Time for Summernats to change gears again, or go

Ian Bushnell 9 December 2019 175
The Burnout Zone at Summernats 31

The Burnout Zone at Summernats 31. Fans love it but its days must be numbered. Photo: Peter Norton / Epic Sports Photography.

Canberra may have spent the weekend shrouded in smoke but come the New Year the annual auto festival wants to belch great toxic clouds over EPIC and the surrounding suburbs.

Summernats is warming up the festival motor, pitching a drag strip to a diplomatic Chief Minister Andrew Barr and preparing Exhibition Park for the influx of car enthusiasts and internal combustion engine tragics.

There is no doubt it has a come a long way from its wilder early years when a woman took her chances wandering into a very certain kind of male domain, where the alcohol flowed as much as the high-octane and fuelled regrettable and often criminal behaviour.

Summernats has been cleaned up and its image has been polished as much as some of the prestige vehicles. There is no doubt that in a quiet slot in the tourism calendar, the festival brings visitors to Canberra, about 100,000 of them, and is a valuable contribution to the capital’s economy, which is probably why Mr Barr says he will consider the push from Summernats organisers for an eighth of a mile drag strip, with some caveats about the environment and noise.

But motor sports fans shouldn’t bank on it. Nor should they expect Summernats to not evolve further if they want it to stay at EPIC, because change is on the cards for the venue and the surrounding area.

Other EPIC stakeholders such as the Canberra Show and the National Folk Festival have seen off possible Government ideas about residential development and now the site is seen as a long-term, high-quality events precinct that may include education and conference facilities.

There might even be a stadium there one day.

Where does a festival with enough of a streak of hoonery left in it to view the burnouts competition as the weekend highlight fit into that future model?

The residents of the Inner North have had to endure the noise and toxic fumes for years. Will the residents of soon-to-be-developed Kenny and other developments along the Northbourne Avenue – Federal Highway corridor welcome the annual orgy of burning rubber, a kind of last gasp of the appropriately named fossil-fuel culture?

And where does such an activity fit in a clean and green city that spruiks its progressive credentials, has serious climate action goals and is about to source all of its electricity from renewable sources?

If Summernats wants to stay long term at EPIC as a legitimate festival for car lovers the last thing organisers should be asking for is a drag strip, and they should already be thinking about managing the winding down of an event that could not be considered healthy or safe for those foolish enough to be in the stands, or their neighbours who have no say in the fumes and noise they have to put up with.

If Summernats can’t take the next step in its evolution, then it’s time to find another venue.


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175 Responses to Time for Summernats to change gears again, or go
Jesi45537658 Jesi45537658 2:48 pm 17 Dec 19

There are two things about summernats that need to be said.

Firstly, it is an event that causes distress to peace-loving residents. There is unavoidable noise and there is avoidable noise. Summernats is avoidable noise.

Secondly, pollution and the world’s natural resources are serious concerns. These concerns should be addressed seriously.

People used to throw rubbish out of their cars onto the highways! It’s true. Then we woke up to our stupidity. It’s way past time to get rid of Summernats. It’s time to grow up Canberra!

geetee geetee 6:47 pm 16 Dec 19

It’s not just the northern suburbs affected by Summernats noise. Most evenings during the event, Kingston/Narrabundah residents hear the cars as they head to Fyshwick…

But yeah – any modern city – celebrates a diversity of events appealing to all sorts. Senior citizens wandering around the place during Floriade can be annoying too.

Chris Schwass Chris Schwass 5:53 pm 16 Dec 19

Take it to Cooma airport plenty of Accommodation in the area.

chewy14 chewy14 1:15 pm 16 Dec 19

Oh, the whinge has started early this year has it?

It’s a couple of days that despite protestations, doesn’t affect your life in the slightest.

Dean Cameron Dean Cameron 12:33 pm 16 Dec 19

Ian Nomates Bushnell needs to get back to his macrame hobby or replace a tyre on his green fleet of bicycles that leave rubber reisdue on roads the same as a vehicle. Geeez this town is full of "different people"

Clayton Muller Clayton Muller 4:23 am 16 Dec 19

Never ban burnouts they're one of the main parts and attractions of Summernats and way of life!

Zillah Roach Zillah Roach 12:29 pm 14 Dec 19

Canberra would be boring

MRT MRT 12:33 pm 13 Dec 19

If you support Summernats, and don’t live in the inner north, would you like to swap houses with us. We are walking distance away and would just love to move out for a few days while its on. The noise is horrid and the lack of fresh air is not much better.

Ctl_Alt_Del Ctl_Alt_Del 9:43 am 13 Dec 19

Oh for goodness sakes what’s a little bit of madness once a year? Never been to Summernats and never will but geez let’s let people enjoy themselves.

David Connell David Connell 1:24 am 12 Dec 19

The burnouts are the best part of the Nats, for heavens sake it's only once a year

Jay D Henderson Jay D Henderson 7:18 pm 11 Dec 19

Lose the legal skids, gain more illegal skids.

Its pretty simple, choose when you want them, one weekend a year, or every friday night at your nearest roundabout 🤷🏻‍♂️

    Diane Asenoguan Diane Asenoguan 12:46 am 13 Dec 19

    Jay D Henderson it happens in my suburb regularly and the tire marks on the roads are a testament to that.

Gene Stephenson Gene Stephenson 5:38 pm 11 Dec 19

they want it off the streets but won’t supply somewhere to do it ??

Zac Bryant Zac Bryant 11:58 pm 10 Dec 19

Emma Jeffries unlucky for you and your gang

Andrew Denley Andrew Denley 7:59 pm 10 Dec 19

I really don’t like Summernats, the cars are not my type of thing and I couldn’t care less about burnouts. So you know what I do? I don’t go and I don’t complain about those who do

We get millions pumped into our economy for 4 days of slight inconvenience and a few more happy bogans running around and if the classic Canberra NIMBYs keep getting all bent out of shape we might find one day a regional town that actually sees the value of events like this will steal it from under our noses and get all that money pumped into their local economy instead

Matt O'Dwyer Matt O'Dwyer 7:39 pm 10 Dec 19

Ban Floriade while you're at it, I get bad hayfever

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 7:12 pm 10 Dec 19

Getting rid of Summernats – whether blatantly, or via the local version of what passes for subtlety – would make it just that much less plausible to argue that there’s no such thing as the “Canberra Bubble”, and to claim that the negative stereotypes (all the fault of those fly-in scoundrels….) overlooks the down-to-earth, dinky-di qualities of the everyday ‘Strayans who just happen to call Canberra home.

Mladen Topic Mladen Topic 6:36 pm 10 Dec 19

So many snow flakes in Canberra 😂

Craig Evans Craig Evans 4:28 pm 10 Dec 19

Ermagahd, what would people do without bogan christmas. 😂

Nikolai Jermolajew Nikolai Jermolajew 2:51 pm 10 Dec 19

The argument that the residents who live near EPIC have to “put up with noise and smoke against their wishes” is becoming less relevant with every year that passes. Summernats is approaching its 33rd anniversary. What percentage of residents living in the neighbouring suburbs would you say have been living there for 34 or more years? I’d be willing to bet that it’s relatively low. This would mean that a good number of the nearby residents have moved into these suburbs knowing full well that they are living next door to a SHOWGROUND. If these residents then go on to complain, then you might argue that they are deranged. By the same token, the number of people living in nearby Kenny before the Summernats came to be is definitely zero. If anyone buys a house there and subsequently complains about noise or smoke, you’d have to wonder where they went to school.

    Thomas Boyd Thomas Boyd 3:08 pm 10 Dec 19

    Nikolai Jermolajew I would argue you’re deranged

    Nikolai Jermolajew Nikolai Jermolajew 3:10 pm 10 Dec 19

    Thomas Boyd I’ve had my moments.

Greg Reed Greg Reed 2:12 pm 10 Dec 19

We still have cars that cause polution driving on the roads every day but no one cares about this because it's a way of getting to work and around. Without cars people don't care about this because they can't go without their cars

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