Huge! Street Machine Summernats 36

Street Machine Summernats 36 was the largest car show ever staged on Aussie soil

Photographers: Chris Thorogood, Michelle Porobic, Ashleigh Wilson, Tim McCormack

It’s long been touted as Australia’s biggest horsepower party, but the 36th running of Street Machine Summernats was the biggest of them all. Gates were thrown open to entrant campers on Wednesday for the first time ever, allowing them to settle in and limber up for the days of sheer radness that lay ahead.

Over the course of five days, Exhibition Park in Canberra welcomed a monumental 130,000 people – an all-time Summernats record.

“The scale of the event this year was just enormous,” said ’Nats frontman Andy Lopez. “On top of 130,000 people at the event itself, we also had 30,000 people join us for the Fringe Festival in Braddon, including 22,000 on the Saturday night alone. And as usual, we also had somewhere north of 20,000 people lining the streets of Canberra for the City Cruise.”

Entrants were capped at 2500 and sold out well in advance, with a concerted effort made by Summernats management to increase the quality of cars entered, weed out the troublemakers and keep on-site service vehicles to a minimum. The net result was a cruise route positively overflowing with cool shit at all times.

The Meguiar’s Great Uncover is always a Summernats highlight, and this year we saw the covers yanked off a monumental 23 fresh builds, many of which you’ll come to see in these pages throughout the year. We saw the epic FORGED XY decimate all comers in the Elite Hall judging, but one of the unveiled cars (and a Summernats first-timer) flipped the cript in the driving events to claim the hallowed Grand Champion sword.

The Street class saw Carolyn Hayes’s gorgeous drag-and-drive Torana (SM, Mar ’23) win the coveted Top Judged award at what was the car’s last full-tilt crack at the show scene before Carolyn fills the nitrous bottles and sends the car down the strip. The Street Champion award went to a genuine home-built HQ Holden that owner Joel Smith wheeled like a man possessed in the grass driving events.

As for that rowdy bunch over in Tuff Street, one of Australia’s most iconic outlaw street cars, Tristan Ockers’s wild MINCER Capri, was this year’s champion – a popular winner indeed. One of the most memorable images to come out of Summernats 36 was TO hot-lapping the Capri in Braddon on Saturday night, accompanied by Matt Bell’s mental blown and injected FAT G Monaro. Where else but Summernats?

On the subject of popular wins, one of the most hotly contested titles at Summernats – that of Burnout Masters Champion – went to one of the most widely liked and heavily backed fellas in the car scene, Andrew Lynch in his LYNCHY Corolla. Lynchy is well known for his manic driving style, and while he has been working towards a Masters title for a good many years, it had eluded him up until now. There was sheer pandemonium at the Masters prezzo when he was announced the winner.

It wasn’t just the outright attendance record at Summernats that was smashed, either. Up in the MPW Dyno Cell, we saw Brenden ‘Bubba’ Medlyn’s Haltech Horsepower Heroes competition record finally eclipsed – by a six-cylinder, of all things! The Maatouks Racing crew fronted with a very street-appearing VL Commodore packing a billet RB combo, into which they screwed an astonishing 79psi of boost! The result? 2504hp at the hubs, backed up by two subsequent pulls north of 2490hp – astonishingly repeatable at those power levels.

The entertainment certainly levelled up this year too, and while we were bummed to hear that living legend Jimmy Barnes would not be able to perform due to health reasons (get well soon, Barnesy!), Aussie rockers Grinspoon were well aware they had big shoes to fill and delivered the goods on Friday night, absolutely shredding in front of a monster crowd. Summernats favourites The Screaming Jets smashed it as always, and no words could describe the atmosphere when Daryl Braithwaite belted out his anthemic hit The Horses before an adoring Summernats crowd.

It was quantifiably the biggest Summernats of all time, and with a noticeable shift in atmosphere and an increase in good vibes compared to ’Nats 35, it was certainly up there with the better ones, too.

“The way we felt after this event was massively different compared to how we felt after last year’s,” said Andy. “We made some strong statements after Summernats 35 about what we wanted out of this event, and I’m proud to say that 99.9 per cent of our punters and entrants got on board and helped us deliver on that. We had a few gronks – they won’t be back. But there was such a sense of spirit in the place; the energy was just so positive.

“A massive thank you to all the entrants and spectators who came along and had a great time in the real spirit of Summernats. Thanks to the team that put the event on, and all the contractors who work over Christmas and New Year’s to put on the best event we can. We were really proud of this one.”


Like them or loathe them, there were plenty of examples of patina-clad rides at Street Machine Summernats 36. Among the raddest was a pair of HK GTS Monaros – one of the most sought-after Aussie muscle cars ever built.

Rod Cordingly’s example was a joint project with his son. “He wanted to bring something to Summernats this year; something old and beat up with a big motor,” Rod said. “He wanted to do a VS ute, but I said, ‘Mate, we’ve got Monaros. We’ve got plenty of parts, and we can throw something together with junk we’ve got lying around.”

Among the junk Rod had lying around was a rusty HK Monaro shell and a 400ci, Hilborn-injected small-block, and the result was one of the most head-turning cars at Summernats.


Mick ‘Nev’ Hodgson’s ratty HK coupe has been in the family since the 80s, and has served as a family hack, been raced in khanacrosses and hillclimbs, and hauled the lads away on surfing trips. It had been sitting in the shed for 30 years when Nev made the call to blow the dust off it and cart it to Summernats 36.

It’s a genuine 307ci GTS, but it’s currently packing a 202 just to get it mobile. Highlights include the bikkie tin rust repair panels and the slammed ride height – it’s on the bump stops all ’round.


Burnouts are big business these days, but the John Peterson Burnout Hall of Fame seeks to acknowledge those who have had a hand in shaping the sport into the big shebang it is today. John Peterson, of course, is renowned as one of the founding fathers of the scene, so to be added to the Hall of Fame is no small thing.

The inductees for Summernats 36 were ’Nats 14 Burnout Champion Debbie Gray; ’Nats 21 Burnout Masters winner Greg Young; 25-year burnout pad veteran Steve Rowlands; and two posthumous awards: NZ burnout judge Jenn Ireland, and the voice of Aussie burnouts, the late, great Kerry Digney.


Summernats reaches fever pitch on Saturday night, when punters flock to the main arena to watch the Supercruise. This year, the honour of leading the Supercruise away fell to our own Scott Taylor in the stealthy Toyota Lexcen station wagon.

There’s always a relaxed atmosphere for the Supercruise as elite stunners, thumping Tuff Streeters and cool cruisers roll on past. Even the legends from the Australian Ride-On Lawn Mower Racing Association got to spin a lap!

Adding gravity to the proceedings were the announcements of this year’s John Peterson Burnout Hall of Fame inductees and the Burnout Masters top three.

As the cars filtered out of the oval, the fireworks kicked off, followed by Hot Dub Time Machine taking a huge and enthusiastic crowd on a musical journey through the decades.


Shane and Matt Corish of fame are never short of a crazy project, but they outdid themselves at ’Nats 36 by lobbing in a genuine John Goss Special, powered by a wild twin-turbo Barra!

“It lived in a mate of mine’s barn for about 20 years; he bought it cheap as a parts car for a nice coupe he was building,” Shane said. “I had the idea of doing a twin-turbo Barra for a budget race car for shits and giggles, but then this came along and I thought, ‘That’s the perfect set-up for this car.’

“We took the genuine Goss shell and bought an XH ute for the diff, transmission and shifter. We then put a gas Barra in front of that.”

Shane hopes to make between 500 and 600hp with the combo on methanol, with a dual fuel cell set-up in the boot so pump fuel can be used for cruising.


Summernats isn’t for everyone, but there is no debating the enormous economic uplift it brings to the ACT each year – $35 million, if you don’t mind.

The City Cruise is an awesome opportunity for the broader community in Canberra to get a taste for the event without having to spring for a ticket. All they need to do is line the main drag (Northbourne Avenue) and watch as the cavalcade of cool rolls right on past.

Add to that three nights of Fringe Festival action in Braddon, which pulled 30,0000 punters, and there is no doubt that Summernats is now reaching far more bodies on the ground than ever before.


Paul Quinn has owned this little Honda TN360 for the past 10 years or so, and for the last five of those, it’s been powered by a Yamaha YZF1000 motorcycle engine.

“They originally came with a 360cc two-cylinder, but that was pretty piss-poor, as you can imagine,” Paul laughed. “I figured out the Yamaha engine would fit pretty easily, so I chucked one in for some more power.”

The YZF engine was renovated by Paul with Wiseco pistons, head porting, billet cams and some clever massaging. The 140rwhp it makes may not sound like a heap, but paired with the short-ratio six-speed gearbox, it’s still a pretty fun thing.

“It’ll light up the tyres in fourth no worries, and it goes to 10,500rpm,” Paul said. “I’ve got buttons inside to shift, so you just keep clicking gears and it hooks along.”


1. Scrutineering got a big shake-up this year, with the whole shebang moving out to GIO Stadium. The aim of the game is to streamline the process as much as possible, as well as providing entrants with the space to chill and catch up with mates over a cold bevvie.

2. Lorella Burns’s XW wagon (Iron Maiden, SM, Feb ’23) has some fresh – if sacrilegious – power. Hubby Anthony has plonked an LS1 into the bay, disguising it with Ford rocker covers. “I had a Ford air cleaner on it, but it wouldn’t fit under the bonnet,” Anthony laughed. It’s entered in Harry Haig’s Hardass 1000 drag-and-drive event in March.

3. The late Jenn Ireland was instrumental in helping to grow the burnout scene in New Zealand, and was posthumously inducted into the John Peterson Burnout Hall of Fame this year, with Andrew Lynch performing a tribute skid on the pad for his late friend after the ceremony.

4. The lads from the Keep it Reet YouTube channel had their quad-turbo VL Commodore wagon popping mega flames and roasting tyres all weekend. Four big truck turbos have been thrown on a stock RB30 to make the beast, which to everyone’s surprise hasn’t kicked a rod out yet.

5. Castlemaine Rod Shop debuted a fresh look for the Ferrari V12-powered REAL DEAL LC Torana via a lick of Ferrari yellow paint. “Everyone thought we were going to paint it Ferrari red, so we went with the yellow instead,” said the Rod Shop’s Heath Waddington. He also mentioned plans for two turbos to make their way onto the Fezza V12 at some stage, but it cruised in aspo form at ’Nats 36.

6. The Tuff Street awards were scaled back to just two trophies this year, with Tristan Ockers taking out Tuff Street Champion in his MINCER Capri and Phil Kerjean’s Commodore wagon in the runner-up spot.

7. Matt Howe’s blown ’62 Impala was one of the most talked-about cars of the event.

8. Victor Bray’s iconic ’57 Chev skid car now belongs to Queenslander Joe Bauer, who relished the opportunity to chuck it around on the Summernats burnout pad.

9. It was super cool to see 2023 Milwaukee Young Street Machine of the Year winner Grand Azzopardi and his Barra-powered Anglia doing the wild thing down Skid Row!

10. This year, the Burnout Masters final was moved to Saturday arvo, meaning that the winner could be revealed in front of the crowd at the Supercruise. Cue wild scenes of emotion as Andrew Lynch of LYNCHY fame broke through to claim his first-ever Masters title.

11. Carolyn Hayes’s Torana won Top Judged Street in what will be the car’s final go-’round on the show scene before it hits the strip in anger!

12. Held in the streets of Braddon, the Fringe Festival has been one of the coolest innovations at Summernats in recent years. This time around, the concept was extended to run over Thursday night as well as Friday and Saturday.

13. Sydney’s Anton Medvidovic took home the Grand Mullet Champion gong. “I never thought in my life I would get this,” he enthused. “I was brought up in the 80s, so I thought I’d bring the 80s back.”

14. Local lad Adrian Haynes had a big weekend in his LX hatch, scoring a spot in the Elite Top 10 and winning the Top Tudor gong and the PPG Supreme Entrant award!

15. Hayden Davis cuts loose in the driving events in his blown XR wagon.

16. Kelly Neely and family rocked up to Summernats in Kelly’s super-sweet Monaro. The HK packs a 454 LS6 backed by a TH350, and features a bunch of neat mods including a smoothed engine bay and a neat set of mini-tubs.

17. Mark Taylor blew our minds when he lobbed at ’Nats 35 in his granddad’s old farm ute. This year, he was back with a blower slapped on top of the LS1. “We got to skid it on Friday, which is something I’d dreamed about for 20 years,” he said.

18. Jay Duca’s wild VL was another of the most talked-about cars at ’Nats 36. The exotic driveline alone is newsworthy – a quad-rotor imported from NZ, backed by a Holinger RD6 sequential gearbox – but underneath is a complete Nissan S13 front and rear independent suspension!

19. Steve Serone debuted his ratty FB Holden wagon (In the Build, SM, Yearbook ’23) at ’Nats 36, alongside his Drag Challenge-proven EJ sedan. Both early girls are LS-powered, and both skidded up a storm.

20. This year’s Street Champion was Joel Smith in his exquisite HQ sedan. Joel nabbed Top Standard Paint and seconds in Top Sedan and Top Engine Bay before sealing the deal with strong performances in the driving events. A ripper skid on the pad after the award ceremony capped off a big weekend! Check out the full feature on page 94.

21. Don’t be fooled; Shane ‘Barney’ Barnard’s XY-looking pano was born an XR! It served as an RACQ service vehicle before the rear quarters and tail end were updated in 1972. “I found it in Crows Nest in a shed,” Barney explained. “They’d done a good job [with the conversion], but I didn’t like it being two different cars at the front and back.” After bolting an XY front on, Barney slotted in a tough 434 Dart-blocked Clevor combo, paired to a TH400.