RockyNats 03, Ready

When writing and publishing this blog, the Rockhampton region and travellers from afar are on the countdown to one of Australia’s biggest motor festivals, RockyNats. In its second year in 2022, the event was an award-winning success. This year is set to be bigger, louder and more entertaining.

Johnson’s 4WD Repair Shop is one of many local businesses to come on board and sponsor this event.

It may beg the question, ‘why would a 4WD workshop sponsor a rev head motor festival?’

For co-owner Nathan Johnson, for as long as he can remember, he’s been a motorsport nut. One of his fondest memories is winning a Dick Johnson Racing Jacket in the 80’s. The race transporter came through Rocky and stopped for the week at the Shell service station on Gladstone Road. There they had on display the Red Shell Racing Ford Sierra. Dick Johnson signed the Jacket, and Nathan wore that jacket until he busted out of it as a teenager. Nathan’s Dad, Ian, would watch Bathurst most years, and Nathan would sit with him and watch as much as he could, Dick Johnson being, of course, the fan favourite.

As Nathan grew into a more intuitive teenager, he realised his mountain bike was not mechanical enough to quench his thirst to pull things apart and make them perform better. Nathan’s cousin and brother both bought their first cars and commenced playing with carbys and timing to make them perform better than standard. The group then decided that the stock engines were not enough, so they dismantled built engines with performance gains in mind during the rebuild process.

When Nathan was old enough and had worked to buy his first car, between the group, there were already enough engine parts to build a performance engine to race his first car down the ¼ mile. This activity was undertaken nearly every month for two years at Benaraby Raceway in Central Queensland.

That’s how he got hooked! 

A path both Nathan and Nyree can see their son, Alan, travelling down. Rest assured, they’ve tried with the girls, Mads and Sara, but the appreciation isn’t there yet.

Fast forward 25 – 30 years, and as small business owners, Nathan and Nyree have the opportunity to prominently participate in a car festival in their home town of Rockhampton. With dreams one day of travelling to Canberra for Summernats, work commitments, family and operating a small business for the last eight years have been in the way.

In 2022 the sponsorship journey commenced. While watching the street parade and admiring all the vehicles in the Show n Shine, Nyree and Nathan’s son, Alan, wanted to buy a street machine. When Alan gets an idea in his head, it becomes an obsession and an influx of available vehicles from is forwarded at every opportunity.

Weeding through the messages and joking about buying a V8, Nyree decided she’d had enough of the ‘Mum car’ SUV. With a family of five, she decided to buy a vehicle with four seats and two doors. Follow her for more parenting advice!

A 2018 lightning blue Mustang GT was soon in their possession, intending to take the stock standard V8 and turn it into a daily driven entry for Rockynats03.

2018 Lightning Blue Mustang GT

How does a daily drive become a street drag car and one worthy of being showcased in the Street Parade?

Nathan and Nyree wanted this car to look different, sound different and perform like no other. Nathan went to work on pulling together a plan to ensure the vehicle could perform and be driven daily.  

First, some cosmetic changes were made with a Shelby GT500 Boot Spoiler supplied and painted to change the stance, then the addition of side window louvres and tinted windows.

The engine work is simple; a Roush cold air induction kit was sourced and installed to keep the intake temperatures as low as possible. Then a complete X-Force exhaust system was installed, including 4 into 1 1” 7/8 Headers, High Flow Catalytic Convertors, X-Pipe, and Hiflow mufflers, all in stainless steel. The installation of this system was not easy, and it took Nathan and Mat around 12 hours to fit up. It gets nice and tight around the engine installing the headers. The sound it makes is awesome.

Once the exhaust was fitted, the car was taken to Mackay, and Dave Sheehy from CPV Tuning did a number on it, providing Nyree and Nathan with four options in the tune. The Mustang can now run on either PULP 98 or Ethanol 85 Race blend fuel. With these simple modifications, the result is 355kw/477hp at the hubs on the dyno running E85.

Nathan approached a key supplier about options for a performance upgrade of the brakes. With the extra horsepower came the need to stop the vehicle. The result was a slotted and drilled disc rotor with carbon ceramic brake pads. The Mustang already had a Brembo Brakes Calliper on the front, so there was no need for a calliper upgrade. At the same time, Foose Design wheels in 20” and Yokohama Advan tyres were sourced to make it look amazing.

20″ Foose Design Wheels

The final piece of the puzzle (for now) are tyres to arrive, which are specific for street drag racing on Easter Sunday. There may even be a trip to Palmyra Raceway in Mackay to do some test runs first.

The Shelby GT500 Mustang is Nathan’s favourite vehicle, and there are plans to add some extra features to replica a GT500 as they are not produced in Australia. A Mustang can be given to an Authorised Shelby American dealer here in Australia, but it is not the same as owning the real deal, so a replica must do.

Bring on the Easter weekend in Rockhampton; it will be massive!