Stupid Cars, Stupider Mates

The other entrants have asked not to be shown to save their embarrassment

The other entrants have asked not to be shown to save their embarrassment

I’m not going to lie to you. I’m a rev-head. As much as I love loading up the family, hitching on the camper, and heading bush for weeks at a time, deep down inside there’s still that 18yo hooligan with stupid cars and stupider mates. I guess that’s one of the big appeals for me for taking on challenging tracks, it’s that horsepower infused fun I had as a punk teenager, without the fear of gaol sentences and weekly visits to the tyre shop.

But sometimes that inner rev-head gets out.

I suppose it does for all of us sooner or later. The 4WDs we pour money and time into aren’t just there to get us to some destination. If that’s all we wanted we could fly in and take a hire car. They’re there to be fun, just as much as a mode of transportation.

For me the rev-head slipped out over a few beers at Musgrave Roadhouse. Apparently, I had talked enough smack about the Ranger packing heat that people wanted to put me to the task. A quick chat to the girls behind the bar, and after triple checking there was no flights due in the next morning the bet was on. Three 4WDs, three trailers, three markings along the runway (which worked out to be around 400m).

We lined them up, and set the ground rules. A top speed of 80km/h was agreed on, and we were all spaced out to make it no more dangerous than driving in traffic, after all, when you’re a long way from anything even a drag race needs to be safe. Then we all rolled down our windows and heckled till it was time to drop the flag.

I don’t think a tray full of camping gear meets CAMS regulations, but the beer was cold

I don’t think a tray full of camping gear meets CAMS regulations, but the beer was cold

So how did the Ranger go? Well bloody fantastic, but not as good as I had hoped? Y’see, the Ranger is packing a super-upsized donk under the bonnet with the exhaust and re-map the boys at Roo HQ did to it a while back, but it wasn’t enough to take the crown this time. The three 4WDs lined up were all towing. A 3.0L Prado with a forward fold camper, my 3.2L Ranger with a camper, and a 4.5L twin turbo V8 Cruiser towing a 22ft caravan. The Prado wasn’t an issue, despite being the lightest vehicle, with the lightest camper, it dropped off almost straight away leaving me tow-to-tow (gettit?) against the ‘Cruiser. Problem is, despite the Cruiser towing a van the size of my house, it was punching above its weight too after a Roo working over. My secret weapon was being used against me.

I had them, at least I thought from the start. The Ranger’s lighter weight meant we got the jump and had a half car lead before the camper had finished crossing the start line. The next 400m was spent half laughing as the Prado disappeared into my rear-view mirror, and half pushing the throttle harder into the carpet to keep up with the 200. As we got up to speed weight mattered less and power mattered more. Despite me punching out a power to weight ratio hat’d lay the smack down on a standard 200 it wasn’t able to take on an engine 50% bigger with an extra turbo and a re-map.

He crossed the line with my bulbar somewhere around his tail lights.

Bugger.

Alright, it’s not a record winning drag car, but it’s built for a different kind of haulin’

I had to eat a little humble pie that night. But by humble pie I mean fresh fish and chips with a few beers at the Weipa caravan park, because after all, we were on an adventure.

The rev-head in me wanted to turn around, head back to Roo and get them to dial in one of their outright performance tunes. Then I remembered something pretty bloody important. I’m in the middle of nowhere, having an absolute blast with some of the best people you’ll ever meet, on an adventure with the wife and kids, and I still had the whole ‘Tele track in front of me.

Maybe a sensible power upgrade is all I needed after all.

The ‘Tele track was a heap of fun, thankfully with no peer pressure

The ‘Tele track was a heap of fun, thankfully with no peer pressure