ACT News


Summernats 2016: Scrutineering and burnouts take centre stage on Friday

There's nothing like a naked man walking past with a towel over his shoulder when it comes to ruffling the composure of a 40-something woman describing how Summernats​ is more sedate now than 27 years ago.

That was the position two female members of Campbelltown's informal "team Torana​" found themselves in on Friday morning.

Leanne Ludgate​ and Kathleen Whittaker​, who both own "streetable​" LX Torana SLR 5000s, have attended 20 and 27 events respectively.

They have fond memories of the heady days when boys would be boys and girls flaunted it if they had it.

"It used to be quite rowdy," Ms Whittaker said. "It was a lot of fun. You can't write anything about that of course; they've toned it down a lot since then. It's a bit stricter now."

This was the moment the young exhibitionist from the camp site across the way wandered past en route to join a mate who seemed to be wearing an abbreviated version of Borat's "mankini". Not everybody received the political correctness memo apparently.


Ms Ludgate is a hairdresser and Ms Whittaker works in a motorcycle shop. They were attending with their respective partners and said they loved the atmosphere.

"It's the first time we've camped here [in the main camping area]," Ms Whittaker said. "We used to camp at the feral end when it was a bit lively."

With the first round of eliminations for the burnout championships, the tuff street monsters judging and the horsepower shootout all happening on Friday afternoon, scrutineers were under the pump to finish processing the more than 2000 cars expected for the 29th event for safety compliance.

Olivia Fripp​, a 19-year-old from Wollongong was manning the desk for the first time. "It's been awesome," she said.

Canberra's Colin Statton​, an ACT Street Machine car club member and a volunteer scrutineer for the past six years, said it was great to get close to some spectacular cars. He was mightily impressed by the 1975 VJ Charger 770 owned by Paul Vezinias​ of Fig Tree.

A 10-year project, the "wild fire mica" coupe has a "stroker​" 410 with cast iron hemi heads.

"A car like this would cost about $80,000 to $100,000 to build," Mr Vezinias​, a plant machinery operator, said.

Matt James, a tipper driver from Wollongong, had a similar amount invested in the 1956 F-100 he had been working on all year.

"I do a lot of work around Canberra," the 32-year-old said. "I just had the shell when I started. It [now] has a 350 small block Chevy. I grew up around Summernats​. I came here first when I was seven with my Dad."

It's not always about big engines and big horsepower. Interest in Japanese classics is growing among younger participants.

Matthew Hughes, 19, who was with his brother Aaron, 21, has big plans for his 1973 Celica​.

"Dad had one of these," he said. "I want to do a full respray, retrim​ and fit the 7AGE 1.9 litre DOHC engine [from the 1990s Celicas]."

Weekend highlights include the fireworks spectacular and a performance by the Hoodoo Gurus on Saturday and the finals of the burnout, go-to-whoa, horsepower heroes and car audio competitions on Sunday.