Hardtop Anniversary 2011 - "Let‘s go drag racing"
When HTA 2011 planning got underway, the boys decided a change of tack was required. There were a number of attendees from previous HTA that were keen on drag racing. Ben Gatt is well known in drag racing circles along with his XA door slammer. They have both been around the Australian drag racing scene forever. Although not a young lad anymore, Ben still races competitively today.
Gary Myers is also a well known identity as a result of his involvement with Summernats, Easternats and Gazzanats His purple and silver XA with smoke pouring off the tyres brings a smile to the faces of coupe enthusiasts everywhere.
Registration took place at The Paddlewheel Motel for the second time. On this occasion, the proprietor took charge of the BBQ tongs in a charitable gesture, to raise money for the Charlton Primary School, which along with the rest of the town was devastated by flood. To keep people entertained, someone brought a copy of Mad Max for the enjoyment of the enthusiasts.
Upon leaving Morley Ford, the coupe faithful turned South and headed for central Victoria and the Heathcote Park Dragway. While the coupes are synonymous with Bathurst, a number of them appeared on drag strips around the country and this was no exception as a healthy field of participants lined up to race in the dial your own competition. This meant that whether you had a 700HP tyre fryer or a bog stock 351 you had an equal chance of winning because consistency is the key. And that is exactly what happened. After the rest of the competition was eliminated, Peter from Queensland in his stock Landau lined up against the “Red Eye Racing” purpose-built racer from SA. Everyone hung over the fence and waited to see which lane would take the win. Winners are grinners and Peter from
Queensland was certainly doing plenty of grinning after returning to the pit area.
Once the racing was over there was some light-hearted entertainment with a “spear the spud” competition before everyone hit the highway back to Echuca for a relaxing evening.
2011 was the 100th birthday of the paddle steamer “Pevensey”, which had starred in the movie, “All the rivers run” with Sigrid Thornton and John Waters. This was the vessel chosen by the organisers for the Saturday night entertainment. It was a worthy choice as many of the passengers stood around the engine bay and watched the massive steam engine go through its paces. There was plenty of food and a good time was had by all.
Around 8am Sunday, the enthusiastic coupe owners assembled at Morley Ford, ready to make their way to the show and shine. Despite the threat of a library being built on the site that had been used on two previous occasions, the construction was held off long enough for the all important display. After motoring down High Street and through the Port area, the cars assembled in the now familiar surroundings of the shire offices. Fletch from Classic Resto’s was in attendance with his video camera. After a hard Saturday night on the Pevensey, Fletch got down to the task of filming the coupes and their enthusiastic owners and the resulting episode of Classic Restos was a resounding success.
The Sunday presentation dinner returned to the Moama Bowls club. Ben and Gary took to the stage to be interviewed about their respective specialties. Ben talked about his drag racing career, which commenced in the sixties with his brother Joe. They raced a Capri funny car before purchasing the famous XA coupe, which he still drives today. They also operated an EA Falcon Top Doorslammer, which became the fastest Ford in the world with a 6.67 in 1995.
Gary Myers is best known for events ending in ‘nats. That’s Easternats, Summernats and of course, there is Gazzanats. These events revolve around big horsepower “tyre friers” like his famous ’66 Mustang coupe and his XA Falcon coupe. Most guys love a burnout, which is why these events draw such a huge crowd every year. It’s not just blokes I might add, the girls enjoy it too.
Hardtop Anniversary 2011 had Rare Spares as its naming rights partner with support from Shannons and Morley Ford along with numerous trophy sponsors.