Last weekend I made my annual pilgrimage to Canberra for SummerNats, Australia’s Biggest Horsepower Party. My role there this year was as a commentator telling the crowd all about the crazy and collectible motor cars and their drivers who are obsessed with all things wheeled. There were approximately 2,500 vehicles there ranging from high powered muscle cars, to exotic sports cars, to elite custom built cars, to crazy ride on lawn mowers and every day drivers that were not special in any way except for the fact that the guy or gal who owned them loved them and wanted to show them off. I have always loved cars and for nearly 20 years I have taken every opportunity I can to visit our nations capital at the start of the year to share my automotive passion with like minded folk.
One particular car that I fancy is the Mini Moke. Not a common car on the streets or at a horsepower obsessed show like Summernats. Finding a cool unmolested one is getting harder and more expensive every day. As I posted on social media about my adventures at SummerNats, people messaged me to tell me about a green Moke they had seen on the television coverage of the city cruise and in the show and shine at SummerNats. I set out on my lunch breaks away from the mic to find the man who was willing to take a tiny, basic convertible with a 1 litre engine into the throngs of V8 methanol fed monsters.
It took me 3 days but finally I met Keith and his son Reece as they waited to join the super cruise. His son was hot and bored by the whole show flopping about in the Moke while his dad and I enthusiastically went over the car discussing the modifications he had made, the plans for the future of the green beast and the support networks of other Moke lovers he had found upon his journey. Before long I had to depart to provide commentary for the super cruise while Keith and his son waited for their turn to join the other cars out in the main arena.
I saw them as they lapped the arena in the little Moke dwarfed by the lifted, the blown and the bagged. A tiny little car with a bored little boy who didn’t understand why his dad was so happy. It was at this moment that I was given the opportunity to entice young Reece Into our tribe of passionate car lovers. It was left to me to choose the Top Cruiser in the super cruise. Without a moment of hesitation I flagged them to the side of the track and in front of a huge crowd I presented Keith and Reece with the award for Top Cruiser.
Sure there were plenty of bigger and louder and shinier and more expensive cars there. There were mechanics and race car drivers and professional engine builders. There were cars worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and some who could produce more than 2,000 horsepower. And now there was one with a happy little boy who was super proud of his dad and their Moke.
From a bored little boy to a winner. Keith tells me when they arrived home after 4 days of SummerNats and awards for top cruiser and 2nd in the grass driving his son for the first time wants to know more. Reece leapt into action cleaning up the shed so that the 2nd project Moke could be worked on and finished. He is proud as punch and I for one can’t wait to see him on his learner plates driving with his dad in the Moke that they built together.
Cars are so much more than a way to get from A to B. They are a passion. They bring families together. They connect children with their parents. They provide a point of contact for people to connect and build stories for lifetimes to come. If you ask any person at SummerNats what their car means to them, they all have a story. Not just Jason Mansweto who won Grand Champion at SummerNats this year. Not just Tim brown who won the Burnout Masters and $25,000 in prize money. But everyone there who made the pilgrimage to the the World’s Wildest Car Festival. Even little 9 year old Reece who spent the weekend with his dad and a little green Moke.
If you are in Far North Queensland right now you are damp. You are moist. You are positively sopping. Cyclone Imogen has inundated the region with torrential downpours of the wet stuff and with the increase of rain there appears to be a decrease in driver ability.
Today I made the 100 km trek to the city and it took me nearly 3 hours. With the Audi wipers belting away at full tilt my visibility was still so limited that it was unsafe for me to travel at more than 80kms per hour with most of my journey at 60kms an hour or less. Each time a car went past the wake from their wheels would drown the windscreen making it impossible to see at all, forcing me to brake. If you can’t see, SLOW DOWN. If you don’t feel safe, slow down. When you slow down move to the edge of the road. If you are going very, very, slowly, pull over and wait out the storm somewhere safe with your hazard lights on. Now might be the perfect opportunity to find a warm dry café or shop for groceries.
Like many on the roads today I saw some extreme examples of reckless driving and astonishingly many of the vehicles in play sported a P plate. And so many vehicles without headlights on. My number one tip for driving in bad weather… and I cannot stress this enough... TURN ON YOUR BLOODY HEADLIGHTS. Headlights aren’t just to help you see, they are also to help us see you. In the rain we can see you coming so we don’t pull out to overtake and hit you head on. Turning on your headlights turns on your taillights and then the car behind you can see you and not run up your bum.
As I poked along the highway the water ran over the road and created wide sheets of danger. The tyres gripped and then gave way, the Audi threatened to aquaplane and then she faithfully found solid ground and carried me safely away. If you have not experienced the joy of wet roads this can be a little bit hairy as experiences go. So here is my tip to avoid spearing off into a table drain… DO NOT USE CRUISE CONTROL. Cruise control is a delightful feature on modern rides but it can be deadly in the wet stuff. When the vehicle hits a wet patch the wheels continue to turn at the same speed as when they had traction so when they reconnect with hard road they will be spinning faster and launch you. When the weather is bad you must stay in full control of the vehicle.
Folks when the weather is moister than an oyster leave your ego at home and take all the time you need to get there safely. Turn your lights on, turn the radio down, lock the distracting kids and pets down tight in the back, put the burger away, lock your phone in the boot, drive in the left most lane as slow as you need to and don’t make any moves that you can’t see with 100% visibility. If you still don’t feel safe, stay home. Call an Uber, ask a mate for a lift, question if you really need to go.
Issue 5 of Driven Women Magazine is out now and I have the honour of telling the story of my love of cars within it.
A huge thank you to Jesse of Sweet Spot Photography for delivering the photographic goods once more.
To get your copy head to https://drivenwomenmag.com/
Excited to see my profile of Ron Kloprogge and his race car the Sweet Smell of Cyanide on the cover of the MTAQ magazine. Click here to read the full story.
Read my latest profile of MTAQ member Advanced Auto Electrics and Mechanical in the Motor Trader magazine available online now.
Excited to see the August issue of Motor Trader and my story about Angelo and his Torana.
Read the full issue here:
Thank you to Charlie McKillop and the team at ABC Far North for recently having me on their Saturday morning show to talk cars.
At Summernats 33 in January 2020, I caught up with Britt Kilby behind the wheel of her Daihatsu Feroza burnout car called Hammertime.
Happy International Women’s Day to all of the phenomenal women who love cars... May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.
In the Far North Queensland motorsport scene there are very few names that are known to everyone. One of those names is Hunter Automotive. A long standing mechanic business run by brothers Glen and Cliff Hunter, Hunter Automotive pride themselves on providing reliable maintenance of vehicles but enjoy cutting loose at the track on weekends. Before Christmas I dropped into the Cairns workshop to chat with Glen and take a tour of the facilities. Read the full story here.
Join me in the front seat of the Belmont wagon with Carolyn O'Brien as we talk cars, Summernats and more cars.
She is a 25 year Summernats veteran and will be a part of the Meguiar's Pavilion judging team at Summernats 33.
This lady is a rock star drag racer who gets hand on on the tools building her own cars.
Carolyn started drag racing in 2006 and won the first event she entered.
She competed in the Australian Pro Street Association (APSA) series in “true street” class and travelled the whole East coast of Australia to events. As far North as Benaraby and south to Portland drag way. Carolyn came runner up at the Sydney meeting in November 2013 and got runner up in the series that year also.
2014 she competed in the first Drag challenge event run by Street Machine. Drag week style involves driving to 5 different tracks over 5 days and competing without assistance from a tow vehicle or anyone outside the event, totalling 1500 kms. Got runner up at that event in the radial tyre aspirated class. Raced that car for another 2 years with a PB of 9.77 (full weight air conditioned street car, aspirated.)
Since 2016 she has been building her new car.
“I’m very hands on with my cars. I love working on them myself and have a hand in building my engines, with supervision from Mark. Tuning and data acquisition is what I’ve been working on learning the last 3 years with Marks race car and I’m loving the challenge of learning it all.”
Join me in the front seat of Erika Armstrong’s 1940 Ford Hot Rod to chat with her about her first visit to SummerNats. She will be road tripping down from Sydney so be sure to wave and say hi if you see her on the road.
Leteisha Chun Tie is heading to Summernats in her Commodore called Party Time to compete in the Burnout Masters.
Join us in the front seat as we talk about the journey she has taken to be the only female Masters ticket entrant invited to Summernats 33.
My friend Jack recently went hunting for his first car. Jack is not mechanically minded. He is a very fashionable chap who likes the nicer things in life. He is not a man who will enjoy getting his hands dirty. For him a car is very much about getting from A to B while looking his best. As Jack is a wise man he asked me for my advice as he hunted through the bowels of Facebook marketplace.
Join me for a tour of a tiny shed where Lucky Keizer flies under the radar and builds his crazy machines.
This is the story of my 3 current cars and how I love them.
I have to post this story now because next weekend I will be driving home a new favourite toy.
This weekend I am off to Springmount Raceway for the Far North Queensland Motorsport Club Bitumen Khanacross. A great opportunity for people aged 14 years and older to safely have fun in their car and improve their driver skills.
I love the weather. I love my little house. I love my reasonably sized shed. I love that I am within an hour of gorgeous beaches, crystal clear creeks, luscious rainforests, moist waterfalls and the Great Barrier Reef.
I don’t love that the people here think this Camry is ok. If you ask my neighbour what car she has she says the silver one. She doesn’t even know it is a Toyota. Or that the spare needs changing. Or that the front guard is suffering. Or that cars should sleep inside. Or that they need washing with something more than rainfall.
On the upside almost every house is for sale so I can hope that one day soon car loving people will move to town.
Imagine a community of automotive addicts who lobby for and get great roads. Who don’t complain about loud cars. Who stay up late visiting each other’s shed to help out on a build. Who talk cars instead of football over the back fence. Where all of the driveways are designed for low cars.
A girl can dream.
Do you live in a car loving community? If so please tell me all about it.
So disappointing to see such an iconic venue being demolished. Motorsport venues teach our children many things and support our community in many ways. Please voice your opinion
Valvoline Raceway, an iconic tourism, entertainment and sporting icon in Sydney’s West for over forty years has been rocked by a phone call today that revealed Sydney Metro will compulsory acquire the land as part of a billion-dollar rail development between the city and Sydney’s West.
“Almost 120 properties will be forcibly acquired for construction of a $20 billion-plus metro rail line from Parramatta to the central city, which is now slated to be opened by 2030, about two years later than expected,” it was reported in The Sydney Morning Herald today.
The speedway at Granville will be demolished to make way for the new Sydney Metro West's stabling & maintenance facility says the NSW Government.
Excited to see my latest article about OCD Mechanical in the Motor Trader magazine for Motor Traders Association Queensland
For the full story head to https://www.mtaq.com.au/motor-trader-magazine/
Last week I told you the story of how I came to own a Chev. This week join me as I tell you how I came to fall madly in love with my Audi A5.
Join Lara Wilde in the front seat with Megan Butterworth as we go for a drive in her GU Nissan Patrol and talk about cars.
This is the story of how I came to be the sole owner of a 1972 Chevy pickup truck and the start of our 20 plus year relationship. It all started with a horrible little man in a Daihatsu Charade.