Since taking the plunge and purchasing Summernats in 2009, Andy Lopez has built a reputation as one of the heavy hitters in the automotive lifestyle event industry

But Andy and his tight-knit team have developed a business that extends way beyond selling tickets and t-shirts in Canberra each January.
Andy is the first to admit that before acquiring Summernats, he had little more than a passing interest in cars, but he knew a thing or two about running a successful event.
Over the journey, Andy and his team have worked tirelessly to deliver memorable events for massive public and sporting events, including Australia Day in Sydney, World Youth Day, National Rugby League Grand Finals and State of Origins, music festivals and plenty of others.
“Events are my passion,” Andy said.
“But when Chic Henry approached me with an offer to purchase Summernats, I didn’t know much about the event and even less about the automotive industry.
“But I was pretty good at putting on a show and a party, and we were confident we could do good things with what was a pretty unique show.”
With Andy’s attention flagged by Chic’s offer, after completing the due diligence the sale contract was inked, and the future of this iconic event was sealed.
“Summernats was an institution, and plenty of people were nervous when Chic handed over the reins to the new guys,” Andy said.
“But I actually liked that and respected their concerns. The anxiety from the Summernats faithful showed how much they cared about the Nats and what it meant.
“I was confident we could deliver a show that was true to Chic’s vision while improving the experience for entrants and spectators and delivering real value to traders and sponsors. We had to grow the Nats beyond what it was to make it sustainable and better.”
After delivering 12 massive four-day festivals, there is no doubt Andy and his team have delivered on their vision.

Today Summernats is Australia’s largest automotive lifestyle marketplace, which attracts more than 100,000 spectators and 2,200 entrants to Canberra annually, and is the envy of automotive festival promoters worldwide.
“It’s been some ride,” Andy remarked.
“We’ve broadened our target market while retaining the key elements that keep the faithful coming back year after year.”
When Andy’s team took over the event, it attracted about 80,000 spectators, 1,200 entrants, and its fair share of bad press, but that’s all in the past. The 2022 post-report highlights the evolution of the event.
“Thirty percent of punters that walked through the gates at Summernats 34 were female, and I can tell you that back in 2009, it was pretty much a sausage fest,” Andy said.
“With the help of our crowd, we’ve eliminated the sexist behaviour that tarnished the brand for so long and have developed the Nats into a complete festival experience that everyone feels welcome at.”
The post event report also revealed that 47.3 percent of spectators are under 35 years of age and that 89.7 percent of spectators said they are likely to return next year.
“Summernats is the perfect place to launch new products, engage with customers, create brand awareness, and build brand loyalty,” Andy said.
In addition to Summernats, Andy purchased Meguiar’s MotorEx in 2017, which he describes as “the best business-to-consumer exhibition in Australia.”
Andy and his company have also co-promoted Red CentreNATS with the Northern Territory Government since 2015, bringing 1,000 cars to the centre of Australia every year.
In 2021, during COVID-19, the Rockhampton Regional Council and QLD Government also brought the team in to create RockyNATS, which has grown to 1,500 entrants and 50,000 spectators in two years.
More recently, Andy and his team have extended their automotive event portfolio with the launch of the Burson Auto Parts Top Fuel Championship in January of 2022.
“While this new Championship is still in its infancy, we’ve run eight rounds, visited New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, Alice Springs and Darwin, treated fans to a feast of horsepower and delivered a next-level festival experience that has included burnouts, drifting, car shows, live music, fan activations, a quality food and beverage experience, and more family-friendly activities,” Andy said.
There is no doubt that over the last decade, Andy has truly immersed himself in the automotive industry. As his business has evolved, Andy has built out a team of industry experts who share his passion and who aren’t afraid to push the envelope.
“We’ve delivered a stack of amazing events and raised the benchmark for sponsor engagement, entrant management and fan experience. But we’re about to change the game again, and I can tell you that 2023 will be a watershed year,” Andy said.

While Andy and his team have built a reputation as automotive event experts, they are redefining the business to ensure it is future-proofed and to deliver exponential growth.
“We run the biggest and best car festivals in Australia. More than 8,000 car builders and 300,000 spectators attend our live events every year,” Andy said.
Andy has built what is sure to be one of Australia’s largest automotive lifestyle audiences with an engaged customer database of over 75,000 consumers and an aggregated social footprint with more than 1,000,000 followers.
“Basically, if anyone’s spending money making their car faster, louder or shinier, we’re already talking to them, and they trust us,” said Andy, who noted the business is undergoing a significant restructure.
“From the first of January, we started defining ourselves as a media, content and entertainment business, and at Summernats we launched our digital play, Performance Garage, that captures everything we do under one umbrella.
“We’ve got an amazing automotive ecosystem, and the Performance Garage website sits at its heart.”
Performance Garage will give modified car builders and fans first access to the latest builds, the biggest burnouts and all the nitro-fuelled action from the Australian Top Fuel Championship.
“Performance Garage will provide modified car builders with the biggest audience to show their pride and passions,” Andy said.
“But most importantly, for fans, our events are a showcase where they can come and see the best machines in Australia, drive, skid, race and show, all in a festival environment.”
There is little doubt that 2023 will be a massive year for Andy and his growing team.

To find out more, visit www.performancegarage.com.au