Happy New Year from Lensflare!

After a long radio silence I’m back! And boy have I got some stuff to share! More of that stuff later though, lets get straight into it.
I was given a very special opportunity to photograph the Summernats 26 car festival in Canberra. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Lindsay Kearney and Andy Lopez for making this happen, as well a the lovely Lina Hayes for joining me on what became an epic roadtrip weekend.
Regular readers will know that I am a regular at the Sydney All-Stars events and the World Time Attack, as well as a raft of smaller local events. However, ‘Nats is Australia’s biggest car festival and I have to say it dwarfed even my own huge expectations!
Different to the majority of the static shows I have attended, Summernats is alive- you become immersed in a world of petrol, rubber, chrome and noise. Oh the noise!
The show and its various events (go-to-woah, burnouts, motorkhana, dyno comps, traders, and many others) are encircled by a ‘Cruise road’ which is covered in the sort of gridlock any self-respecting petrolhead could normally only dream of.  The noise of hundreds of muscle cars (mostly V8’s) rumbling and revving around this ring is intoxicating.
My first experience of Summernats, literally minutes after we walked in on an already baking hot Friday morning, was one I will never forget. My Summernats Virginity (I heard this phrase tossed around a times over the weekend) was lost in the biggest cloud of smoke I have ever seen- with the Guinness World Record being broken for the most amount of cars holding a simultaneous burnout. 70 was the number being chased. Here is what it looked like from where I was standing:
Can’t imagine what was worring this bloke?
The noise was ear-drum perforating and the crowd loved it!
Wow the smoke is starting to block out the sun…
Uhh yeah there it goes… See that hand on the fence?
It’s still there, but that’s all I can see! 
Records being broken… somewhere!
And then it was over, the crowd eagerly awaiting for the smoke to clear to see what was left in front of them, tattered records and cars were the order of the day!
And so it was official, the record was set! 69 out of 70 cars were counted. All survived, unlike some parts of the fence!

After having my senses assaulted, I wiped the rubber off my skin and camera, and started to explore this muscle car nirvana while I waited for my ears to stop ringing and pondered how well vapourised Dunlop mixed with sweat would work as sunscreen.











From the pint sized…
…to the Supersized

What I started to appreciate was that despite the feeling that V8 muscle cars were the weapon of choice here, there is an appreciation for almost anything that looked spectacular, sounded like automotive erotica, went like it was on fire, or actually was on fire!  The sheer diversity of cars was amazing. Thousands of people come here every year to celebrate and enjoy their common love.


If that numberplate means what I think it means… interesting mix but it  could be a winner!




Without the techy details and luxury trimmings of the Japanese and European cars I normally shoot, but  this is simple elegant beauty.  This space is meant for one thing only.



So much chrome and candy-paint here, but so beautiful!



Automotive art of a different variety
Some of the wildest works had stories to tell….
…this one is worth a read. Open full-screen to read it.



Cruising. This is how it’s done.






As I mentioned earlier, what set this event apart from the others was that the entrants get to get out and have a go.  Show cars weren’t just taken for a quiet cruise around the ring road, wheels were turned in anger, rubber was burned and dirt was churned.  



Something I found throughout the weekend was that some of the best cars (and photos) weren’t always found where you would expect them, even the camping areas were littered with gorgeous metal and works in progress.





A little foreign in this crowd, but still very welcome

Late on Saturday afternoon, temperatures had reached 45 degrees (asked anyone if they cared though!) when suddenly it started to get very dark.  Cue tropical style thunderstorm and mass panic as everyone dived for cover, then promptly realised how nice and refreshing the rain was!





My parting experience with Summernats was at the Burnout Masters comp.  I was unprepared for how much these mainly non-professional guys were prepared to throw down! Panels were damaged, diffs were shattered, engines were pushed without mercy. And some were driven home!







I had to tear myself away to head homeward to Sydney after UNLOAD set itself alight in spectacular fashion, but I will finish off with two of my favourite images from the burnout pad:

This one because I love the sheer simplicity and drama, billowing smoke and a tiny flame appearing under the car , highlighted by the nearly duo tone effect of the black and white. I didn’t crop or desaturate this image, this is how it was shot and as a photographer there is nothing more satisfying than publishing an image that wasn’t touched!
And this one, not only because I didn’t need to crop this one either, but because you can see the excitement on Benny Leishman’s face as he exits the burnout pad, tires still smoking. The drift kid held amazing long skids with style and speed.  He was probably on some sort of high, doing what he loved and so was I.

So this brings me to the end of my coverage of the event, but don’t go far I will soon be bringing you my promised Summer Roadtrip mega post.  I will be sharing the rest of my experiences of this trip and many of the other places I visited this summer. 

Thanks again to everyone who was a part of this trip or helped make it happen. It was an amazing experience, I loved every second of it!