If I had to explain Australian car culture to you then I would probably save my breath and just send you to Canberra in Summer.
Canberra is home to Summernats and Summernats is the home of Australian car culture.
I packed the van and set sail for Canberra, staying overnight in Jugiong as I was a little burnt out from New Years celebrations.
These photos wont really give you the whole story and I recommend that you try this event for yourself but I will do my best to show you my experience at this iconic event.
My first Summernats was in 1988, I was 5 years old and I went with my family, I cant remember a whole lot but I would bet that it played some small part in the person I am today.
It is a car festival unlike no other, the only thing I can liken it to would be the Bathurst 1000 but with a whole lot more horsepower and a lot less rules.
It began on the first Wednesday of 2019 with scrutineering commencing for hundreds of cars. This was perhaps the biggest job for the organisers, hundreds of cars rolled through the lanes and all had to meet the entry requirements.
Once the cars are scritineered they are free to roam the Exhibition Parklands, 1000hp+ methanol injected monsters cruising past the camp sites all week long.
I arrived on the Wednesday and got scrutineered for the city cruise.
The city cruise is a lap of the Canberra city with over 100 other cars showing the general public whats on display within the parklands, I was excited to get the Hilux out and about.
Infact this event was a big moment for me, growing up and being interested in 4 cylinder cars (and later drifting) I would have never thought that these parklands would be a welcoming environment for my subculture.
But to go one step further and be invited, then given the space to showcase drifting for the very first time was a real coming of age for Australian car culture, part of me felt like we had just been accepted into the community that we had long been afraid to enter.
To add to that I was overwhelmed at the support for the Hilux and Engineered To Slide as a whole, I appreciate all those people who came up to the stand and supported what I do.
My Hilux crosses many genres of car culture and combines a whole bunch of different components and techniques to set itself apart from everything else.
I loved being at Summernats and I loved that I could be here as a drifter and as a custom car lover.
I had a job to do though and the Hilux was prepped and ready to go.
I was excited to drive on the new Falken Tyres RT615K+, in preparation for more grip I upped my rear spring rates by 100LB and made a few other minor changes. As the forklifts transformed the scritineering lanes into a drift track I put on my race suit, took a deep breath and got ready for the task ahead of me.
It was tight track but my initial runs were good, I loved the control I had with these new Falken tyres and even more than that I loved the smoke they were producing. But friday afternoon brought sweltering conditions with it and I ended up folding under the pressure and tagging a wall. This subsequently broke my lower control arm rose joint and sent me in to the concrete barrier. Unfortunately both front rims were bent and broken, both my front lower control arm rose joints were broken, my pride a little bruised and my hilux out for the remainder of the event.
I sucked it up and got on with the weekend putting on a smiling face and laughing about the incident that I wish never happened, looking back on it now I am glad this is my first crash in the Hilux and it wasn’t a lot worse than it is.
I put the rear wheels on the front and pulled off some fibreglass to give the people a chance to interact with the cars construction methods.
But it’s Summernats and there was plenty to see and smell.
Australian burnouts are by far the baddest on the planet.
I absolutely love watching them, its a complete sensory overload.
To build a car capable of making it into the top 10 at Summernats Burnout Masters and then having the skill to steer it is something special.
It is incredible to watch, green light, top gear, full rpm and then complete white out (or purple for UCSMOKE)
The idea is to make use of the burnout pad or “Skid Row” but some just feel the peer pressure and light them up everywhere.
Which is the spirit of this event.
But for those that like to stick to the rules Skid Row is where tyres go to die.
And thats where you will find the people, those that just cant get enough of it.
It’s a horsepower festival after all.
The idea behind the short diffs and large tubs is to contain the shredded rubber and stop it destroying the guards and paint.
You wont find these guys stopping either once the tyres shredded, the rims get worked hard, the “show” wheels that actually fit the car stay firmly in the garage.
Domestic cars are king.
Domestic cars with thousands of HP are the ultimate.
American classics are popular too.
Perfect for cruising through the Parklands.
Much love for this extremely smooth Mustang.
This is Australia though.
This is Summernats
Home of the craziest machines your ever likely to see, hear and smell.
Unapologetic and extreme.
But with a touch of class.
Perfection everywhere I looked.
In all components.
The best of the best lined up to be decided who would take the title of Grand Champion.
Not the easiest choice when these are the contenders.
But I had to get back to help out the guys at the drift area, I probably spent half an hour away from my stand but enjoyed every minute.
By Sunday morning the boys had really layed down some rubber.
SR20 Burnout Master Matty Russell
The response to the drifting was overwhelming, people loved it.
I would like to thank the guys at Summernats for the invite, Falken Tyre for the rubber, Josh Humphries for sending me the opening photo, the guys from Drift Cadet for the inclusion and all my fellow drivers for being good company over the weekend, see you there next year!