Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Hervey Bay Hot Rod 'n' Custom Car Campout

Sunshine Coast to Hervey Bay return 1-3 May (500kms)

I had heard about the May in the Wide bay Hot Rod and Custom Car campout from the Vintage Caravan forums. A lot of Vintage vanners are classic car enthusiasts who use their restored old caravans to travel and stay at the many car shows and campouts held several times a year all around the country. So, fuelled by promises of multiple vintage caravans and lots of classic cars all in the one place, it was time to hook up the old van, jump in the car, and hit the road north for the 260 km drive up past Gympie and Maryborough to Hervey Bay.

As I pulled into the Happy Wanderer Caravan Park I was greeted by a hive of activity and a sea of chrome-adorned open topped rods in just about every bright coloured metallic two pack known to mankind. Having just returned from what sounded like a hilarious observation run and treasure hunt, it was miles of smiles all around as rodders gave fellow rodders a taste of cruising around the caravan park and out and around the streets in their pride and joys. I found Jeff Neels, the secretary of the Wide bay Rodders who introduced me to some of the car owners all of whom were more than happy to have a yarn about their cars and what they love about “rodding”.

“It’s the camaraderie that develops through runs like this one. And the freedom, the freedom to build a car that truly reflects the individual” says Owen Johnston, the club’s president. Owen’s interest in rodding developed when he rescued his grandfather’s old rotting 1927 Buick from a sorry fate many years ago and turned it into a hot rod. He said it took two years of his spare time to repair, restore and rebuild the beauty from the ground up. And it seems this kind of passion and devotion runs deep in the rodding fraternity with many attendees sharing similar stories about the journey of their car’s rebirthing. 

So what is a hot rod? Basically it’s a pre-1948 model of car, usually American, such as Ford Model A’s and T’s or Chevy’s and Buicks with a big fat V8 engine in it. The rest is pretty much up the builder’s own tastes; choose your colour, your chrome bits, add personal touches such as licking flame paintwork and big shiny wheels and you’ve got yourself your very own hot wheels project for big kids. Now you’ve made yourself your dream chick-magnet (unless you are a chick already in which case your car will probably be pink and more of a dude repellant) you need somewhere to drive it. As modified vehicles, general daily use is out of the question. Besides, with paintwork like this, would you want to risk it? Most hot rod clubs hold at least one get-together a year to allow members to mingle with other enthusiasts. Along with a bit of car-envy and healthy, jovial competitiveness, all genuine classic and vintage car lovers are welcomed with life-long friendships often formed along the way.

Entry fees included a host of activities designed to engage all rodders of all ages along with communally shared and catered meals held under canvas canopies in the caravan park. Having grown over the past three years to over 120 cars participating this year, May in the Wide Bay now takes over two camping areas in Hervey Bay with onsite accommodation apparently having been booked months in advance. With many of the featured cars on limited special usage registration, registered runs like this one give owners the chance to strut their stuff, turn some heads and show off a bit and many of them travel several times a year to attend events such as this one. Wide Bay Rodders secretary Jeff is quick to point out that any funds raised from holding events like this one in excess of their needs are donated to charity and an auction and raffle drawn on the closing night of the event saw funds proved the generosity, as well as the partying spirit of the rodding fraternity. The the Oncology ward of the local hospital are the deserving beneficiaries of this weekend’s proceedings.

Thanks so much to the Wide bay Rodders for your hospitality. I had an absolute blast  - see you next year!