Up in Smoke: The Best Burnouts of 2016

Burnouts are much more than just a critical step required to prepare racecars for optimum traction. It’s about revving the engine in such a way that the thundering horsepower is felt beneath your feet, and in turn, spectators can feel the ground shake. It’s about crowds of people uniting together to witness live, raw power. When it comes to burnouts we want our eyes to water, eardrums to pulsate, and our joy-meters to burst. The heat is on for the search of the smokiest burnouts from 2016. Here are our contributions.

1. Life’s a Drag at the Ford Nationals, in a Good Way

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Photo: NMRA

The NMRA is best known for the Ford Nationals, the number-one all-Ford motorsport show in the U.S. By developing the largest number of serious Ford drag racers and attracting large numbers of fans and sponsors, the NMRA is never lacking in the burnout department.

2. It’s the Best Therapy Session for the Car-Crazed

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Photo: Alex Wong

Auto Enthusiast Day is one action-packed event that will make you wish you could be in more than one spot at once: Don’t blink, or you could miss something. Thrilling back-to-back driving demos with Nitto’s Formula Drift and Ultra4 drivers teamed with car shows and shops set up by some of the industry’s best vendors will turn ordinary enthusiasts into completely car-crazed lunatics. It’s a good thing there are plenty of big burly burnouts to depend on for therapy.

3. Burnouts at Speed

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Drift cars have a fascinating ability to burn rubber all the way around a track, and the clouds become even more mesmerizing when elements outside of the pavement get swirled into the mix. This photo of Vaughn Gittin Jr. blending roasted Nitto rubber with some of Georgia’s dried red clay during the springtime FD Road Atlanta competition is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

4. Track Days Gone Wild

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Gridlife is more than just a Motorsports festival. It’s a culture and lifestyle. Weekend-long track activities consist of High Performance Driver’s Ed (HPDE), Street Modified, Track Modified, and Unlimited classes. When it comes to the tread-blistering drift sessions, the spectators and media surround the track. Then when the sun sets and the track cools, the nightlife and live music begin.

5. Through Burned Rubber We Stand United

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Photographer Luke Munnell says, “There's something about a burnout that brings people together more than any other element in the automotive world,” and we wholeheartedly agree. No matter the make, model or style of a car's build, what’s under the hood or who the driver is, its ability to scorch insane amounts of rubber is all that's needed to induce pure euphoria in the mind of any gearhead.

6. It’s All About the Energy

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Photo: Josh Tons

Red Bull GRC events offer a unique and unparalleled viewing experience for fans at the track and watching broadcasts alike. The events are designed to produce the fastest and most exciting racing in all of motorsports, without lengthy breaks in the action. We all know what that means: nonstop thick, heavy clouds billowing from scalding tires, high-fives and cheering all around. 

7. Obtainable Fun for Everyone

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Photo: Josh Tons

To get into the groove of burnout madness, all you really need is a safe chassis, a little weight, and enough power to let loose. Oh, and tires – lots and lots of tires.

8. A Heavy-Duty Diesel Does It

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Writer and photographer Mike McGlothlin says there is a reason why he loves and focuses on the diesel truck industry, and this photo says it all. “I get to meet and hang out with diesel owners from all walks of life, photograph their pride and joy, and then tell their story. In many cases, the story revolves around how the owner doubled, tripled or even quadrupled the truck’s power output and still drives it to work every day.”

9. Vintage Drags at the NDRL

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Photo: Steve Fuhrman

The best place to watch long, hard, back-to-back burnouts is the drag strip. Sticky tar may steal shoes, but it allows for the favorable friction that creates the blue-grey cloud of vaporized tread we all love. Putting down a fresh, wide layer of rubber helps the tires grip the pavement when the lights on the tree trickle down to green.

10. #BecauseRoadkill

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An article about big burnouts just wouldn't feel right without a snippet from Roadkill's summer day and night drags on Detroit, Michigan’s Woodward Avenue. These are the guys who are known for taking jalopies from all over the country and turning them into relentless rubber-roasting machines. In this photo, after working overnight on repairs to make their Dodge Challenger tire-ripping ready, David Freiburger revels in their success with an ear-to-ear grin and fists held to the sky.


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