WHEN the general public walk around a car show, they see a lot of fantastic cars, and maybe on leaving they’ll write the number of their favourite on a ticket and put it in the box to vote for People’s Choice. But there’s so much more that goes on at a car show that the public never sees. It takes sponsors, club members and entrants, and a lot more besides, to make an event like the Mackay Rod & Custom Club’s bi-annual Mackay Motor Show happen.
At this year’s event I spoke to many of the entrants, and if I wrote a story on each one of them you’d have years of Stage Writes. But I found that several entrants had something in common when it came to choosing the particular car they had on display.
It goes something like this. When many of these entrants were teenagers, there wasn’t a lot to do except go to the drive-in Friday night, cabaret Saturday night and cruise the streets 148 in their V8 Holdens or Fords afterwards.
Then along came spouses and kids. The gas-guzzling V8 had to make way for a more sedate, practical and economical family car.
Turn the clock forward 20 years and the kids have grown up and flown the coop. The empty-nester dads now have money in the bank and an overwhelming desire to timetravel.
And the cars of our youth are as close to a time machine as it gets for travelling down memory lane.
What really impressed me were the families that got together to help Mum and Dad prepare their car for the show. There was a beautiful burgundy ’57 Chevy that even the grandkids were involved with – a real family affair.
Something else that made me smile was running into a guy I used to travel down to Surfers Paradise with to watch the drags in the 70s. His son was picking up the ball with their 347-cube Windsor-powered Falcon. It takes time, money and commitment to build a car, and these days building a street machine is so expensive that it’s out of reach for many of our young generation, so it was really good to see the father and son working on the all-black Ford together.
Another thing I loved seeing was people having a go at doing their own work. One guy had never picked up a spray gun in his life and had done a terrific job painting his green metalflake one-tonner. And a club member proudly showed me some metalwork his son had done – really first-class.
Then there were the unsung heroes. One club member I spoke to had retired from work and had built a hot rod, and at the show he was quietly walking around with a wheelie bin picking up rubbish. Other club members helped put the fence up, worked in the ticket office, etc. The show relies on these volunteers.
One of my favourite cars was a black ’34 coupe. Watching the owner driving it out of the show really made me smile. This hot rod has
featured in several magazines, but it gets driven from Mackay to the Gold Coast – it’s driven, not hidden. The owner even had a running kids’ miniature version, a scale model, and a Hot Wheels version.
One of the entrants I spoke to told me how well the MRCC looked after them. Instead of paying the owner of an elite show car a lot of money, the club paid fuel and accommodation for many of the high-quality show cars that travelled up to Mackay. The owners of some of these cars have featured in capital city shows, and they regard the Mackay Motor Show as one of the best regional events in the country. If you own a quality show car and feel like a holiday in Queensland next year, have a talk to the club.
There’s also the fun side to clubs like the MRCC. After the members helped prepare the showground for the event, they held a meetand- greet barbecue at their clubhouse for the entrants on the Friday night. The music was going, couples were dancing, and some of the ladies were laughing so much they were crying.
Hot rodders know how to have a good time.
On Saturday night the club organised two well-known circuit racing celebrities to attend the presentation dinner. The guests at the soldout venue bid on motor racing memorabilia to raise money for charity. Between the auction and the gate takings, I think around $20,000 was donated to the Black Dog Institute and another $5000 split between two other charities. As a club, the MRCC gives a lot to the community.
Not everyone can afford to buy, build or own a street machine, hot rod or custom car. But if you have a passion for the kind of cars we feature in Street Machine, you may find a club near you where you can become a working member. A lot of clubs – be it drag racing, speedway or other motorsports – rely on nonparticipating members to help run their events.
It can be a great introduction to the wide world of motorsport. s 149