Hot and Loud: Turbosmart at Australia’s biggest horsepower festival – Summernats


Billed as Australia’s biggest horsepower festival, Summernats is held annually in the nation’s capital city, Canberra. The festival has built an international reputation based on the insane burnout competition, but there’s a lot more to it than that.

The famous Canberra summer was certainly in full swing. Saturday saw temperatures reach around 95 degrees Fahrenheit, while Sunday was hotter still. In terms of atmosphere, it’s hard to find an event that captures the old school world of big engines and big horsepower quite like Summernats. The noise is immediately apparent. Biblically loud V8s sucking in air through massive superchargers towering out of their bonnets were certainly not in short supply. The drivers happily rev these monstrous engines for the cheering crowds gathered around the cruising circuit within the event. Tyre smoke, and the overpowering, sickly sweet smell of ethanol was thick in the air.

The first stop for us Turbosmart enthusiasts was the show ‘n’ shine, where we found a diverse range of Turbosmart-equipped cars among the entrants – and a lot of uniquely Australian metal. This Holden VL Calais Turbo is an award-winning, 800hp show car, and it sported a Turbosmart wastegate, fuel pressure regulator, and eBoost2.

Another Turbosmart-equipped Holden VL Turbo did things a bit differently. An old school Turbosmart wastegate suits this car well. The grandma-spec exterior is only affected by aftermarket wheels, and the big intercooler peeking out from underneath the front bumper.

This Ford BA Falcon XR6 Turbo ute is something we’ll sadly never see in the US, but we can dream. A 4.0-liter straight six is fed by a massive turbo creating a very quick pick up.

Rotary fans were catered for as well, with cars like this Mazda RX2 – which also sported a Turbosmart BOV and eBoost2.

From a factory rotary-engined car to one that, well, wasn’t – this rotary-powered BMW E30 was a blend of two different automotive worlds, and it pulled it off well. It also happened to feature a whole range of Turbosmart goodies.

A Race Port BOV, FPR2000 fuel pressure regulator and an eBoost2 give this Frankenstein Beamer a big tick of approval!

One of the stranger sights on the paddock was this Isuzu Gemini. Its exterior didn’t give much away to the sheer lunacy of what was under the bonnet. This was no simple V8 swap…

But a GM 3800 V6 with three, count them, three superchargers. A couple of old style Turbosmart BOVs adorned the shiny intake pipes on this very unique set up – something we haven’t seen before.

The Dyno Cell, where cars took to the dyno for horsepower bragging rights, was also a hot spot for Turbosmart-equipped cars.

This Turbosmart-equipped Holden Torana competed among some of the USA’s best street-legal drag cars at Drag Week in 2013. On the dyno in 2016, she pushed out 1043hp (778kW).

Brendan Cherry’s Holden HQ Monaro showed the crowds what a Turbosmart-equipped V8 is made of, spinning the rollers up to 883hp (658kW). We last saw this car at Drag Challenge, Australia’s version of Drag Week, where it ran steady 8 second quarter miles all week.

We couldn’t forget what was the most show-stopping Turbosmart-equipped car there on the day – this stunning Datsun 1200 drag car.

Powered by a Mazda 13B rotary, this little Datsun started out in life in Puerto Rico, where it quickly made a name for itself as a fierce drag car. It later made its way to Australia, where it was painted white and continued hitting the drag circuit, until it came into the hands of its current owner – who painted it back to red, replaced the well-worn fiberglass racing panels with original steel ones, and created a thing of beauty.  It currently holds the record for the world’s fastest Datsun, too – with a 7.34-second ET.

This was the 29th year of Summernats, and the event reportedly attracted close to 200,000 visitors. Judging by the crowds when we were there, that’s certainly not unlikely. It is by far Australia’s biggest festival of horsepower, and the 30th anniversary next year will undoubtedly be even bigger.


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