WHO knew a few cartoon animals could inspire burnout competitors?

John Dodd christened Maryborough Speedway's newly-upgraded burnout pad for the Chronicle's cameras, and will be one of many to compete at the new pad tomorrow. But the story behind Dodd's journey to the first round of the Bob Jane T-Mart Burnout Masters started decades ago on the small screen.

"I've got Hannah Barbera to blame for my interest in burnouts," Dodd said.

The Banana Splits were four costumed, fictional animals, in a show that originally aired from late 1968 to 1970. The Cattanooga Cats soon hit the airwaves, borne out of the Splits' success, and followed Motormouse and Autocat as they tore across the country.

"They were always doing burnouts and chasing after each other, a bit like the Road Runner and the Coyote but in cars, and I was always fascinated by that," he said.

"Once I got a car and I was able to do burnouts I did."

Dodd did them on the streets at that stage (and suffered the consequences), but began competing about four years ago.

"I bought a car from the impound yard, it cost a couple hundred dollars, and we took it out and in my first go I got third place in the Burnout Masters in it," he said.

"I thought I'd built a dedicated burnout car so I bought a Mercedes 190 E, put a Commodore V8 in it for something different."

He still drives Benzene today, but despite early issues has enjoyed a happier time with the machine.

"Initially we had a couple of dramas but lately it's been pretty good," Dodd said.

"We've just got on top of a few tuning issues but it's running pretty well and we're having happy times in it. We had some reliability issues but they've gone away, touch wood."

He said the increase in drivers could be due to the growing number of facilities.

"It's huge, there's heaps of people out there building burnout cars," Dodd said.

"It's very, very popular. So many people love doing them and are concerned about doing them on the streets. The availability of local pads - Bundy has one, we've got one, and there's a lot being built around the place for people interested."

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