ABOUT a week out from the annual Kandos Street Machine & Hot Rod Show, I was asked by a mate what kind of event it was. I gave it some thought, and ended up reasoning that it was a bit like Summernats, but with the volume turned down.
There’s a show ’n’ shine, burnout comp, go-towhoa, grass driving events and a sound-off, but if you surveyed the punters, the skids would probably be the most popular aspect of the event by a fair margin. There’s a Best Overall Entrant award that’s very similar to Grand Champion, and until recently there was a Miss Kandos pageant and a dyno comp, too. A well-patronised bar and a steady supply of Dagwood Dogs are also on offer, and it also happens to be stinking bloody hot every single year.
Yep, it’s fair to say that Kandos bears more than a passing resemblance to Summernats.
The main points of difference are that it’s a much smaller, club-run event that goes over two days instead of four, and it’s held out in the sticks in the sleepy little New South Wales hamlet of Kandos, which gives it a distinctive country vibe that keeps us coming back year after year.
A common criticism of the show is that there are too many V6-powered dungers in the skid comp, but having grown up just up the road from Kandos, I know how important it is for young blokes (and sheilas) to have a safe place to get their hoon on in rural areas. Sure, a fair number of less-than-stellar burnout cars attend Kandos, but the event also lures enough big guns like Brett Battersby’s Burnout Masters-winning BLWNLUX to keep things more than interesting.
The 2017 running of the event was a good ’un; well attended, stifling hot and plenty of fun. “We had a really good turnout this year,” said Andrew Walker, one of the dozens of Rylstone Kandos Street Machine Club members involved in planning and running the show. “We had 240 entrants for the burnout comp, plus some show cars as well. I think our spectators might be up a little bit
from last year, and we’ve had some great-quality cars and some new cars, which is really noticeable.”
A nice touch from a punter’s perspective was the kids’ corner. Dodgem cars, face painting and other kids activities kept the young ones occupied all weekend, and what’s more, they were free of charge – a rarity in this day and age. “We made a conscious decision a couple of years ago to be really family-friendly,” Andrew said.
“We know that families are on a budget, so we made it all free. Once you’re through the gate you don’t have to keep putting your hand in your pocket. It’s something we budget for and we don’t put our gate prices up to cover it, either. We’re not-for-profit, so we keep enough money to run the show and the rest goes to charity.”
There was plenty of eye candy on display in the show ’n’ shine, including Lithgow lad Todd Bulkeley’s killer Summernats Top 20 Datsun 1600 coupe, Michael Stivala’s Top 60 GSHOON Falcon (SM, Apr ’15) and John Trunzo’s legendary FJ Holden custom, but to qualify for the coveted Best Overall Entrant award you need to take your car out and drive it like you stole it in the go-to-whoa and grass events. With the points from the judging and driving events tallied, trophies for Best Sedan and Best Undercarriage together with solid wheelwork across the weekend rendered Michael Stivala the deserved winner.
“It was a really good feeling, and it made all the effort with the car worthwhile,” Mick said. “I wanted to do all the driving events and have some fun in the car anyway, so I definitely wanted to see if I could win the event overall.
“The car felt good in the go-to-whoa and pulled up perfectly, right on the line. I was one of the first cars out on the grass, so it was wet and the car was sliding around a lot, but I went pretty hard at it and I think I got some good times. The car’s the filthiest it’s ever been, but it doesn’t bother me. I enjoy detailing it, so I’d do it all again for sure!”
There were some stout performance in the six-pot and naturally aspirated V8 classes in the skid comp, but the Kandos crowd is a big fan of blowers, and local legend Brett Battersby came through with the win in his crazy HiLux, with a stonking skid that ushered in a solar eclipse.
“It was excellent to get the win because I’ve only won here once before, even though it’s my local show and I’ve been coming here for 16 years!” Brett said. “It’s only 45 minutes up the road from home, but for whatever reason Kandos has always been my kryptonite and things usually go wrong for me here.
“I think this year was one of the best events they’ve put on. It was a great weekend and I got to catch up with lots of good mates.”
For so many entrants, that’s what Kandos is all about.
You turn up, have some fun with your car, hang out with some great people, soak up the atmosphere and tip a few beers in of an evening. You can do as much or as little as you like, and everyone goes home happy. That’s probably why it’s still going strong. s