Anthony Robert ‘Chic’ Henry, the 75-year-founder of the Summernats car festival, died after a battle with cancer.
A self-confessed ‘rev head’ and modified car enthusiast, Henry founded Summernats – named for ‘summer’ and ‘national’ in 1988 and built it up into a legendary event held annually over four days in Canberra.
It earned a reputation for being the largest, loudest and most colorful car show in the Southern Hemisphere, attracting more than 100,000 car fans and revellers.
It is known for its legendary burnout displays, parades of restored vehicles and ‘street machines’, night concerts with lots of drinking and hundreds of women – many of them scantily clad to cater for the event’s 30C January temperatures.
More than 1,800 cars take part, including a street machine judging competition and ‘the world’s biggest burnout battle’ in a burnout pad grandstand named after Chic Henry.
Summernats began as a modest car show in the nation’s capital and became a blockbuster which inspired ‘Nats’ car festivals around the country.
Chic Henry (centre) the founder of the legendary Summernats car festival has died from cancer aged 75
The festival started off as a small Canberra car show but eventually attracted 100,000 revellers to its four days of rev-head events, concerts and wild partying
The annual event holds aa street machine judging competition and (above) ‘the world’s biggest burnout battle’ in a burnout pad grandstand named after Chic Henry
Summernats is famous for hundreds of attractive women attending the event in the 30C heat of summer every January
The festival held various driving events, crowned a grand champion, a Miss Summernats and was the scene of several crashes.
One such crash at Summernats 2006 injured a number of people and there were crowd control issues over street cruise events involving up to 400 participants.
After one incident, Mr Henry was quoted as saying it was the result of a situation where ‘people may have been having a bit too much fun, maybe having a bit too much alcohol’.
In 2017, Luke Newsome, 30, from Queensland, died after falling from the back of a ute at the festival.
It was the first death in the event’s 30-year history and was investigated by the police.
Revellers were temporarily banned from riding in the back of utes following the incident.
In 2008 and 2011, mobs of men reportedly harassed female patrons, holding up placards saying ‘t*ts out for the boys’ and yelling at them to ‘take your top off’.
Chic Henry (above with his family) built the festival up into a powerhouse which spawned other ‘Nats’ events round the country. He also made two attempts at election in the ACT parliament
The festival held various driving events, crowned a grand champion, a Miss Summernats and was the scene of several crashes
In 2017, the festival announced a zero tolerance policy to harassment and sexual harassment and canceled the Miss Summernats competition
In 2008 and 2011 mobs of men reportedly harassed female patrons, holding up placards saying ‘t*ts out for the boys’ and yelling at them to ‘take your top off’
In 2017, the festival announced a zero tolerance policy to harassment and sexual harassment and canceled the Miss Summernats competition.
Mr Henry also ran two campaigns to become a member of the ACT parliament, but did not succeed one with the now-defunct Australian Motorist Party.
Following his death, Summernats co-owner Andy Lopez told The Canberra Times, ‘Chic was a great mate, a genuine one of a kind; the Australian street machine fraternity, every rev head in the country, owes him a huge debt of thanks’.
Entrants in the Miss Summernauts competition which was halted in 2017 after festival organizers responded to allegations of sexual harassment at the festival
Street machine and modified car enthusiasts flock to Summernats where each year around 1,800 vehicles compete and more than 100,000 gather to party and watch the events
A modified car enthusiast, Chic Henry (above) started Summernats at Exhibition Park, ACT in 1988 and it has been held there ever since, apart from one year during the Covid pandemic
Several controversies have rocked the Summernats festival and after one crash Chic Henry remarked ‘people may have been having a bit too much fun, maybe having a bit too much alcohol’