I’m not surprised, something crazy is bound to happen at Summernats every year, it’s just the nature of the event.
This year it’s a (reportedly) drunken mob hurling verbal abuse  and causing other problems, simply because a few of their mates were kicked out of the event.
The organisers of Summernats repeatedly refused to get the police involved despite the mob clearly being quite unruly and causing quite a bit of upset and stress amongst the rest of the attendees. Organiser Chic Henry has made his annual “no no no, nothing happened, nothing at all, we’re just a nice quiet group of people…just don’t point the camera over there” speech, this time referring to the mob as a “parade”.
Something dangerously stupid like this happens each year, and that we can expect something like this each year is definitely not an excuse.
I had a brief conversation with Mike Jeffreys (welcome back from leave Mike) on 2CC this morning in which Mike asked if I was there, I was more than happy to say “I’m never there”. Summernats is not an event which interests me and in previous years I have managed to upset a number of Canberra’s more die-hard supporters of Summernats with my annual annoyance over the event. Due to this upset I have to make it clear that it’s not the genuine car lovers or the car festival that annoys me, it’s the loutish element which it attracts.
The reason I rang Mike this morning was to express my pleasure in the lack of the usual, annual, Saturday night and Sunday morning noisy activity near my place. I was pleasantly surprised by it only lasting from 1am to 3am and only containing a noisy activity once every fifteen to twenty minutes…a vast improvement over previous years where the noise has been noticeable every ten to fifteen minutes from about 11pm until 4am or 5am.
When I noticed this lack of activity on Saturday night I thought for a few hours that finally Summernats had carefully weeded out the undesirable element. I was disheartened, but not surprised, when the news broke of the mini-riot. It seems that you can get rid of one form of idiot, and get a different one instead.
This is what bothers me, every year this event attracts an undesirable element and something stupid seems to happen at the event…this year the two just happened to involve the same group. And just as predictably, organiser Chic Henry will come out and say something ludicrous in an attempt to make the event sound like it’s a heap of wholesome family fun.
I have no doubt that the event works miracles for the ACT’s economy, and that a lot of very talented people bring their cars to Summernats to display the immaculate work they have done to them. It’s just a pity that the very nature of the event also attracts a bunch of lunatics…they may be a small minority of the visitors but they are a large enough number to cause plenty of trouble.
As much as I would be happy to see Summernats banned, I know that it is merely a pleasant fantasy. I think the only other option is an increased Police presence…if it doesn’t deter the nuts, at least there will be enough Police on hand to deal with the problems when they inevitably arise. An increased Police presence will also prevent another occurrence of the ridiculous situation where they don’t attend simply because the Summernats organisers decline assistance on the phone.
Of course I would also like to see Chic Henry hire a sane spokesman who doesn’t try to convince everyone that a chanting, angry mob is a parade…but my opinions of Chic Henry are a matter for another day, and probably a good basis for him to launch a defamation lawsuit against me.
Update 8:47am: Mike Jeffreys just interviewed Chic Henry, I think the following sentence from Chic Henry explains half of the problem with Summernats. “There were a lot of people there that had consumed a lot of alcohol during the day”.
Just about every other event in this country has some sort of limit on the amount of alcohol people can consume, and they have these limits to prevent this sort of incident. Also, unlike the behaviour of Summernats security personnel described by Mr. Henry, other events have security staff who will stop this kind of incident rather than let it proceed.
The two lessons to be learnt from this:
1. Summernats needs some sort of alcohol limit
2. The security staff need to be a bit more responsive. It may have started as a confusing “parade”, but it should never have been allowed to reach the point where a group were trying to push a truck over.