ACT News


Summernats team revs up for Red Centre car festival in Northern Territory deal

The best elements of Summernats are to form the core of a world-class car festival in Alice Springs this September after a deal between event organisers and the Northern Territory government.

Details of the event, to be known as Red CentreNATs, were outlined by Summernats co-owner Andy Lopez and Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles at Canberra's EPIC on Sunday.

Mr Giles, a self-confessed rev head who was on his first extended visit to Summernats, said he had raised the possibility of a Northern Territory event with Summernats founder Chic Henry many years ago.

The Alice Springs resident said his home town had a huge car culture and that there was enormous potential for the event, to be held from September 3 to September 6.

"We have seen what Summernats brings to Canberra and we'd like to have a share of that in the Northern Territory," he said.

He said as part of the agreement between Summernats and the Northern Territory government, participants would be able to drive modified cars in the streets from venue to venue as long as they qualified for a special permit.


The two parties have committed to three events starting this year and the option to extend the agreement from 2018.

Sunday's announcement came on the last day of one of the most successful Summernats in years.

Crowd behaviour was good and there were no arrests or major incidents. Attendances totalled 108,569 and a near record 1907 cars were entered. This was more than 100 up on the 1800 organisers were expecting.

Mr Lopez said while Summernats' focus was modified cars and street machines, Red CentreNATS was for all cars and car lovers.

"We'd like to see this become the nationals for every car club in the country," he said.

"We were approached by the Northern Territory government [which has committed $1 million to the event] and that is a great validation of what we are doing in Canberra."

Summernats regulars, who have been discussing the Alice Springs event since it was first mooted in November, agree.

Bendigo's Paul Mulcahy, who participated this year with his heavily modified Austin Lancer, has committed to taking both the Austin and his Chevy Nova as part of a home-town convoy.

"It is a long way from Victoria, but this [the Alice Springs event] is going to be huge," he said.

"We aren't the only ones from Bendigo; we'll be taking a semi-trailer [load of cars] from the city. "[My wife] Sue and I will also be taking a camper trailer and a couple of weeks and having a look around."

Mr Mulcahy said the Alice Springs event would give participants a lot of opportunities to use their cars.

"They'll have a drag strip as well as the burnout pad and a lot more driving events," he said. "And the permits [for non-registered cars], that's perfect, that is going to have huge appeal; it is a game changer. There are a lot of cars sitting in sheds that hardly ever get used because they can only be driven at the drag strip or at one-off events."

Summernats events control manager Richard Holder said 55 entries had been received since the Red CentreNATS website went live in November.

The Northern Territory event would complement Summernats, not replace it, and allow the organisation to make better use of its events management team because of the time period between the two, he said.