Summernats: Where boys become men and men grow mullets

The Nations’ Capital, usually a tepid meeting place for politicians, has this weekend been transformed into a high-octane paradise for petrolheads, as thousands of grease-stained enthusiasts converge upon the town for Summernats #35.

Devoted lovers of Holdens, Fords, Chevy’s and everything to do with mechanical muscle are here to enjoy four days of cruising the capital, burnouts, live music, showing off their pride and joy in all it’s shiny, chromed glory and rocking their mullets/ tattoos in the quest to be crowned as THE most peacocked alpha in greasedom.

For many older heads, like Larry Clark, Summernats is the chance to enjoy seeing both new wheels and old faces.

“Mate, I’ve come to every one of these since it began in ‘88”, he says proudly, nursing a can of Bundy mid-strength and cola, “outside of Bathurst, it’s the best long weekend of the whole year. Sure, they’ve had to crack down on a few things over the years because the fun police always have to ruin it for everyone, but aside from that, we love it- love coming here, catching up with the same old bastards we saw last time, watching the young blokes light up and the smoke-show. You can’t beat it. If I can win the mullet contest and beat these youngsters with their peroxided bullshit, that’ll be a bonus”. While his hair has long lost all its colour, Larry’s feathery mane resembles a human legionnaires’ cap and is definitely worth considering a contender.

Also present is Larry’s youngest son, Morgan (20), who this year enjoyed the breakthrough of riding up from the family’s Horsham property in his own project: a restored 1990 VN Commodore. The car is not yet fully complete, reflected by the Maranello red bonnet mismatching the rest of the car’s Chardonnay gold paint and grey spots along the bodywork, but this hasn’t dampened Morgan’s enthusiasm:

“Me and Dad would come up in the old man’s SLR5000, but this time I got to make the pilgrimage in me VN- loved driving up, getting plenty of honks up the Hume, it’s been an awesome weekend so far- lovin it!”

Yet for Morgan, by far the biggest highlight so far has been taking his Commodore “out for a burn” on Friday night, lapping the territory and signalling his dominance amongst the other alphas by ripping a skid that was audible from two suburbs away.

“I was turning off Northborne onto a side road and there was this sweet black Kingswood trailing me- then I seen these chicks walking along the footpath- they were decent sorts too, so I thought I’d give em a show. So I revved it up then dropped the clutch and just pumped it- the car was screaming and I left this big black trail behind me smoking it up. I looped it round and drove back, put me head out the window and yelled ‘Tits out for the boys!’ You shoulda seen the look on their faces”.

Larry nods and pats Morgan on the shoulder with a humoured glint in his eyes. “That’s my boy”.

We later found the owner of a black 1977 HZ Kingswood, going by the name of Caveman, who confirmed he was the driver following Morgan but claimed his story was somewhat of an embellishment. “He did send it pretty good, but that bit about those chicks I’m calling bullshit on. I didn’t fully see them, but I mean, c’mon mate- when do you ever see decent sorts in Canberra?”

Brock Jackson – Sydney Sentinel foreign correspondent.

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