When was the last time you spent a weekend surrounded by 1,000hp+ street-driven cars bashing their rev limiters?
Don’t feel bad if your recreational time has been somewhat horsepower deficient, Speedhunters is here to help by extending a virtual backstage invitation to Australia’s Tuners Edge GT-R Challenge.
Who else remembers the time when breaking through the magical 1,000hp barrier was strictly reserved for dedicated race machinery, daydreams, and shit-talking wankers?
Honestly, even if an older, wiser, and more handsome Matthew Everingham [LOL - PMcG] hijacked a time-travelling DeLorean to return to my youth and describe what was possible in 2019, my younger self would have struggled to believe street builds of this calibre could ever exist.
And yet here we are, descending once again on the tiny regional township of Cootamundra, where some of Australia’s heaviest-hitting street cars will fight against themselves and previous records on a 1km-long airstrip.
This year marks the event’s 11th anniversary, and instead of chasing 10-second passes as it once was, the target has been set deep into the low 8-second range. That notion becomes almost absurd when you consider the runway is more like country b-road and less like a prepped race surface.
Typically, there’s a full second margin between personal best times set in Cootamundra and those run on a bonafide drag strip. ‘Coota’ as it’s referred to in the most Australian of ways, is a challenging and unforgiving place to set times; it’s a rough, harsh ride and that’s before you begin factoring in ridiculous headwinds and crosswinds.
The slower time slips aren’t a problem though; the aim of the Tuners Edge GTR Challenge is to simulate true street racing, albeit in a much safer environment and without the threat of Australia’s totalitarian law enforcement getting involved.Ready To Rumble
The added hardships of Coota are not only understood, but respected by those who choose to go all-out in their road-going vehicles.
Some competitors have argued that the victory of a record-breaking time slip at Coota tasted even sweeter than their own personal best times set in the more familiar drag strip environment.
The obvious analogy is comparing a victory by TKO in a boxing ring to coming out on top in an unsanctioned bar fight. Sure, it’s a mark of respect that may not appeal to everyone, but it’s something of tremendous value to those who pursue it.
Arriving at Cootamundra just a few short weeks after the West Coast’s Racewars, emphasised the differences between the two runway events that could from the outside be seen as quite similar. But the vibe between the two couldn’t be more different.
While Racewars is a fairly chilled affair for most part, the Tuners Edge GT-R Challenge is outright war.
The super-heated competition creates a very different atmosphere. Here, intensity replaces frivolity, and milliseconds are celebrated like FIFA World Cup goals – both by the drivers on the return road, and also back in the makeshift pits by the teams toiling away to extract the next four-thousandth of a second with an almost NASA-esque fervor. There’s still an element of fun, though.The Spoils Of War
Classifying the entrants as ‘street cars’ may sound like an all-encompassing class of its own, but racers are split further into tiers to ensure competitors are matched with similarly-built cars to keep things fun and competitive.
The main division is between ‘True Street’ and ‘Pro Street’ GT-Rs, both of which are further separated by transmission type.
Futhermore, a unique class has been created for the R35 GT-R.
While the cars remain separated on paper, they’re all battling it out together on the strip for two combined top honours at Cootamundra.
Firstly the Shoot-Out, continuous head-to-head racing with no time to fix mechanical issues. This tests reliability as well as overall performance and driver reaction.
In the back of every competitor’s mind is also the dream of earning the ‘Fastest Outright GT-R,’ title, which is no easy task. Not only does winning this accolade require a driver to beat out the entire field, but also to rewrite the record, which may have been set during more favourable conditions.
After recently running a 6.86-second quarter-mile ET, which officially made ‘JUN II’ the world’s quickest Nissan Skyline GT-R, all eyes were on Rob Marjan and the team at Croydon Racing Developments to deliver a new record at Cootamundra.
And finally, after two days of fine tuning to suit the changing conditions at the runway and edging closer to victory fractions of a second at a time, the team could celebrate.
An 8.253 at 293.20km/h (182.19mph) pass reset the record, heralding in a new overall Tuners Edge GT-R Challenge champion. After setting the original benchmark at this event a decade ago, the title had eluded Rob since 2012.
After so long, it had been reclaimed. Never give up.Video
But this is just one of many memorable stories to come from an action-packed weekend. There’s plenty more to share with you too, some of which I’ve been struggling to keep to myself.
For a more in depth look at the competition and results check out Motive‘s new Tuners Edge GT-R Challenge video, and be sure to subscribe to their channel as they’re planning on releasing more content from the weekend over the coming weeks.