Rockynats 03 speeds over the finish line, setting new records

Published on 09 April 2023


After a weekend of drags, drifting, burnouts and live entertainment, champions were crowned, and records fell. Rockynats 03 saw estimated numbers of over 1,500 entrants and around 20,000 tickets sold during the three-day event in Rockhampton. The hugely popular Pro burnout competition was taken out by Burnout Hall of Fame inductee Peter Grmusa in his XR Falcon ‘ATRISK’, while the biggest award at the event, Rockynats Champion, was secured for a second time by Billy Shelton in his VL Commodore. His back-to-back win was a first in the event's history.

In the CBD, Quay Street filled with families enjoying the day’s sights and sounds, including the 4x4 display and the Show‘n Shine’s brilliant selection of performance and modified street cars. The street drags and drifting set the atmosphere at each end of the CBD precinct, with cars ranging from vintage to modern.

Mayor Tony Williams even joined the crowd taking part in the Cars, Coffee and Cruising event along East St, in local entrant Liam Richardson’s Ford AU Falcon. 

Nearby, Agnes Water woman Madelynn Hartig was taking in the sights and sounds by her family’s Holden HQ Premier and says Rockynats is a feature in their family’s calendar every year. 

“This is our third year at Rockynats - we love the skids and seeing all the classic cars and crowds. I’ve always loved cars - I grew up around them, and I love that Rockynats is so much closer for us than Summernats! We’re already keen to come back next year, and maybe I’ll be driving my own VK Commodore by then.” 

Then there was the adrenaline-pumping action of the finals in the Burnouts and Street Drags, plus Road to Rockynats champions crowned across all competitions. 

“What an incredible weekend in Rocky!” exclaimed an elated Andy Lopez, co-owner of Summernats, at the conclusion of the hard-fought burnout competition on Sunday afternoon. “The entrants really turned it on this afternoon, and it’s easily the best burnout show Rockynats has produced.”

“Rockhampton is such a brilliant place to run an event like this, and it’s awesome to see so many entrants from wider QLD and around Australia make the trip to Rocky.”

In a first for Rockynats, the Burson Grass Driving competition was included in the Road to Rockynats Champion trifecta of events. Grass driving involves accurate garaging, reversing, and getting around a slalom course while completing the set route in the fastest time. It’s a chance for drivers to show their driving prowess and have a bit of fun with their prized vehicles. The course will be changed from year to year, so drivers can’t practice ahead of time.

The grass driving event was open for all entrants, and many jumped at the chance to have a go. Rockhampton local Mercury Lien drove the ‘Waifu’, her Cherry Blossom Nissan 370Z, and is a newly converted grass driving enthusiast.

“Grass driving’s been a great opportunity to show off your technical ability. I love this car, so it’s a lot of fun, being able to slide. Being able to do Rockynats in my home town, it’s been an amazing experience going sideways and showing locals as well as visitors from abroad what we’re made of.”

Summernats Grass Driving official, Felicity Brice, was thrilled to watch all comers, as well as the elites, have a crack at the technical driving courses.

“It’s been fantastic, all the entrants that have participated have loved it; we’ve had lots of spectators out and around in the grandstand and wandering around. The drivers love it, having the chance to get out and have a bit of fun with their cars - even though they get a bit dirty.”

For Felicity and her family, Summernats has been a family affair for decades. “We love it and we’ve been doing it for decades. We love to travel and it’s been great for my sons, growing up around the cars.”

Rockynats Chief Steward Owen Webb is stoked to see the calibre and number of entries building year on year at Rockynats. 

“It has been an unbelievable year - we thought Year 1 was good, Year 2 was great but this year has blown our socks off! The quality of cars was exceptional overall and the Rockynats Grand Champion was hotly contested - Billy Shelton’s win was well-deserved.”

Over at the Burnout Precinct, the future of the mullet hairstyle was in good hands. Spectators at Junior Mulletfest saw around 50 junior competitors shaking their glorious mullets, strutting their stuff on stage and even dressing up to match their locks. The competition overall has been an excellent fundraising event for the Mark Hughes Foundation, bringing in much-needed funds for brain cancer research.

As the final trophies were handed out at the Full Throttle Awards on Sunday night, Rockhampton Regional Council Mayor Tony Williams reflected on the weekend’s success.

“It’s been terrific to host the event this year unaffected by pandemic conditions. The CBD and Showgrounds easily accommodated our biggest Rockynats crowds ever. And we really brought the ‘wow’ factor with cracking off-track entertainment and record-breaking attendance.”

Advance Rockhampton Executive Manager Greg Bowden agreed, saying he is excited to work up the final statistics on crowd numbers and the region’s economic impact.

“As an event manager, you couldn’t write the script for a better weekend of Rockynats in the Beef, Barra and Burnout capital.”

“I had a great time at Street Drags and the RockabillyNats on Saturday, the burnouts on Saturday night, following on from the always popular Mulletfest event. The weekend put on some great weather in the end, and the crowds showed up in great numbers from Good Friday onwards to enjoy all that Rocky had to offer. And to cap the weekend off, traders across town tell me that their venues were full of patrons over the weekend, so it’s time to celebrate a record-breaking Rockynats in 2023.”

For those keen to carry on the party in 2024, Rockynats 04 dates have been announced for Easter 2024, from 29-31 March. Entries and tickets will be on sale from 25 July 2023.