3000hp 1968 Dodge Charger wins Summernats 36 Grand Champion 

Joe Bauer steered his ballistic, elite-level Charger to a memorable Grand Champion win at ’Nats 36

Photographers: Chris Thorogood, Ashleigh Wilson

The Grand Champion award at Street Machine Summernats is one of the most coveted gongs in our scene, and it takes a well-built, well-rounded and well-driven car to win it. There are four key components to the competition, being Judging, People’s Choice, Go-to-Whoa and Slalom, so a car has to impress the judges, poll well with the masses, and go, stop and steer in order to earn the Grand Champ sword.

Summernats 36 saw a bunch of killer cars in the mix, from balls-out pro streeters like Joe Bauer’s Dodge Charger to exquisitely finished street cars like Zoran Krstevski’s XE Falcon – not to mention Dan Morton’s exceptional FORGED XY Falcon, which many pundits consider to be the best custom car ever built on Aussie soil.

FORGED cleaned up the judging side of the equation, winning almost everything it was eligible for, up to and including Top Judged Elite. In the People’s Choice stakes, it was the Hot Wheels-like 1968 Charger that garnered the most votes. But, like we’ve seen in the past, it often comes down to the driving events.

In the Go-to-Whoa, Dean Rickard in his gorgeous stick-shift pro touring HT Monaro nailed what looked to be a perfect run, before Joe Bauer rolled up to the line, grabbed BLOWN RT by the scruff of the neck and sent it down the Summernats burnout pad, then nailed a solid stop at the end.

FORGED looked to experience some difficulties during its Go-to-Whoa passes, then was a no-show for the Slalom after the team wasn’t able to rectify the issue. Steven Alldrick from Deluxe Rod Shop wheeled his XR Falcon ute with equal measures of aggression and consummate skill in the Slalom, and Joe Bauer was again not remotely shy with the throttle in his freshly unveiled Charger, putting on a spectacular display that left the crowd properly impressed. 

With the points tallied, it was Joe in BLOWN RT who was bestowed with the ultimate prize at Summernats – the Grand Champion sword. “The first time at Summernats taking out Grand Champion and People’s Choice; it’s surreal,” grinned Joe. “I was really stoked to get People’s Choice. My intention was to come down and get People’s Choice to understand that people liked the car. I like high-horsepower cars, and I don’t mind giving it all it’s got.”