Car Shows are in Danger Because of “Sideshows”
For decades, car shows have been pretty straightforward – you register, you roll in, find a spot with your friends, your car club, or among people driving the same car you brought to the show.
Today, it’s very different. While the car show we know still exists in many areas, in urban areas, the thugs have descended on the car hobby. Instead, these people would other do burnouts, spins, power sliding, the kids call it “drifting” but it really is a combination of donuts, and burnouts. Instead of doing this on a racetrack or in a designated area of a section of of cordoned-off pavement, these thugs block off intersections using the cars of spectators.
This happens day and night in big cities like Los Angeles. There have been many deaths, usually not from car crashes, but from spectators getting mowed down. There are news stories almost daily about these events.
These spectators aren’t really spectating from afar, many of them actively run into the intersection during the exhibitions and take video on their phones and then publish the videos on social media channels, like Instagram, Tik Tok, and Facebook, not even caring that there are cars are sliding in multiple directions simultaneously.
This weekend, two people were killed in an unauthorized activity adjacent to a car show.
In other cities, the situation has become critical. In Southern California, politicians are letting people out of jail for ‘minor’ offenses within hours of arrest and most times, offenders are only cited.
Now it’s to the point that participants are shining lasers into the eyes of police helicopter pilots. They’re shooting guns up in the air, with no care where the bullets come down. We’re not talking about remote industrial areas, we are talking about major intersections and major city roads, day and night.
The fallout for the perpetrators has been mild. Most are back on the street the next day, and many get their cars out of impound long before the “mandatory” 30-day hold.
Over the last 20 years, many affluent and distinguished Cars and Coffee events have been permanently canceled. Crystal Cove in Newport Beach., Irvine Cars and Coffee, Aliso Viejo Cars and Coffee, and more recently Malibu Cars and Coffee.
There’s plenty of blame to go around. At the Malibu event, the culprits were drivers of high-end cars who couldn’t resist revving or blasting out of the parking lot as if they were any faster or any more impressive than any number of other cars at the show. Boys will be boys, they say.
Here in Orange County, only one Cars and Coffee event still exists. It’s run by a large professional group of volunteers stationed strategically around the venue and using social media announcements to name and shame offenders to help with crowd control. A-frame signs spell out the rules, video cameras keep everybody accountable.
Still, it’s a challenge to keep people in line. Almost every week, a handful of drivers are perma-banned from the event. Revving, peeling out upon exiting the event, or just disregarding signs will get you booted if you cop an attitude.
Car shows have long been family events, but this “new generation” of car people, a term that could hardly be applied to people who go to car events with the intent of breaking laws and endangering other people’s lives, and as such, those who aren’t at these events to observe the rules should be banished with no exceptions.
What is that we used to say about raising children? It takes a village to raise a child, and I submit that the rule-abiding car show participants need to call out the bad behavior of troublemakers and make it clear that offenders are not welcome at these events.
In the absence of joint enforcement from car show organizers, participants, and law enforcement officers who currently have their hands partially tied due to soft-on-crime-policies, it’s only a matter of time before all car shows will be banned or shrunk to the point that they’re no longer worth spending five hours cleaning the car.
As we continue to see the number of shows decrease, there’s no denying that car shows are in danger.