An Australian’s Curiosity: Why Can’t Americans Master a Good Burnout?

    Why American Burnouts Are a Joke Compared to Aussie Hoons

    Those who know me personally are aware that I usually don’t get mad at much. I have a live-and-let-live kind of attitude. Unlike our Goth-uncle Adrian, who gets white-hot rage at someone painting a DeLorean and not leaving it in the original stainless steel finish, I just see someone who decided to personalize their car. As long as it’s safe and roadworthy, people should be able to swap drivetrains or do whatever they want with their own cars.

    However, there’s something that has been bothering me for a while now – the abysmal state of burnouts in the USA. As an Aussie, I am both amused and annoyed by the lackluster burnout videos that come from the States. It’s even more frustrating to see car shows being shut down because participants don’t know how, when, or why to do a burnout.

    Let’s break it down. You Americans have all these big V8 sedans, so why are just about every burnout video we see from the States so hopeless? I’m not talking about takeovers, which we all know is plain reckless and irresponsible hooning. Hooning shouldn’t harm others, remember that.

    To clarify, here at the Autopian, we love hooning, as long as it’s done in a safe manner and not in public spaces. But some of the videos we come across on the internet are just disappointing. These individuals should know better, especially if they’re posting their burnouts for recognition and praise.

    The inspiration for this article came from Matt sharing a video of what can only be described as a hopeless excuse for a burnout. In the video, a Cadillac CTS-V attempts a burnout in an industrial area. Although the surface is wet and there’s plenty of space, the burnout is lackluster at best. The left-rear tire pops, causing damage to the rear-quarter panel. Even with the traction control off, it’s doubtful that the burnout would have been any more impressive.

    In comparison, it’s rare to come across an American burnout video that is even halfway as impressive as the average video from an Aussie P-Plater in a six-cylinder car. Australian skid culture has developed as a result of our low population density and our obsession with rear-wheel-drive vehicles. We have an abundance of lightly-used roads outside of major cities, and bored teenagers with powerful RWD vehicles have perfected the art of burnouts.

    Aussie burnout competitions, such as the one at Deni Ute Muster, have turned “circlework” into a judged event. Participants are awarded points for driving skills, the number and execution of circles, and overall performance. While I’m not the biggest fan of burnouts as a sport or entertainment, I can still appreciate a good burnout when I see one. Unfortunately, most American burnouts just don’t measure up.

    The majority of American burnout videos I come across are either stationary brake-stands or poorly executed attempts, such as chaining the vehicle or placing it nose-up against a wall in a puddle. What’s the point of these stunts? It’s not impressive at all.

    The few American burnouts that deviate from the straight line often end with the vehicle hitting a wall or requiring frequent stops and restarts. Even popular figures like Cleetus McFarland and Derek Bieri struggle to match the skill and control of Aussie burnout competitors. Although they are improving, they still have a long way to go.

    One area where Americans seem to struggle is the “tip in,” which refers to throwing the car into a spin to start the donuts while burning the tires. Aussie burnout competitors are known for their impressive tip-ins, especially those with short-wheelbase vehicles like ’70s Toyota Corollas and Suzuki Mighty Boys.

    To execute a great burnout, you need instant tire smoke from the moment you start spinning the wheels. The challenge lies in maintaining the smoke without stalling or dropping too many revs. In Australia, elite competitors often use 1000+ horsepower V8 cars to ensure instant and long-lasting smoke. However, there are many six-cylinder and rotary burnout cars that can match the big-guns.

    Burnouts are judged based on various criteria, including tire smoke, driving skill, and penalties. Aussies take burnout competitions seriously, and it’s reflected in the scoring system. For example, at Summernats, one of the largest burnout competitions in Australia, tire smoke alone can earn up to 50 points out of a possible 100. The remaining points are allocated to driving skill.

    It’s time for America to step up its game. You have access to more powerful vehicles than we do, both in terms of horsepower and quantity. We’ve already adopted many American customs, such as Halloween and the gig economy. Now it’s time for you to embrace our hooning culture and bring your skills and videos to the next level. Otherwise, us Aussies will continue to shake our heads, sip our beers, and declare that these terrible Yankee skid videos have nothing we want.

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