Some lingo that will be of use before you read…
2016 South Island Champs: the roller coaster
Words & Pics: Rene Vermeer
If you’re a performance vehicle enthusiast in New Zealand, you’ve no doubt heard of the V 4&Rotary South Island Nationals. An event like no other, it’s the pinnacle of the southern car scene and one that changes the big island into a melting pot of high-performance Japanese tin.
No joke, everywhere you find yourself around Champs weekend, you’ll see modified cars everywhere.
The reason it’s like no other event in New Zealand, for example, the main V 4&Rotary event in the North Island, is because the towns are tiny. In Auckland, the large city swallows up performance vehicles and hides them, with the owners usually living locally. The South Island Champs, though, might as well be a public holiday for the petrolheads of New Zealand; everyone travels, books accommodation, and treats it as a holiday, and the result is mind boggling.
This year, Timaru was overtaken with more Japanese machinery than I have ever seen — streets were lined with them, back alleys, late night back-roads, and of course, the show hall and the race circuit. This makes it the most kickass event of the year, and one we, the Speedmagnet crew take very seriously. With an arsenal of the best show-stoppers to hit the country, we were excited to hit the road, rendezvous, and make shit happen!
Cany Customs, Teamsshhh, RWB, and Chachacha — you’ve all heard the names, and this year a serious collaboration between these four powerhouses and the Speedmagnet crew was about to go down. It was about to get real and we were ready to tackle the race track and show head on.
During the off-season, alongside setting up his new shop Cany Customs, Blake Harpur has been rebuilding his Nissan Silvia S15. A car you might remember from the start of the year as one that stole show, Blake was dead set to come back bigger and better, with best bud Jared Croft alongside him.
Jared decided to go a different route and decided his Toyota Altezza was the one that would get the Cany Customs treatment. What this meant for the Altezza, was that it would no doubt have crazy paintwork, ginormous wheels, and a silly, yet wicked amount of camber — much like builds found in America and Japan.
With Jared and Blake leading the Cany Customs movement, there were a number of extremely delicious vehicles in tow. Most of which have been painted by Blake himself. After a somewhat eventful Friday evening, it was now track time: cars were polished and a convoy was had to the venue — that’s right, all of these cars get driven. Heads turned as the Speedmagnet and Cany Customs crew rolled into Levels Raceway in this humble town of Timaru.
What a venue! The V 4&Rotary team sure did pick a good one. Luscious greenery, camping ground-like pit areas and a technical race track for the racers, drifters, and cruisers of South Island Champs.
Hands down the best part of Saturday’s event are the two cruising sessions. Each session was around two hours long, in which time drivers were allowed to take their mates out for some fun. No helmets, no harnesses, just good times. The best thing about it, was there were zero crashes or injuries out on track, yet again proving what a safe environment it is — awesome work 4&Rotary team!
Thanks to the event organisers, the entire Speedmagnet and Cany Customs crew was allowed out on the circuit for a special photo and video session. It’s safe to say, we got some killer footage from this session! Buggerm our time was up, time to leave, we had a show to set up!
After rounding up the troops for another shoot – this time static – it was time for the crew to make their way to Aorangi Park. A somewhat small venue, we soon realised it was going to be extremely difficult to get our near-chassis dragging cars into…
After tracking down some planks of wood to not only get the vehicles into the carpark, we set them up to get them into the hall — what a mission!
With our crew finally in the battle stations, we were amped for the show time. Unfortunately, Blake’s bonnet flew open out in the carpark which meant with a smashed windscreen and bonnet, they both had to be removed. We quite digged the look, though, as it showed off the worked engine bay and interior perfectly. Always gotta look at the positives, and Blake didn’t let it get him down! It was however devastating to see…
After a massive day cruising, drifting, skidding, parking up, and making new friends, it was time for the crew to catch some much needed shut eye. The show was waiting for us, and we were waiting for the reaction from the locals and other car enthusiasts. This is the moment we had been building up too — all the hard work would soon pay off for the team.
Keep your eyes peeled for part two, which will include our show time action and awards!
Here are some more bonus pics from the day, enjoy!