Those of you who know me personally will know that I don’t usually get mad at much. I’m a live-and-let-live kinda bloke. Our Goth-uncle Adrian may have white-hot rage at someone painting a DeLorean and not leaving it in the fingerprint-finding stainless steel finish while I just see someone who decided to make their car their own. Swap any drivetrain into anything you want, do what you want with your own car as long as it’s safe and roadworthy. One thing I’ve been holding in for a while now, though, is the absolutely abysmal state of burnouts in the USA and how it makes Aussies both amused and annoyed at the same time. You’re having to shut down your own car shows because you don’t know how, when, or why to do a burnout.
Y’all have all these big V8 sedans, why is just about every burnout video from the States so hopeless? I’m not talking about takeovers here, which we all know is just plain reckless and irresponsible hooning. Remember, hooning shouldn’t harm others.
To reiterate: We here at the Autopian love hooning, as long as it is done in a safe manner and not in public spaces. Takeovers, street racing and reckless speeding/showing off are not cool and not impressive. Whilst some of the video examples below are of hooning on public streets, please do not take this as us condoning such behavior.
I’m talking about people who should know better and DO better, especially if they are posting this stuff on the internet for kudos.
The inspiration for this article came from Matt sharing this hopeless excuse for a burnout in the Slack:
As we can see, this Cadillac CTS-V appears to be at least doing their burnouts in an industrial area, a better spot than your average takeover crowd who insist on shutting down intersections. The area is quite large and the surface is soaked in water, a good way to learn car control and try your hand at the style of burnouts/donuts we do Down Under. The big crowd is a significant risk, and barriers exist at all levels of motorsport for a reason.
Yet, even with the combination of hundreds of horsepower, a wet surface and plenty of space there isn’t much of a burnout although old mate does manage to get a small amount of smoke out of the tires with the traction-control going mental before the left-rear tyre pops and does some instant rear-quarter panel modification on the way out.
Even with the traction control off I’m not sure he would have managed anything impressive based on that lack of foresight. I replied that I am yet to see an American burnout on video that is even halfway as impressive as the average video on Instagram from an Aussie P-Plater in a six-cylinder car. For example:
I think ‘skid culture’ in Australia developed as much of a result of our low population density and obsession with rear-wheel-drive as any other cause. Outside of the major cities, there are thousands of kilometres of roads that see only very light usage. Add in bored teenagers with powerful RWD vehicles, many of whom are used to sliding around in the dirt on their farms.
‘Circlework’ as a vehicle contest is pretty similar, country fun also turned into a judged event with the competition at Deni Ute Muster being a ‘one-minute run per ute with points being awarded for driving skills, number and execution of circles.’
I’m not the biggest fan of burnouts as a sport or entertainment, like a lot of people I lose interest after a few competitors at a contest but I know a good burnout when I see one (and *may* have done the odd one long before smartphones), and unfortunately most American burnouts just ain’t it.
Most of the American burnout videos (contest or otherwise) I see that aren’t absolute failures seem to be brake-stands or otherwise stationary, with the worst examples having the vehicle chained or nose-up against a wall in a puddle. At that point, what are you really achieving here?!
The odd actual American burnout that’s not in a straight-line seems to include them hitting walls like FarmTruck did when it came to Australia for Summernats. Even Cleetus McFarland and Derek Bieri, while they are getting better at doing Aussie-style burnouts. still seem to hit the wall or need to stop and restart the burnout pretty frequently, in a burnout box that is much bigger than what we use Down Under, which can be a minimum of 50ft x 50ft.
Getting there, but not quite up to our standards for car control and technique.
What Americans in the videos I see seem to struggle with is what is known here as the ‘tip in’, where you throw the car into a spin to start the donuts whilst burning the tires. For example:
There are some Aussie burnout competitors known for absolutely mental tip-ins such as Andrew ‘LYNCHY’ Lynch, with the short-wheelbase vehicles such as ’70s Toyota Corollas and Suzuki Mighty Boys naturally making great spinners.
You need instant tire smoke from the moment you start spinning the wheels and start the tip-in. From there you need to make sure you keep the smoke going, not stalling or dropping too many revs and regaining grip as that costs you points in a competition environment and just doesn’t project coolness.
You don’t need massive amounts of power to keep the smoke going, the elite competitors use 1000+ hp V8 cars to ensure that they get instant, high-volume smoke and are able to keep that smoke up throughout the event. There are plenty of six-cylinder and even rotary burnout cars that have done burnouts as good as the big-guns.
A tricked-up small block V8 will do a great job on a budget as well, as demonstrated by my mate Matt’s old burnout car ‘DAMAGED’, an XD Falcon with a naturally-aspirated 351 ‘Cleveland’ V8. As can be seen in the linked video, it pops both tires just after one minute which is the ideal.
As per the official rules for burnout judging (2021 rules here) at one of the largest burnout competitions in Australia, Summernats, you can accumulate up to 50 points of a possible 100 on tire smoke alone, separated into Instant Smoke (10 points), Constant Smoke (20 points) and Volume of Smoke (20 points) with the remaining 50 allocated to Driving Skill.
Penalties that detract from your score include stopping or stalling (-10 points), having to reverse whilst in the box (-10), contact with a barrier (-10), failure to drive off the pad/mechanical failure (-10), the car catching alight in a big fire (-10) and leaving the box with a burnout tire still inflated (-5 per tire).
Failure to reach 60 seconds can result in a ‘Did Not Finish’ (DNF), with 10 points deducted per 5 seconds under the 60 second mark, up to a maximum loss of 40 points.
America readily latched onto drift culture from Japan and now has high-level competition and some great talent. Now is the time for you to step up and meet your Down Under cousins at our level of hooning.
You have access to far more powerful vehicles, both in hp and in volume. We’ve adopted so many of your customs such as Halloween and the gig economy, time you take a leaf out of our book.