UPDATE: The CarBabs event has been postponed to Friday 15 September due to wet weather. Check the Facebook group to stay up to date.
Burnouts. Alcohol. Drugs. It’s a combination we might have come to expect from some of Canberra’s unofficial night-time car meets. Not from ‘CarBabs’.
“If people start bringing burnouts, drugs, alcohol, or any other forms of antisocial behaviour, I’ll close it down,” says the new car show’s creator Terry Keys. “And I’ll turn footage into the police. It’s as easy as that.”
The local windscreen fitter, petrolhead and family man is very clear on what will be tolerated.
“I hate the fact that we as a car community have such a bad rap,” he says.
“Cars aren’t intrinsically bad, as long as you hang around people who don’t participate in bad behaviour. We just want a social evening where you can hang out with friends and family.”
Hundreds of exotic supercars, special-edition Commodores and Falcons, gleaming hot-rods, and everything else from the entire car spectrum will be gathering in Fyshwick this Friday (9 September) for the third ‘CarBabs’ this year.
And yes – hence the name – there will also be kebabs, thanks to Terry’s friend, Charlie Kose. It turns out the Kose family are the original owners of Kapital Kebab, formerly in the Canberra Centre food court. It’s now the centrepiece for the car show at 55 Wollongong Street.
“You may not love cars but you’ll love kebabs,” Terry says.
Terry himself owns eight cars between himself and his wife, including a Holden VK Commodore – a former street champion at the annual Summernats festival – and a Suzuki Swift GTi. The couple have two children, Harry and Amy, both now celebrated by custom number plates that bear their initials. He also heads up the scrutineering team at Summernats.
“Cars are just one of those things I’ve always enjoyed,” he says.
Earlier this year, he decided to revisit his youth with his friends, Charlie Kose and Christian Bourandanis.
The trio would regularly attend car meets in Braddon. However, the inner suburb is a very different beast today, with homes, businesses and not many carparks, so they decided to resurrect the event in Fyshwick.
With some airing of the idea on social media, the inaugural April event “exploded”. The second event in June gathered more momentum with more than 500 cars. Big names such as Asset Lighting and Shannons Car Insurance have come on board as sponsors too.
The kebabs might have had something to do with it.
“In that first event, we had to sell 50 kebabs to cover the cost of opening,” Terry says. “We ended up selling about 400. The queue went 100 metres down the road.”
Either way, it’s not about street racing. Although the police have attended the scene, more than once.
“Two AFP officers showed up at the first event and had several good chats with several car owners. For the second event, one of them even brought along their own car.”
Terry sees enormous demand for car events in Canberra, especially at the moment.
“We know people have had a rough few years with COVID, and we just want to give someone somewhere to go on a Friday night for a family-friendly event,” he says.
“And we have had a really, really good response from the community, so we’ll just keep going until it’s either too big to manage or we have to find another venue.”
In the event of wet weather, CarBabs will be postponed to the following Friday.
This weekend also marks the annual return of the Big 3 Car Show, including cars from the great American trifecta – Ford, General Motors (GM) and Chrysler. This will be held at the Queanbeyan Showground on Sunday, 11 September from 10 am to 3 pm. Entry costs $5 per person, while children under 14 are free.
The Classic Cruise for Camp Quality also sets off from the National Arboretum at 10 am on Sunday, in an effort to raise funds for children with cancer. It’s open to motoring enthusiasts with classic vehicles 20 years or older, luxury exotic cars, company-branded cars, members of car clubs, unique vehicles and motorbikes. Registration costs $25 for motorbikes and $50 for all other vehicles. The cruise closes with a ‘Show and Shine’ event in the Questacon car park.