Chopped. What can I say; camping for revheads? Nostalgia rodding? Big boy’s playground? They all sum up what Chopped is about. Spending a weekend camping out, catching up with mates for a good laugh, tinkering with old school rides and giving it shit wherever you can just for fun!
As I approached Newstead Friday afternoon, my attention was caught by a rising dust cloud to which I notice the visual array of tents and cars covering a large grassed area while numerous classics and customs roared around the make shift track next to it. I knew I had found Chopped and was going to be a bloody good weekend!
Once I located my mates who had already set up camp, it was time to check out what this event was all about and I jumped into a mate’s 57 Buick for a tour of the campgrounds and onto the track for a quick spin. With only a few rules to abide by such as no billet, the laid back atmosphere lends itself well to the tranquil open county. The throaty roar of an open headed rat rod pickup firing up interrupts your country stroll and quickly remind you that this is a rodders event and not a relaxation camp! All around you are cool rides that look like they came straight from the fifties and sixties, from sleek led sleds, classic gassers to wild rust covered rat rods not to mention the numerous bobbers and other custom creations. In the distance, a rockabilly band punches out the tunes accompanied by the smell of camp fires and exhaust fumes. Eager punters congregate around open bonnets while someone tweaks the vitals for more power as others chill out in deck chairs around the fire with a can in the hand happily watching the rodding world go by.
As dusk falls, the splayed out yet full camp site has a haze of campfire smoke hanging over it accompanied by the chitchat and laughter of campers occasionally interrupted by the hard revving of a worked donk from an over excited Chopped fan who has finished a quick tune-up (by giving it a good hard rev probably). The friendly atmosphere sees fellow campers come together around other fires discussing where they’re from and what they’ve got. It’s open house here and “me casa su casa” seems to be the order of the weekend.
Later in the night after a hearty bbq and a few more cans, we head up to the main stage to take in the fast riotous thumpings of the rockabilly bands belting out their covers on the stage while a large audience get with the beat. The Tiki bar staff are kept busy as rodders and cruisers wash down the day’s dust before heading back to their respective camps for a couple hours sleep and take in the next day.
Saturday is the biggest day with many day trippers making the journey up to take in this celebrated spectacle of a bygone era. More cruisers arrive through the “Chopped” archway, filling the grounds to capacity eager to see who and what has turned up. They’re here to take in the track action, the “all things rockabilly” trade stands, and the stage of never ending eclectic bands while swilling down locally brewed Tiki cocktails or old favourites. Custom icon, Gene Winfield is on hand to shake hands and sign posters along with other notable legends of the scene. The girls, stunning in their halterneck dresses and bobby socks accompanied by their man with his club jacket, slicked back hair and old school tats just adds to the fifties created scene. Want to get into the theme? Then pop into the barber on hand, he’ll give you a do, find the trade stand selling the fifties clobber and you’re there man!
Saturday night rocked on seeing us climb into the sack in the early hours of Sunday morning only to rise early to the cool foggy ambience of a new day. A perusal of the grounds shows us who made it home and who got bogged and had to stagger home. A dew had settled over the pantined metal rides and canvas covered shelters as weary party goers slowly emerged to take in the final day. A more sedate attitude was on hand yet enough energy could be mustered to take on the track for a couple more spins and a stroll around the grounds before calling it a weekend. A late lunch, pack up the site, say “seeya next year” to new found friends and it was off…with the bands still playing in the background!
To give you an idea of just how big this event has grown, number plates from as far as Queensland and Perth can be found hanging off chromed bumpers driven by fifties enthusiasts as young as in their twenties. Their hair is slicked back, arms covered in period correct tats and faded black shirts and jeans says these guys and girls live and breathe an era they could only read about. It has a coolness of its own allowing individuals to be just that; individuals! How many eras do you know where a younger generation embraces this theme while mixing it with and older generation who are reminiscing this scene? I can’t think of many and take my hat off to all involved for keeping it alive!
I’ll be back next year and hope to see you there too!
Keep on cruisin’
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