“Shane Van Gisbergen.” Not only is it a fun name to say, but we also suspect you’ll be hearing it from time to time even if you don’t follow the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship—formerly known as V8 Supercars—this season. Last weekend in Sydney’s Homebush Park, Van Gisbergen became the first New Zealander to win the title in that series since 1991 and the occasional drifter and sports car racer celebrated his title in grand style. Though he’d clinched the championship before the final race even started, Van Gisbergen won the final race for good measure, then boiled off his Holden Commodore’s rear tires in front of his gathered crew at the pit wall.
Most of all, we’re impressed by his nose-into-wall technique, to let him smoke out the entire front straight. He’s perhaps had longer burnouts and drifted his way through victory laps, but there’s no better burnout for a driver than the one after winning a championship. The 650-horsepower 5.0-liter Holden V8 does a pretty adequate job of nuking the last bit of rubber off the wheels.
You might remember Van Gisbergen from his specially prepared V8 Supercars drift car, but he also smashed the lap record at Mount Panorama during the Bathurst 12 Hours in a McLaren 650S GT3. The Supercars title was his second championship of the year, as well, having helped McLaren 650S team Garage 59 win the Blancpain Endurance Series championship. He’ll defend his Supercars championship in 2017, but the young Kiwi has a bright future ahead of him internationally, including at least four visits to the United States to drive a Mercedes in IMSA competition next year.