Summernats is promising a new direction for Canberra’s annual four-day car festival but the controversial beauty pageant won’t be part of it.
Co-owner Andy Lopez said Miss Summernats, which has become a symbol of the festival’s sexist reputation, would not be returning as the event broadens its appeal and caters to a wider audience, backed by a new funding agreement with the ACT Government.
He said Summernats would rather focus its resources on developing more inclusive aspects of the event.
“We are continuing to improve Summernats as an event for everyone, and everyone is welcome at Summernats,” he said. “Every year we are seeing more women entering the event or attending as spectators and that is fantastic.”
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Summernats has also won the fresh backing of the ACT Government, with a three-year deal from 2018-2020 worth $200,000 a year announced at the event launch on Thursday.
The Government backing was recognition of the $25 million economic benefit for the ACT. Touted as the largest automotive lifestyle event in the Southern Hemisphere, Summernats drew record crowds last January of 119,000 people and 2,500 car entrants, the vast majority from interstate.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said Summernats was a very significant event in Canberra’s tourism portfolio.
“We are delighted to announce a longer-term partnership to continue to stage the event in Canberra, in what has been a multi-decade relationship,” Mr Barr said.
“We certainly endorse the direction and changes taking place at the event and congratulate Andy and the team on those measures. As diversity increases and ticket numbers increase, the economic impact is positive, all great results for the event and the ACT.”
Street Machine Summernats 31 will run from 4 to 7 January 2018 at Exhibition Park in Mitchell and be the start of a new era with initiatives that include a partnership with Canberra Institute of Technology and the Discovery Channel, as well as old favourites.
The festival will kick off with the annual City Cruise where hundreds of cars rumble through the heart of the city. The world’s premier burnout competition – the National Burnout Masters is back, plus the most coveted street machine award in Australia, the Summernats Grand Champion; as well as a music line-up including superstars Wolfmother, Thundamentals and 28 Days.
Organisers are also promising free children’s activities, a fireworks spectacular and much more.
“There are a number of initiatives that will be rolled out over the next 24 months in conjunction with the Government that will help us continue to add value to the event in the future,” Mr Lopez said.
“With entrant levels again on track for over 2,000 cars and a projected 100,000 patrons to walk through the gates, we are looking forward to another successful event. With the support of the ACT Government, we would love to become a $50 million event for Canberra and it is certainly something we are aiming toward.”
Part of Summernats’ new direction is the partnership with CIT and the team from one of the Discovery Channel’s most popular shows, Street Outlaws, that will promote the event and Canberra to the world. The show will be sending a Chevy truck from the United States for apprentices and teachers at CIT to build into a ‘Burnout Truck’. This process will be filmed, then broadcast to millions around the world, bringing local training tourism and economic benefits.
Car enthusiast and Labor Member from Murrumbidgee Bec Cody welcomed Summernats’ new direction.
“As a long-term attendee at the event and car enthusiast, it is great to be here at the launch for Summernats 31. I certainly welcome the measures Andy and his team are implementing to further increase the inclusiveness of the event for all and it will no doubt only lead to increased participation from a wider variety of people. I’m looking forward to the event,” she said.
Mr Lopez said that people would no longer be able to ride in the back of utes after the tragic death of 30-year-old Queensland man Luke Newsome, and there would be a greater focus on safety.
“Summernats takes safety extremely seriously every year, and we are working very hard, as we always do, with WorkSafe to ensure we are reducing and managing risk to deliver a safe event,” he said.
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