Street brawl brews amid claims of a centenary snub
Some of the 69 cars that participated in breaking the world record attempt. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
Summernats legend Chic Henry says it is ''bloody terrible'' that this year's event has been excluded from Canberra's official centenary celebrations and that snobbery may be to blame.
Mr Henry, who ran the iconic car show for its first 22 years, said he was disappointed Summernats 26 had not been promoted as a Centenary of Canberra event after being one of the city's largest annual drawcards for a quarter of a century.
The former promoter, who drove in Friday's world record burn-out at Exhibition Park, said Summernats had battled for decades against snobbery and being regarded as "stupidity" by elements of the Canberra establishment.
Summernats legend Chic Henry. Photo: Graham Tidy
But a Centenary of Canberra spokesman denied on Friday that Summernats had been excluded from official 100th birthday festivities, and said the organisers had been free to market the show as a centenary event.
An official event called Spin would be held in October but would not be solely focused on motoring.
Summernats promoters Out There Productions tendered unsuccessfully to stage the Spin event but executive director of the Centenary of Canberra Jeremy Lasek denied car enthusiasts had been frozen out of the celebrations.
Mr Lasek said Summernats 26 had been included in the program.
"Summernats is an iconic Canberra event, hugely supported by Canberrans and tens of thousands from outside of Canberra and we are thrilled that it is setting off the centenary year in such a fine spirit," Mr Lasek said.
But Mr Henry, who said he was not speaking on behalf of the present Summernats management team, said he believed this year's show had been snubbed as it was not promoted as an official event, and suggested snobbery might be at play.
"It could be, because that's a thing that I've encountered for years and years in the ACT and I know we've been left off lists by tourism and the like," Mr Henry said.
"It's an enormous shame that an event that is so significant to a lot of people in the ACT gets treated with disregard.
"I think it's bloody terrible, just because we don't fit the mould of what people think Canberra should represent.
''There would be more opportunity for the international stringed ensemble to take centre stage or the national ukulele appreciation society."
Mr Henry said former chief minister Jon Stanhope had wanted a Summernats flavour to at least one event but creative director Robyn Archer had not followed up on the idea.
"She never spoke to me about it. That doesn't surprise me. I'm probably the personification of the devil to her," Mr Henry said. "I don't think anything we do here at [Exhibition Park] appeals to Robyn."
Mr Henry spoke of the pride and the passion generated each year at Exhibition Park among the Summernats "tribe".
"It is stupidity to some people but it's absolute passion to others," the former impresario said. "This is a coming together of a massive tribe and the passion of this tribe is unbelievably powerful.
"A thing that I will never ever lose is my pride in the passion and the way people feel when they come to the Summernats to be with each other."
Mr Lasek said Ms Archer attended Summernats last year and had a great appreciation and understanding of the event. He said she had held talks with the show's promoter Andy Lopez of Out There Productions.
"It's very disappointing that Chic feels that way," Mr Lasek said. "But with respect, Chic doesn't own Summernats any more and he is not the go-to man any more."