THE first ever Red CentreNATS was held in Alice Springs last month and it was a fantastic event. The turnout was a lot bigger than expected, with over 400 cars coming from every corner of the country to take part.
The event was staged by the Northern Territory government, with the assistance of the Street Machine Summernats crew. The authorities pulled out all the stops to make the event fun one, including special permits for wild, otherwise illegal burnout cars and pro streeters to cruise the streets of Alice.
During the weekend there was drag racing, burnout comps, grass driving events, a dyno competition and a tonne of other stuff.
Here are our highlights from the inaugural Red CentreNATS:
The Red CentreNATS Grand Champion award went to John Curwen Walker's FX Holden. It was built by Ken Neilsen many moons ago and featured in the 1993 October/November issue of Street Machine back in the day! This is a car that has stood the test of time, but John doesn't wrap the thing in cotton wool, he ran the car in the grass events and the drags while scoring a spot in the Elite Top 10.
Brian Ferguson’s ‘Pink Bits 2’ XB Falcon is a survivor from the 80s when colour coded bumpers and bright graphics were king
Robert Winter’s ’40 Ford pickup had some pretty cool custom touches including a ’59 Chevy dashboard. The bronze paint sure looked killer in that late afternoon outback sun
John and Joan Wilson know how to travel in style, towing their caravan behind a sweet Model A roadster hot rod. They didn’t just sit around sipping white wine either, they unhitched the van and gave the grass driving a red hot go
Robert Berry’s chopped and channelled ’34 Ford was one of the coolest rods we saw at the show and clocked up a few road miles over the weekend
The SM media hub was a hive of activity the entire weekend. Maybe next year we’ll get some better WiFi and upload even more stuff direct from the event
Another HZ that impressed was Matt Lampard’s LUMPER. It also saw triple-duty on the street, strip and pad and put on a great show thanks to another LS conversion.
You might walk past this nondescript looking XY Falcon without taking a second look, but if you were paying attention, you’d probably notice the 5-slotters and then the big hole in the bonnet for the shaker scoop. Yep, this Monza Green beauty – now owned by Colin and Vicky Jarret – was ordered without stripes, but with air-con, and looked to be totally unrestored.
Steve MacGregor’s stunning HZ Premier cruised and raced all weekend too, even getting a little daylight under the front tyre from his Powerhouse Engines 383 Holden stroker.
Another car that stopped us in our tracks was Kevin Hinnen’s ’70 Dodge Challenger. The black-on-black car looks like it would jump you in a dark alley, and with a 440 that has been punched out to 501 cubes and makes 600hp with the six-pack carb set up, it could definitely knock you out. There’s a Hemi Passion Performance four-speed and Dana 60 diff keeping it all Mopar and the widened steelies and dog dish caps finish it off to perfection
Yeah, I know Pantera means Panther in Italian, but this one’s got a few more ponies than your standard ’71 DeTomaso. Peter Bamford’s gorgeous Italian/American hybrid has had the original 351 Clevo that came with the car punched out to 408 cubes, filled with KB pistons, a solid cam and 650DP carb. The car was running mid-12s all day, and considering it was the first time he had ever drag raced any car, it was a pretty good effort from Peter too
The locals absolutely loved seeing all the mental burnout and drag cars on the street. This was just one of many instances where tablets and camera phones were pulled out for some snaps
We hitched a ride with Gary and Jake Myers for a cruise around Alice Springs. Don’t drop that expensive camera!
Matt Sharp’s monster atmo big-block powered ’67 Camaro looked awesome cruising on the street. The car was struggling for traction on the track with its current setup but still ran in the nines.
Denham Schulz in his silver BMW – not your usual choice for a burnout car – but, being a participant in the #lsallthethings campaign, the little Bimmer had no troubles turning the tyres now. After hitting the pad pretty fast and tipping the car in, no amount of mashing the accelerator to the floor could stop the rearward motion and it backed into the wall hard enough to crease the quarter. He still made the finals, although minus the bumper and with some sketchy panel work to pull the dent out a little.
Local Gary Nightingdale was at Red CentreNATS in his Weiland-blown SBC-powered FX Holden along with a bunch of other hot Holdens belonging to his tribe
John Pilla from Powerhouse Engines in Victoria was in Alice driving the RUTHLESS HQ ute which belongs to a customer of his. John showed no mercy at all on the burnout pad and put on an awesome show.
Nick Sideris cruised, raced and competed in the burnouts with his turbo-LS VH Commodore. It ran low tens at the track and absolutely roasted its rubber on the burnout pad.
There was some great racing between Serge and David Bonetti, both racing ’32 coupes. Serge’s big-block powered 3-window always edged out the 5-window of nephew David, but the difference was David was running a small-block and a full exhaust. Of course, it didn’t really matter because Serge built the engine in both cars: “The big-block has been in the car for 29 years and it’s all old technology, but David’s small-block has is all new stuff.” Both were running in the low-10s all weekend, but both have run a best of 9.93 in the past. Putting the H-O-T back in hot rods, for sure!
Malachi McMurtrie's boosted LQ9 VY Commodore was making some crazy turbo noises and saw both strip and burnout pad action
Editor Telfo took his beastly 138-cube atmo EJ Holden for a few laps of the drag strip. It was probably the slowest thing at the track, until a bloke rocked up in an old Toyota Landcruiser diesel off roader.
If there was an award for Most Staunch Performance Overall it would have gone to Peter Traumanis for sure. Not only did he drive from Drouin to Alice – almost 2400km – he won the dyno competition with 608hp at the wheels and then did lap after lap on the dragstrip running in the low-11s. Those times would have been much better apart from the fact he was racing on the same tyres he drove up on!
Lynchy took Channel 7 Sunrise reporter Mark Beretta for a spin in the Corolla before the burnout competition started. It was super slippery out there, treating Beretta to an extra wild ride
Local fella Kristan Butler could be the burnout king of the Norther Territory! He won at Gazzanats Darwin and has taken out a heap of local comps in his LS-powered KE20 Corolla.
Peter and Debbie Gray took burnouts to a whole other level when they bolted in an old Top Fuel motor that Darren Morgan had laying around. Pumping out around 8000hp, this wasn't a burnout you just watched, but you felt it in your bones. Plenty of people on the Internet are sceptical as to whether the engine is the real deal but anyone who was there and felt the thing shaking the ground didn't need any more convincing!
James Rees taking the 292 stroker Commodore wagon through scrutineering before crushing it on the burnout pad. Up near the limiter, throwing out bags of smoke and putting on a top performance.