Hardtop Anniversary 2013 - "Game changer"
The Melbourne’s Cheapest Cars Hardtop Anniversary Echuca 2013 raised the bar.
There were a record number of entrants, a record number of Landaus and a record number of racecars. In addition to the club member’s racecars, it was a privilege to have Eddie Abelnica’s Touring Car Masters XB racer and transporter present for the weekend.
Little did we realise when we started planning this year’s event that it would grow so much. As this was the anniversary of the first coupe winning Bathurst, we thought it would be appropriate to invite the two Ford works drivers to our little get together. After many months of chats and subtle negotiation, Allan Moffat and Fred Gibson sat down, signed the agreement, and became the event patrons. Of course, no trip to Echuca would be complete without our friend Murray Carter.
We were advised that the motel used for registration on the two previous occasions was not available to us, so Colin Morley offered the Morley Ford dealership for our meet and greet. It proved a good venue with lots of room and a great backdrop for the start of a great weekend. The girls handled the registration process with ease and the Morley Ford team did an excellent job with the BBQ. Colin organised a DVD player with a projector and after watching a concert for a while, someone inserted the 2011 Hardtop Anniversary DVD. That got the crowd interested in a hurry with quite a few coupe faithful watching the Saturday action from Heathcote.
After gathering at Morley Ford again, the eager group of coupe owners turned around and headed back into the township briefly before John led them back out of town via a different route turning south again, heading for central Victoria and the Bendigo Livestock Exchange. Numerous car clubs have used the BLE and organised similar events, so there was no need to reinvent the wheel, just follow their example and design our own layout. It worked out really well with a diverse motorkhana layout involving high speed, low speed and tight manoeuvring. The morning session saw a few drivers dice with disaster having close encounters of the concrete kind, but by lunchtime the standard of driving had improved and everyone had the measure of the course. There was also a go to whoa section just for variation. With plenty of spectator area on offer, everyone had a good vantage point.
The PS Pevensey was the feature of the Saturday night festivities again. The 102 year old paddle steamer proved popular with the crowd the previous time and it didn’t disappoint this time either. Our special guests joined us on the cruise and although they had not been on a paddle steamer before, they took to it like ducks to water. They were especially interested in the steam engine and took the opportunity to ask the engineer lots of questions. The food was of a very high quality and no one went home hungry. We had booked for a two and half hour cruise but the crew had some interesting moments turning the vessel around so the trip took a little over three hours. There were no complaints as the happy passengers disembarked and wandered off to their respective accommodation.
As Sunday dawned there was light rain falling. Not exactly what a coupe owner wants to see on the day of a show and shine. By 7.30am however, the rain had all but disappeared and everyone gathered at what had become the focal point for the weekend, Morley Ford.
Just before 9am, the long train of coupes made their way down High Street to the new site at Carters’ car park. The library had finally taken over the old show site so finding a new site had become a necessity. Carters’ car park ticked all the boxes. Close to the centre of town, good size and access to a power supply. We were uncertain if it would fit all the cars so as entrant numbers crept up we became concerned. This eventually caused the committee to close entries prematurely. This was not a popular decision as some people missed out on entering. We managed to fit all the cars into the car park, but it was a close thing.
The Sunday presentation dinner returned to the Moama Bowls club. The venue is ideal for large numbers and that was another issue facing the organisers. More and more people were booking for the dinner. Almost two hundred people had taken their seats just after six thirty. Once the crowd of eager diners was seated, the special guests were escorted into the room by three ladies that had played a significant role in the weekend. After main course, the special guests were invited onto the stage to entertain the enthusiastic crowd with their version of the development of the XA as a race car. During the question session, one diner suggested there may have been cheating. An agitated Alan Moffat invited him to the stage to clarify what he meant. Really, the things people say to get attention. The evening finished with a promise to return in two years time to do it again.
Melbourne’s Cheapest Cars was the naming rights partner for Hardtop Anniversary 2013, with major support from the Shire of Campaspe, Biante and Rare Spares. Additional support came from Shannons, Ute Covers Direct.com, Penrite and Sidchrome. Morley Ford was a significant partner in the running of the weekend. Without the support of these people, the event would not be possible.