ACT News

Summernats hopes to set record at next year's event

Summernats 2016 fell short of meeting the 2000 car target organisers had hoped for, event co-owner Andy Lopez says.

The morning after: Andy Lopez, Summernats co-owner, left, says good bye to Canberra's Brad Sullivan who brought his ...
The morning after: Andy Lopez, Summernats co-owner, left, says good bye to Canberra's Brad Sullivan who brought his supercharged outlaw LX Torana SS to the event for the first time.  Photo: David Ellery

But he expected total attendance to be on a par with 2015's record breaking 108,000 crowd.

Mr Lopez said the result, which ACT government figures have predicted could deliver a $20 million boost to the territory's economy, put the event in a great position for next year's 30th anniversary horsepower extravaganza.

"I'm confident we will smash the 2000 car mark in 2017," he said. "[This year] we had beautiful weather, fantastic crowd behaviour, and most importantly, a record breaking number of cars."

ACT Policing's Superintendent traffic operations Ben Cartwright said the event had been largely incident free with no arrests inside EPIC.

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"ACT Policing conducted over 2300 random breath tests, 100 random drug tests and issued 41 traffic infringement notices [in Canberra] between Friday and Sunday," Superintendent Cartwright said.

"Out of 2300 random breath tests, five people showed readings over the prescribed legal limit. Whilst drink driving is never acceptable, this shows that the majority of people were doing the right thing."

Event organisers are working with ACT Fire and Rescue and Worksafe ACT in the wake of a "methanol flash" at the refuelling depot on Thursday night. A worker was taken to hospital with minor burns.

"Whatever [safety] recommendations are made we'll adopt [for next year]," Mr Lopez said.

An event highlight was the first appearance by a V8 Supercar at a Summernats. Red Bull Racing Australia's Jamie Whincup laid on a colourful burnout performance in his 2016-liveried Commodore on Sunday.

"I had never been to Summernats before, believe it or not!" Whincup said. "I love fast cars more than anything, so it's my kettle of fish."

Mr Lopez said the reaction on the ground and on social media to Whincup's involvement, had been unprecedented.

While some punters who had been kicked out for doing unauthorised burnouts of their own vented on Twitter and Facebook about the alleged "double standard", Mr Lopez said overall conduct had been "great" with no major incidents of reckless or careless driving.

"The Summernats crowd is pretty self-policing. They come here to have a great time; go a little bit nuts but always within the limits. I take my hat off to the crowd."

Summernats organisers are in talks with the ACT Government over the future direction of the event and ways it can be used to promote Canberra as a destination.

"We are taking a holistic approach to what Summernats means in the ACT," Mr Lopez said. "[It is] about building Canberra as a destination and what other business opportunities might exist."

He said the working relationship with the government was strong and the event would remain in Canberra for the forseeable future.