The smoke clears as Summernats roars out of Canberra, but next year’s plans are already underway

James Coleman 13 January 2022 62
Crowd cheering at car burnout

Smoke rises from the burnout pad. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The smoke has cleared at Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC), marking the end of another Summernats.

Summernats 34 had thousands of cars and even more people descending on Canberra for four days between Thursday, 6 January and Sunday, 9 January for the annual festival of horsepower, tyre smoke and mullets.

It didn’t go by without complaints about noise, smoke and antisocial behaviour, but the organisers, police and ACT Health are all pleased with how the event turned out.

crowd cheering

A crowd of onlookers cheering on the show. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Summernats boss Andy Lopez says it was great to be back in action.

“It was fantastic. Everyone was so excited, and there were lots of smiling faces.”

Summernats has been a mainstay of Canberra for 34 years now, injecting an estimated $30 million into the local economy over the holiday break. It took place in 2020 despite the heavy smoke from the bushfires but went on hiatus in 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions.

READ ALSO: Summernats brings out the best and the worst as police target ‘antisocial’ behaviour

The exact figures have yet to be released, but it’s estimated the 2022 event had about 20,000 people pouring through the gates every day, for a total of 80,000 over the four days. The attendee numbers were capped in light of the rapid spread of Omicron in the ACT, so this is down from the usual 100,000.

Andy describes the behaviour as “wild at times”, but organisers received a letter from the ACT Chief Health Officer commending them on how they worked with government restrictions to pull off such a massive event.

Police were called to a scene in Fyshwick on the first night, where 1000 cars and 2000 people were doing burnouts and setting off fireworks. The group was quickly dispatched and the remaining days went by fuss-free.

The new ‘Fringe Festival’ brought a range of invited cars through the streets of Braddon on the evenings of Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Andy says this packed the restaurants, bars and cafes to the gills, “exactly what it was designed to do”.

Over the years, an effort has been made to cleanse the event of its rough reputation. Andy says this has worked in its favour, but he steers away from using the term ‘family-friendly’.

“It needs to be friendly,” he says. “It’s not a show for five-year-olds, but it is a good show for everyone. We want everyone, including families, to have a lot of fun.”

He says patrons have gone along with them on this goal and that sexist behaviour is “all but gone now”.

It may have been welcomed back by motorsport enthusiasts in the ACT and beyond for 2022, but as always, not all arms were open.

Andy’s response to complaints is matter-of-fact.

car display

The indoor display at Summernats. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

“We don’t need everyone to love it. I’m not a massive fan of opera, but that doesn’t mean nobody else should listen to opera. Live and let live. The world is shitty enough without cancelling something because someone doesn’t like it.”

He says they came out in clear condemnation of those who took the hooning out the gates and into suburbia.

All going well, Summernats will return to Canberra for its 35th iteration from 5 to 8 January 2023, “bigger and better” than ever. Entry registrations are already being accepted on the Summernats website.

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62 Responses to The smoke clears as Summernats roars out of Canberra, but next year’s plans are already underway
Richard Young Richard Young 10:50 am 18 Jan 22





Petrol news👍

Megan van der Velde Megan van der Velde 7:13 am 18 Jan 22

My friends son travelled with a group of mates from Cooma to Summernats. Out of the group of 10 or so, he managed to be the only one to not catch covid. I think the timing of this years was not great considering the health issues. I live very local to Epic and am NOT interested in cars at all. However, each to his own. Considering Watson is about to explode with thousands of new residents with all of the development in the suburb, perhaps the gov could consider moving the Nats away from residents? There are about to be another 2000 plus people moving in….how about somewhere like Majura where there is room and it is away from residents? That way no one complains and the Nats people can enjoy their event without the criticism every year. It means residents also will be safer as the amount of speeding and silly behaviour is potentially going to knock one of the residents over one day given there are more of us and always seems to be kids on bikes etc. Just a thought

Di Marks Di Marks 10:00 pm 17 Jan 22

would like to know the figures on how many got covid from there... I know it would be alot

John Aquilina John Aquilina 5:53 pm 17 Jan 22

Why does it need to be so expensive?.

David Clift David Clift 5:32 pm 17 Jan 22

100% correct Paul. Lopez's figures are fake the same as Supercars. A season pass for 4 days is one person. The one person cannot spend the same as 4 individual people. Supercars include every flag Marshall and cleaner that you can think of. You only have to look at the type of vehicles that were aloud into the event. A standard Commodore with a wheel change is not a Summernats entrant. Out of the People I know that went there, they said 2,500 entered and 1500 should not have been allowed in. The deals that were offered to Traders proves that the Traders were not there and the deals were flowing. I can't work out why Lopez fills everybody with B.S. State the correct facts and figures.

Ashley Coughlan Ashley Coughlan 12:48 pm 17 Jan 22

SUMMERNATS ENTRANTS yous need a pad open all day for everyone to have fun on

Alex Satrapa Alex Satrapa 9:51 am 17 Jan 22

I'm impressed that we didn't have the usual circle work outside our house at 2am for the entire period of the Summernats.

Thank you to all involved for managing to pull this off so well given the social effects of COVID-19, here's hoping for another excellent Summernats in 2023!

James Kelly James Kelly 11:13 pm 16 Jan 22

Health minister impressed… bro I got covid there

Yolana Tylervite Yolana Tylervite 8:21 pm 16 Jan 22

Glad I didn’t “check in” 😹 😂 😂 I ain’t going to comply with a civil medical conscription.

Teza Ferreira Teza Ferreira 7:31 pm 16 Jan 22

Oh more pollution. Great!!

    Scott Mckenzie Scott Mckenzie 7:49 pm 16 Jan 22

    Teza Ferreira stay inside with ya cats and youll be fine

Derek Mackay Derek Mackay 3:54 pm 16 Jan 22

Same article every year🙄

Love the multicultural festival and that flower festival full of pensioners that pay nothing👍

    Matthew Hughes Matthew Hughes 5:51 pm 16 Jan 22

    Derek Mackay also those 2 free festivals are “manned” by government workers. Costing tax payers more money. At least the Summernats isn’t run by government money 👍

    Derek Mackay Derek Mackay 6:11 pm 16 Jan 22

    Matthew Hughes I know mate

    I’m a car head, but will support anything in Canberra 👍

    Matthew Hughes Matthew Hughes 6:14 pm 16 Jan 22

    Derek Mackay me too. Wanna go to floriade together lol. Geoffrey can come too 🤣

    Geoffrey Hathaway Geoffrey Hathaway 6:16 pm 16 Jan 22

    Matthew Hughes I'm down love me some flowers. 🙂

    Matthew Hughes Matthew Hughes 6:33 pm 16 Jan 22

    Geoffrey Hathaway as long as you promise to keep your pants on!

    Geoffrey Hathaway Geoffrey Hathaway 6:39 pm 16 Jan 22

    Matthew Hughes you know I can't make that promise. 🤣

    Derek Mackay Derek Mackay 6:49 pm 16 Jan 22

    Geoffrey Hathaway

    They got a bar there👌

    Geoffrey Hathaway Geoffrey Hathaway 6:52 pm 16 Jan 22

    Derek Mackay ok seriously I'm down. 🤣

Daniel Khaled Mouhammad Thompson Daniel Khaled Mouhammad Thompson 3:28 pm 16 Jan 22

It was that awesome we gonner put our project in next year watch this space

Shane Vale Shane Vale 2:51 pm 16 Jan 22

The numbers were down only 80,000 over the weekend pigs Arse if anyone was there just on the Saturday there were 100,000 the place was packed like I never seen before and I have been for the last 30 years.

Charles Godworth Charles Godworth 11:36 am 16 Jan 22

The single biggest contributor to pollution. 2 years ago, the smoke from the burnout even clouded our skies for weeks and we had the worst pollution index in the world.

    Benjamin Rose Benjamin Rose 12:11 pm 16 Jan 22

    Charles Godworth There’s hyperbole, then there’s pole vaulting over the Moon. The Tuggeranong Valley in Winter has the worst air quality due to the abundance of fireplaces - even then it’s not that bad. Canberra has great air quality!

    Michelle Porobic Michelle Porobic 12:37 pm 16 Jan 22

    Charles Godworth that was smoke from the fires.

    Charles Godworth Charles Godworth 12:38 pm 16 Jan 22

    Benjamin- Tuggeranong Valley also has a lot of cars set on fire in winter as families gather around them to keep warm.

    Ash Bannerman Ash Bannerman 1:01 pm 16 Jan 22

    Michelle Porobic how quick they forget!!

    Michelle Porobic Michelle Porobic 1:28 pm 16 Jan 22

    Ash Bannerman don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.

    Raymond Horne Raymond Horne 9:26 pm 16 Jan 22

    Charles Godworth Weeks ? Gee…

Craig Webb Craig Webb 10:06 am 16 Jan 22

Shane Hayward doing the math on this.. say each car is 5m long there would have been about 5km of cars parked literally bumper to bumper... im at a loss as to where they would have parked all of those cars. More like 100 and 200 people!

    Tharren Kingston-Lee Tharren Kingston-Lee 10:32 am 16 Jan 22

    Craig Webb here’s some logic to with your maths. Not all cars are parked. Most go for cruises - unfortunately a lot do burnouts which, as a rev head, I am staunchly against - so remove those cars from your parking analysis. When we park, we try to park on a 90 or 45 degree angle - shows better angles etc. So that reduces your total length of the parked cars by 50-75%. Plus, some will be parked in business car parks or on the verge. So that 5km line your maths came up with is a lot less now. And I think 1000 cars is a massive overstatement anyways! Not that I was there, I just don’t think it’s feasible.

    Chris Thomson Chris Thomson 2:31 pm 16 Jan 22

    Tharren Kingston-Lee many of those cars cruising came on trailers that remain inside EPIC. So easily 1000 cars and 5km line up.

Clare Hyden Clare Hyden 6:36 am 16 Jan 22

Why do journalists always say people hate Summernats? They don’t hate Summernats, they hate the illegal antisocial behaviour that happens outside Summernats.

Also, where does the 80,000 people figure come from. Don’t most people get tickets for more than one day? Do the event only brings about 20,000 people and some of those are locals. How much does Summernats actually bring in?

    Joshua Woodbridge Joshua Woodbridge 7:06 am 16 Jan 22

    Clare Hyden millions and millions each year good like trying to get a hotel on northbourne around that time of year

    Clare Hyden Clare Hyden 7:09 am 16 Jan 22

    Not really a big achievement. They fill up every sittings week.

    Jordo Penfold Jordo Penfold 9:41 am 16 Jan 22

    Joshua Woodbridge 100% right, even try get a hotel in main for a decent amount. In 2017 there was well over 100 000 people there and the revenue is ridiculous. Put in to perspective a slushie is $12 if 25 000 people all buy one you're up $300 000.. need i say more in the sense of food, accommodation and transport

    Joshua Woodbridge Joshua Woodbridge 9:43 am 16 Jan 22

    Clare Hyden it was just a example

    Joshua Woodbridge Joshua Woodbridge 9:44 am 16 Jan 22

    Clare Hyden you do realise summernats is biggest car show in southern hemisphere obviously this year was lacking numbers

    James Weber James Weber 9:54 am 16 Jan 22

    Clare Hyden I agree with the first paragraph but not the second. Yes locals go, but as a local vendor at summernats I can say only about a 1/4 were locals, what this article doesn't take into account is the lead up. I know most of the performance shops need to work over Xmas and New year to complete the interstate cars that come to the event. The people that own the cars maybe bogans, but they are cashed up bogans who work hard to enjoy there pride and joys. Personally I believe $30M is only over the weekend, if you take into account the weeks leading up, it would be much higher.

    Chris Thomson Chris Thomson 10:13 am 16 Jan 22

    Clare Hyden illegal and antisocial behavior occurs every day here but it rarely rates a mention in the media. It's always more newsworthy though when it's linked to a controversial event such as Summernats

    Peter Bucke Peter Bucke 10:46 am 16 Jan 22

    Joshua Woodbridge are there any hotels left on Northbourne Ave ?

    Clare Hyden Clare Hyden 11:01 am 16 Jan 22

    Jordo Penfold the article says it was 20,000 a day makes 80,000. However, that’s counting people who went more than once more than once. So it’s closer to 20,000 people, many of whole would be local and 2000 of whom (10%) were involved in an incident at Fyshwick that had to be broken up by police…

    Jordo Penfold Jordo Penfold 11:08 am 16 Jan 22

    Clare Hyden i did hear about that incident. Definitely not a good look for the crew. Completely get what you're saying though

    Mellissa Doran Mellissa Doran 12:05 pm 16 Jan 22

    Clare Hyden yes but the tax payer foots that bill 😏

    Terri Lee Gill Terri Lee Gill 12:54 pm 16 Jan 22

    Joshua Woodbridge was limited to 20000 per day through the gates

    Clare Hyden Clare Hyden 1:36 pm 16 Jan 22

    Terri Lee Gill I’m not sure what your point is. Do you mean there were less than 20,000?

    Mark Rogers Mark Rogers 10:22 pm 16 Jan 22

    The event organisers clearly stated it was not limited to 20,000 a day. It was 80,000 overall. So some percentage of that was season pass holders and entrants, and the remaining was spread out over the four days of daily passes. So 80,000 individuals attended Summernats, some for one day only, others for each of the four days.

    Clare Hyden Clare Hyden 4:54 am 17 Jan 22

    Mark Rogers ummm 20,000 through the gate each day.

    Paul Beck Paul Beck 5:15 pm 17 Jan 22

    People who buy a season pass count as four people - one for each of the four days. So if the 80,000 were made up soley from season passes (which they wouldn't have been as some people only go for Saturday as an example), there would have been 20,000 season passes sold. That's how the system works.

    Craig Parker Craig Parker 5:37 pm 17 Jan 22

    As someone who's been to 33 out of 34 Summernats (plus a Street Machine Nationals before that), I can say for certain Clare Hyden, journalists write that people hate Summernats - because .... well .... a lot of locals do in fact, 'hate' Summernats. Fortunately there's enough locals, local business leaders and local government that 'like' Summernats and the benefits its brings to the state. Keep in mind, you can't please all of the people all of the time. And bashing a controversial event like Summernats is akin to shooting fish in a barrel. This is just one journo's view, fortunately we still have enough informed news/information outlets, to enable us to have access to other people's views.

    Steve Chisholm Steve Chisholm 6:42 pm 17 Jan 22


    I’ve been to about 20 SummerNats and thought this year’s event was pretty good.

    Craig Parker Craig Parker 8:51 am 18 Jan 22

    Steve Chisholm - yep, I agree. Even a slightly smaller Summernats is still a kick-arse event. The fact that it went ahead trumps any other evaluation. Bring on SN35!

Jai Darling Jai Darling 3:45 am 16 Jan 22

Oh the chief health minister was even impressed eh ? Well as an "essential worker" I can say I was greatly "impressed" at the strange, meteoric rise I had of "medical exemptions" pass through my workplace, in Civic, during that week. I can't imagine why I had such a huge rise in people that had "medical exemptions" from wearing masks, I can't quite put my finger on it. No idea. Not one clue......🤔

    Terri Lee Gill Terri Lee Gill 12:53 pm 16 Jan 22

    Jai Darling being it’s outside mainly why the need for exemptions ?

    Bren West Bren West 1:01 pm 16 Jan 22

    Jai Darling did u c footage from the concert? Yes outdoors but no social distancing 😖

    Mark Rogers Mark Rogers 10:19 pm 16 Jan 22

    It was all good, let people have their fun and make their own call. And sounds like it was all no risk to you.

Jorge Gatica Jorge Gatica 7:44 pm 15 Jan 22

Looking forward to next year

Lisa Healy Lisa Healy 7:40 pm 15 Jan 22

I enjoyed the fringe festival in braddon. Would be good to expand it into haig park and get rid of normal cars on lonsdale street. There were many extra cars driving around that couldn’t get a car park.

Shane Hayward Shane Hayward 7:26 pm 15 Jan 22

1000 cars & 2000 people doing burnouts 😂😂😂😂😂😂yeah ok then.

Also the same reliable source seen elvis Presley & Harold holt doing donuts on solid gold mopeds

    Lisa Healy Lisa Healy 7:37 pm 15 Jan 22

    Shane Hayward you sir have comment of the night 😂. They would have been lucky to have had half of that.

    Richard Young Richard Young 10:49 am 18 Jan 22

    Solid gold mopeds. Why is that so funny????

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