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Powercruise goes up in smoke

17 November 2014


Powercruise 52
November 8–9, 2014
Ricoh Taupo Motorsport Park

The catchphrase for the Australian-run Powercruise series of events is ‘Powercruise rocks’, and as cheesy as it may sound, it’s probably the most accurate description. After seven years a deal has been signed that sees it return to Ricoh Taupo Motorsport Park for a further nine years, and also three years at Hampton Downs. Best described as the place where you can do everything in your car that you can’t do on the street, Powercruise sees a mix of flag-drop drag racing, burnouts, drifting, race-track cruising, a car show, bikini comp, power skids, and much more.

Powercruise 52 (the fifty second event the organizers have run, but the seventh in New Zealand) took place at Ricoh Taupo Motorsport Park over the weekend of November 8–9, and despite abysmal weather, the feedback was nothing but positive.

Over 300 cars of all makes, models and origins were entered, and spectators soon learnt never to judge a car by its exterior. Cars that you’d expect to be front-wheel drive were rear-wheel drive, cars you’d think had a wheezy four-cylinder had massive V8s shoehorned into them, and vice versa. Nowhere did this become more obvious than in the Off-Street Racing, where a stock-looking Hillman of all things soon made easy work of the opposition. At the pointy end of the knockout competition though it came down to three first-generation Camaros against one Mitsi Evo.

The Powerskids have long been the domain of supercharged V8s, and that continued this year despite some valiant efforts from all forms of vehicles.

With event head organizer Michael ‘Gup’ Gilbert recently forking out to build a dedicated burnout pad at the venue, the burnout comp was more fiercely contested than ever before, aided by the fact he put a prize of $5000 on the line for the winner! That lucky winner was Rotorua’s Brett George in his 540 cubic-inch–powered Holden station wagon, who obliterated a brand new set of tyres in less than a minute, spraying the crowd with rubber in the process.

Burnout comp winner Brett George

While the drifting had a distinct lack of top-level competitors, those present put on a damn good show, none more so than Taupo local Rene Richmond and Tauranga’s Aden Omnet. An uncharacteristic spin by Omnet under the eye of the judges saw the win go to Richmond. One of the bigger talking points during this portion of the event was Aaron Costello’s ‘UNIT’ Camaro having a go, and doing a damn fine job, despite the car being the most removed type of vehicle from a drift car you could imagine. But it’s that ‘have-a-go’ attitude encouraged by the event that makes it what it is.

Whether you’re into burning rubber yourself, or just want to watch mechanical mayhem unfold, we suggest you’re at Hampton Downs on the weekend of May 16–17 to check it out.

Look out for a full feature on Powercruise 52 in an upcoming issue of NZV8.

Photos by John Faulkner.