Why motoring enthusiasts can’t be bullied anymore (opinion)

For as long as this writer can remember, there has been an uncomfortable tension toward the motoring community. The enjoyment of our hobby is forever an uphill battle against the media, either mainstream, or now, social.

Throw in the various authorities, who ultimately are just doing a job, driven by the general community or various agenda-based groups who don’t really understand the passion, but certainly have an opinion on it.

Maybe it’s the bad eggs among us. You know, the ones that now make it onto social media for doing burnouts on a public street or donuts on a four-wheel drive accessible beach, or street racing late at night, along with other irresponsible, reprehensible behaviour.

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But motoring enthusiasm comes in so many different forms. It may be that you like to pedal a finely crafted Japanese or European sports car around a racetrack. You may attend a drag racing meet in a purpose built drag car or modified street car.

You may enjoy getting to your English car club’s monthly meeting in your vintage Jag, or ride a custom Harley-Davidson or Gixxer with a group of mates on a Saturday morning. You might even love the challenge of taking on a dirt track in a customised four-wheel drive.

Prelude
Historic vehicles are a motoring enthusiast’s passion

Whatever it is, one thing is constant, and that’s a love for the vehicle. The use or medium it’s being driven on doesn’t matter. Because anyone who pursues any of the exploits noted above needs wheels, an engine, a steering wheel or bars, and throttle to get there.

If you’re reading this as a “car or bike person” you’re nodding right now. The tension we described at the start of this piece is driven by misconceptions, misunderstanding, and misappropriation of the lifestyle that we as car and bike enthusiasts love.

Ever been at a social gathering where someone asks what you do for fun? Describing one’s time under the car in preparation for a track day, packing your camping gear, or a club drive up a winding bit of road isn’t usually met with a follow up question.

“Oh that’s nice” is the best you usually get. Whether we like it or not, we are tarred by too many. Our passion is mistaken for “neanderthal” hooliganism, and this misconception has been the perfect fuel to drive the challenges we have and continue to face as a community.

Whether it’s the closure of decades old off road tracks, or the shutting down of racetracks, there aren’t many friends, other than us, for the lifestyle we live. That said, the motoring community itself doesn’t help the situation at times.

Historic vehicles are a motoring enthusiast's passion
Historic vehicles are a motoring enthusiast’s passion

I’ve noted in the past that we are always the quickest to jump on the bandwagon when it comes to slinging the proverbial at our own. Maybe it’s tall poppy syndrome, but there’s got to be a change to the way we all react to things.

If there’s not, we’re just adding more ammo to an already locked and loaded gun. Now here’s the thing; what if we told you there’s now credible evidence that motoring enthusiasts contribute a staggering $9.92 Billion dollars to the Australian economy?

What if we also said there were 970,000 “heritage” vehicles over 15 years old on the road, owned by car and motorbike people, and that this spend creates more than 78,000 jobs across the country? You’d likely gag on your coffee.

But it’s true. These staggering numbers were revealed in an Australian Motor Heritage Foundation survey conducted across the nation, and backed by a range of related businesses and clubs.

The result is a set of statistics that can and should be used to ensure that our contributions to Australian society can no longer be swept under the carpet. If the question is how should this data be used, then the simple answer is, in every way possible.

4WD group shot
Can you spot the off road icon that’s more than 15 years old in this group?

The unfortunate demise of the Motoring Enthusiast Party way back in 2017 means we don’t really have a direct voice to Parliament, but with an upcoming Federal election, everyone should be doing their bit to ensure our voices are heard.

Media outlets have thrown some basic news coverage at the report, and while it’s good, it isn’t enough. What we need is a coordinated effort to spread the positive narrative that this evidence now supports.

The report has a range of valuable outputs that give our community much needed credence, which is why it can’t be allowed to fizzle out. Clubs and associations have already commenced the heavy lifting and can continue to push this message along.

Media outlets like Exhaust Notes Australia will continue to do the same. Businesses involved in the space can do likewise, and should see it as a great way to build brand equity and credibility.

Simply by talking about it and showing customers, readers, or constituents that you’re willing to take on the good fight for the motoring community goes a long way. It’s time to make our voices heard when it comes to protecting our hobby and passion.

Royal Enfield 1932 Bullet 500
1932 Royal Enfield Bullet 500

That’s because one thing is for sure, no one is going to do it for us. We’d love for this simple article to become a forum for ideas. How do you think we could share the worth of the motoring community and have our voices heard? Let us know in the comments below.

The data presented in this article is with thanks to the Australian Motor Heritage Foundation’s Economic Value Study.

Kalen Ziflian
Kalen Ziflian
A lifelong motoring enthusiast, Kalen has a passion for anything with wheels and a motor. His passion lies in collectible Japanese performance vehicles but he’s been known to enjoy off-roading touring and camping across Australia.

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