Burnout, donut, skid, smoke show... Whatever you want to call it, destroying tires is big business in Australia. The annual Summernats car festival, held in the nation's capital of Canberra, has been running the country's premier burnout competition as part of their schedule for over 25 years now. However, over the last few years other, dedicated, burnout competitions have sprung up across the country, with some offering prize money of up to $50,000 - winner takes all.
"I'm still relatively new to the competitive burnout scene, having only been involved for the last four years or so," says Steve Nogas, owner of this Hot Wheels-styled 2010 Camaro. "I had been competing in a little Holden Gemini with a blown 400cid Chev', but decided I wanted to bring something different to the scene. Most of the cars you see are of the classic Aussie variety."
“Different” is exactly what Steve got when he bought an ex-rental V-6-powered Camaro from Manheim Motor Auctions in Milwaukee in 2010. New generation Camaros are thin on the ground Down Under and even complete stockers are likely to cause whiplash in unsuspecting pedestrians and fellow motorists. However, with only 19,000-miles on the odometer, the Bumblebee yellow V-6 would make an excellent base from which to begin a performance project - and performance is something that this car has an overwhelming abundance of. Work began a few months after the car was landed in Oz, with a solid plan of attack in place so things went as smoothly as possible.
"This was a family-built car, built by myself, my two sons and nephew," Steve says. "It's no checkbook build." Easily the most visible and attention-grabbing aspect to the car is the huge carbon fiber injector hat that reaches up through the factory bonnet for the sky above. It's safe to say that no one is left wondering what this car is all about from the moment they lay eyes on it - or the equally imposing 16/71 supercharger that is almost as long as the bonnet itself.
"There were already a number of cars in the scene with 14/71 blowers, so I went for a 16/71," Steve says. This desire to out-do and out-class the competition is evident throughout the build. No matter where you look, you'll see a sensory-overloading level of detail and outrageous proportions and the 632cid Merlin big-block is no exception; loaded to the brim with all the best names in the business and making an easy 1,750hp on what Steve says is a soft tune.
As you can imagine, burnout cars have to withstand some truly punishing extremes if they are to survive more than a few seconds in the heat of competition. That's why Steve backed the monster combo with a bulletproof Dedenbear Powerglide and equally tough fabricated 9-inch running 3.25:1 gears and stout 35-spline axles.
As cool as the 24x14in Boyd Coddington wheels look hiding under those rear guards, Steve says he's not about to go popping a set of 405/25/24 Pirelli P-Zero tires at every competition. "We've got a few sets of steel Ford Territory 17-inch wheels for competition," Steve says. "We'll put tall profile 245/60 rubber on those to try and get enough smoke out of them before they pop."
Steve calculates that he's likely to burn a lot more than just tires during each burnout, with between 20 and 30-gallons of methanol consumed by the hulking engine every time he drives out onto the burnout pad. Did we mention that it's also not uncommon for top-level burnout cars in Australia to erupt into flames from time to time, to the delight of spectators? In many ways, the whole scenario is akin to some gory Roman gladiator death duel.
Step inside and something becomes immediately apparent - besides the sumptuous buffalo leather trim. Why bother performing a steering conversion on a car that will never see road use, let alone wear a pair of license plates? "I wanted the car to have an Aussie feel," Steve says. "The guys at Motor Cars International helped a lot with the conversion."
Far from some agricultural, ham-fisted steering wheel swap, the Camaro looks like a mirror image of its original self, using a Holden VE Commodore power steering rack to direct the coupe on the burnout pad. But unlike most competition cars that more closely resemble the cockpit of a spaceship thanks to a wall of aftermarket gauges, the interior of Steve's Camaro is clean and free of clutter, relying only on a Racepak data logger to record the performance for later scrutiny.
"I wanted to try things that weren't being done in burnout competitions, like 24-inch wheels, the matte black vinyl wrap, bigger blowers and the feel of a show car in a burnout car," Steve says. "Most of all, I wanted to bring a new-generation car to the scene."
"I've been really happy with the response the car has been getting from people at shows like MotorEx and Summernats and can't wait to start taking it to burnout competitions all over the country."
With the car only recently making its burnout debut at this January's Summernats, Aussie spectators are yet to see if Steve brings his fiery sense of competition to proceedings with the new car. You only need to check out the YouTube video of Steve's now-infamous incident at Summernats 25 to see what we mean. Viva la tire destruction!
Engine: World Products Merlin III BBC block, 632cid, 10.5:1 compression, Alloy Pro-Filer heads. custom hydraulic roller cam, Petersen 5-stage dry sump oiling, Oliver rods, Callies crank, JE pistons, MSD Pro Mag 12A ignition
Power Adder: Littlefield 16/71 supercharger, 8psi
Fuel System: JBR carbon fiber injection hat, Enderle 990 mechanical pump
Exhaust System: custom 2.5-inch primary long-tube headers, Flowmaster mufflers
Driveline: Dedenbear Powerglide, TCE 2800-stall converter, B&M Pro Bandit shifter, chromoly driveshaft, custom full-floating 9-inch solid axle rear with 3.25:1 gears, 35-spline axles, spool
Suspension: Slam Specialties SS-7 airbags, custom chromoly 4-link rear
Brakes: Brembo, front and rear
Wheels: Boyd Coddington Spectrum 22x8.5 front, 24x14 rear
Tires: Hankook Ventus 295/35R20 front, Pirelli P-Zero 405/25/24 rear