THE RED HEART

SOME OF AUSTRALIA’S TOUGHEST CARS JOURNEYED TO ALICE SPRINGS ON THE FATHER’S DAY WEEKEND FOR DRAG RACING, BURNOUTS AND (LEGAL) CRUISING AT THE INAUGURAL RED CENTRE NATS

STORY BORIS VISKOVIC PHOTOS NATHAN JACOBS, CHRIS THOROGOOD & BV

YOU know you’re in for a good time at a car festival when the chief minister – effectively the premier – of the host region says: “Have fun, but don’t be a dickhead.”

Yep, those words actually left the mouth of the Northern Territory’s head of government, Adam Giles, and no one at the official opening of the inaugural Red CentreNATS took offence. For a politician, he seems like a pretty normal bloke.

Adam got on stage before the Friday night concert, and I have to say it was the first time I have ever heard a politician of any description universally cheered by the assembled crowd. He’s been totally supportive of the event, and even mentioned during his speech that they have a five-year plan – which means this was no one-off. He and his team have worked hard to get Red CentreNATS off the ground and they’re going to make sure it soars. He’s definitely got the vote of the street machining community at the next election, I’ll give you the tip.

For those who don’t know, Red CentreNATS was put on by the NT government in association with the guys from Street Machine Summernats. It would have been a nice change for ’Nats co-owners Andy Lopez, Dom McCormack and Andrew Bee to be welcomed with open arms by the local government and actually have their suggestions taken on board. The whole event had a real feeling of acceptance and welcoming from the local community.

ORGANISERS WOULD HAVE BEEN HAPPY WITH 100 ENTRIES, BUT AROUND 450 CARS MADE THEIR WAY TO THE MIDDLE OF OZ

“It’s a fantastic excuse to come to Alice Springs,” Andy Lopez said. “Beautiful, crazy cars being allowed to drive on the streets – unbothered, registered, insured, all that sort of thing – by the government. It is pretty visionary. There’s no bullshit, it’s just good ideas – let’s get it done, it’s going to be good and let’s make it work.”

For the first show, expectations weren’t that high. Organisers would have been happy if they got 100 entries, but they did way better than that with around 450 cars making their way to the middle of Australia to take in three days of motoring fun mixed in with just enough mayhem.

The event kicked off Friday, but really stepped up a gear as the sun started to set and everyone lined up for the town cruise – and when I say everyone, I mean everyone! I would hazard a guess that every single person that was in Alice Springs on Friday evening was either part of the cruise or part of the crowd lining the street. Apparently some bloke even got the nurses to roll his bed out of the hospital so he could check it out!

The locals were more than happy to have a whole bunch of revheads rock up on the Father’s Day weekend, and they showed it in their support of the event – not just by lining up for the free

SOME BLOKE EVEN GOT THE NURSES TO ROLL HIS BED OUT OF THE HOSPITAL SO HE COULD CHECK OUT THE TOWN CRUISE

look at the cruise, but buying tickets to check out the show ’n’ shine at Blatherskite Park and showing up in record numbers to Alice Springs Inland Dragway to watch the drag racing and burnouts. If there were rafters, people would have been hanging off them.

While having the event spread over two locations didn’t suit everyone’s needs, especially the burnout competitors who had to cart tyres and tools across to the drag strip, the fact that people had to actually leave the main venue meant there were all sorts of cars cruising around town for the entire three-day weekend. A tubbed Corolla with a blown methanol V8, you say? No problems sir, Macca’s is that way.

Guys like Gary and Jake Myers, Lynchy and Ryan Pearson were happily cruising around waving to the police – as long as the car had working lights, a horn and passed a quick safety inspection, and had some attempt at an exhaust to keep the sound to a dull roar, you were good to go. The cruising did fry the magneto in Gary and Jake’s Mustang, which is why you won’t see any pics of it in the skid comp – but we do have pics of it in the Macca’s car park!

Andy Lopez says that Red CentreNATS could grow to be bigger than Summernats in five years. To be honest, I hope it doesn’t get that big. It definitely needs to grow, but it should still feel like the friendly country town with the awesome bakery that you visited as a kid – you don’t want a shopping mall and every fast food chain setting up shop. I’m sure they’ll get the balance right, and we’ll be back next year for sure.

ANDY LOPEZ SAYS THAT RED CENTRENATS COULD GROW TO BE BIGGER THAN SUMMERNATS IN FIVE YEARS