There was no way you were going to have a conversation outside Waves Car Wash in Braddon this morning (4 November). Five of the gleaming cars in the driveway had fired into life and were hitting the air with the ear-splitting decibels of unbridled internal combustion.
It’s but a small taste of what’s to come in the new year when Summernats roars into Canberra for the 36th time from Thursday, 4 January to Sunday, 7 January 2024.
“Our goal is to get more than 5.5 million people to visit Canberra,” ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said.
“We’re also looking to ensure this precinct gets an economic boost from the event, and that’s exactly why the Braddon Fringe element is getting expanded in 2024.”
Expect the usual blend of loud machines and equally loud mullets to take over Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC) over the four days of Summernats, but for the first time, the part where some of the cars cruise down Northbourne Avenue to Braddon for two evenings has been expanded to three.
“What we’re looking to achieve is an enjoyable and safe event for everyone, delivered in partnership … with the team at Summernats to spread the economic benefits of the event throughout the city and kick start a really big year of tourism,” Mr Barr said.
Braddon has been the scene of car meets since its birth as Canberra’s industrial district, and over the decades, some from the Summernats crowd have made casual efforts to resurrect this feel – with mixed results. So the organisers and City Renewal Authority (CRA) agreed to instate order by hosting the first official ‘Fringe Festival’ in 2022, with the same ‘don’t be a d***head’ rules in place to dissuade the hoons.
Summernats co-owner Andy Lopez said, “It’s awesome” to have it extended this year, from 5 pm on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
“The inside of Exhibition Park is just getting busier and busier, and offering free nights at the Fringe Festival for our entrants as well as the community is a really great thing,” he said.
“The festival is really grassroots car show stuff – coming into a place, parking, walking around looking at cars. And then, for the businesses and everything around, it’s fantastic.”
Last year’s Summernats brought an estimated $35 million into the ACT’s economy, and the hopes are even higher this year.
“Car entry sold out in May this year – we’ve got 2500 people coming – and that’s the fastest we’ve ever filled those slots,” Mr Lopez said.
“And we anticipate spectator passes will sell out probably before Christmas this year. It’s a great show of faith in this festival, where it is and what it means for Canberra.”
CRA CEO Malcolm Snow said businesses in the area are expecting a “125 per cent increase in visitation”.
Mr Lopez doesn’t expect any logistical issues from the redevelopment work on Lonsdale Street either.
“I understand they’re going to tidy up all the works when they close for Christmas … You have to work around the City Renewal Authority investing in beautifying the place, so I’ll be really happy to see that.”
Visitors to EPIC on the Friday night will see rock legend Jimmy Barnes live. He had to pull out of last year’s event due to a hip operation, but earlier this year, he confirmed he will join Darryl Braithwaite and the Screaming Jets on the stage for Summernats 36.
The ‘Burnout Masters Top 10 Final’ has also been moved to Saturday afternoon, with the presentation to be made during the ‘Supercruise’ that evening.
As for when you might see an EV at Summernats, Mr Lopez didn’t rule it out.
“Summernats continues to evolve. We’re an inclusive event – we welcome all types of cars – whether it’s classic, street machines, Porsches or – heaven forbid – even electric cars.”
Buy tickets to Summernats 36 online.
Original Article published by James Coleman on Riotact.