OPINION: Car meets provide a community for enthusiasts

On Feb. 18, a group by the name of Lonestarshow hosted the second part of their car meet titled “Texas vs Everyone” at about 8 p.m. This car meet turned into an intense street takeover in multiple areas around Austin. The first location was the intersection of Barton Springs Road and South Lamar Boulevard. Different vehicles took turns doing donuts in the middle of the intersection, with some of the attendees standing in the middle as the vehicles drifted in circles around them. Unidentified attendees set off fireworks during the takeover. Drivers and spectators worked together to perform “rings of fire,” where  people standing in the middle pour gasoline in a circle around them, then use a match to ignite a flame while a vehicle drifts around them. During the  event, two individuals caught on fire when a vehicle’s tire made contact with the flames causing the exhaust to mix with the flames and blow into the direction of the partakers.  Witnesses confirmed that the individual was unharmed after they stopped their clothes from burning. 

“Texas vs Everyone” was an event that Austin had never experienced; street takeovers are more popular in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. In contrast, car meets in Austin have been happening for as long as I can remember. Just as with any other hobby or group, there’s good and bad people. Car meets in general are for car enthusiasts to gather at a big location and park their vehicles, so other individuals who share the same passion for cars can admire them. Vehicle upkeep can be pricey, and car enthusiasts are spending several thousand dollars on modifications on top of general upkeep. I can imagine the pride a car enthusiast must feel when they take their car from stock to style. 

Growing up going to car meets with my cousins is such a fond memory for me, even when I didn’t have the slightest clue of what these meets meant for people. I loved walking past the cars with their hoods propped up, or their doors  opened with certain themed interiors. You would think that after the street takeover people would steer away from car meets, but I attended a Cedar Park car meet that, like multiple others, emphasized “respect the lot.” Respect the lot refers to the strict rules of not damaging the area in which the car meet is being held: no donuts or burn outs. WhileI was there, I talked to a group of guys about their experience with car meets and their opinions on the “Texas vs Everyone” event. 

“Yeah, I haven’t been to a lot of car meets, this is actually my first time,” attendee Julian said. 

They were excited to be there and said they had been at the car meet since the very beginning, watching different cars and trucks come and go. 

The excitement Julian and his friends showed when talking about their cars and their hopes for the vehicles was reciprocated by the other attendees at the Cedar Park car meet. I could understand their passion for cars by the way they talked about it. When I brought up the event, they all laughed and shook their heads simultaneously. 

“It honestly fucked up car meets, because now the cops are going to be on us even if we rev our engines,” attendee Brandon said. 

For a lot of car enthusiasts, they come to car meets because they know that every person there shares the same interest: cars. One of my friends went to car meets because he had social anxiety and he felt that car meets were the one place he felt comfortable enough approaching people. He knew about multiple types of cars, and through his knowledge was able to make friends with other car enthusiasts. 

Car enthusiasts should have the opportunity to be able to come together in a space where they all share the same thing in common. Despite the “Texas vs Everyone” event, Austin has not experienced these extreme measures like other neighboring cities. The “Texas vs Everyone”  event should not tarnish the car community of Austin due to the actions of a couple of bad enthusiasts. A lot of the damage was done by people who don’t even live in Austin. 

There are many memories to be made in car meets and traditions to be continued. Individuals have pride in their vehicles and the time and money they spend on modifications, car meets allow them to showcase them. Car meets are essential social gatherings that offer enthusiasts a sense of community.