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Some families like to picnic together,
others scuba dive; for the Rowland
family it's all about getting involved in
the iconic four-day Canberra car show,
After attending the popular local event
for many years as spectators, Steve, 55,
and Sally Rowland, 54, first entered
Canberra's favourite car festival in 1995.
That year, Steve and Sally took turns in
competing in one car, their 1957 Chevy
Bel Air, while their children Andrew,
Matt and Molly watched on.
Fast-forward to 2009 and, after
not missing a show since 1995, the
excitement and anticipation of entering in
the upcoming Summernats is still clearly
something the Rowlands are looking
for ward to.
"I love it, absolutely love it," Steve said.
"We don't go into the burn-outs as
such, 'cos it's really not our bag, but as
far as the Go-Whoa, we're a little bit
competitive with that."
BRON VICKERS spoke to the
Rowland family about their
love of Summernats and
what they enjoy most about
the summer car show.
The aim of Go-Whoa is to get the
fastest time over about a 100-metre
distance. It's a skilful event as drivers
must stop their cars dead on a line at the
end of the distance.
Summernats competitions regularly
involve tarred track work, Show and
Shine (a display contest for the aesthetics
of a car), burn-out competitions and
grass events such as Slalom. Slalom is
essentially an agility-skill test for drivers
and their cars, which involves weaving
through tires placed as obstacles.
There is also the Supercruise
competition, which to enter in,
participants must have featured in the
other competitions, won awards, or
have been selected based on something
outstanding about their car.
In 2000, the Rowland family won the
prestigious Top Cruiser award.
"We were cruising with the rest of the
thousands, and our car was picked out as
the cruiser of the Summernats for 2000,"
"That was really special."
"They said it was the ultimate family
cruiser," Sally added.
With Andrew, 29, Matt, 24, and Molly,
19, now also competing with their own
cars, Summernats is an experience the
entire family can share.
"The kids grew up coming along to
Summernats with us every year," Steve said.
"But they chose to follow us into being
a part of it."
After attending the show with their
parents annually, Andrew first competed
at 21, and Matt, in addition to entering
his car, also gives up his time to judge
the burn-out competition, which he will
again be involved in for Summernats 23.
Molly has had success in various grass
competitions and in Miss Summernats.
Last year she placed third in the beauty
contest. She said over the years she's seen
more girls begin to get involved in the
car-side of the show and not just Miss
"The majority of them compete in
Go-Whoa; you don't get many in burn-
outs. I've gone in Go-Whoa before, and
it's always fun to try and beat the boys."
"Both these girls (Sally and Molly)
compete like you wouldn't believe,"
"I must say Sally's done well in the
ladies division in the Chev. Molly's done
With a healthy sibling rivalry, it's not just
the appeal of competing against strangers
that draws the family to Summernats. In
the Summernats 22, Andrew and Matt
made the top 10 in Go-Whoa.
BONDS: Andrew, Sally, Molly, Matt and Steve Rowland share a love of competing in Summernats.
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