The Summernats 25 Citycruise along Northbourne Avenue, Canberra, attracted thousands of onlookers.CANBERRA – Summernats owner Andy Lopez has fired a broadside at the “snobs and bigots” who believe everyone who attends the controversial Canberra car festival must be a drunken, sexist hoon.

And he’s received support from the top of the ACT government with Tourism Minister Andrew Barr declaring the “reformed” event proves Canberra isn’t just for the elite arts crowd.

Summernats 25 got underway yesterday with an orderly parade of 200 street machines down the capital city’s main thoroughfare.

Thousands of people crowded Northbourne Avenue’s footpaths to watch the chromed-up cars.

But as always much of the community debate and media coverage focused on the anti-social behaviour that has blighted previous events.

Mr Lopez was asked on radio if he was concerned Summernats was “sexist” because patrons have, infamously, yelled “show us your tits” at women.

He responded by declaring such behaviour wasn’t as prevalent as it once was.

Later in the day Mr Lopez turned his sights on those who pre-judged the event.

“I am tired of people being categorised because they go to the Summernats,” he said.

“If you categorised any other group of people by one characteristic you’d be called at best a snob or at worst a bigot.

“The Summernats (crowd) is a very broad group of people – it’s made up of Australians from all different demographics.”

Yesterday’s so-called “Citycruise” down Northbourne Avenue was the first time in 18 years that machines attending the country’s biggest car festival were let loose on public roads.

Summernats’ original Saturday afternoon “Supercruise” was scrapped after a number of events in the early 1990s ended in street riots.

The ACT government allowed cars back onto the city streets this year because Mr Lopez has cleaned up Summernats since buying the event in mid-2009.

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