TUF253’s RCI race buckets, and Shannon immediately twirls the car into a lurid, grinding slide. The driveline is making noises no car should make and our entire existence smells like Hades.
Pulling off the pad, conrods still in place and blower case intact, Shannon parks down the road and we wait for things to cool down. Over the sound of the next screaming burnout, he yells: “That one was for Peter and for Sarah,” referring to his late father and my late wife respectively. I ponder if it’s appropriate to dedicate a burnout to a deceased loved one. Then I think, if you can’t send a skid to someone you’ve loved and lost, why even send it?
Rumbling back to the campsite on a pair of shredded tyres, the car and our persons both relatively unharmed, we feel uplifted. Peter Heraud and Sarah Carey, that burnout was sent for you.