When two brothers wanted a smoke one afternoon they raced each other to the passenger seat of their cousin's ute.
Khaled El-Rafihi got there second and suffered fatal injuries moments later.
His cousin, Bilal El-Rafei, 22, has been committed to stand trial charged with dangerous driving causing death at Campbellfield in Melbourne's north in March 2019.
The dead man's brother, Fadel El-Rafihi, told the court they had wanted to buy cigarettes from a nearby store and chose to drive, rather than walk.
"You know how siblings argue over the front seat - we raced to the front seat and I got there first," he said.
CCTV was played showing Khaled tumble backwards as the ute drove off before circling back to check on the man.
"We thought it was a joke - so we went 10 or 15 metres and then realised it wasn't," Fadel said, adding the ute was travelling at about 20km/h.
He said no one saw Khaled get onto the ute's tray.
A police officer who went to the scene, Samuel Field, said Bilal "blurted out that his cousin was chasing in his flip-flops and trying to grab onto the tail gate".
The accused driver's lawyer, Leighton Gwynn, said the dead man could only have been atop the ute for "one or two seconds" if at all.
Bilal pleaded not guilty and is due to appear in Victoria's County Court for a directions hearing on March 12.