APPARENTLY, when you reach 30 you’re meant to grow up, but that’s advice that most of us in the street machining scene have ignored. Why settle down, kick back and be all sensible when there’s still plenty of fun to be had?
The same can be said for Street Machine Summernats. Not many events can survive for three decades, especially at the same venue, but while it’s a much different event now to what it was back in 1988, at its core, it’s still a party for people from all walks of life that have one thing in common – a love of cars.
The Summernats team put in a huge effort to make the 30th running of Australia’s biggest horsepower party something to remember. In the Elite Hall there were some of the most legendary cars ever built in this country. We’re talking former Grand Champions and SM feature cars such as Howard Astill’s Rock 3, practically unchanged since Mario Montalto won it in a raffle as an 18-year-old at Summernats 4. Being the perfectionist that he is, Howard spent around 100 hours detailing the car and reversing a couple of small changes in preparation for ’Nats 30, and it looked stunning.
Rob Beauchamp’s VL Pro Streeter, now raced (and turbocharged!) by Kit Hunter, has proven its worth on the drag strip and shown that it wasn’t just a show car. Six-time Grand Champ Peter Fitzpatrick was there with his FC looking as stunning as ever – the car, not Fitzy – and burnout legend Chris Christou brought the world’s most famous blue XY GT back, displaying it in the Elite Hall and smashing a set on the burnout pad.
Summernats also had an international flavour with the arrival of Farmtruck and AZN from the very popular Street Outlaws TV show, as well as Cletus and the boys from 1320video. They spent most of their time at the burnout track it seemed, running along with the cars as they headed down the chute for the tip-in, dodging bits of flying rubber and inhaling plenty of smoke. They loved it and had several rides in some of the heaviest hitters in the burnout scene. Our other US visitor was Charley Hutton, but he kept a much lower profile – and
THE stakes in the Miss Summernats pageant just get higher every year. Less than 48 hours after strutting away with the winner’s gold sash and a whopping 12 grand in cash and prizes, stunning 21-year-old Jazmyne Wardell from Tumbie Umbie, NSW – and her car-mad family led by dad Brendyn and mum Natalie – were offered a reality TV show deal!
Finishing a gallant second was Sandra Horne, 35, from Victoria – who featured most recently in SM with her red ’57 Chev wagon (Oct ’16) but drove her ’32 roadster to the ’Nats.
Kali Shaw from Tumut, NSW, 21, finished third for the second year running.
AFTER taking home Top Engine Bay and 2nd Top Coupe trophies at Summernats 29, Terry Morton wasn’t really planning on bringing back his stunning ’68 Mustang coupe for 30: “We weren’t coming, but a mate had already booked in and paid because he thought we were going,” Terry said.
What that meant was he now had an excuse to do some more tweaks. “I saw the judges looking under the dash and in the boot, so we had some more upholstery done to hide some of those spots. We did a bit of work in the engine bay too, lowered the car a little and changed the headlights to more of a blacklooking light, not shiny glass,” Terry said.
The new lights do suit the low-shine look of the car, which has had all of the brightwork painted in a satin finish to suit the pro touring theme.
“When they were handing out the awards we only got 2nd Top Coupe and I thought that was all we were going to get, so it was a real shock when they told me I’d won Top Street Overall.”
With RRS suspension and 550 rampaging ponies under the bonnet, it’s no surprise that the car did so well in the driving events, even managing a pretty good burnout at the end of the awards ceremony.
PETER Hinz took his car into Pat’s Pro Restos to fix a leaky radiator, but as you can see from the photo it wasn’t just the radiator that blew out. The ’51 Chevy took out a swag of awards in the street class: Top Judged Street, 3rd Top Engine Bay, 3rd Top Interior, Top Standard Paint, Top Bodywork and, after a strong performance in the driving events, Top Street Overall. It’s a class act from top to bottom with Lexus Sonic Titanium paint offsetting the red interior and a nicely detailed 383 stroker SBC making around 450hp.
There’s a custom-made air cleaner and a new firewall was fabricated that was smoother but still featured the factory-style swage lines. It sports air con as well, for comfortable cruising during the hot Queensland summers. To top off the weekend, the truck was crowned PPG Supreme Entrant.
MARK ‘Happy’ Williams with his stout black supercharged Holden one-tonner took out the Grand Champion award at Street Machine Summernats 30.
As with previous Grand Champs, Mark’s win was the culmination of a good score in the Elite judging and a strong performance in Sunday’s driving events on the CRS burnout track, which was re-configured for the slalom and go-to-whoa. There, he out-drove nine other contenders to win the sword. Adding to Mark’s glory is the fact he’s a first-timer at Summernats with his tonner, and the first West Aussie to earn Grand Champ.
That’s not to say he’s a beginner, though. Over west, Mark has already scooped a handy collection of trophies with his tonner, which was nine years in the build. The ProCharged, intercooled, 406-cube smallblock Chev-powered beast was built as an all-rounder.
“It was built to do everything,” Mark said of his black beauty just after scoring the sword. “Drive it, cruise it, race it.”
Mark underlined that fact following the tonner’s field-felling runs in the driving events, with a tyrebagging exit from the burnout track after the Grand Champion announcement ceremony.
stayed a lot cleaner – than his countrymen, holding several meet-and-greets where he shared his expertise as one of the world’s best painters.
All of the hard work and promotion by the Summernats team resulted in record numbers, with 2534 entrants and an official figure of 119,184 spectators! With the 300-car City Cruise kicking off proceedings on Thursday, the crowd started building as soon as the gates opened. Friday saw record numbers through the gates and then Saturday went nuts! I don’t think you could have squeezed another person into the place. At the burnout pad the stands were full and the people on the other side stretched all the way to the scrutineering shed.
Heading back towards the Elite Hall took about 45 minutes as it was practically shoulder-to-shoulder the whole way back.
It may have been because of the massive crowd on Saturday, but Sunday seemed a little bit quieter, but there was plenty going on with the Top 60 show extended to 3pm, and a new format for the Grand Champion driving events bringing the crowds into the burnout pad early as 10 cars fought it out in a combination of slalom and side-by-side go-to-whoa. The new format was very well received and the result was kept under wraps right up until Chic handed over the Grand Champion sword to a very surprised Mark ‘Happy’ Williams from Perth, the first time the award has headed west.
That wasn’t the only award heading to the left coast, with Anthony Page winning the open burnouts and Chris Bitmead’s all-conquering XBOSS taking out Top Judged Elite. Restoring some pride for the east coast, Steve Nogas took out the Burnout Masters with a very emotional and redeeming win.
Summernats owner Andy Lopez had this to say about Nogas’s win: “We were particularly stoked about Steve winning after the very well-publicised incident at Summernats 25 with NUKINFUTS that got him banned. He had a year off and came back bigger and better with KILLA-B and has been to every Summernats since. He’s become a role model in the sport and now he’s the champion.”
LITHGOW lad, Todd Bulkeley, debuted his rather rare ’69 SSS Datsun coupe to critical acclaim at Summernats 30. Todd imported the car almost 20 years ago and got the runaround from a number of panel shops before eventually enlisting John Zelukovic Smash Repairs in Orange to manage the build.
Trophies for Top 20, Top Custom Interior (Trimming) and Top Retrotech meant the judges were every bit as impressed with the finished product as Todd is. “I was just stoked to make the Top 60; anything over and above that was great,” he said.
“I’m a bit overwhelmed!”
FILTHY big power-adders and mile-wide rear tyres are par for the course on Tuff Street. These days you need a car of borderline Elite quality from the sills up to factor in the results, but that doesn’t change the fact that Tuff Street is and always will be the domain of the most bad-arse rides at Summernats.
Having taken outright honours in Tuff Street at Summernats 28 and 29, the rules prevented reigning champ, the ONIT Torana, from backing up for a third consecutive attempt. This left the door wide open for both new and seasoned contenders at Summernats 30.
After crunching the numbers, the judges saw fit to award Best Comp Tuff to Brad Zammit’s big-block nitrous Torry, edging out Joel Halse’s brutal ’55 Chevy.
A killer stance, super-tough blown Holden V8 and one of the best engine bays at Summernats gave Dean Beattie’s candy gold VL Calais the edge in the Street Tuff class. Dean’s Calais is a prime example of a car that would also stand to do pretty bloody well in the Elite Hall, but Tuff Street is where he’d rather hang out.
In the hotly contested Pro Tuff class, it came down to two fresh cars on the Tuff Street scene – Bradley Phillips’s knockout blown small-block VN SS, and Rhys Christou’s sinister black XR Falcon sedan (SM, Apr ’16). After much deliberation, the nod for Best Pro Tuff (and Tuff Street Champion) went to the Falcon over 087 the nod for Best Pro Tuff (and Tuff Street Champion) went the Commodore.