Back in the day, Newcastle was a haven for hoons. Saturday nights doing the Hunter and King streets circuit, an endless parade along the foreshore on weekends showing off chromed parts and new lights, and the unofficial ‘races’ that made Kooragang an infamous spot on weekend nights – these were the rites of passage for many a young driver once upon a time and, in some ways, made a statement about this working-class city and its passions for footy, fun and the vroom of vivacious vehicles.
The rumbling of modified mufflers seems to have subsided over recent years in Newcastle. Is it a sign that we, as a city, are maturing and becoming more cosmopolitan? Is it a result of the demise of the iconic Holden brand and all it meant to be Australian? Or are the police succeeding in suppressing the urges of young Novocastrians to proudly show off their cars and what they are capable of?
With the departure of Holden as our proud Aussie-made car, young motorists are left with the choice of buying an old second-hand Kingswood, Torana or Commodore (and they can cost a bomb!) or turning their attention to hotting up their small Korean cars with flashing lights and big exhaust pipes that makes them feel (sound) like they are driving a V8.
Every now and again you hear an over-revved car tear up Hunter Street or hear the hiss of a turbo sneezing as they change gears but it’s not like the old days when hoons were an omnipresent part of the Newcastle experience.
Visitors would gawp at a car load of loud, young lads in a souped-up sedan as they yelled (un)welcome comments from their passing vehicle. Getting to Nobbys on a weekend would take forever as the procession of mulleted motorists made their way along the foreshore. And when was the last time you had to crawl through a massive cloud of smoke from some young hoon doing a burnout?
Are those days over?
How can you be cool putting a bonnet scoop Hyundai Getz or a Suzuki Swift? Or a big spoiler on a Ford Focus? What self-respecting hoon would put flashy mags on a Mazda 1 and be proud – it’s like putting lipstick on a pig.
Maybe it’s just evolution. Maybe we’ll see shiny hotted-up Teslas or pretty Prius’ take the mantle. Or maybe the Newy hoon is dead.
They have countless social media memes calling for rugby league to ‘bring back the biff’. Maybe we need to similarly call for Newcastle hoons, or those that may still exist, to rise up and stage a motorcade protest of some kind from Stockton, over the bridge and all the way into City Hall.
Or maybe the Newy hoon is just a thing of the past that we remember, fondly or not. Either way, Newcastle is changing and this seems to be just another one of those transformations that take place when a city grows up.