Car culture has been moving down a rocky path, and things need to change.
When most people think of a "car meet," they probably imagine that it looks a lot like Race Wars from The Fast And Furious Series. Images of incredible venues, loud cars, and tons of women leaning on almost every car is what probably comes to mind. In reality, it's mostly a couple of guys huddled around a modified V6 Mustang talking about cars that they will never be able to afford. Those beautiful venues that are portrayed in the movies are typically a deserted parking lot that the group may or may not have permission to be in.
Basically, you can categorize car meets into two basic types. You have the "unsanctioned" meets where a bunch of people meet up in a parking lot without permission, and by the end of the night get kicked out by the police for doing something they weren't supposed to.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have the supercar meets like Cars and Coffee and Concours D'Elegance. These are the fancy, hoity-toity events where millionaires in expensive exotics show up and make everyone else jealous.
Obviously, these are at the extreme ends of the spectrum, but car meets in the US have been suffering from several problems that impact the entire automotive community. Both the unsanctioned meets and the high-class events can have their benefits, but each suffers from exclusionary problems that plague car lovers who just want to have a nice time. Let's start off with those crazy, unsanctioned meets. If you've never been to one, here is the gist of it. Basically, a group of people will organize a meet-up on Facebook or other social media, and a bunch of people will gather in a parking lot to do burnouts or other illegal activities. Not all of these meets are bad, but it doesn't mean that they always end well.
Watch the first video (above), and you'll see the police show up at each location to break up the illegal activities. Those people definitely did not have permission to be there, so the property owners probably called the police. This leads the people who are performing these dangerous stunts to drive around all night, hopping locations. Even if these people don't do anything illegal, they can often be forced to leave a location they don't have permission to be. So you may be asking, "why don't they just get permission to be there?" The short answer is because there really isn't a great reason why a property owner would want to allow a car meet to happen.
Situations like the one in the video have given the car community a bad reputation. Even if you're a part of a reputable car club, it can often be difficult to find a good meeting spot. Whoever owns the property is assuming a lot of risk if someone who doesn't respect the rules shows up to crash the event. So now, let's take a look at the other side of car meets. Events like Concours D'Elegance have a high cost of attendance, and don't really represent the vast majority of the car enthusiast population. If you want to see some beautiful priceless works of art, you should take a trip to one of these events. You won't be sorry. If you just want to hang out with other car lovers, Cars and Coffee offers the best of both worlds.
Cars and Coffee (and other similar events) combine the ease of access of the unsanctioned car meet, with the eye-candy of Concours D'Elegance. These shows started of as private meet-ups for exotic car owners, but have expanded to include car lovers of all income-brackets. These events are typically free to attend, and you can mingle more freely with the owners of expensive supercars. However, this isn't always a good thing. You may have experienced a Cars and Coffee where you met some nice supercar owners who were more than happy to talk to you. You may have also met a snobby owner who wouldn't even give you the time of day. In both types of meets, exclusion is starting to become a big problem.
Whether a supercar owner shunning you, or a reckless individual coming to crash an otherwise under control meet-up, the car community is starting to become divided. We all love cars, and we all just want to be able to express our opinions and participate in a lively discussion about which cars we like. No one should ever have to be treated badly because they prefer a Lamborghini to a slammed Civic, or vise-versa. Hopefully you frequent a weekly or monthly car meet where you can express your opinions with people you like. It's becoming increasingly difficult to find meets that are fun and sanctioned due to the growing scrutiny from people who think the car community is full of people who break the law.
This culture needs to change if we hope to continue being able to meet up and discuss the thing we love most, cars. Let's not perpetuate the stereotype that all car enthusiast cause trouble, and let's really not let our opinions cause rifts within the car community. What do you think about the current situation? Do you have any meets that you love to go to? Have you been to either of the two types of meets that we mentioned? Let us know in the comments.