Feel The Noise: Summernats Slam
Sound is made through vibrations that travel through the air to our human ear, which allow us to hear and translate these frequencies into recognisable noise.
However, in our every day lives, we are rarely reminded of this fact as we only hear sound whilst not feeling its actual vibrations.
Of course, this changes when you witness the tremors from a Top Fuel Dragster.
I often say that a good motorsport event or car show must be a sensory experience, but Top Fuel takes sensory overload to a whole new level, way past eleven.
These engines are violent enough to be detectable on the Richter scale. Its exhaust note sends oscillations through your chest and a close enough whiff of the fuel is enough to make your eyes water. There is literally nothing as extreme as these in the motorsport world.
However, the fastest drag racers in the country weren’t the only exciting horsepower monsters at Heathcote during the weekend.
This was Summernats Slam, and you can't have Summernats without massive burnouts.
Drivers were pitching in their tyre shredding machines across the two days on the burnout pad to win an entry into Summernats 35 next January.
Despite what it seems, burnouts are a legitimate judged sport. Both driving and smoke are scored, whilst points can be lost for each tyre not popped and if you are unable to drive off the pad once your time is up. You can also be disqualified if you disobey the fire marshal's call to end the run early due to safety.
These aren't your petty little smoke trails from the rear of some bloke's Commodore in St Kilda at two in the morning. No, these are great clouds of smoke, that fill the amphitheater of spectators with the remnants of rubber offered up in sacrifice.
The tension in the starting lane is released as officials give the driver the all clear. With a foot to the floor, the burnout begins. The car is pitched into the centre of the pad soon hidden from view behind the smoke screen. Bits of rubber spewing out to the corners of the arena is the only proof that tyres are still being massacred.
The wall of smoke fades briefly, revealing the machine of mass tyre destruction, but only for a moment as more smoke billows out from the rear. Only the sound of high revs and squealing tyres give any indication of where the car is on the pad, and the inevitable loud thump of one tyre... now two tyres bursting at the strain.
With most of the rubber gone, the clouds lift revealing all that is left. However the lack of rear grip doesn't halt those with an appetite for destruction. What was a smoke show has now turned into a light show as sparks fly across the pad until the clock ends.
The car is taken off the pad, either under its own power or covered in extinguishant. The next competitor lines up, and the controlled chaos begins again.
Back on the drag strip, a range of machines were joining the Top Fuelers in some quarter mile action.
A dozen Top Alcohol and Junior dragsters would preface the Top Fuelers with their 6 second passes and wild looks.
These Junior dragsters were particularly interesting. They look like scaled down versions of Top Fuelers and are the equivalent to go karts or quarter midgets, in the sense that this is what kids who want to go drag racing start with. A small Briggs and Stratton motor pushes the dragster along the shorter length of a 1/8th of a mile pass.
Action on two wheels was plentiful too, including those on the Top Fuel Bikes. Being strapped into a dragster is one thing, but I imagine holding onto a bar with an angry drag engine in between your legs is a different feeling of adrenaline entirely.
The Gassers and Top Sportsmans made plenty of smoke and noise before they too blitzed down the newly paved Heathcote quarter mile.
But it was the Super Street and Super Sedan classes that undoubtedly had the most competitive field. Watching Holden VS Ford VS American Muscle gave an added nostalgia factor like always.
After a weekend full of smoke, fire, high revving V8's and thousands of nitro injected oscillating horsepower, the best part is that Summernats Slam will be happening again this October, with the addition of Nitro Funny Cars. That should give me enough time for my ears to heal and my bones to stop trembling.
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