SMOTY PARTY

> WE KICK OFF SUMMERNATS WITH A PARTY TO HONOUR THE MOST POPULAR STREET MACHINE IN THE LAND, AS WELL AS THE FUTURE OF OUR SPORT WITH THE LAURIE STARLING AWARD

STORY ANDREW BROADLEY PHOTOS CHRIS THOROGOOD & NATHAN JACOBS

IF THEREíS one thing street machiners love more than fast cars, itís free beer. On the Thursday evening of each Street Machine Summernats, we traditionally throw a shindig at a local Canberra watering hole while the deadset champions at Valvoline pick up the tab, and a good time is always had. Itís an opportunity to catch up with mates, featurecar owners and clients, as well as bestow two of the most meaningful accolades in our sport: the Valvoline Street Machine Of The Year award and the Laurie Starling Memorial Student Scholarship Award.

Itís the hottest ticket in town, and our Summernats VIP Experience competition winners Colin and Belinda Osmond relished the opportunity to rub shoulders with the royalty of our sport.

This year the time-honoured gathering again took place at the George Harcourt Inn, and amidst the merriment (and a spot of rain), we formally presented the owner of the allconquering XBOSS Falcon hardtop, Chris Bitmead, with the SMOTY award, along with a comically oversized cheque for $20,000 from Valvoline. Aside from being the richest award in street machining, SMOTY quite literally etches the winnerís name alongside the best of the best. Itís won and lost according to the will of the voting public, and that in itself makes it something pretty special.

The Laurie Starling Memorial Award on the other hand is more about recognising and fostering emerging talent, something Laurie was particularly passionate about. In introducing the recipient of the third annual award, Laurieís dad Rob explained: ďHeís a young fabricator whose work is really catching peopleís eyes, and we want to keep an eye on him and encourage him in his future endeavours.Ē

The deserved winner, Michael Anstey, was humbled. ďI knew Laurie as a good friend,Ē he said. ďIím going to use the scholarship to get over to the US to do some advanced training and learn some quicker and better fabrication techniques. Iím going to use Laurie as an example and learn things and pass them on.

The best thing you can take away from someone is knowledge, and a little bit of passion as well.Ē

With the formal proceedings all said and done, local rockabilly crew The Fuelers entertained the masses as the beer flowed and the bench racing intensified. There would have been some sore heads on Friday, but thatís Summernats for you!