THE idea of DIY is pretty big these days. From brewing your own beer to sticking up a pergola out the back of your shack, the best way to beat those nine-to-five workaday blues is to get stuck into something fun at home that benefits you and yours, rather than your boss.
Of course, street machiners and hot rodders have known the joys of DIY since day dot, but one of the coolest trends to emerge in the past few years is DIY events. Sure, car folk have been putting on their own shows for decades, but of late there has been a fair-dinkum explosion in new events run by enthusiasts rather than professional promoters. It is most obvious in the burnout scene – where anyone with a bit of nous and some organisational skills can hire a pad and put on a show for their mates – and we’re seeing the same with suburban show ’n’ shines, cruises and drag events as well. Part of the reason has to be social media, which gives those with super-niche interests an easy way to quickly get in contact with large numbers of like-minded individuals.
For example, next issue we’ll have a yarn on Todd Foley’s Holden-Powered Nationals, a drag event held at Heathcote Park Raceway in Victoria. The event’s central mission is to celebrate Holden’s venerable V8, but also welcomes any powerplant that was originally offered in a Holden, from the RB30 six to the lowly Starfire Four. This year was Todd’s second go at it, and wow! The pits were jammed like we’ve never seen before, and he had competitors come from as far away as Far North Queensland to compete.
And if you think ‘Holden-powered’ is a smallish niche, how about a drag event for HK-T-G Holdens only? That is exactly what Brisbane bloke Adam Reeves has been running at Willowbank Raceway for the past few years. Adam keeps the costs down by running the show in the morning before a Test ’n’ Tune, and in the process attracts everything from eight-second monsters to newbies in stock 186-powered cruisers. Some of the entrants have never dreamed about racing their cars before, but the power of that common interest seems to be enough to get them to take the plunge.
The hot rod community has been hard at it too. Inspired by Newstead’s Chopped, there has been a rash of fun dirt-drag events popping up in recent years, including the Mud Run, Stroppy Jalopy and the Uralla Dust Up. And then there is the Boogaloo Invitational in Castlemaine, which harks back to the earlier, pre-drag Chopped events. Most spectacular of all in recent times is the Drag-Ens Rattle Trap Beach Sprints, held at Crowdy Head on the NSW mid-north coast.
Inspired by the Race of Gentlemen beach races in the US, the Drag-Ens pulled off what many thought would be impossible and did it with style and good humour. Former SM editor Geoff Seddon and photographer Ben Hosking covered the event for us; you can check out a preview online at streetmachine.com.au, or come back next issue for the full story.
And while social media is helpful for publicising these events, that doesn’t mean there isn’t masses of hard yakka to be done to get them up and running successfully. Besides boundless energy, what these DIY event folks have in common is that they are genuine enthusiasts, motivated by the need to do something cool and connect with a bunch of similarly enthused people in the process. So if you dig the events, please support them! Stick your hand up to volunteer, buy a T-shirt, or best of all, enter your own car. And whatever you do, let the organisers know that you appreciate their efforts. Even the best promoter is going to hear a thousand complaints over the course of their event, so a few kind words can make all the difference in keeping their motivation up.
And speaking of DIY, we’re almost done with nailing down our dates for this year’s Street Machine Drag Challenge. Stay tuned! s