Police have condemned the behaviour of "hoons" who thought they could take over Canberra's streets, after an unregulated car cruise forced the closure of Lonsdale Street on Friday night.
Drivers performing burnouts and a large crowd engaging in anti-social behaviour prompted the closure of the Braddon street out of fears for public safety between 7.50pm and 10.30pm, police said.
About 10.40pm, police were called to the corner of Yallourn Street and Canberra Avenue in Fyshwick, where a large number of cars were allegedly being driven dangerously.
Detective Inspector Adrian Craft said when police arrived to disperse the crowd, they were surrounded.
"Police made a decision to withdraw themselves from the situation and reassess what was going on," Detective Inspector Craft said on Saturday.
"As they were leaving, a beer bottle was thrown through the back window of one of the police cars."
Detective Inspector Craft said no arrests were made due to the level of police resourcing available at the time, but videos which showed number plates would help police identify participants.
They would face fines and potential prosecution, he said.
Detective Inspector Craft did not rule out closing down Lonsdale Street again.
"If we were to see a gathering of that sort - or to get the sense of a gathering of that sort - then there's a wide range of options available to us," he said.
"Of course of which closing down Lonsdale Street to vehicular traffic is one of them."
IN OTHER NEWS:
Over the border, NSW Police are investigating after a group of car enthusiasts gathered at Eaglehawk on the Federal Highway on Friday night, where they allegedly performed burnouts and blocked traffic.
A NSW Police spokeswoman said officers were told members of the group were blocking road access to allegedly conduct burnouts and travel at high speed in the area.
"More than 60 cars were observed at the scene, however the crowd dispersed upon police arrival," the spokeswoman said.
Police will review CCTV footage to identify any drivers committing traffic offences.
No charges have so far been laid in the ACT or NSW.
Videos posted to social media site Snapchat show cars performed burnouts at the intersection of Mckeahnie Lane and the Federal Highway service road on Friday night.
Crowds stood filming the cars as plumes of smoke enveloped them.
In Fyshwick, a crowd of people lined the Canberra Avenue service road to watch cars perform drifts near the service station, the publicly accessible videos show.
Earlier in Braddon, cars lined the Lonsdale Street strip, which has long been the site of rowdy activity related to the Summernats car festival.
As the night continued, videos show drivers spinning their car tyres at the Girrahween Street end.
Detective Inspector Craft said ACT police were busy enough without "wasting our time dealing with people like this who've taken upon themselves, selfishly, to think they can run the town and start to behave in a certain way".
He said the gathering had largely caught police off guard.
"It's fair to say that a gathering of that sort of magnitude - an unadvertised gathering - would catch any law enforcement agency off guard. We don't expect to see these sorts of large gatherings on a Friday night," he said.
Responding to uncorroborated reports online that a police car had hit two people at Fyshwick, Detective Inspector Craft said people with complaints should make them formally.
"If people want to make an allegation like that, they're more than welcome to come into any police station and raise those sorts of concerns. Everybody wants to have a comment on social media, everyone wants to say something. The level of actual veracity around a complaint turns up when people turn up a police station," he said.
Unofficial Summernats-style events have filled the void left by the cancelled event, which was moved to Sydney due to coronavirus restrictions.
On Thursday, more than 120 local cars rolled down Northbourne Avenue to join an event dubbed the Clayton's Nats cruise: the cruise you have when you're not having a cruise.
ACT police had given their blessing to the informal cruise, which has used the Southwell Park car park as a base over the weekend.
On Saturday, 300 cars particpated in an informal Northbourne Avenue cruise.
"They required no police intervention or no police assistance whatsoever. They complied with the rules. They don't think it's an episode of the Fast and the Furious," Detective Inspector Craft said.
"They're actually genuine motoring enthusiasts, not a bunch of hoons or cowards who think they can take over our city streets."
Businessman and car enthusiast Andrew Dale on Thursday said he was confident people involved in the cruise would behave themselves.
"The group we have here are not hoons, they're enthusiasts. It's not in anyone's interest to misbehave because they know that if they do, that will be the end of it," Mr Dale said.
A smaller Summernats event held at the Sydney Dragway at Eastern Creek will finish on Sunday. The ticketed event is capped at 5000 spectators each day.
Summernats co-owner Andy Lopez has previously said the event will return to Canberra in 2022.