They came from near and far, and rumbled the national capital in a way that broke the record books.
Participants in the annual Summernats city cruise this year numbered 500 vehicles, far and away the largest turnout seen since 2005, when the public event had to be disbanded because of unruly behaviour by drivers and onlookers.
Holdens and Fords dominated the street parade right down through the model years, with a smattering of US-built Chevrolets, Lincolns and Camaros thrown in for good measure.
A lone Volkswagen Beetle and a couple of Toyotas were rolled out, their owners bravely mixing it with the locally made product.
Thousands of Canberrans, some bringing fold-up chairs and eskies containing their beverage of choice, lined Northbourne Avenue for the cruise, which limited all participants to a modest 40km/h.
Police led the pack with a VF Holden SS V8 pilot car - ironically one of the very last to roll out of the Elizabeth factory before production was ended in 2017, and Roads ACT generated a "green light corridor" for the cruise but the sheer volume of street-registered modified cars meant the parade rolled on and on for around half an hour.
Such was the volume of cars this year that they had to be fed out of the Exhibition Park mustering area from two separate gates.
The cruise rolled down Northbourne Ave, made a U-turn at London Circuit and headed back, this year - for the first time - having to contend with the vagaries of light rail, which operates under a separately modulated traffic light system to the vehicle traffic.
Police reported no incidents from the cruise, and the four tow trucks which tailed the pack were not needed.
Gates opened at 11am on Thursday to the public, with attendance this year capped at 20,000 per day in accordance with the COVID safety plan organisers developed with ACT Health. Masks are required to be worn at all indoor venues.
The forecast rain on Thursday failed to eventuate until very late in the day, when a storm cell rolled over Exhibition Park as the last of the wildcard entries were in action on the burnout pad.
Meanwhile, in the main judging pavilion, the elite cars - those that will not be driven but will stay as static displays throughout the event and judged on the quality of elements such as engineering, paint and design - remained anonymous under their dark shrouds, waiting for the so-called Great Uncover on Friday evening.
Thursday's spectator numbers appeared to be down on previous years, although entry numbers are up. Flemington Road will be closed to through traffic for the duration of the event, as are the main gates.
Entrants were still arriving on Thursday, keeping the scrutineering bays busy.
SUMMERNATS DAY TWO
- 9am: Judging restarts
- 9am: Show'n'shine in main arena
- 9am: Horsepower Heroes
- 10am Lawnmower racing
- 4pm: Grass driving events
- 6pm: Braddon Fringe Festival
- 7.30: Great Uncover of elite cars
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