Summernats is one of the biggest car festivals in the world from down under and is famed for some of the most insane burnout showcases in existence, and this massive event has made its way on to Malaysian soil which is the new inaugural event hosted here by JP Performance motor sports of whom has hosted the Super GT Malaysian leg for the past few years.At first I was thinking; “how could Summernats, an Australian based event possibly interest me.. There is absolutely nothing JDM about Summernats..” But when I got there, things were one could say, different. The event was held in conjunction with the Merdeka Millenium Endurance Race or “MMER” for short, an Annual endurance race where local and international drivers battle it out in a 12 hour endurance race throughout the day and night. Previous MMER races featured a large majority of local drivers but this time round, with the hype and introduction of Summernats from Australia, the endurance race also plays host to teams from New Zealand and Australia too which provided for an interesting mix up of cars, and competition.
How is Malaysia different from Australia? Well for starters, Its not all about V8 cars and burnouts. There is a much more interesting mix of cars on display, with local car clubs bringing along cars of all domestic markets like the Porsche Club of Malaysia, bringing along a large convoy of cars. Right at the entrance one could already begin salivating with a row of pristine condition 911’s on display.
This one literally had people flocking all over it to the point of almost taking down the barriers, it is the latest Porsche 919 hybrid Le Mans race car. Let me let you in on a secret; its a Mock up car. Even if it is not the real deal (because the real one was racing in Le Mans) it had many people fooled, even me for a short moment.
The absolute star of the Porsche display section was this piece of legendary Machinery, The #22 Martini Porsche 917K which was driven by Helmut Marko and Gijs van Lennep from the earlier days of Le Mans racing in the 70s. the 917’s were Porsche’s Key to winning its first overall wins at the 24 Heures du Le Mans races and was blisteringly fast in its time, capable of sub 2.5 second 0-100 kilometre times and a top speed of a whopping 360 odd km/h which is as quick as some modern day super cars.
I managed to have a chat with the on ground staff and their PR and Marketing team and they were kind enough to give me exclusive access to photograph the cockpit of the 917. As I took a minute to soak it all in I could imagine the drivers caning the car to its limits in this simple and functional space with minimal buttons and gauges which was just enough for one man and possibly a dog.. It was a very tight space.
Advancing on into Sepang near the Porsches were some classic and new Volkswagens on display like this Beetle with Herbie-esque Livery and one of the most beautiful cars in existence, the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. This is quite apt as the beetle was the car that the first Porsches took styling cues from and if one could imagine the cars talking the beetle would be a grumpy old man telling them Porsches off in german with a coarse voice.
This was one of the Summernats Pace cars, decked out in one of the most iconic cartoons to come out of Japan, Doraemon. Don’t really know what is the link between doraemon and Summernats but this is pretty cool.
As we made our way around the massive grandstand area we hear the instantly recognisable roar of V8s and as we turned with gear locked and loaded, we are greeted by this magnificent sight. Muscle cars are a rarity here in Malaysia which is a land well known for expensive car ownership costs.
Another oddity we spotted was this Convertible Pontiac Le Mans, and it was quite spectacular.
Lotus has had an illustrious and ongoing partnership with Malaysia’s local Automotive Manufacturer Proton, and they came full force with a fleet of the Latest Exige S and Evoras to showcase.
This picture really describes what I mean when I said Summernats here is different from Australia, with V8 Muscle cars on display next to tuner vehicles.
Walking around the vendor area we spotted this pair of JDM superstars that are capable of giving them Muscle Cars a run for their money.
In the events tent One of the sections showcased cars that were featured in Hollywood films, cars like “Eleanor” from gone in 60 seconds, and this is the Aston Martin DB5, from the 007 series of “living daylights”..
and the Ferrari GTO featured in Magnum P.I.
Vendors like ultra racing were also part of the showcase, They are one of the more established handling tuning parts manufacturers here.
In the mix are also Lamborghini, and this is one of the most beautiful classic super cars in existence, the Lamborghini Countach.
Also in the mix were motorcycles like Harleys and Triumphs which are pure motorcycling brands through and through but the more interesting and increasingly popular category of biking culture here are something known as “streetcubs”, classic Honda C70 cub bikes heavily modified to fit larger front and rear tires and lower handle bars. Think of it as a pizza delivery scooter, crossed with a cafè racer.
Something you don’t see everyday here are the Ruckus style custom bikes, and this happens to be a first creation from friends over at Atara Racing.
As we were wrapping up our coverage of the Summernats showcase area we quickly donned our vests and headed out to the track as the Endurance races were beginning. Even in the race there was a wide spectrum of cars in the mix, from the tried and tested track weapon of choice the FD2R civic, to the beautiful and powerful Aston Martins.
Racing livery allows for the cars to be identified easily by spectators and this is the Clearwater Racing F458, wrapped in a beautiful chrome wrapping with neon accents. This car also was the winner for the endurance race, piloted by talented homegrown racer Alif Hamdan.
While most race cars are identified by livery and colours, this unique machine on track can be more easily recognised by its monstrous soundtrack, the chortle and gurgle of a roaring V8 and that unmistakable classic sports car shape of the long bonnet with a short rear. At first I had mistaken this for a TVR, a British brand of race car but upon closer inspection and input from some of my friends we find out that it is in fact a Shelby Daytona. This car is a rare sight indeed and is more well known in Australia, where the car resides.
While walking around the pits and saying hello to some of our friends who were racing that day we spot this eccentric creation just resting in the cool of the shade from the sweltering heat. Some say it is a famous race car from the 90s’ and I wouldn’t doubt that; with livery that featured a very cool car themed comic “Dr. Slump”, one would recognise this CRX from miles out.
As we were making our way back out of the grandstand area still digesting and contemplating on some of the rare car sightings something crossed my mind; right, I had almost forgotten to feature the race queens..
We made our way back again on sunday, to do do a second sweep of coverage and there was more visitors. One of the enticing factors that drew people to the event was a lucky draw with a Nissan car as a grand prize! We were at the party for the awards and prizes presentation, more coverage on that in the next write up! Now coming back to that sunday, in the distance we heard what sounded like a storm brewing and as we made our way to the spectators seating area, we made it just in time for the car clubs parade and this group of prancing horses were making their way down the main straight of the Circuit.
Sunday also played host to the Burnout showcase, a definite must for Summernats. There was some complications with the Muscle cars that were meant to be used so they allowed for some freestyle burnouts, which featured a Harley motorcycle!
One of my friends entered too, with his Nissan Laurel faced A31 Cefiro, and it was a spectacular sight.
Another friend of mine had sacrificed his tires to the burnout gods, and the person put in charge of the burnout ritual was Summernats 26 burnout master champion, Mark Schwirse. He put on a marvellous spectacle, intoxicating the crowd with copious amounts of tyre smoke and putting a lot of mosquitoes out of their misery.
Other participants of the burnout showcase were husband and wife drifters Ariff Johanis and Azrina Jane, laying rubber to tarmac in the form of donuts.
After a long day of basking in the festivities and events we finally made our way out to the final stop of the day, towards the gymkhana section. We grabbed the opportunity to grab some pictures of this immaculate Shelby GT500, just parked there awaiting its owner’s return.
In the gymkhana area I see some familiar cars and soon found out that my friends are entering the gymkhana event. This Silvia had changed a little since the last time I saw it, now sporting a big brake kit extracted from an R35 GTR.
I photographed a gymkhana event in Singapore a couple of months back and found the S2000 to be quite a popular gymkhana machine and even here, they are well and truly utilised. Then again, the S2000 is such a balanced and celebrated sports car, It can certainly take the gruelling tests that exists in gymkhana.
A peculiar choice of car though, was this evo, as gymkhana is all about going around cones and barriers fast in a confined space, much like close quarters combat, and this was like taking a bazooka into an apartment. The car had so much grip and refused to slide, but after a few rounds, the owner figured that could be cured with a more vigorous engagement of the gas pedal.
That wraps up our coverage of Summernats and MMER Malaysia, hope to be back again next year!
Words – Eugene Chan
Photos – Eugene Chan