Red Centre Nats 2018 survival guide

Everything you need to know if you're heading to Alice Springs for the fourth Red CentreNATS!


ALICE Springs is going to rumble to the beat of some of Australia’s coolest and craziest cars this Father’s Day long weekend as the fourth Red CentreNATS takes over the outback city. Between Thursday 30 August and Sunday 2 September the Summernats crew, in association with the Northern Territory Government, is putting on a killer show packed with activities that allow entrants to use their cars in a fun environment, and give spectators the chance to see these amazing machines being cruised, raced and enjoyed.

Red Centre NatsThe whole event takes place in a 12km radius, between Lasseters Centre Of Entertainment (93 Barrett Drive) in Alice Springs itself, the Blatherskite Park facility (Len Kittle Drive, Ilparpa) 3km out of town, and Alice Springs Inland Dragway a further 8km down the Stuart Highway.

One key element that makes Red CentreNATS such a beaut weekend is the $45 permit that allows some of the wilder blown or race cars to cruise along public roads in a defined area. The sight of some of Australia’s craziest blown, methanol-sucking burnout machines queuing for drive-thru service at the local Macca’s will never get old, and is unique to Red CentreNATS.

AGROXA at Red Centre NatsOn top of being able to scope out 1500hp brutes cruising the blacktop, there is grass and tar-based driving events to test entrants’ skills, a dyno cell for the number-crunchers, a 4×4 off-road course, Elite- and Street-class judging, plus a huge outdoor car show, a rock concert Saturday night, and the Sunday-night wrap-up party.

For those sweating last-minute entry, you will be able to roll in and buy your spot on the Thursday or Friday before the event kicks off properly on the Saturday. Bring the family, as kids under 13 get in for free!

Red Centre NatsWe’ve attended every year so far – including bringing along our own twin-turbo LS-powered Carnage MX5.7 last year – and have had a ball every single time. Even if you don’t have a cool cruiser to rock up in, hop a flight and check out a genuinely awesome show in the heart of our country.


Australia’s outback Father’s Day-weekend party, the Red CentreNATS, is once again looking like an absolute cracker.

Red Centre Nats street paradeWe’ve tinkered with the schedule a bit to make it easier for punters to get to all the venues and see more of this awesome show. The Street Parade has moved from Friday to Saturday night, which means a massive show ’n’ shine at the showgrounds on Saturday afternoon as we form up.

This new weekend slot will see many more spectators lining the road to watch the parade, before the Rock N Rumble concert takes us into the night.

Red Centre Nats burnoutThe Alice Springs Inland Dragway will be packed over the weekend, with a full schedule of drag racing and burnouts.

As usual, the skids are split into the Burnout Competition and the Burnout Masters. The past three years have seen some of Australia’s top burnout drivers come and put on an epic show.

With the Street Parade moving to Saturday, that means burnouts start on Friday night, with the qualifiers for Masters and Competition kicking off in the early evening.

Red Centre Nats burnoutThe drags will run both full-competition race cars and a dial-your-own class for punters wanting to have a crack at running their car.

It’s a killer show at the showgrounds, led by Summernats 31 Grand Champion Grant Connor and his Bad Apple ’67 XR Falcon. On top of the Street and Elite beasts in the show hall, there is also the show ’n’ shine running outside, plus a 4WD course, dyno cell, grass motorkhana and tar khanacross, and heaps of Australia’s toughest cars cruising the streets, with the Northern Territory Government once again issuing permits for certain wild cars to drive on the roads.

It’ll be a party the likes of which you won’t see


The Show Hall at Blatherskite Park will be stacked with cars from the Street- and Elite-level show classes, all vying for glory from the judging panel. The undercover pavilion will be open 9am-3:30pm on the Saturday.

Red centre Nats show hallIf you want to wander through rows of cool cars, then the Shannons Show ’n’ Shine will be your jam, and it runs over two huge days at the Blatherskite Park facility.

Gates to the parkland by the river open at 9am Saturday and Sunday, closing at 9:30pm on both days, with the Shannons Show ’n’ Shine running the whole time to make use of that awesome Northern Territory spring weather.


This year, the Yeperenye Shopping Centre Red CentreNATS Street Parade will run on Saturday 1 September. Previous years had seen it take place on the Friday, but for 2018 Australia’s largest street parade has shifted a day later.

Red Centre NatsThis will give spectators a better look at some of the angriest machinery to cruise public streets in Oz, thanks to the NT Government issuing road-going permits to everything from 1500hp alky-guzzling burnout rigs to full-blown drag cars – and even a couple of blokes in their twin-turbo LS1-powered MX-5!

Red Centre Nats street outlawsNow, if you’re frothing at the idea of jamming a blown big-block into a bed frame, slapping some wheels on and cruising Alice Springs, the organisers still scrutineer cars to make sure they’re not too loud or crazy before letting them loose during Red CentreNATS. If you’re wondering where the ‘too crazy’ line is, we were told a back-halved, twin-turbo LS MX-5 is getting right up to the limit.

Red CentreNATS street paradeThe Street Parade kicks off at Blatherskite Park at 5pm Saturday, running into town and back.


The driving events have had a bit of a shuffle this year, with the motorkhana now renamed the Lasseters Khanacross, and the grass driving events turned into the Thrifty Motorkhana.

The khanacross will still be a course through the Lasseters Centre Of Entertainment car park from 10am to 12pm on the Sunday, so make sure either that your power steering is topped up, or you haven’t gone too hard on the weights that morning at the gym if you don’t have hydraulic steering assistance! Point and squirt is the aim of the game, and try to be smooth on those steering inputs.

Red Centre NatsIf you prefer digging in the dirt, the Thrifty Motorkhana will offer up the challenge of navigating courses on grass and dirt, at the Blatherskite Park site on Saturday (9am-3pm) and Sunday (9am-4pm).


The top dog at RCN each year is the Red CentreNATS Champion, and the competition is open to both Street- and Elite-class cars – so don’t think you need a candy two-pack tailshaft to get a sniff. Points are accumulated through cruising, drag racing, the driving events, plus the show judging, so have a crack, because you never never know if you never have a go.

Red Centre NatsLast year, Layton Crambrook’s epic HUMBLE HQ Monaro took the top gong, also scoring People’s Choice and a place in the Elite Top 10.

If you want to follow the entrants going for the title of Red CentreNATS Champion, you’ll have a busy Sunday, as they will be drag racing at ASID from 9 to 9:30am, before hitting Lasseters Centre Of Entertainment from 10 to 10:30am for their Khanacross, and then trekking back to Blatherskite Park for the Motorkhana from 11 to 11:30am.


Alice Springs is smack-bang in the middle of the Aussie outback, so it makes sense that Red CentreNATS organisers introduced a 4WD track at Blatherskite Park last year for the 4×4 fiends to check their flex on, and it is back for 2018!

Featuring a range of off-road obstacles, including log hops and barriers, it will be a beaut way to test how good your fourbie is – not to mention your driving skills!

Held at the Blatherskite Park grounds, the 4WD Course runs 9am-3:30pm on Saturday and 9am-4pm on Sunday.


Red Centre Nats dynoWe all like to guesstimate just how much grunt our cars have, but you can actually get a figure from the rear wheels of your own machine at the Diggamen Dyno Cell during Red CentreNATS! You’ll be able to have your car run on the chassis dyno from 9am to 4pm across Saturday and Sunday at the Blatherskite Park facility.


The Sun 969 Rock N Rumble concert is being held in Blatherskite Park on the Saturday night this year, running from 6 to 9:30pm.

Sunday night’s Podium Party will put a cap on the event as entrants and spectators pack the concert stage at Blatherskite Park to wind down, swap stories and enjoy a feed and some cold frothies.

For 2018, entry to the party is included with a Chrome or Sunday day pass, with entertainment, food stalls and a cash bar. There will also be a VIP area you can purchase entry to.

The Podium Party runs from 6 to 9:30pm, when the Blatherskite Park facility closes.


Roughly 15km out of the centre of Alice, the quarter-mile at Alice Springs Inland Dragway (ASID) will run drag racing on both Saturday and Sunday during Red CentreNATS. So long as your car is safe and passes scrutineering, everyone is encouraged to have a crack.

Red Centre Nats dragYou don’t need a twin-turbo drag monster like Adam Rogash’s epic ALLSHOW VK Commodore, either; Red CentreNATS is about everyone having fun with their cars, so head out and see if you can escape without getting hooked on drag racing!

The strip will run qualifying on Saturday from 8:30am ’til 3pm, and finals on Sunday from 9am to 10:30am.