A number of Aussies came over for Best in the Desert's Parker 425 this past weekend. What makes Parker and the Aussies so interesting for me? Well, its the inclusion of a number of Nissan powered buggies. In Australia, due to rules allowing for turbo motors, Nissan motivated vehicles are a dime a dozen.
In the states however where turbos have been excluded from most desert racing classes the humble VW engine has been standard for smaller buggies and carbureted Chevy and Ford engines have been dominant for years. In this year's Parker 425 however, BITD has loosened their rules a tad and are now beginning to allow turbos (and multiple turbos) in their top level classes. One such class is the Unlimited buggy class, called "Class 1" or "1500 class" vehicles in BITD.
So there were three Aussie class 1500 buggies and actually one Aussie Trick Truck as well. All three buggies were Nissan powered by a VQ35 engine.
The #1528 of Matt Hanson was a twin turbo Jimco that had been shipped over from Australia.
The #1507 Alumicraft of Garry Simpson had originally had a Honda powerplant but was swapped for the Nissan once it reached Australian stores. Its VQ35 is naturally aspirated and is mated to a six speed Fortin sequential transmission.
The #1573 is a brand new Raceco that Matthew Martin took delivery of just a few days before Parker and is also naturally aspirated.
The #47 Jimco trick truck was also just completed and delivered to its Aussie customer Steve Sanderson and is motivated by a Kroyer racing engines Chevrolet.
The results for the Aussies were excellent. Two of the three buggies finished the race as well as the Trick Truck. The only DNF was not caused by a mechanical failure or driver error but was due to a ruptured fuel cell from an impact by one Mr. BJ Baldwin and his Trick Truck. Results were as follows:
#1528--finished 23rd overall and 5th in class out of 95 official finishers and 24 finishers in class
#1507--finished 21st overall and 3rd in class
#47--finished 27th overall and 17th in class
The drivers of these vehicles were blown away by the roughness of the course calling their premier event--the Finke Desert Race in Australia--a highway compared to the terrain in Arizona they encountered. The most impressive finish of these drivers was the #1507 of Garry Simpson who was running his little 3.5L NA V6 engine against the 7 Liter V8s of the rest of the Class 1500 field. Overall the Aussies showed that even in limited seat time on unseen terrain behind unproven vehicles, they can compete at the pointy end of North American desert racing.