Summernats co-owner Andy Lopez praised crowd behaviour. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
Summernats may not be every Canberran's cup of tea but, with strong crowds this year, no arrests and five years left in the festival's deal with the ACT government, the annual car show is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
Organisers hailed the event as a resounding success, with well-behaved crowds and a ''good vibe''.
Co-owner Andy Lopez said it was ''never going to be a tea party''.
''People come here for different kinds of fun,'' he said. ''It's still, at times, pretty rowdy and pretty boisterous and, at other times, it's fairly chilled out.''
The noisy four-day car festival approached the crowd numbers of its glory days, before poor crowd behaviour in 2008 was followed by a 20 per cent decline in attendance to 80,000. More than 103,000 people filed through the gates of Exhibition Park this year. Mr Lopez partly attributed the increased number of people and better behaviour to a diversification of the crowd because of headlining music acts.
''For some reason, we're not really quite sure why, but between Summernats 25 [in 2012] and Summernats 26 [last year] we jumped up 10,000 or 11,000,'' he said. ''Part of it is we went fairly hard with the music program. We had Hilltop Hoods last year … and this year we had the Living End and [the] Potbelleez.
''Having a better image and perception of the event means more people are happy to come and I think also the fact that we're bringing a wider demographic of people to the event now evens out the behaviour.''
There were few signs of antisocial behaviour this year, with ACT police expressing their overall approval of the crowds.
''The statistics during the Summernats period are similar to what we would expect on an average weekend, which is a terrific result,'' Superintendent Kenton Turner said.
Police made no arrests during the festival but took 12 people into protective custody for intoxication. They issued 67 traffic infringement notices and 74 defect notices for vehicles deemed not roadworthy and three vehicles were seized and impounded for antisocial driving offences.
Only one person was caught drink-driving although, at 202, the number of random breath tests conducted over the festival was minimal.
In comparison, during the 2007 festival almost 2400 breath tests were conducted, with 38 drivers failing.
Mr Lopez thanked Canberrans for putting up with those associated with the festival.
''The Summernats is a big, noisy event,'' he said. ''We have quite a footprint in Canberra in January, so we certainly appreciate the support of police, of government, of all the agencies that are involved in dealing with us being here.
''We know the community of Canberra gets a lot of benefit from the event being here but it also has to put up with noise and all that sort of thing - particularly the residents of Watson - so we appreciate the fact we seem to be all working together really well.''
While there is some way to go to threaten 2005's record attendance of nearly 119,000 people, the founder of the festival, Chic Henry, said numbers have always ebbed and flowed, with the car scene going through regular waves of fashion.
''I think it's a bit of a plateau at the moment,'' he said. ''My prediction is it will drop away a bit in the next couple of years but that shouldn't be looked at as a horror story.
''It's happened like that in the past and it will happen again.''