Royal RUMBLE

INTREPID PHOTO-JOURNALIST CHRIS THOROGOOD HITS UP THE QUEENSCLIFF ROD RUN

STORY & PHOTOS CHRIS THOROGOOD

WHEN people talk about must-do events on the street machining calendar, there are several that always rate a mention, including the Bright Rod Run, Chopped and Summernats. Well, if your kind of weekend is made up of family, mates, old cars, great food, great weather and a top location, then three-day Queenscliff Rod Run in early February might be your jam, too.

My 2019 Queenscliff weekend kicked off on the Friday night with ‘Spit & Beers’, held at Big L’s Chop Shop down on the Bellarine Peninsula near Geelong. A few years ago my good mate, talented fabricator and all ’round top bloke Leon Davies decided to have a few mates with customised cars around to his shed for a private prelude to the Rod Run.

1: You couldn’t help but be dazzled when Bryce Davies’s metalflake 1960 Oldsmobile cruised by. It was even better when we saw his 16-year-old son Bobby in the driver’s seat having a steer. The 88 coupe is an ex-show car from America called ‘Space-Coke’, and runs the original Rocket 88 371ci Olds motor. While the body looks extremely custom, there are only a few subtle mods, showing how radical American car design was in the late 50s and 60s

A couple of years in and it had grown to 50 or 60 people, so Leon decided to hold a raffle and donate the proceeds to the local Geelong cancer ward. Enter 2019 and the raffle has become the focal point of the night, with generous invitees donating handmade items, collectables and car parts. This year was the biggest yet, with over 250 people in attendance, rad cars overflowing into the paddocks and a massive $8500 donated. Congratulations to Leon, his partner Leah and the whole Davies family for putting on such a successful night.

2: We loved Steve Carpenter’s F100. The combination of weathered body with new underneath just screams cool, especially when it’s packing a tough 600hp Pavtek-built 393ci Cleveland. The 1963 unibody sits on its stock chassis, but with a Jag front end and four-linked rear with a giant notch helping it sit as low as a snake’s belly

On Saturday morning, Queenscliff Rod Run entrants cruised to Adventure Park in Wallington, a giant waterpark that is perfect for shaking off the rust from Friday night by floating around in the pool river or challenging your mates to waterslide races. If the waterpark wasn’t for you, there was a cruise to the local wineries.

3: On the Friday night before each year’s Queenscliff, Leon Davies and his best gal Leah host their Spit & Beers night. They put on a slap-up meal and local businesses donate plenty of goodies for the raffle, with all proceeds going to the local cancer ward. Legends!

THE MAIN STREET RESEMBLED A SCENE FROM THE 70S, WITH THE BEAUTIFUL OLD BUILDINGS COMPLEMENTING THE CARS PERFECTLY

THE FRIENDLY, RELAXED VIBE CONTINUED INTO THE NIGHT, WITH CARS CUTTING PLENTY OF LAPS ON THE CRUISE ROUTE

1: Lately we’ve seen Damien Reeves’s XT Fairmont driving everywhere. It’s powered by a Whipple-supercharged 363ci Dart backed up with a FTI Turbo 400 trans. It’s run a best of 10.4sec and Damien is hoping to bring the car on his third Drag Challenge later this year

He’s only 16 years old and has already clocked up over 60 hours of driving in his mum’s XP sedan and the blown Hemi-powered Plymouth, which we featured in June 2011. Dean couldn’t get him out of the driver’s seat all weekend. What a young gun!

2: My boy Max was fixated on Ryan Chara’s massive F250 and its 40in tyres!

3: Hunter McDonald driving his dad Dean’s 1959 Plymouth Belvedere.

4: It looks like an old jalopy as it comes towards you, but as it gets nearer you realise that Shaun Colliver’s 1930 Model A is far from that. Shaun bought the Deluxe coupe complete with the original fourbanger and bullet holes, then set to work shoehorning in a massive 460ci big-block Ford. To make it fit, they recessed the firewall 7in. The chassis has been fully boxed and strengthened, and Shaun added a K-frame and tailshaft loop. It’s a real sleeper with its 4in skinny whitewall tyres, rumble seat, cowl lamps and six-wheel option

Chad Forward’s 1962 Beetle drew our attention with its burnt-looking finish. “The car was in a shed that burnt down,” he said. “Some guys saved it and I ended up buying it.” He then designed his own suspension system with static front and ’bagged rear to achieve that killer ride height. Chad kindly donated a couple of pimped-up skateboard decks to the Friday raffle, and these were snapped up very quickly

Early Saturday afternoon the township of Queenscliff started filling up with all sorts of awesome machinery, from tough street cars to period-correct hot rods and high-tech show winners. People lined the streets, packing into the pubs, restaurants and cafes. As the afternoon rolled on, the town’s main street resembled a scene from the 70s, with the beautiful old buildings complementing the cars perfectly. The friendly, relaxed vibe continued into the night, with cars cutting plenty of laps on the short-but-sweet cruise route.

On Sunday morning, hot rods, customs and street machines filled Queenscliff’s grassy park areas near the water’s edge for the show ’n’ shine. All takings from the spectator gates went to the local area’s Lions Club, which channels the funds into community charities. The show ’n’ shine was a perfect laidback end to the weekend, allowing entrants to rest up for the drive home or cool off at the nearby beaches.

1. Barry Walters owns this bad-arse matte-black ’57 Chevy. Under the hood is a ProCharged 350 SBC

THERE WAS EVERYTHING FROM TOUGH STREET CARS TO PERIODCORRECT HOT RODS AND HIGHTECH SHOW WINNERS

2: Craig Smith has nailed it with his 1954 Ford Zephyr convertible. Craig has owned the car for 35 years! The late John Taverna Sr did the chassis work, with a four-link and coil-over rear end. The rears measure up at 15x10in and power is provided by a stout 302 Windsor

3: We featured Darren Schembri’s XY GS in Street Machine Fords back in 2008, and since then it’s undergone some changes. It now has an angry 440-cuber pumping out over 800hp naturally aspirated. New tubs and bigger rubber have helped Darren run consistent 9.7s

Geelong Street Rodders have been running the Rod Run in Queenscliff for 21 years now, and 2019 was one of the biggest they’ve ever had, with over 700 cars entered, even after deciding to align with ASRF guidelines by making it for pre-1966 vehicles only. It’s also the biggest weekend of the year for local traders, Rod so there’s Run with no doubt open the arms township and friendly will embrace smiles again. the 2020 Rod Run with open arms and friendly smiles again.