The historic city of Ballarat was the host town for the 10th Chevrolet Convention put on the 55,56,57 Chev car club of Vic. Previously held in Bendigo, the biennial convention caters for all Chevrolet models from hot rods through to your later model bowtie branded wheels.
Held over a weekend in March, Friday sees participating entrants treated to a personal tour through a well-known local rod and custom shop owned by hot rod identity, Daniel Cassar. From here, it’s back to base for registration and bench racing into the night. Those who pace themselves are up early on Saturday preparing their rides for the nostalgia drags. This event is held in traditional style as it was done back in the glory days of the 1950s, down at the local airport on one of their runways. With assistance from the Ballarat Drag Racing club, entrants are welcome to test their mettle against other competitors and the clock. What really makes this event work is the lack of concrete barriers, vast advertising and wire fencing generally found at today’s modern facilities. With a simple timing tower, a handful of experienced drag racing club members, a christmas tree and an eclectic variety of old school rides, one could be mistaken for thinking they’d been transported back in time! The site of a beautifully preserved mid-engine rail, a wild shoebox gasser and a couple of tough hot rods really helps add to the nostalgia feel.
The eighth mile strip was never allowed to cool off with handicap racing often going down to the wire at the fast end while in between heats saw those with a point to prove take on fellow challengers for the grudge matches. Competitors could count themselves lucky as the weather threatened to close in and ruin everything numerous time only succeeding at the start of the finals. With rain falling and a cold wind blowing through us, we packed up and headed for our weekend stays before the nights proceedings.
Saturday night’s soiree was held at the Ballarat Trotting tracks’ commodious facilities with the club putting on a dinner and live music consisting of two rocking bands. With the elements outside having turned decidedly wintery, what better place to be with a nice meal, great people and an opportunity to kick up your heels on the dance floor.
The final day of the event traditionally caters for the show n shine allowing those who hit it too hard the night before to ease into the day and Ballarat’s chilly temperatures would see a cold but sunny start to it. The pristine and polished pride and joys arrived in a constant procession of gleaming chrome and rumbling V8s, setting up and giving the final detail touches before hunting down a warm beverage and perusing the rest of the trotting tracks’ grounds to see what else was on show. The trotting tracks’ own canteen catered for the hungry hordes and various trade stands were on hand to advertise their wares for eager automotive shoppers. While the show accentuated towards the shoebox Chevs, there was still a wide variety of other models on show from Chev based rods through to later model sedans, coupes and muscle cars numbering 150 plus beautifully presented American classics. Again, the ambiance of the occasion was heightened with the help of a classic rock band followed by a super cool rockabilly band.
The judges had their work cut out for them choosing the top ten and other various class winners seeing it come down to the wire on a couple of choices. The weekend drew to a close with the trophy presentation and raffle draw early in the afternoon allowing those who made the big journey down to Ballarat enough time to head for home. All in all, I think the new venue (Ballarat) is a winner for its location and facilities and I have been reliably informed that this automotive festivity will be returning in two years time in 2015 so mark it in your long term calendar, bring your classic helmet and pack your dancing shoes for Saturday and polishing rag for Sunday and we’ll see you there!
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