Historically known for extolling the virtues of beers, bogans, burnouts and breasts, the annual Summernats car festival got back on the road in 2023 – but attracted some friendly fire from one fan who slammed attendees for their "sad" behaviour.
Organisers have worked hard to change the culture of the controversial event held in Canberra, where revheads gather to celebrate the automobile in all its colourful – and usually loud – glory. The wet t-shirt competition is out and the mullet judging competition is in.
But not everyone has pumped the brakes on the bad antics, with attendees taking to social media to seemingly brag and post videos of themselves and others getting kicked out of the event.
One car-lover took to TikTok to blast the trend, shaming people for celebrating the poor actions of some attendees, describing it as “the sad truth about Summernats”.
“I just wanted to jump on here because I’m sick to death of seeing all these videos” of people showing themselves getting kicked out of Summernats. “Bro, that’s not something to be proud of,” he said in a blistering tirade.
“A majority of people do the right thing and then you get people like this who just ruin it for everyone else and it’s really sad.
“People wait for that one time of the year, they go up, they spend their money and you get idiots like this … And people wonder why events don’t happen again.
“It’s actually sad. I love Summernats, I went last year and it was the best time of my life. I would’ve loved to go this year, but seeing all the videos, I don’t know.”
With more than 120,000 tickets sold over the four days, the event was marred by moments of bad behaviour with authorities forced to step in and prematurely close the 'cruise circuit' where people show off their vehicles, due to antisocial behaviour on Saturday evening.
ACT Police said the closure resulted in "a significant increase in poor behaviour within the venue", the ABC reported, as spectators and drivers refused to follow directions of security staff. Some private security guards reportedly walked off the site.
In a statement issued to media, authorities criticised organisers for being unable "to maintain good order" at the venue. "Events of this nature require an appropriate security response and ACT Policing is disappointed."
Four arrests were made, including one for assaulting a police officer.
Yahoo News Australia has contacted the owner and organisers of Summernats for comment.
The 'toxic' past of Summernats
Summernats has always had its detractors, but many on social media agreed with the sentiment expressed on TikTok with the disparaging video racking up nearly 100,000 views and hundreds of comments.
"Spot on bud! One of the only things I look forward to year in year out and unfortunately it’s only getting worse. Well said mate,” one person replied.
“This video needs to be on everyone’s fyp [For You Page], fully agree with you man 100%,” another agreed.
But others appeared to suggest the unruly behaviour was part of the appeal. "Summernats become famous because of the loose behaviour now it’s just another car show who cares if it gets cancelled,” one person commented.
Event guru Andy Lopez, who bought the car festival more than a decade ago, admits it took a lot of work to change the expectations among dedicated festival-goers.
"Some blokes thought that buying a ticket to Summernats was a licence to be a dickhead," he told the Australian Financial Review last month about the early years running the event, admitting there was a "toxic" element to its culture.
"They behaved in ways at our event that they would never behave in their real life."
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