A record-breaking 125,000 rev heads descended upon Canberra in January

They were there to watch all things fast and furious at what organisers describe as the world’s wildest car festival – the Street Machine Summernats 35.
The “biggest horsepower party of all time” was held across the 5th to the 8th of January and was one for the record books, with 2,700 entrants plus in excess of 500 cars heading out to the streets for the City Cruise ticket sellouts on Saturday and Sunday.
Co-owner Andy Lopez said Summernats was the “biggest ever,” with no shortage of automotive candy, tyre smoke, noisy engines, mullets, burnout legends and a high-level international visit to satisfy even the most demanding spectators.
“This year’s Summernats has been a massive success right from the get-go,” Andy said.
“We knew it was going to be a big one early on in the piece when the team at Media Scrum confirmed that indoor trade space had sold out months before the event.”
Tens of thousands of spectators filled Exhibition Park in Canberra to check out the many attractions, with hundreds of the most brutal burnout beasts in the country tearing up the Rod Shop Burnout Pad and battling it out in the Wildcard shootout.
The annual four-day week of metal mania included the first six inductees to the John Peterson Burnout Hall of Fame, non-stop action on the Aeroflow Cruise Route, Haltech Horsepower Heroes, Celebrity Modified Lawn Mower Racing, and the ever-popular Shannons Show ‘N’ Shine.
US Ambassador Caroline Kennedy made a surprise, incognito visit. The daughter of former US President John F. Kennedy talked cars with chief judge Owen Webb and Andy Lopez after touring the Meguiar’s pavilion.
Skid Row provided plenty of opportunities to shred rubber with wall-to-wall people at Tuff Street on Saturday for the Showcase and Judging, and a record number of 25 brand-new elite builds in the Meguiar’s Great Uncover.

“We’ve had a sensational four days – the biggest ever – with the Burnout Masters, amazing elite builds, crazy cars cruising the streets, an all-Aussie rock line-up, a proposal, a visit from Kennedy royalty and a record-breaking number of patrons and entrants, from all over Australia,” Andy said.
“The nation’s capital has opened its arms to us once again, and we’ve loved every minute.”
Previous years have seen up to 119,000 visitors attend the event, injecting $30 million into an otherwise quiet ACT economy at this time of year. But Andy said this year’s figures smashed that record with 125,000 attendees.
“It’s easy to see the incredible benefits events such as these bring for Canberra, with hotels full, restaurants packed, and tourism operators booking out well in advance,” Andy said.
Andy commented that coming out of COVID, there has been a renewed enthusiasm for the event.
“People have been busily working on their cars with nowhere to take them to play, and we saw them all come to Canberra this year. The spectators lapped it up with record crowds pouring through the gates,” Andy said.
This year has also seen more women of all ages come to the event.
“It’s been awesome to see groups of women out with their mates enjoying everything Summernats has to offer. There’s been a real change in 2023, and we’ll build on that,” Andy said.
Summernats wouldn’t be Summernats without the fan favourite, the Dirty Mullet competition on Saturday afternoon, where 110 attendees competed over the length and volume of their back fringe.
A long-time staple of Summernats, the competition has taken on a life of its own since Summernats 33 in 2020 when Mulletfest co-founder Laura Johnson got involved. Tamzyn Dowell of Wangaratta, Victoria, was the stand-out Dirty Mullet winner at Summernats 35.
Summernats will return to Canberra across January 4th to 7th, 2024. First-round entries sold out within hours of opening, and early-bird spectator tickets are selling fast.

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