Grape Kings: From weekend warriors to seasonal sailors

In true Grape Kings fashion, none of us were going to make it to the meet point in time.

You’ll note from the chat above, there’s no mention of Tony having any car issues and that’s because…well, he didn’t.

For the first time ever the rescuee has become the rescuer.

I should also mention that he’s purchased another more reliable Soarer.

Somehow, five months have slipped by since I last drove the MX5 (I thought it had only been a month or two) so that explained why the car battery was completely dead when I tried to start it. As I would later learn after stopping to fill up petrol at the meet point, it doesn’t hold charge at all anymore.


Don’t stall it Ying!

Of course that meant that I would stall it 10 mins later trying to take off from a round about.

After a unplanned stop with hazard lights on in the middle of the road, a quick jump start and Charlie documenting my incompetence, we were back on our way.

On loan from the collection of Tein

Lots of long weekend traffic meant it was a leisurely drive with the group getting split up along the way.

But everyone knew where to meet back up.

Our breakfast.

In the Grape Kings on board arsenal.

Charlies recently turned the GX71 back into a GX71.

I have no photos of the new/old 1G motor as I was busy buying donuts when the bonnet went up.


Doily donut goodness

As the Winter months set in, it’ll probably be our last drive for a while so it was nice to be able to feel the sun on our faces and the wind in our hair before going into hibernation.


Nugget Nationals 2017: Round 2 – Haunted Hills Pt.3

Round 2 of Nugget Nationals saw a gathering of small cars at Victoria’s premier Hill Climb track.

This was our first ever event at this circuit and also the first time to this track for many of the drivers.

We were all pretty excited and nervous to see how the Nuggets would go.

Drivers have been awarded points on their runs in both the “Clockwise” and the “Figure 8” format and then ranked based on the total points allocated.

1st Place: Clockwise 65.11 / Figure 8 – 71.53
Driver: Liam Murphy
Nugget: 2003 Mitsubishi Mirage

Congratulations to Laim on placing first. We’re sure Zac’s going to be kicking himself that he had to miss this event!

2nd Place: Clockwise 65.41 / Figure 8 – 72.47
Driver: Iain “Never Lift” McCowan
Nugget: 1990 Honda Civic

We know Iain is going to be pretty damn happy when he sees this and realises where he has placed.

3rd Place: Clockwise 65.27 / Figure 8 – 72.49
Driver: Adam “Millsy” Mills
Nugget: 2002 Daihatsu Sirion GTVI

4th Place: Clockwise 64.44 / Figure 8 – 73.21
Driver: Viv “Vivski” Dilkes-Frayne
Nugget: 2002 Daihatsu Sirion GTVI

Viv was quicker than Millsy in the Clockwise course however his placing against others in the figure 8 course meant that he’s come in at 4th.

5th Place: Clockwise 67.03 / Figure 8 – 73.07
Ying Bot
2002 Toyota Echo Sportivo

Clearly terrified of the track in the morning on the Clockwise course, my nerves cost me a better placing but a solid time on the Figure 8 places me here.

6th Place: Clockwise 67.09 / Figure 8 – 74.33
Driver: Daniel Jon
Nugget: 1993 Honda Civic

Fun fact, no one has ever seen Daniel’s Evo. 😛

7th Place: Clockwise 69.00 / Figure 8 – 75.90
Driver: Stuart Chambers
Nugget: 1998 Mitsubishi Mirage

Previously piloting a 2003 Mitsubishi Mirage in NugNats 2015, Stu’s decided to try his hand at something more Vintage with this lovely lilac 98′ model.

8th Place: Clockwise 72.6 / Figure 8 – 78.3
Driver: Mark Van der Veen
Nugget: 1995 Nissan Micra

Mark’s a first time to entrant to Nug Nats and this was also his first track day ever. What a baptism of fire! We hope to see this car at more events soon.

9th Place: Clockwise 71.1 / Figure 8 – 78.9
Driver: Tommy Chan
Nugget: 1995 Toyota Paseo

Tommy drove this car like he stole it, then he kept driving it some more!

10th Place: Clockwise 70.0 / Figure 8 – 80.8
Driver: Shannon Swiderski
Nugget: 1994 Hyundai Excel

Our first Korean car of the series (we’re surprised it’s taken so long for one to enter)! A big warm welcome to Shannon and his excel.

11th Place: Clockwise 67.40
Driver: Lawrence Ho
Nugget: 2003 Honda Jazz

Another close battle between co-drivers Lawrence and Thomas.

12th Place: Clockwise 67.91
Driver: Thomas Loo
Nugget: 2003 Honda Jazz

Only the smallest margin between the two!

Full results tally:

More photos from Lawrence’s album can be found here.

A big thanks to EXE crew and specifically TJB and Jally for their outstanding achievement in the field of excellence.


Part 1: Morning and “Clockwise” runs.

Part 2: Afternoon and “Figure 8” runs.

Part 3: Nugget Nationals Round 2 competitors and results coverage.

Nugget Nationals 2017: Round 2 – Haunted Hills Pt.2

During the second half of the day, we ran the figure 8 configuration.

After a 6 month break from track, Simo is back with a vengeance narrowly missing out on first place in this layout.


Andrew’s parents were kind enough to lend him their Camry for the day.

And he couldn’t be more pleased!


For a lot of smart track goer’s, all roads seem to lead back to an MX5.

Lee had an Evo, then an MX5, then bought another Evo, then realised it was the MX5 all along.


Mike also has a 911, although not as shiny, he knows that the NB is the superior vehicle.


Matt has come from a MX5, to another MX5, back to the same MX5.

68.2 – It’s all fun and games until someone splits a brake line…

Ruan is another one from camp Evo, who then bought an MX5, who then bought another Evo, who then sat in Lee’s ND and now wants another MX5.


Maybe I got it wrong because all my roads led me back to front wheel drive Toyota’s.

Hrmmm, I’ll need to evaluate my plans with Cherry one of these days…

73.0 for me on the figure 8

Choose your own adventure

Willer’s last track day before he becomes a dad.

Maybe he should’ve bought the 4 door instead? 😛

73.2. See you on the other side of parenthood!

Uh oh, here comes trouble.

Juzzy showed up and was delighted to see that Tom’s extremely reliable CRX had partially loosened itself of it’s own exhaust.

Tom’s write up can be found here on the Honed site. 

Smiles – but for how long?

After a bit of mechanical misfortune at WTAC last year, the MR-S is back and Justin had bought it down to the track to try diagnose a bizarre car shutting down on only left turns issue.

Thankfully, we didn’t have to push it up any hills but unfortunately the issue was still occurring.

We totally did not place bets on what corner the car would stop.

In between runs, we all eagerly pressed our noses up to the glass to check out our lap times as they were posted.

Congratulations and cuss words were uttered as friendly rivalries were ignited.

One of those rivalries was between Kam and Andi.

Andi narrowly lost with a 68.9…

…to Kam’s 68.8!

It’s always a valid question asking Vu what car he is driving, because people are nice enough to let him drive their cars…unlike my mate Kam, who has not yet let me drive the GT3. *cough*


One of my oldest friends Mic, showed up late at around 1pm. Most likely due to the fact that he hasn’t started his car in about eleventy billion years.

It’s great to finally see this car back on track after an extremely long hiatus.

Fun fact: We both blew up our Toyota motors together at our first ever track day.

75.0 for the Beams powered 86.

One of the exceptions to my “I don’t really like late model cars rule” is the 1M.

The strange chibi proportions are so awesome.


Seeing as we’re in the “cars I will never be able to afford category,” I’ll also post some barely acceptable panning shots of a Lotus.

It ran a very quick time in the morning but had to retire due to mechanical issues later in the afternoon.

The local youth of Noble Park have come to run a muck, spear headed by their ringleader Tony.

It’s now probably a good time to end part 2 as I’m running out of insightful things to say and am uploading photos at a painful 0.15mbps.

Full figure 8 results can be found here.

To be continued…


Part 1: Morning and “Clockwise” runs.

Part 2: Afternoon and “Figure 8” runs.

Part 3: Nugget Nationals Round 2 competitors and results coverage.

Nugget Nationals 2017: Round 2 – Haunted Hills Pt.1

Feeling sick and snotty, I dosed up on some cold and flu tablets and dragged myself out of bed early Saturday morning to head down to Bryant Park for round two of Nugget Nationals at the infamous Haunted Hills hill climb track.

As per my last post, I’m not competing in Nugget Nationals this year and opted to not enter this event in any car at all. The plan was to help run the day and take some photos.

Shortly after I arrived, I heard the sound of a familiar car driven by my co-organiser TJB. However, this was a Nugget event, so I should not have been able to hear the sound of his car arriving.

Hrmm interesting, whats the CRX doing here?

As I looked out over the track, I mentioned to Tom that I’d forgotten how fun this circuit looked.

“We’ll it’s not my fault you make poor life decisions and choose not to enter…but someone has just dropped out. Do you want to take their spot?”

Eh? I hadn’t packed a helmet or tools, I was still on my daily tyres and I hadn’t even bothered to fill my car up with petrol prior to arriving (have you seen the price lately? It’s almost a $1.50 for 98RON)!

But you know what’s cool about having a daily driver that’s always ready to track?

Well… it’s always ready to track.

And I guess by default, that also means I’m always ready to track. Thanks to Jally for lending me her helmet. 

After emptying my car out, Perry was ready to go.

The only thing in my car was the delightfully floral cloth (shown here) that I use to carry car parts around on.

After sign in, I did a quick whip around to say hello to the drivers as they arrived.

Dave has recently quit rotary life to try his hand at boxer life.

Kam has recently quit Audi life to try his hand at being even more baller as f**k life.

Christophe is at the track with his turbo K11 one week after getting married. What a perfect honeymoon. Congratulations bud and HBD!

Willer had convinced his friend Mark to join us for his first track day ever in his Micra.

The borrowed car crew – Vu and Brad have very trusting friends/bosses.

No ego’s here. We all get a long! Mitsu Nug next to a 1M not so Nug.

It’s been a while since we have run a day at Haunted Hills, and drivers briefing is particularly important due to the elevation change and undulation which is found on this circuit.

The track can be run in multiple configurations and with no warm up runs, it’s up to the driver to make the one hot lap count.

It’s notoriety for being an unforgiving track is for a very good reason. It has caught many a driver off guard and left battle scars on cars which require a little more than a buff to get out.

With very little margin for error you have a choice of run off which is either:
1. Off the side of the cliff
2. Into the side of the cliff

After heavy reinforcement of the “Try not to crash” rule, we all lined up for our first run of the day on the “Clockwise” configuration.

Rear wheel drive party.

As I walked around catching up with everyone it became evident that we’re all getting a  little bit older. The conversations around the pits have changed from going out and partying to buying property/getting married/starting families.

You’d think it’d be a recipe to retire from the silly motor sport thing we do but the field today proves that it will always remain a constant. The passion really never dies.

Newly wed J.Chuc manages to squeeze in a track day before heading off to Europe a few hours later!

All our track days are family friendly and also family car friendly.

Great to see Trung back out in style with a 65.8.

Iain and his dad file out for the sighting run. Mega adorable. Happy Birthday Iain and well done on the 65.4!

A while back, I test drove this Silver Roadster for Matt when I happened to be in Sydney. He purchased the car and it then made it’s way to Melbourne via a track day at Wakefield. When Matt decided he wanted to keep his other Red MX5 instead, Steve decided to quit on his other Mazda to purchase this one.

Confusing? Yes.

The “Community Roadster.”

67.4 for Steve and a personal best for how much fun can be had in a Mazda at a track day.

No matter how many times I see it, there’s just something super cool and humbling about seeing Nugget after Nugget lining up to go on track.

This makes me happy.

Perry and I head out for our first run together at this track and my feeble attempt to warm up the tyres resulted in one pathetic wheel making a woeful screech.

See that over there? I’m going to try not to hit that.

The downhill section is always a little sketchy, and maybe it’s because I’m far more confident in a Nugget, but damn this seems like way more fun than when I drove the MX5 here a few years back.

A best run (and default PB in this car for me) of 67.0 in the clockwise layout.

Now if I think this is a sketchy track with 54 kilowatts, spare a thought for Brad who came along in possibly the most inappropriate car for a hill climb…a 2jz powered 400 jiggawatt World Time Attack car with gearing set up for the straight at Sydney Motorsport Park!

Pay attention Brad!

66.2 for Brad.

Kam took me out for a lap in his GT3.

TBC but it might be a bit quicker than a big block Echo – I know hard to imagine right?

63.6 for Kam.

“Prettiest car of the day” award goes to…

Sweet baby cheezus.

No altitude problems here for Tin with a run of 67.9.

The fastest Nug in this configuration was taken by this infuriating Daihatsu Sirion that haunts my dreams.

Congrats on the 64.4 Viv!

Heathcliff the Nugget was also suffering from a runny nose this morning and didn’t feel like coming to the track today so Henry the CRX elected to take his place instead.

The black Honda spent the day trying to chase down the pesky green one.

59.9 for TJB.

Unfortunately for Tom, the green one was driven by someone even taller than he –  Haunted Hills reigning world champion* Rhys.

*Not actually his title but it might as well be,
Rhys has won a lot of stuff here and set records for being stupid fast.

Home ground advantage.

Rhys PB’d again today and set the fastest lap time for the Clockwise configuration with a time of 58.73.

Full Clockwise results can be found here.

To be continued…

Maybe to repent for the fact that I haven’t posted much in the last 6 months, I’m going to post far too much and make this a 3 part event wrap up.

Part 1: Morning and “Clockwise” runs.
Part 2: Afternoon and “Figure 8” runs.
Part 3: Nugget Nationals Round 2 competitors and results coverage.

Nugget Nationals 2017: Round 1 – Winton Raceway

Why, hello there! It’s been a while huh?

I’ve just noticed it’s been over 6 months since I posted on here and it might be time to fire this thing up again.

My first track day of the year was an outing with my beloved Nuggets albeit with a slight plot twist…I’ve put my own Nugget on a bit of a hiatus this year.

We will most definitely still be running the series in full force during 2017, however I will take a back seat from competing in the series (unless anyone wants me to drive their Nugget – not even joking :P) and continue to organise and perhaps show up in my other car from time to time.

I spent the majority of last year tracking Perry the Echo with some pretty amazing highs (the 1:46.0 at Winton) and some crushing lows (narrowly missing out on the championship on the last session of the day at Wakefield).

Amongst all of that, there was also that little thing that we did with the other Toyota.

That thing where my track car goals came to fruition and a little Honda heart was placed in Tart so that he could be used as my dedicated circuit car and then… I only ended up taking him out twice last year!

My decision to put the Echo into quasi retirement was to focus on getting more seat time in the Starlet this year with an aim to beat the 1:38 which I set last August.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be the case at this track day as there are still a few temperature related teething problems which meant I only went out for a few laps.

I left the day with a best lap time of 1:39.2 (just shy of my PB of 1:38.9) and a long overdue reminder of how ridiculously fun this car is to drive!

Hanging out with my Honed brethren.

More amusingly, it’s pretty bizarre to see my little Starlet for the first time in the same group that they let the big kids run in.

Thankfully I didn’t hold anyone up!

And for anyone who is interested, here are how the Nuggets placed for Round 1.



That strange feeling when you bring an Evo to the track and are the odd one out…

1st Place: 1:46.6
Driver: Thomas “TJB” Bullock
Nugget: 1989 Honda Civic

One of the first cars to ever compete in Nugget Nationals in 2014 has been dusted off and is back out on track with a vengeance.

Thomas Bullock and his Honed Nugget “Heathcliff” took top honors for Round 1 yesterday with a great lap time of 1:46.6 in the D15 powered Civic!

When a Nugget is being used as an RnD car for an Engineer, you know it’ll be one to watch in the up coming rounds.



What happens when the 944 challenge winner and a Victorian Rally champ compete in Nugget Nationals in the same car?

They get extremely close lap times.

2nd Place: 1:47.6
Driver: Adam “Millsy” Mills
Nugget: 2002 Daihatsu Sirion GTVI

3rd Place: 1:47.7
Driver: Viv “Vivski” Dilkes-Frayne
Nugget: 2002 Daihatsu Sirion GTVI

Congratulations to Millsy and Viv for harnessing the power of electrical tape and taking out second and third place over the weekend in their co-driven Daihatsu Sirion!



4th Place: 1:47.9
Driver: Daniel “This car is better than my Evo” Jon
Nugget: 1993 Honda Civic

Narrowly missing out on a top three finish was Daniel who managed to finish up in 4th place with his extreme gutter drop technique.



5th Place: 1:49.0
Driver: Zac Edwards
Nugget: 2003 Mitsubishi Mirage

Zac from Techsport showing us the diamond advantage in his Mirage!

The little Mitsubishi cracked into the 40’s this weekend with a lap time of 1:49.0 to secure 5th place.


6th Place: 1:49.5
Driver: Iain “Never Lift” McCowan
Nugget: 1990 Honda Civic

Harnessing the “Never Lift” ethos, the most obnoxious car in the field also joined the exclusive 40’s club.


Congrats Iain!


7th Place: 1:49.6
Driver: Blandon Le
Nugget: 2000 Toyota Echo

While the 1.5 litre big block Sportivo’s dominated the track last year, Blandon has been the first 1.3 litre small block Echo to post a sub 50 lap time, making his trip from NSW worth the frugal petrol money.


8th Place: 1:50.0
Driver: Ricky Wong
Nugget: 1993 Honda Civic

The courtesy car for AMS proved that it isn’t just a convenient option for customers, it also can hold it’s own on a race track. A great lap time for his first outing in this car.


9th Place: 1:50.1
Driver: Liam Murphy
Nugget: 2003 Mitsubishi Mirage

The second driver to the Techsport Mirage, Liam was just shy of a second off Zac’s time. With more rounds this year we’ll keep an eye on how this friendly rivalry progresses!


10th Place: 1:50.5
Driver: “Human” Perry Tien
Nugget: 2003 Mazda 2

Unfortunately Perry wasn’t able to match his PB from last year with the hot track conditions getting in the way of the Melbourne Demio Clubs sole entrant.



11th Place: 1:51.2
Driver: Hayden Ryan
Nugget: 1997 Toyota Starlet

Hayden brushed aside some niggling engine problems in the morning to secure himself a new PB with the Blue Turd.


12th Place: 1:52.7
Driver: Thomas Loo
Nugget: 2003 Honda Jazz

The co-driven Jazz and return entry was looking mightily stealthy and ninja’d it’s way into a PB for Thomas.


13th Place: 1:53.1
Driver: Steve Cap
Nugget: 1997 Toyota Starlet

Another NSW Nugget making the trip down was Steve in his Starlet. In his first ever excursion to Winton Raceway the Toyota, which was purchased for a measly $150, more than earned it’s lap time!


14th Place: 1:53.2
Driver: Lawrence Ho
Nugget: 2003 Honda Jazz

Friendships and PB’s on the line!

It’s great to see so many friends sharing Nuggets together. The reliability of these cars means that they don’t mine being double stinted over the day resulting in a PB for Lawrence too!


15th Place: 1:54.6
Driver: Alex Botton
Nugget: 1996 Suzuki Swift GTI

A forgotten hero of the 90’s, we were so pleased to see that a non show car GTI has managed to survive the Autosalon era! This is the first Suzuki entrant we’ve had in our series and even more incredible is that when this car was purchased it hadn’t been started since 2014.



16th Place: 1:54.8
Driver: David Donnoli
Nugget: 2001 Toyota Echo

David is also back this year with revised sticker livery to disguise the dents. This car is the embodiment of a Nugget with it’s sub $500 purchase price and extreme resilience to anything he or his brother had ever put it through.


17th Place: 1:57.7
Driver: Tommy Chan
Nugget: 1996 Toyota Paseo

No, don’t adjust your monitors. We know you’re probably fooled by it’s expensive looking sports coupe styling, but the Toyota Paseo is actually an eligible Nugget. With super car pedigree and the well renowned 5efte motor this car is already a winner in our eyes.



18th Place: 2:03.2
Driver: Mike Button
Nugget: 1995 Nissan Micra

For keen Nugget follower’s you’ll note that this particular Nugget Nissan has previously competed in the Nationals as the old Nakama Nugget.

The car has found it’s way back to the track behind the hands of the Button family as a cheap and fun way to get into circuit driving.

Judging by the smiles on their faces at the end of the day, we’ll be sure to see them at our next events!


19th Place: 2:07.2
Driver: Vincent Button
Nugget: 1995 Nissan Micra


Round 2 will be held on May the 6th at Haunted Hills, our first hill climb event!

Check out the Facebook page for more details:

Special mention goes out to James’ and his RallyNug!





WTAC 2016: Day 1 and 2

I’m not quite sure why World Time Attack is held on a Friday and Saturday rather than a Saturday and Sunday, but it was good news for those of us who had taken the day off and made the trek up as we got to swan about with relatively few people to obstruct photos.


Also great news for this guy who snapped a selfie with Tsuchiya who was very chilled out and casually walked around smoking a lot.


Dan went on to win Club Sprint.

Daniel went on to win Club Sprint.

Tom and Kam were also out today.



A new wager was set and again dinner was on the line to see who could run the fastest laptime out of these two.


The following photos accurately depict the difference in personalities between the two.

Some say, he actually loves Starlets and that his sweat is used to clean all the Honed tie rod ends before shipping. All we know is he’s called The TJB.


Kam “I live my life one comfortable quarter mile at a time” Aghtan.

Unfortunately, all was not so smooth running on the other side of the EXE garage, with Justin’s MR-S suffering from clutch issues.


When he’s not doing a live feed, Vijay is doing a live fix.


Adam was on signature duties for Trung collecting as many Japanese driver scribbles as he could.



I camped for a good twenty minutes waiting for people to move so I could take these shots.


I was pretty pleased with them.


As day one drew to a close, we headed over to the other side of the circuit to watch the drifting.

My favourite car park spotting of the event was this Pajero Evo.


So. Damn. Awesome.

Saito was out in the Lamborghini which was cool to see but I was destroyed from hayfever and opted to go home and have a nap instead of staying to watch the rest of the drifting.


Day two bought the show and shine cars to WTAC.

Some nice cars from the TurboSmart display.



Including an RB powered Z.


There were 3 cars that I liked on the show and shine oval, one of which included this totally fucking rad 356.


The other 2 cars were very tasteful and almost/if not stock Red TME 6.5 Evo and a black Starion both of which I didn’t take pictures of because it was hot and I don’t deal well with direct sunlight.

I didn’t even manage to get any useable photos of Adam and Charlie’s car as there were always too many people checking them out (#ineedstanceformyself).

The drift cars were also up near the show a shine.


Another look at Daigo’s Lambo.


Mad Mikes Rx7.

More TJB and Kam heckling, but ultimately the Honed K24 powered CRX put down a faster lap time.


A new PB of 1:47.7 for Tom.


And a default PB of 1:49.3 for Kam.

Justin didn’t manage to put down any proper laps but the Toyota still looked at home in the pit lane parade sporting a very cool Nugget Nationals sticker which you might be able to see if you squint and if I had taken this photo from a completely different angle.


Non Honda hatchback Time Attack cars always catch my eye.


Now here’s a Swift I can set my watch to.


Thanks to the crew for another great WTAC!