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STREET MACHINE NATIONALS DOWN UNDER

Over the years the street machine phenomenon has been just as strong in Australia as it has been in America and while the body styles might be a little different the passion for the sport is exactly the same as JON VAN DAAL explains. A short history lesson saw me being lucky enough to attend the first Australian Street Machine Nationals in 1975 and while there were only 26 cars it was hailed a success and certainly sowed the seed for the future of the event. The event was initially run by the 55-56-57 Chev Club of New South Wales but the Australian Street Machine Federation ended up steering the Nationals through the eighties.

Australia celebrated its bi-centenial in 1988 and this coincided with the peak of the street machine scene and disarray in the Federation that was set up four years earlier. This saw the Federation’s Chic Henry leave to start his own event that year – The Summernats in our nation’s capital, Canberra. Some 2000 street machines descended on the city and its future was assured – twenty-two years later it is still the number one modified car event down under.

With the a rise in interest in import cars many future street machiners were drawn to this aspect of the modified car scene and thus cracks started to appear in traditional V8 street machines. By the turn of the new century road registration laws had tightened and fuel had become more expensive and despite appearances at traditional hot rod shows the street machine scene was becoming a shadow of its former self.

It turns out that the business name “Street Machine Nationals“ had lapsed and one Paul Beck, founder of the Extreme Magazine series registered it and made it his own. Beck had built some wild street machines himself including an awesome ’53 Studebaker and had run a series of regional shows on the coast south of Sydney. “A couple of years ago I was doing some research on doing a show in Sydney and found that the registration for the Street Machine Nationals had lapsed so I went for it”, he revealed. For a venue he chose Rosehill Racecourse. This is a horse racing facility with beautifully manicured lawns within spitting distance of the Sydney Olympic site right in the centre of Sydney. With large areas under cover as well as exhibition halls it was a perfect place for such an event. There was also a seperate car park that was roped off for the driving events with the normal go-whoa and burnout competitions joined with the first running in Australia of Autocross.

Due to a clash with another event I had to attend I only saw the burnout competition, however from what I could ascertain the rest of the driving events were well received. In fact with a good roll up of entries and solid crowds Beck has confirmed that this will now become an annual event. “We are in the process of setting up the Australian Street Car Association to run this event and several others - along the same vein as the Goodguys in the USA – there are exciting times ahead”, he concluded.

No this isn’t the local sheriff but Dale’s VS smoking GM – Holden Commodore. No one got his second name but he did hang around long enough to win the Top Six Cylinder Burnout award. 

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