What do you get when you combine 69 cars packing a combined horsepower over 30,000, 138 rear tyres, and 30 seconds of rip-roaring, adrenalin-pumping on-the-spot acceleration?
As Summernats crowds gleefully discovered on Friday, you get a whole lot of smoke, even more noise, a thick layer of burnt rubber, and a brand new world record that one official tips will find a home in the next book of Guinness World Records.
Summernats, an annual Australian motoring festival, was told it would need more than 50 cars to simultaneously spin their tyres in order to set a new precedent for Guinness World Records.
Sixty-nine cars took to the burnout track at Canberra’s Exhibition Park late in the morning before a crowd of more than 10,000 screaming, camera-phone-waving revheads.
But as the engines roared, tyres spun, and the smoke rose, it could have been the middle of nowhere – a thick cloud and a deafening screech of tyre on tarmac blanketed the cars and the seething throngs of spectators for a good 15 seconds.
When the noise died down, and smoke cleared, 68 cars were left standing (ironically, it was Summernats founder and legend Chic Henry’s car that died on track), and a new era of world record history had begun.
Guinness World Record’s Chris Sheedy was positioned high up in the grandstand to officiate over the proceedings, and said that after 14 years of working for the renowned holders of all records weird and wonderful, the Summernats burnout ranked in his personal top three.
“It was exactly like I was in an aeroplane flying through the clouds,” Sheedy said of the spectacle.
“You could see these beautiful clouds coming towards you, and then they’d hit you and you’d stop breathing for a little while.”
Summernats co-owner Andy Lopez, who said the record attempt had been in the works for more than six months, described the scene as “unimaginable” and rated the event “69 out of 69”.
“The camera guy in the chopper said it was like watching a volcano erupt, it was extraordinary,” Lopez said.
Even Henry, whose 1962 Chevrolet Impala carked it before it could get a tyre to spin, said the event was beyond any comparison.
“Without doubt, it probably is the biggest spectacle ever for the Summernats. I wouldn’t be surprised if no one in the world will be able to duplicate it,” he said.
And he could be right. The man holding the record book said that although 68 cars might not seem like a huge number, the organisation it took to get the required skill, vehicles, and infrastructure in one place at the one time would be a hard feat to repeat.
“There aren’t that many mass-participation car-based records just because they’re so difficult to organise,” Sheedy said.
“I can’t think of an event anywhere else in the world where it would be more likely to be broken. So perhaps it will last exactly 12 months.”
As for Canberra’s chance to make Guinness’s written record of historical feats, Sheedy seemed confident editors would select the Summernats feat.
“I can never guarantee a record will make the book… but one this big, with the incredibly good pictures and such great action, I think it’d have a pretty good chance.”
- Canberra Times
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