Rockynats competitors return to central Queensland for burnout, mullet and drag racing

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.

“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.

Charging

“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.”

A woman with a long pink ear looking under the hood of her car
The Mercury Lien competitor is involved in street racing and shows and shines at this year’s Rockynats event. (ABC Capricorn: Katrina Beavan)

competition grows

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.”

Woman with long pink hair and pink headbands standing in front of a car smiling
Mercury Lien grew up watching racing and built his first motorcycle with his father as a teenager.(ABC Capricorn: Katrina Beavan)

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.

Two men and a woman in the middle, all wearing mullets, standing facing the camera.
(Left to right) Leverett Johnson, Laura Johnson and Liam Arnold were excited to bring ‘mulletfest’ to this year’s Rockynats. (ABC Capricorn: Paul Culliver )

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.

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