With the generous spectator areas at the Liqui-Moly Power Pit jam-packed with enthusiastic fans for the 16-plus hours of action across the Liqui-Moly Burnout Championship and the Liqui-Moly Burnout Masters, burnouts are without doubt one of biggest Summernats drawcards.
So what does it take to rise to the top of this highly competitive form of motorsport? For some expert hints ’n’ tips, FreeStyle Rides hit up Liqui-Moly brand ambassadors and burnout legends Gary Myers, Clint Ogilvie and Steve Nogas to reveal the secrets behind putting on a winning burnout.
“Don’t go out thinking you need to win every time,” says Steve Nogas, “otherwise engine and body repair bills will cripple you. Go out, do your best, have fun and if you win a trophy, that’s a bonus.” Gary Myers backs this up: “I often think it’s 70 percent luck and 30 percent skill, especially if there’s no wind to clear away the smoke.”
This is where preparation and experience pays off. All three talked about studying the track; get out there and identify various landmarks to help you figure out where you are once you’re buried in the smoke. Understand how the smoke will behave and which way the wind is blowing. At tracks with armco, the smoke tends to dissipate, whereas concrete walls push it straight up and back in.
“Be aware of changing track conditions, particularly if it’s shiny,” says Clint Ogilvie. “It’s a dead giveaway that there’s slippery fluids on the surface. Keep well clear.” All three agree that forming a game plan helps you to think about what you’re doing, even if most of it goes out the window as soon as you mash the throttle.
You don’t need the latest weapons-grade marauder to begin competing. “You can begin in $200 shitter,” says Steve. Clint also noted that all the heavy hitters turn their engines to 8000rpm, or more. Using premium products like Liqui-Moly oils and lubricants definitely ensures maximum longevity, however 8000rpm-capable equipment costs a bomb and maintenance costs are high. Regardless of what you’re skidding, the overriding key to producing huge plumes of acrid smoke is tyre speed. “Seeing 200km/h on the speedo is common,” says Steve. “I run as much as 340 in KILLA-B.” All three champions agree it’s imperative to shift up out of first into taller gears to get wheel speeds up.
GOING ALL THE WAY
“Once you get serious, the whole package becomes important,” says Steve. “Tubs and a four-link are the go and keep the rear tyres tucked in to stop the quarters from getting destroyed when the tyres go bang.” Beware the allure of methanol, even if it does make plenty of power and help keep temps under control. “It’s a lot harder to tune for,” says Gary. “You need a lot of expensive specialised gear and costs can really add up.” Mr Myers should know. He’s got seven Summernats burnout titles to his credit, all won using petrol.
Burnout judges award points in five main categories; instant smoke, constant smoke, volume of smoke, driver control and popping the tyres. Having to back up, catching fire or the inability to drive off the pad typically result in a deduction of points and sometimes disqualification, depending on severity. For a thorough explanation of judging criteria, check out the Summernats Participation Guide on their website.
“The name of the game these days is high-speed tip-ins without losing smoke,” says Gary. “You get good driver control points, however you have to weigh up the pros and cons as it’s real easy to get it all wrong.” Popping the tyres is worth valuable points, which can be manipulated through tyre pressures. “For short 60-second qualifying events, bump the pressures up to around 80psi,” says Clint. “To make the tyres last longer for three-minute championship runs, run about 40psi.” Also, fresh surfaces chew up tyres quicker than rubbered-up pads.
Just like any sportsperson, you need to train to get better. And the place to train is not the main street on Saturday night. “Don’t practice on the streets,” says Steve, “there are comps on everywhere. Many tracks, like WSID, run regular skid nights, so there’s no excuse.” Gary concurs: “Rather than just running amok at these events, run at ¾ pace to get a better understanding of how your car reacts in certain circumstances and under differing conditions. Develop and practice different manoeuvres, be methodical.”
Plenty of drivers can put on a good skid, which makes crowd reaction a significant factor in the final results. At the end of the skid, jump out and get the crowd revved up. “It’s all about the intensity, putting on a crowd-pleasing burnout,” says Steve. Don’t let the fear of putting on a bad skid stop you from having a go. Everyone has to start somewhere. Clint offers this nugget of pure gold: “No matter how bad a skid you do, I can guarantee you’re still having more fun than every single one of those people up in the stands, regardless of how much shit they’re giving you.” Check out sites like Smashing Tyres, Burnout Masters, Gazzanats, Brashernats, Summernats and ULEGAL for postings on upcoming events in your area. Smoke you later.
2015 LIQUI-MOLY BURNOUT MASTERS
1st Brett Battersby
1987 Hilux – BLWNLUX
2nd Fred Watson
2005 Monaro – FEAR
3rd Rick Fuller
1985 Commodore – LSONE
2015 LIQUI-MOLY BURNOUT CHAMPIONSHIP
1st Steve Edsal
2010 Commodore – ROGUE
2nd Thomas Baz
1987 Commodore – JST WCH
3rd Brad Murnane
1972 LJ Torana – BLWNLJ
Story CRAIG PARKER Photos JOHN CHURCHILL