THE first Street Rod Nationals were held in the NSW Riverina town of Narrandera in 1973, under the auspices of the Australian Hot Rod Federation. The AHRF soon split into ANDRA for the drag guys and the Australian Street Rod Federation (ASRF) for the hot rodders. While ANDRA has been having a tough time of late, the rodders have been going from strength to strength, as we saw at the 23rd ASRF Nationals, held at Easter in the Victorian gold rush town of Bendigo.
The event is held every two years, moving from state to state each time to share the love around, although ‘regional’ nationals have been held in the ‘off year’ since the late 90s, giving farther flung areas their time in the sun.
This was the first time Bendigo had hosted the Nationals, and the city pulled a record-setting 1350 cars from every state and territory, with the longest distance travelled being Tony Brittain from Bunbury, Western Australia in his ’47 jailbar pick-up.
The action was based around the showgrounds, which offered the essential ingredients needed for a successful Nationals – a big oval for the show ’n’ shine, a cruise route, a big indoor area for the show cars and traders and – perhaps most importantly – a strip of tarmac for the go-to-whoa.
The driving events are run by Noel Inman and his clubmates in the Marsh Rodders. In our estimation, Noel
has done more passes down the quarter-mile than any other hot rodder in Oz, so he’s the perfect man to have in charge. He even took his famous Tall T out on the track before the start of competition and set the tyres ablaze for length of the strip – just to make sure the track was nicely covered in rubber for the competitors. Pretty considerate, eh?
Even so, many of the go-to-whoa competitors suffered from traction issues, including the eventual winner of the event, Queenslander Wayne ‘Weetbix’ Sampson in his little ’34 pick-up. Wayne also took out the dyno comp, while Kim Bevan won the ladies go-to-whoa in her ’32 tourer.
The only other driving event of note was the Bag Of Gold Drop (another variation on the spear-a-spud or grab-a-flag theme), but the organisers put on lots of other fun activities to get everyone involved, including mini-rod racing for the kids, a sparkplug-changing competition, a fashion show, live bands, model car building and the infamous trolley race.
In terms of judging, things are limited to a Top 20 that is voted on by the entrants. Whoever finishes top of that list is rewarded with Top Car of the event, which was won by Mick Speranza’s black ’35 Ford coupe. We featured the car in Street Machine Hot Rod #15, and you can check out the story by doing a search on streetmachine.com.au.
The next Street Rod Nationals will be in held Maryborough, Queensland over Easter 2019. In the meantime, let’s take a closer look at some of our favourite entrants. s