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Der Olmesser: The Big Deal With Burnouts?

I don’t understand the appeal of the burnout.

There – I said it. And I’m well aware that by making such a statement, I might just as well have also said, “I’m very, very old, and totally out of touch with what the young folks are doing these days.” Oh well…

Old I may be, but I actually have performed my share of burnouts in my day. Hell, when I was in high school, I even had as a hand-me-down my father’s ’77 Trans-Am, complete with a “real” Pontiac 6.6, Hurst 4-speed, and Posi’ rear end. Burnouts were the order of the day in that mullet-mobile. I’ve also had more than my fair share of VR6T and VR6S/C-equipped VWs – some with Quaife diffs, some without – and as such, I’m well aware of the fun-factor that comes with driving a ridiculously over-powered FWD vehicle. Thing is, though, that I’m also old enough to remember when VW transmissions were more fragile than a house of cards in a wind storm, and an exploding spider gear assembly was always at the forefront of my mind, anytime I got overly tempted to “light ‘em up.”

I suppose what I really don’t get, is how burnouts have become so popular with the import crowds (including VW). We now have burnout contests at all the major shows, and the popularity of these displays truly perplexes me. It’s one thing to watch someone enter a bleach-box, light up their drag slicks for a few seconds, move to the staging area, then drive their way to a ten or eleven second 1/4-mile pass… But that’s not what I’m talking about here, obviously. Seeing hundreds of folks cheering psychotically as some dude in a ’82 Rabbit makes smoky mince-meat out of a pair of space-saver spare tires puzzles me to no end. I’m not saying I think it’s terrible or that we need to ban such activities – not at all. I’m just wondering why, after seeing such a sight once or twice, would anyone get excited the third, fourth, or hundredth time?

I cannot, however, deny that these contests are very popular, and that there must truly be reasons why, even if I can’t see them. So I’m going to ask you, VWvortex reader, to explain it to me. Keep in mind that I am very old, and possibly quite dense as well, so please take your time, be as descriptive as possible, and if the truth lies somewhere between a series of cold, hard facts and a steaming pile of bull feces, well, that’s fine, too – I’m more than willing to listen.

I realize I’m asking a lot here, so I’ve taken steps to make it worth your time and effort. Our good friends from the Great White North, Dustan and Warren from RPI-Equipped (A.K.A. Doug and Bob McKenzie), have graciously donated a $50.00 gift certificate to the reader who best captures, via their reply to the linked discussion forum below, the essence of the burnout’s appeal. Whoever can make me see what you see, feel what you feel, and smell what you smell, will win that $50.00 G.C., and I’ll announce the winner on Friday, August 13, in the same discussion thread linked below.

Thanks in advance – now get to writin’!


forums linkFor more discussion on this story, click on the link to our discussion forums at the left.

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