If your only experience of burnouts is hoons speeding up and down the streets of your suburb or watching a couple of the Fast & Furious films, there’s a whole scene that takes them very seriously. They also hold competitions like Rage in the Cage to determine whose skid is best. In SBS VICELAND documentary Australiana: Rage in the Cage, we meet some of the competitors in the under 18 Young Guns category – and discover there’s much more to doing a burnout than just leaving tyre marks.
There’s a big difference between those neighbourhood hoons and the guys and girls who compete in Rage in the Cage. The latter are doing their burnouts in an approved arena – at a specially designated skid pad – and consider it a sport. Competition co-founder Mike Trahar says, “These guys are skilled drivers who can put the car exactly where they want to put it when they want to put it.” He sees the advantage in welcoming teenagers to the sport – if they get involved early, they’re more likely to do burnouts at an official location rather than on the streets.
Events like Rage in the Cage, which is held in the Gippsland area of rural Victoria, are taken very seriously. Competitors devote a great deal of time, effort and whatever money they can spare getting their vehicles ready. When doing a burnout, popping both tyres – whatever that means – gets you more points and the more smoke the better. Of course, as we see, testing out how much smoke you can generate in your driveway is one sure way to get the neighbours (and fire brigade) offside.
For all the young drivers interviewed, doing burnouts and competing at Rage in the Cage provides an escape – from the high levels of unemployment, drug use and crime in that part of Australia; from the personal problems facing them and their families; and, in some cases, from severe mental health issues. It’s something constructive to pour their energy into – for Kya Tolley, her years of tinkering with cars could lead to a career as a mechanic. And it provides a sense of belonging to a group of like-minded enthusiasts.
It’s, er, relaxing
You wouldn’t think so, but reformed illegal burnout practitioner CJ Starkey insists it’s peaceful. As another driver says, “For a minute and a half all the bulls*** goes away.”
Watch Australiana: Rage in the Cage when it premieres on Wednesday, 19 July at 8pm on SBS VICELAND.