Summernats moves to Sydney for 2021 event

Summernats will move to a new home in Sydney for its January 2021 event. Picture: Elesa Kurtz
Summernats will move to a new home in Sydney for its January 2021 event. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Summernats may not be going ahead at its traditional home next year, but revheads can still get their burn out fix in January three hours up the road.

Organisers of the annual car festival are planning to hold a scaled-down version of the event in Sydney on the same weekend it would have been held in Canberra.

However, Summernats co-owner Andy Lopez has assured Canberrans the event would return to Canberra in its usual form at EPIC in January 2022.

The Summernats Slam will be held at Sydney Dragway at Eastern Creek from January 8 to 10, with capacity capped at 5000 spectators per day in line with COVID-safe protocols.

The event will still feature its regular burnout championships, skid row, the show-n-shine, as well as drag races.

Mr Lopez said the decision to hold Summernats in Sydney came as it became clear holding the 2021 event at EPIC was looking unlikely.

"We had started making contingency plans in early September," Mr Lopez said.

"Holding it in Sydney wasn't always the plan.

"One of the main reasons we're putting it on in Sydney is it was as close to Canberra as we could get it and gave us an opportunity to bring the community together at the same time of year."

Organisers announced in September the 2021 Summernats would be rescheduled to the following year due to EPIC being home to a drive-thru testing clinic for COVID-19.

Festivals of more than 5000 people a day at EPIC were also unlikely to get the go ahead under new protocols for COVID-safe events.

"We don't have issue with that, and EPIC has been part of a very successful response to COVID, but there was no guarantee that we would have access to the venue in January," Mr Lopez said.

"With Sydney, we were able to build the event from the ground up that would fit within the parameters as opposed to Summernats being shoehorned into parameters in the ACT that would not work for us."

More grandstand seating for punters is expected to be available in Sydney, to help manage the risk of the potential spread of coronavirus.

Mr Lopez said the addition of a drag strip at Eastern Creek gave Summernats more opportunities.

"It's something we've been talking to the government in the ACT about for two years, and saying we would love to see a drag strip at EPIC as an important way to grow the event," he said.

"Sydney will have a real stadium feel to it which will be different as well."

The event normally attracts more than 100,000 people across the three days it's held in Canberra.

Despite the temporary move to Sydney, Mr Lopez said a Summernats Rev Rock 'n' Roll event would still be held at EPIC on the Canberra Day long weekend in March.

Attendance to that event will be capped to 5000 people at that event.

A full-scale return to EPIC for Summernats in 2022 is still on the cards.

"As far as we're concerned, Summernats will be back in Canberra in 2022 and we're booked in," Mr Lopez said.

"Even though Summernats is a big commercial and tourism event, at its heart is a community event."