went for a ride with burnout legend Peter Grmusa back when he was running ATRISK
then got to interview the man... Here's how it went:
on one with Burnout Master and twice Summernats Burnout comp winner, Peter Grmusa
was Easternats 2009, held at Melbourneís Sandown Raceway. We sat motionless at
the start line of the burnout arena as the methanol fed 1500 horsepower V8 idled
like a caged animal desperate to escape.
From the front passenger seat my perspective of the event that was about to unfold
was to be very different from my past experiences as a trackside photographer.
As I proceeded to double and triple check camera settings, burnout master and
twice-in-a-row Summernats burnout champion Peter Grmusa calmly performed a ritual
of flicking switches and monitoring gauges. Peter seemed oblivious to the multitude
of video cameramen and photographers jostling for a shot of us through the XR
words were spoken between us at first and then Peter asked the question ďGetting
nervous?Ē with a brief pause I replied ďJust a bitĒ. Grmusaís purpose built burnout
car appropriately named ĎATRISKĒ is renowned for bursting into flames mid way
through a hard-hitting burnout session and has a well earned reputation of keeping
fire crews on their toes and spray painters employed. However, this run was to
be a bit different. Earlier in the day Peterís crew had been working frantically
to repair a major oil leak in the motor. If that repair was to fail, we would
no doubt be witnessing a fireball of an unprecedented scale as engine oil comes
in contact with the glowing red exhaust headers.
the burnout pad cleared of the previous competitorĎs vehicular remains, the flag
was dropped and the full fury of Grmusaís methanol powered monster was unleashed
like an angry demon.
competitions are no longer just about smoking up the tyres. Itís so much more
than that these days. The massive amount of raw energy that propels itís way through
to every member of the crowd is the reason why grandstands are continuously packed
out at every event across the nation and why comp winners are now attracting big
prize money. Itís the showmanship and the entertainment value that separates this
sportís elite from itís mainstream competitors. Itís a bit like a rock concert.
Itís all about the excessive level of raw energy and visual stimulation that feeds
the audience. Itís about pushing the boundaries beyond their limits.
the camera protruding out of the window and strapped to my arm Peter threw the
car violently into itís first spin. The g-forces stretching my arm back to near
breaking point in response to the insane power. Almost immediately the cabin was
filled with smoke and the smell of tortured rubber.
the supercharger spun wildly just beyond the thin veneer of the windscreen the
colossal amount of horsepower it was feeding vibrated through every bone in my
body. There was no question in my mind as to why these guys are so obsessed with
what they do. Itís quite literally something that has to be experienced to be
Peter threw the car into spin after spin there was a loud explosion followed shortly
by another. I knew from experience that both back tyres had taken as much punishment
as they could handle and had finally exploded. I caught a glimpse of the overcrowded
grandstand through the smoke screen. The crowd was going nuts! Within seconds
both rear tyres had been shredded off the rims completely as the ever growing
cloud of tyre-smoke engulfed the arena. With the crowd screaming for more Peter
kept it going on the bare metal rims until they glowed red.
warning the motor changed pitch dramatically to a deafening roar. Out the window
I could see the entire exhaust system lying on the pad after being torn off.
the adrenalin surging through my veins thoughts turned to visions of the fiery
eruptions that this particular car is known for and while the crowd was hoping
for an inferno I was hoping that the earlier oil leak repair would go the distance.
we were stopped abruptly as the fire crew rushed in wielding extinguishers and
poking them into every crevasse of the carís undercarriage. I could only imagine
what was happening underneath the vehicle but the crowdís reaction signalled that
it was something spectacular.
footage of the ride
with Peter Grmusa:
did you first get into burnout competitions?
5 years ago. When I was young I was into doing burnouts on the street. When I
got older I decided to take it to a more professional level.
many events would you enter each year?
varies from year to year but usually between seven to twelve events. That includes
events where show promoters pay me to turn up and do demonstrations. What is the
most important burnout event on your calendar? Definitely Summernats! Thatís the
one everyone wants to win. Thatís where you make a name for yourself.
is your most memorable burnout?
first time I competed at Summernats, which was also the first year I won.
does it take to win the Summernats Burnout comp two years in a row?
really go there to win the first year. I just wanted to enter the comp and have
a good time. I think my driving style is what got me the points and the crowdís
reaction. I think I set a new standard that year because I threw the car around
the pad much harder than most other competitors traditionally did.
What makes this sport so addictive?
Oh mate! Itís
just the adrenalin rush hey! When youíre out there nothing else matters. Youíre
just living in the moment. Itís just the ultimate outlet.
does it feel when you know that youíve brought the entire crowd to itís feet?
a question thatís very hard to describe in actual words. To see a grandstand of
several thousand people going crazy and to know that you have their full attention
for that moment is indescribable. Itís one of those things that you just have
are the requirements for a competitive purpose built burnout car?
purpose built competition burnout car needs to be able to produce the kind of
results that will meet the judges criteria. Thatís instant smoke and lots of it
right from the start. Driving skill - in other words, how well you can control
the car in the tight confines of the burnout pad without hitting the guard rails,
and of course crowd reaction. If the crowd isnít impressed then chances are that
the judges wonít be either.
How important is big horsepower?
In my opinion
itís very important at a competition level. You can do impressive Ďskidsí with
fairly low horsepower by changing your diff ratios but if you want to be competitive
nowadays and chase the big prize money you need to spin those wheels as fast as
would your motor be revving out to in a comp?
average up around 7000 to 8000RPM but IĎve had it up to 10,000RPM.
there anything special about the tyres you use?
theyíre brand new at the start. They have to be. Second hand ones wonít go the
distance even though a Ďskidí only goes for three minutes at the longest. The
shortest lifespan Iíve had from a set of new tyres was 18 seconds from start to
being shredded off the rims. Try doing that in your family sedan.
What does it cost to build a burnout car?
can build a car for as little as $10,000 if you just want to have a bit of fun
but nowadays a serious burnout car can cost anywhere up to $120,000 depending
on how showy you want to be. The build cost of my Falcon when it won Summernats
was only $35,000 but I had a lot of help. Of course that win attracted sponsorship
which helped get the car to where it is today.
are the most important things to consider when building a dedicated burnout car?
OK, I use a Ďhighway diffí with a gear ratio of 3:1. That allows the back
wheels to spin at huge revs when in top gear. To make that happen requires a tremendous
amount of horsepower. If you donít have the power it will just die on the spot,
hence the reason why this motor is punching out around 1500hp. To put that in
perspective, your average family car puts out about 175hp. Also there are no rear
brakes on the car and front tyre pressure is at 20psi for control. The rear suspension
is set up to be rock hard.
do you practise for a major event?
to my earlier Ďhooní days Iíve had plenty of past practise and nowadays I know
this car really well. I donít recommend that new comers practise on the streets.
There are plenty of organised events nowadays. Just turn up and do your best.
Youíll soon get the hang of it.
advice would you give to anyone whoís thinking about getting into burnout competitions?
your budget and go into it to have a good time. Remember that itís all about entertainment.
The audience has paid their hard earned money to see the show. Entertaining them
should be your priority. Be professional. If people come up to you after the show
and want to talk to you, make time for them even if youíre busy.