Opinion Piece: The Little Things (Street Commodores Editorial Column)

26 Sep

This is the 17th in a regular series of editorial pieces we’ll be posting here on the blog, originally written by Hosking Industries’ Ben Hosking for Street Commodores magazine and other magazines he’s completed opinion pieces for. This column appeared in issue 183 of Street Commodores:

The Little Things (Written March 6, 2011)

Don’t wear blinkers when it comes to choosing which car shows to attend – the small shows have plenty to offer, too!

At the peak of the Aussie show season between late December and mid’ year, it’s easy to get caught up in the hubbub that surrounds many of the larger car shows that litter the calendar. Summernats, Supernats, Springnats, Revfest, Powercruise… there are plenty of big name events at which you can get fleeced by the salmonella food stands and get lobster-spec’ sunburnt.

They might be the all-singing, all-dancing of the car event world, but it’s important to remember the little shows that fill up each and every weekend during the warmer months. There’s a myriad different shows that fill up those magical two days a week between the drudgery of work and many of them have plenty to offer the die-hard car fanatic.

In fact, the regular punter has so much to choose from in terms of car shows taking place within a two hour radius of just about anyone living in near a major centre, that you’re generally guaranteed of finding something so specific in focus that you won’t even need to wade through the masses of junk you’re not interested in to find the gems. You know what I mean: having to walk amongst the rows and rows of shining vehicles looking for sweet Commodores and Holdens only to be confronted by piles of imported nasties or Blue Oval rust heaps.

While some smaller events offer specialisation or niche-orientation that focuses around a core type of vehicle, all small car shows tend to offer a more intimate, grass-roots experience where you can get up close to the cars and feel less intimidated by surly security guards, track officials and drunken morons with more testosterone than brain cells. There’s a lot to be said for a car show that you can feel secure and happy to take your girlfriend, wife, daughter or even parents to without having to worry that they might be assaulted verbally or otherwise.

Forget for a moment the dangers of the drunken mob mentality and consider the machinations working away behind a small event versus that of a slick, expensive major show. In most cases you’ll find a small team of dedicated and passionate amateurs working tirelessly for most of the year to make their little slice of the car show calendar a success. In almost every case, you’ll find that these enthusiastic little teams are spurred on by little more than the love of a particular make or model, or perhaps a charity that lies close to their hearts.

When an organisational team is doing something for love or charity, it means that in almost every case good intentions are what is powering the show – not the concerns of a bottom line or profit margin. Often the venue has been donated or is costing the organiser a tiny amount and overheads aren’t a huge concern.

Instead, the smaller car show enjoys a more relaxed vibe from the top of the operational food chain right down to the newbie car show entrant with the VN sedan with a set of shiny new wheels bolted on. It’s not very often one can enjoy this laid back environment when there’s 100 trophies lined up in rows and the judging situation is more political than a federal election campaign (Sadly, that’s no guarantee you can avoid judging politics at small car shows either).

Larger shows are a business and as such, there are innumerable commercial considerations at play, from pleasing sponsors (remember the days when Victor Bray couldn’t do burnouts at Summernats due to a sponsorship conflict?) to worrying about the clean-up bill for the venue once the show is over.

I’ve been lucky enough to find myself at dozens of little car shows over the last 18 months and I’m yet to attend one that’s left me feeling bad. From tiny regional shows that attract less than 50 cars, to shows that push the boundaries of what a small car show can be like the annual NSW All Holden Day with well over 700 – they’ve all been great. From car shows in small bitumen car parks to events in town halls – they’ve afforded me the opportunity to experience the uniqueness of the location and the owners from around the local area.

It has also been interesting to see so many vehicles idle out of the woodwork that you just don’t get to see at the large shows. This is because owners either don’t like the high entry fees or hate the atmosphere of larger events like Summernats where the threat of damage has been a real issue over the last decade. A very sad, but very common sentiment expressed by countless car owners, giving you even more reason to get off your bums and head out to your local small shows.

All American Days, All Holden/Ford Days, nostalgia festivals, ute shows, mini truck shows, HSV/HDT events… there are many, many great shows to quench your thirst for automotive outings. Jump onto websites like our own internet discussion forum at streetcommodores.com or other sites like Pinky.com.au where extensive monthly calendars are broken up into the different states, making the job of finding a show near you very easy. Plus you’ll be supporting your own local scene which is perhaps the most important element we’ve mentioned yet!

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