Craig Whiddett, of Figtree, blew tyres and burnt rubber to take out third place in the Summernats 2014 Burnout Masters last weekend.
Mr Whiddett and his VK Commodore won the chance to compete at an international level, as the prize included a trip to Summernats Malaysia to showcase his skills in August.
The Burnout Masters competition is judged on criteria including driver control and the amount of smoke produced.
Mr Whiddett dedicated six years to modify the Commodore - as well as the back of his leg where a tattoo portrait of his car is inked. He refused to calculate the money poured into his hobby.
"I don't keep count on how much money I spend, it gets too depressing."
Modifications included a late-model V8 engine and Mr Whiddett estimated the car had been repainted "about five times".
Mr Whiddett has competed in the last two Summernats and spends the year touring car shows from Darwin to Melbourne.
His efforts paid off last year when he picked up four sponsors.
"They help out with parts and engine tuning. It helps with the cost," he said.
He described the world of competitive burnouts as a friendly one.
"There are no big rivalries. We all get along."
Mr Whiddett said he was one of few in the Illawarra who participated in Summernats.