SUMMERNATS 31 – Canberra Comes Alive
Summernats 31 was insane! Canberra, Australia’s Capital City and home to the Parliament House is normally a quiet, peaceful city however a few days a year in early January the peace and quiet subsides making way for the sounds of blowers, open pipes and burnouts. Presented by Street Machine Magazine, Australia’s largest car show, the Summernats, recently celebrated its 31st anniversary. The noise is still echoing.
Held at Exhibition Park, the gates are opened Thursday morning with entrants heading straight to inspection to make sure they meet the required safety standards. Once you have passed “scrutineering” you receive your entrant sticker and goodie bag, then it’s time to do laps of the cruise lane, and perhaps head to the judging hall for those chasing the trophies. Those staying onsite set up camp, ice down the refreshments and let it rip.
One of two events scheduled for Thursday was the City Cruise with thousands lining the city streets to watch the 300 or so selected cars leave Exhibition Park and rumble down Northbourne Avenue and back. This is the only event held outside the grounds of Exhibition Park. The other event was the Last Chance Wildcard Shootout to qualify for the Burnout Masters, with 27 contenders it was NVYDIS, FRASHR and PEPPERIT that survived the carnage with many contenders hitting the wall (including Street Outlaws’ Jeff Bonnett and “Farmtruck”) who hit the wall-not once but twice!
Friday is the day when things start to heat up inside the grounds with inspections continuing throughout the day. Judging is held in the main hall for both Elite and Street Elite classes. The Trade Pavilions open for those keen to find a bargain, check out some new products and grab an event souvenir. The Dyno Cell is opened for those wanting to claim bragging rights for the Highest Horsepower. New to this year was the Cougar Cave – a place to relax a little and enjoy the views of Tuff Street whilst having a drink or two (or three, four, five). Friday evening at the ‘Nats is the Top 60 Show and the Great Meguiar’s Uncover, where nine of the most amazing, never-before-seen show cars are unveiled to huge crowds.
The 60 best cars after judging are displayed for the weekend, and qualifying for the Burnout Championship continues on the legendary Burnout Pad with standing room only-crowds. To finish off a great day, Aussie punk rockers 28 Days and hip-hop legends Thundamentals rocked the main stage.
Saturday is the Main Day at Summernats, with so much going on its hard to know which way to look. The Top 60 show continues in the main hall, there’s a Show and Shine on the main arena for the Street Cars, Tuff Street is the place to visit to see the Blown, Injected, Turbo’d, Tubbed mechanical monsters, and it’s also the place to go to see those that flaunt with the rules drop a burnout, whipping the thousands lining the concrete barriers into a frenzy.
The Dyno Comp continues to find the highest horsepower of the event, and the trade hall continues to sell the latest and greatest products. A new element to this year’s event was the Tattoo Competition and for those wishing to get some fresh ink there was a few shops tattooing onsite.
Burnout eliminations continued to find the Top 50 that would go through to Sunday’s final, the Grass Driving events were being held on the main arena and Go to Whoa on the Burnout Pad. It was madness!
Out on the cruise road the action continues from sunrise to sundown with the odd burnout being laid for the masses lining the roads. Late in the afternoon was one of the events everyone had been waiting for, the Burnout Master’s eliminations. After 12 qualifying events Australia-wide, it came down to 31 of the best in the business. After the ball draw to see the running order, each contestant took to the Burnout Pad for their shot at glory. After the failures, fire and smoke had cleared only 10 were left standing to contend Sunday’s final.
Rounding out Saturday’s proceedings was the Supercruise held on the Main arena, bringing together around 250 cars to showcase to the many spectators that line the fence. Once the cruise finished it was time for the fireworks show wowing the young and young at heart. To finish off what can only be described as a massive day, Grammy award winning Wolfmother played to a packed crowd.
Sunday things take a little longer to start mainly due to a lot of “heavy heads” from a big Saturday night. Sunday is finals day for all the driving events and Dyno Competition. The overall winner for the dyno comp was Paul Allen in his 572c.i., 14-71 Blown LX Torana cranking out an amazing 1039 rear wheel horsepower, however the standout on the dyno had to be Scott Forrester with his 4 cylinder powered Gemini belting out a monstrous 839 horsepower!
Over at the burnout track it was time for the big one, crowning of the Summernats 31 Grand Champion. After sitting inside the Top 60 Hall all weekend it’s time for the contenders to hit the Burnout Pad and put themselves and their car through their paces. This year a record 18 cars contended for the title. To contend for Grand Champion you need to have done well in Judging, then it’s onto the two driving events (slalom and Go to Whoa). Once the 18 have completed all of this the points are tallied and the winner announced.
Taking this year’s Grand Champion crown was Grant Connor in his 1967 XR Falcon who held the sword high above his head. Once the Burnout pad was cleared it was onto the final events of the weekend and for some the main reason for being there, finding the Burnout Master for 2017 and the Burnout Championship winner for 2017. Lots of burnouts!
The Burnout Champion automatically gains entry into the 2018 Masters so everyone was on their A game trying to get into the top three. At the end of the finals it was Phil Kerjean in his blown VK Holden Commodore wagon taking the win ahead of Chris Orchard and Steve Edsall. The final event of Summernats 31 is the Burnout Masters. With only 10 qualifying it was a no-holds-barred burnout fest! Once the smoke and flames had cleared it was Matt James creating Summernats history by not only winning in his Blown Commodore Ute (UNWANTED) but he also backed it up with 2nd place in his Blown 64 Compact Fairlane (COMPACT). Rounding out the top three was the ever-consistent Rick Fuller in his Blown VK Commodore (LSONE).
With the trophies handed out the Summernats was over for another year. Exhibition Park eventually fell quiet as everyone made their way home to all parts of Australia. In no time they will all ready to do it again next year. We hope to see you at Summernats 32, January 3-6, 2019.