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Rockynats competitors return to central Queensland for burnouts, mullets and drag racing

Revheads have descended on central Queensland to burn rubber for the second annual Rockynats. (ABC Capricornia: Katrina Beavan)

Rockhampton local Mercury Lien has had a fierce love of motorsport from a young age; she grew up watching racing and built her first motorbike with her dad as a teen. 

"I then upgraded to a dirt go-kart, which I remember drifting around a track our landlord ploughed on our property. I went through so many tyres," Ms Lien said. 

"It wasn't until years later that I realised I could race competitively in grassroots events." 

The motoring enthusiast was one of many competing in Rockynats this weekend,  in both the street drags and the show and shine. 

"It's honestly been one of my favourite events that I've ever had the pleasure of competing [in], and I'm just excited to be able to compete again," Ms Lien said.

Last year the event, an extension of Summernats in Canberra and Red Centre NATS in Alice Springs, drew in roughly 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, it's got a fantastic car culture," Mr Lopez said.

"Queensland has really been crying out for major automotive lifestyle event for a long time."

Competitor Mercury Lien is taking part in the street racing and show and shine in this year's Rockynats event.  (ABC Capricornia: Katrina Beavan)

Competition grows

Organisers are expecting that number to be higher this time around, especially with more than 1,500 competitors taking part this year and COVID vaccination mandates lifting on Thursday.

Mr Lopez said the event had something for everyone, including burnouts, drags, rockabilly events, and a show and shine.

"[But] probably the centrepiece of it though is Australia's biggest street parade, it will have around 1,200 cars and bikes, if not a little more participating."

Mercury Lien grew up watching races and built her first motorbike with her dad when she was a teenager. (ABC Capricornia: Katrina Beavan)

Ms Lien agreed the parade was a highlight. 

"Because you see the sheer amount of people that come to support it, it is incredible," she 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 it's light-hearted, funny, and it just shows that 'I don't take myself too seriously, and that's the car community, they're serious about their cars, but it's [also] all about having fun," Mr Lopez said.

(Left-right) Leverett Johnson, Laura Johnson and Liam Arnold were excited to bring 'mulletfest' to this year's Rockynats.  (ABC Capricornia: Paul Culliver )

New motorsport precinct possible

Ms Lian is also one of many locals who have long advocated for a dedicated motorsport precinct, which the city currently lacks. 

On Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce flew to Rockhampton to promise $10 million in funding for a new precinct if the LNP wins the election in May. 

The proposal's total cost is $30 million, and the Central Queensland Motor Sport Club wants the local council and state government to chip in the rest. 

The club had been lobbying for the facility for 10 years. 

It said the proposal, located at a 300-hectare site south of Rockhampton, was in its early stages.

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