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Peter Grmusa at the wheelInterview

We 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:

One on one with Burnout Master and twice Summernats Burnout comp winner, Peter Grmusa

It 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 Falconís windows.

Few 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.

ATRISK in actionWith 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.

Burnout 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.

With 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.

As 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 fully understood.

ATRISK - View from the passenger's seat.As 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.

Without 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.

Despite 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.

Suddenly 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.

Actual footage of the ride

 
 

Interview with Peter Grmusa:

When did you first get into burnout competitions?
About 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.

How many events would you enter each year?
It 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.

What is your most memorable burnout?
The first time I competed at Summernats, which was also the first year I won.

What does it take to win the Summernats Burnout comp two years in a row?
I didnít 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.

How does it feel when you know that youíve brought the entire crowd to itís feet?
Thatís 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 to experience.

What are the requirements for a competitive purpose built burnout car?
A 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 possible.

What would your motor be revving out to in a comp?
On average up around 7000 to 8000RPM but IĎve had it up to 10,000RPM.

Is there anything special about the tyres you use?
Yeh, 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?
You 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.

What 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.

How do you practise for a major event?
Due 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.

What advice would you give to anyone whoís thinking about getting into burnout competitions?
Work within 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.

 



  
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