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Americarna: day two

4 March 2015


Following the enjoyable first day of Americarna on Thursday, February 26, the Friday schedule looked like a good one, with a cruise to Hawera on the cards, stopping by at Opunake, and followed by the New Plymouth night cruise that is an Americarna staple. 

Stopping by Opunake, the huge Americarna procession gathered in the local sports field, and as with the Inglewood event, the number of cars was impressive, as was the work that must have gone into arranging a park-up of that scale. With the huge number of cars came a large variety — just about any style of vehicle imaginable was there.

One car that stood out didn’t have big wheels or flashy paint, but was a relatively ‘plain’ (very original) 1955 Ford Customline. ‘GAGA55’ is owned by John Harrison, and was originally owned from new by his grandfather, nicknamed ‘Gaga’, hence the plates. The car’s originality extends to the three-on-the-tree column-shift transmission, and John is restoring the car over time, though he and the family still get out and about, making the most of having such a cool cruiser. 

The stop at Opunake was a brief one, and the convoy was soon back on the road, Hawera bound. Just like with Inglewood, Hawera’s main drag was to be filled with the large Americarna line-up, but with an added bonus — the Go–Stop. Giving entrants the chance to blast down Albion street at flag-drop, and brake to a halt within the braking area about 100m away, the Go–Stop promised some entertaining viewing for the day.

Headlining this was Team Cuda Racing’s Plymouth Barracuda dragster, piloted by Rhys Humphries, and set to perform an exhibition burnout and launch. Having run a PB of 7.63s at 180.96mph, the Cuda is a serious bit of kit, and the smoky, ear-shattering passes were well worth it. Of course, seeing the selection of vehicles participating in the Go–Stop was always interesting, especially with the variety of vehicles taking part. 

With the afternoon well spent at Hawera, the evening saw the group head back to New Plymouth, to take part in the night cruise around the CBD’s closed-off streets. The Americarna programme called it, ‘Friday night cruising, American Graffiti style’ and that really is the best way to sum it up — the procession of cars traipsing down New Plymouth’s main drag really was reminiscent of how it might have been in a city centre on a Friday night, in a simpler time. The cars constantly cruising by provided a dynamic environment for the lazy amongst us, who didn’t even have to move to see different cars, but wandering around the city centre revealed fine machinery all over the place — from main-road parking spaces through to cosy side streets. 

Day two of Americarna 2015 definitely delivered the goods, also managing to top the Thursday — no mean feat! Watch this space for an update on the Saturday’s activities, namely the famous Americarnival.