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Matamata style: burnouts, beer, and Bathurst

10 October 2016

If you’re reading this, you’ll probably be aware that a handful of Kiwis will soon be shipping their burnout cars over to the West Island, all for the love of burnouts. Tread Cemetery is the first event on their radar, held at Lardner Park, Victoria, Australia on November 13. The unique team format allows for five cars per team, with a maximum total displacement of 2000ci and no more than four with forced induction. Taking this into account, the Kiwi Carnage burnout team was formed, made up of Liz and Ryan Gracie, Ricky and Jenn Ireland, Braden Smith, Shane Donaldson, and Ian Smith. 

As the cars will be loaded into Australia-bound containers in a fortnight, a shakedown was in order to iron out any bugs — and what better weekend than Bathurst to do it?! That’s how Geoff Sutherland and Sharon McMullan’s Matamata property ended up as host to another ‘Bathurst, beer, burnouts, and bullshit’ session, starring 80 per cent of the Kiwi Carnage team, and the most action their backyard burnout pad has probably ever seen in its life. 

With the great race screening in Geoff and Sharon’s cool shed, it was all hands on deck outside, getting the cars ready to do some damage. Shane ‘Arnie’ Donaldson’s chopped 1977 Falcon XC ute, better known as ‘LOLIFE’, looked better than it’s ever been, with fresh panel and paint work and brand-new rims giving a touch of class to one of New Zealand’s most-thrashed skid machines. 

And, despite not having a blower hanging out of the bonnet, Arnie isn’t just on the team to make up numbers — he’s one of the local burnout-scene veterans, with loads of experience to his name and the trophy stash to prove it. The sprintcar-sourced 410ci small block Chev makes somewhere around 780hp on methanol, and will rev up to 11,000rpm if Arnie lets it. For the sake of longevity, he’s planning to replace the magneto with an MSD distributor and ignition, limiting revs to around 8500 — still more than enough to shred a pair of tyres the way the car was built to. 

Ricky and Jenn Ireland’s 1980 Holden HZ ute, affectionately known as ‘Percy’, should need no introduction. A relative newcomer to the local burnout scene, the standard to which this machine has been finished is what makes it one of the most impressive vehicles out there. 

The 8-71 blown 496ci big block Chev is good for well over 700hp on E85, and fries the rears with ease, but it’s the attention to detail where it counts that shows that a burnout car doesn’t have to be a beat-up old hack. 

Liz and Ryan Gracie’s 1969 Chev Camaro is another well-presented machine that’s more than up to the job, but the pair also have an ace in the hole. No, it’s not the 6-71 supercharged 358ci small block Chev, but Liz herself. She may or may not have learned the dark art of skidding many moons ago in a totally legal manner, and her skill behind the wheel becomes apparent as soon as the rears start to spin. 

Another secret weapon, if you can call it that, is the fact that the Camaro’s Race Glide transmission doesn’t currently engage reverse. Why is that a bonus? In a burnout competition, you lose major points if you need to reverse, and Liz is good enough at manoeuvring her way around the pad that she will hopefully never need to engage a gear she doesn’t have! 

Ian ‘Sambo’ Smith also managed to make it down to give his Mazda RX-7’s new engine a workout. The old small block Chev has been retired, making way for an LS1 with 6-71 supercharger, Enderle Big and Ugly hat, and electronic fuel injection fresh from the guys at ProTune. 

The LS1 under all the fancy induction kit is pretty much stock, with just a set of heavy-duty valve springs added to handle the boost. Since the LS series was so well designed from factory, and have been proven to handle boost, it makes for a cost-effective and reliable engine package that should give him few headaches. The best part is, if the bottom end does happen to give up, Sambo will be able to sort a direct replacement with minimal hassle or bank-account damage. 

Rob Macraee pulled out all the stops to try and get his Holden HQ sorted for the Aussie trip, but after getting painfully close, he had to pull the pin and keep the ute here in New Zealand. Despite that, it’s now skid-ready and has proven that it can shred tyres with the best of them, while providing the amazing soundtrack that only a blown 383ci small block on methanol could. 

It must be a family thing, because his son Fraser has been ripping tyres to shreds for a while, and his Holden HZ one-tonner never fails to put on a show. Fraser doesn’t consider a skid complete unless both rear tyres are dead, and gives the Holden death to achieve it. 

Also worthy of mention is Shaun Jury’s Barra-powered Falcon, with a BorgWarner turbo and full Haltech engine management — something pretty different in little ol’ New Zealand. Shaun only recently got the Falcon running, as well as the honour of ripping the first skid of the day. The damp pad means there isn’t much visible smoke in the photo, but the car goes pretty hard, and the screaming external wastegate does make some pretty cool sounds for a non-V8! 

And while it was all action outside, Bathurst and beer provided a change of scenery inside the shed — although it feels wrong to call it a shed. It’s more like a petrolhead’s dream storage facility, with some cool cars parked on the floor, and a bar and lounge arrangement upstairs. This is Matamata, though, which may explain some of the visible beverages … 

Matamata is also the reason that the burnouts could happen against the awesome backdrop of the Kaimai Ranges, with the peaceful rural setting also the perfect location for some feral skids. 

You may remember at the start of the article a little something about Tread Cemetery being the first event on the team’s radar, but it isn’t the only one — the way things have turned out, Kiwi Carnage will also be given the opportunity to skid at Summernats 2017, which is only the biggest automotive event in Australia! And if you’re wondering why Braden Smith hasn’t appeared in this article, don’t worry — we’ll have a little update on his sweet new set of wheels pretty soon. Watch this space! 

Special thanks to Shawn Cooper, at Cooper Shotz, for providing the group burnout photo after our camera ran out of battery!