It’s regarded as Australia’s biggest horsepower party and was once famous for BBB. Beer, boobs, and burnouts. Summernats has gone hard in recent years to make the BBB more bbb. There are still boob, beer, and burnouts, but the reliance and focus on those as what made it Summernats has been changed.
There is still plenty of muscle in the form of tricked up and injected, turboed and supercharged, engines aplenty. The magicians that press, bend, fold, weld, and massage sheetmetal are still there in numbers, and it’s this area that can catch the eyeballs more than a towering intake stack.
Summernats itself was held for the first time in 1987 (with some sources stating 1988) and possibly at a point when the street machine wave was at its strongest. It’s also been held in a location some say is utterly appropriate due to the hot air.
“Chic” Henry is the man credited with getting the world famous event up and running and was the man behind the event from its inception through to 2009. He laid out a set of guidelines for how cars that entered various categories would be judged. The basics have stayed the same, such as the driving events, the burnouts (of which a world record attempt was successfully held), show and shine which breaks down into several sub-categories such as Top Judged Elite, and the Grand Champion Award.
For the 2020 event, to be held at the traditional Exhibition Park venue on the northern outskirts of Canberra, there will be some interesting categories. These include “Best Mullet”, the Body Art Nationals , and Celebrity Modified Lawn Mower Racing. Shannon “Nollsy” Nolls will be on hand as a host for the first two.
But it’s the cars that people come to see. It’s the cars that have chrome, intricate airbrushed artwork, and super shiny pizza plate sized wheels that people come to see. It’s the handcrafted tweaks and curves of metal, the handbeaten fenders, the hand built interiors, that people come to see.
There is for 2020’s event the Haltech Horsepower Heroes, the Shannons Show and Shine, and the ultimate prize: the Street Machine Summernats Grand Champion. The Horsepower Heroes have seen real evolution of horsepower, with numbers in the mid ‘90s of under 400 ponies before the 400hp bracket was cracked in 1998. In 2002 Rob Vickery broke the 1000hp mark and in 2016 jake Edwards saw over 1700 horses. By the way, these are measured at the rear wheels, not from the engine directly.
There are names attached to the last of the list, the Grand Champion, that are part of Summernats folklore. Howard Astill. Rob Beauchamp. Peter Fitzpatrick. These are names that have brought forth some of the most incredible examples of custom car building seen in Australia, and they are not always in-your-face exhibitions of extravagance. Some of the most popular cars have had a clean, uncluttered, almost factory fresh look about them, such has been the amount of work put into the final result.
There are some decent numbers at the end of the four days that Summernats covers. Over 100,000 attendees, 2000 entrants, and millions of dollars for the Canberra economy.
The 2020 Summernats is from January 2 to the 5th. Rare Spares is proud to be a presenting partner and we look forward to seeing you in Canberra after New Year’s Day.