Rockhampton local Mercury Lien has had a fierce love of motorsports from a young age; he grew up watching races and built his first motorcycle with his father when he was a teenager.
- Rockynats have returned for the second year, as an extension of the Summernats and Red Center NATS
- Organizers say around 40,000 attended the weekend event last year, that number is expected to grow this year.
- It’s not just about cars, there’s also a recently introduced mullet competition
“Then I upgraded to a dirt go-kart, which I remember drifting around a track our landlord opened on our property. I went through a lot of tires,” Ms. Lien said.
“It wasn’t until years later that I realized I could compete in grassroots events.”
The motorsports enthusiast was one of many who competed in the Rockynats this weekend, both in street racing and in show and glitz.
“Honestly, it’s been one of my favorite events that I’ve had the pleasure of competing in. [in]and I’m excited to be able to compete again,” said Ms. Lien.
Last year the event, an extension of the Summernats in Canberra and the Red Center NATS in Alice Springs, drew an estimated 40,000 attendees over the weekend and around 1,300 competitors.
Summernats co-owner Andy Lopez said it made sense to bring the event to Rockhampton.
“Central Queensland, [and] Queensland in general has a fantastic car culture,” Lopez said.
“Queensland has really been crying out for a major automotive lifestyle event for a long time.”
Organizers are hoping that number will be higher this time around, especially with more than 1,500 competitors taking part this year and COVID vaccination mandates being lifted on Thursday.
Lopez said the event had something for everyone, including burnout, drag, rockabilly events, and show and shine.
“[But] The centerpiece will probably be Australia’s biggest street parade, it will have around 1,200 cars and bikes, if not a bit more taking part.”
Ms. Lien agreed that the parade was a highlight.
“Because you see the sheer number of people who come out to support him, it’s unbelievable,” he said.
This year there was also a new event that had nothing to do with being behind the wheel: a mullet competition.
“It’s just light-hearted, fun and shows ‘I don’t take myself too seriously, and that’s the automotive community, they take their cars seriously, but it’s [also] it’s about having fun,” Lopez said.
Possible new motor racing venue
Ms. Lian is also one of many locals who have long advocated for a dedicated motorsports venue, which the city currently lacks.
On Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce flew to Rockhampton to pledge $10 million in funding for a new precinct if the LNP wins elections in May.
The total cost of the proposal is $30 million, with the Central Queensland Motor Sport Club wanting the local council and state government to come up with the rest.
The club had been lobbying for the facility for 10 years.
He said the proposal, located on a 300-hectare site south of Rockhampton, was in its early stages.