By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Car enthusiasts raising money for a good cause are struggling to find a meeting place in Narre Warren.
It could be at least partly due to being unfairly tarred by the notorious hoon meets known for their illegal drifts, drags and burnouts, South Eastern Chrome Bumpers organiser Paul Ryan says.
The meets had been held at the former Masters store in Pakenham for two years without incident, raising more than $26,000 for Toomuc CFA and the Good Friday Appeal.
“We’ve never had a problem with hooning,” Mr Ryan said. “(The illegal drags) gives us all a bad name.
“There’s a lot of younger ones getting into our meets, and we’re getting them into a better type of car scene.
“Our passion is our cars and having a great social event for people to meet, chat, drink coffee and have a bite to eat.”
Its members have also provided joy rides for children at an ABLE Australia for the Deaf Blind Awareness Week, and helped raise money for Steps for Keira Foundation and other great causes.
With a Facebook following of nearly 10,000, there’s no shortage of interest for the assembly of immaculate classic and vintage vehicles.
Mr Ryan, who owns a stunning red 1968 Comaro coupe, says up to 500 specimens of cars have shown up.
Since Masters’ closure, finding a well-lit car park large enough to accommodate hundreds of drivers and spectators is a further challenge.
The Bumpers have met once in a section of Bunnings car park in Narre Warren on a recent Friday night.
On that occasion, $1500 was raised for the Narre Warren North CFA.
However the venue was too crowded with patrons to ensure safety, Mr Ryan said.
“We’re now looking for any help we can get.”
The group has made inquiries at Casey Lifestyle Centre shopping complex, not far from the watch of Narre Warren police station.
A spokesman for the centre said there was reluctance to provide the venue after it was damaged several times during a car meet with different organisers several years ago.
A decision would be made when the centre’s owners returned from overseas, he said.
Mr Ryan said the centre’s car park was perfect, large but not too busy with shoppers on a Friday night.
“We would give those businesses so much more business on a Friday night.”
An informal car meet that regularly attracted thousands at an EastLink servo on Saturdays was recently shut down. Its overflow of vehicles had spilled out onto the freeway. It had also been spoiled by several “bad egg” gate-crashers, Mr Ryan said.
He said no such trouble had turned up at the Bumper meets
“We don’t get the idiots who do the burnouts.
“If there was anything happening, we’ve got so many phones and cameras. We’ll get the registration to police and let them deal with them.”
Narre Warren North CFA captain Mark Dobrich, whose members raised $1500 with gold-coin donations and a sausage sizzle at the last Bumpers meet, said the event was well-organised.
“The feedback I’ve had was our officers were really impressed with it, and it was well received by the public.”