Wild affairs are usually best kept secret, but there’s no hiding Australia’s infatuation with Summernats.
Organisers are gearing up for the 30th and biggest edition of the annual car festival, which rolled into Canberra on Thursday.
It kick-started with the traditional City Cruise, where 300-odd hot rods and street machines rumbled down the CBD’s main drag.
Almost 2,500 cars have registered for the four-day event – smashing the previous record of 1952 set in 2009 – and more than 110,000 people are expected to visit.
Camping at Exhibition Park has also sold out for the first time in its history.
‘It’s definitely shaping up to be the biggest Summernats festival ever,’ co-owner Andy Lopez said.
‘The scope and the variety of cars coming will be off the scale.’
A contingent from New Zealand has already arrived, including half a dozen entrants for the ever-popular burnout competition.
There’s also keen interest from rev-heads in the US, with a number of media outlets, including The New York Times, in town to cover the festival.
‘I think Canberra’s secret love affair with Summernats is now a very public one,’ Mr Lopez said.
‘The New Zealand market is one that will grow into the future … [and] the American market is a huge one for us.’
While admitting Summernats is still ‘wild and crazy’, Mr Lopez insists it’s all about the cars and is open to families and children.
ACT Policing said crowds have been well-behaved in recent years and expects the same again this weekend.
‘We’re not here to stop anyone from having a good time, but we will be working with the event organisers to make sure it’s a safe event for everyone,’ Acting Superintendent Susan Ball said.
Police will be on the lookout for anti-social behaviour and dangerous driving, including speeding and burnouts.
‘Common sense still applies within the event – if you’re driving on a road lined with spectators, families and children, drive as safely as possible.’