Australia's big bad 'nats still delivers more burnouts, fumes and re-built beauties than you can poke a dipstick at
Summernats 2014 was arguably the most impressive array of tyre-smokers, sprint machines and mechanical artistry the Canberran event has seen in its 27-year history. Through the rough seas of hardcore petrolheads, the roar of high-tensile V8s, screaming superchargers, wailing gearboxes and the chirping of hot melting rubber can be heard relentlessly. Despite the family-friendly vibe the Nats is starting to encourage, it hasn’t lost its wild roots.
The sun usually takes its toll on the body after four days but this year’s weather was fairly mild compared to previous events. The near-perfect conditions gave way to enormous crowds, especially for the burnouts. After all, that’s what the people want.
The Burnout Champion award went to Warren Eustace from Pakenham, VIC in his 1974 HQ, while Mick Brasher from Tinonee, NSW took top prize for the Liqui-Moly Burnout Masters in his yellow ’73 Corolla (that’s right, a Corolla). To balance out the genders, Renee Waterworth from Charmhaven, NSW won the Best Women’s Burnout in her green 1987 VL Commodore.
If you still need to tick the Summernats box but getting drunk, inhaling the thick of tyre smoke and the odd "…for the boys" chants aren’t your thing, then the Elite Hall will definitely win you over, regardless of the extreme nature of the cars entered. They are just as remarkable as the finest concours cars.
Top Judged Elite, Top Interior and Top Bodywork awards, to name a few, went to Tasmania’s Leisa Chinnock for her 1986 Ford Falcon coupe in striking Passion Pearl paintwork. But honestly, the impressive list of sought-after awards is long enough to rival the Dead Sea scrolls.
One of our favourite works of craftsmanship was the 1933 Ford coupe of Wayne Marshall whose delicious paint scheme and bodywork could decorate reception at Lindt Master Chocolatiers or Charlie’s lickable wallpaper room. It also took out Top Closed Hot Rod and made the Top 10 Elite.
Saturday’s cruise night represeneted a huge cross-section of machinery and members of the crowd were more than happy to jump into whatever rides still had a spare seat, and onto some that didn’t! It's a wild and woolly event, but Summernats veterans wouldn't have it any other way. Even our C10 Pickup truck got a workout, carting ‘enthusiasts’ and leggy ladies around over the course of the weekend.
Sunday’s big drawcard is always the early morning Go-to-Whoa, now called the Go-Whoa 360. It was tweaked this year so competitors would blast toward and maneuver 360 degrees around a witches hat before careening to the finish line. Ben Leishmans satin black track-bred VK Commodore took out top honours, as did the gorgeous 25-year-old Danah Wheatley from Yagoona, Sydney winning the coveted crown of Miss Summernats 27 having come runner-up last year.
When the smoke haze cleared, beasts laid to rest and points were tallied from the weekend's tyre massacre, the Kandy Red 1961 FB Holden of Gosford, NSW’s Henry Parry earned the quite sharp Summernarts Grand Champion sword. Henry being crook, the body, paint and assembly man Danny Makdessi accepted it on his behalf.
The Street Machine Summernats' carnival of carnage should be on your bucket list like Bathurst and Goodwood. If you've never been, we recommend it.
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