It sounded as if Earth itself was being torn apart and from the chasm erupted a cloud of many colours. The billowing mass soon blanketed the grandstands as the heat and noise and chest-rumbling vibrations brought the adoring crowd to its feet.
Visitors to the Street Machine Summernats event - the 26th annual gathering of car lovers, rev heads and burn-out addicts in Australia's capital city, Canberra - had been promised a tyre-screeching spectacle bigger than any that had ever been seen in the world.
On the new burn-out pad car after car was parked precisely alongside each other, with only a metre to spare between each powerful machine. Any car that slid or span out of control during the mass burn-out could destroy the entire attempt. But if Summernats organisers were to break the required amount of 50 cars burning out (spinning their tyres) at once then they'd need as many cars on the pad as they could fit.
By the end of the preparation period 69 cars were lined up and ready to burn rubber. Track mashalls dropped their flags, engines roared, tyres screamed and a surreal cloud of bright white, red, orange and pink rose from the line of howling vehicles.
From the top of the grandstand it soon looked as if we were on an aircraft, flying through the clouds. Sometimes we'd be blinded as the smoke enveloped our position. At other moments we would find a clear spot, see blue sky and breathe a little easier.
After the 30-second burn-out period the drivers, all elite athletes in the world of car control, began to ease off the power. A few tyres popped and two cars caught fire. Both were quickly put out by waiting fire marshalls.
The result? From all of the noise and smoke and burnt rubber rose a new Guinness World Record - 68 drivers (one car had suffered mechanical issues and broke down at the beginning of the event) had just achieved the largest simultaneous car tyre burn-out.