Summernats 2018: the cars, the characters and the crowds

Between the hot rods on Tuff Street and the beating sun as eastern Australia endures a heat wave, Canberra’s been one of the hottest places in the country this weekend.

Summernats kicked off on Friday and more than 100,000 people were expected to flow through the nation’s capital for the annual festival of all things automotive.

Saturday's temperature peaked at 36.9 degrees, pretty much right on the forecasted top of 37, about 4pm. Sunday was forecast to hit 39 degrees –  putting it on track to be the hottest day this summer so far – and that benchmark was reached with ease, ticking past 39.2 in the city at 2pm.

The festival’s new family-friendly approach has led to a mixed bag of reactions from the community in the wake of constant controversy regarding attendees' behaviour.

Parents had mixed feelings about Summernats' new direction, while Canberra’s adult industry seems far from impressed.

Brooke Brosnahan and Daniel West brought their daughter Hailey West, 5, to the festival on Saturday.

"I think it's good for the kids [the family friendly approach]", Ms Brosnahan said.

"Maybe taking it a little bit too far taking away Miss Summernats. I understand they're trying to desexualise it but at the same time that's a Summernats thing."

Ms Brosnahan said she wouldn't be fazed if they kept the competition, but she wouldn't take her kids there or towards 'Tuff Street', a hotbed of Summernats' more anti-social behaviour.

"I think Summernats is going to die if they keep going they way they're going to be honest, I don't think it will be around to make 40."

Entrants this year were required to declare on a form they would not harass other patrons but on Tuff Street, the message hadn't appeared to have landed by Saturday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Canberra strip-joints and brothels say the new "family-friendly" direction of Summernats is slowly killing business in the territory as they continue to solicit inside the festival gates.

Some businesses ran shuttle services from EPIC to their premises, whilst others had promoters inside the grounds on Saturday to hook punters, all without the approval of Summernats management.

Talia Tate, the owner of strippers-for-hire business Glitterdolls, said the event should be "let loose ... tits out" by allowing the typical behaviour of attendees, which has mired the annual car festival in controversy.

"It should have been left as it was. It brings in more revenue than Floriade," Ms Tate said, adding business had slowly declined over the past few years.

Summernats co-owner Andy Lopez said anyone caught promoting the clubs inside EPIC would be removed by security and he distanced the event from Canberra's adult-entertainment business.

"We have no interest in the future of adult business in Canberra, either negatively or positively," Mr Lopez said.

"What we're about is promoting the automotive community ... building business and tourism for Canberra."

Mr Lopez said they were working hard to encourage families and kids to come to the festival, "because they're the next generation of street machine, we want them to fall in love with cars the same way we have".


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