Unlike earlier days, Saturday’s events would be confined to Whangamata, and it was flat out from the get go. Early morning saw two cruises intertwine at the main street, with Standard Pass holders moving from the rugby grounds to the Ford NZ Reserve, and Ultimate Pass holders starting at the Esplanade and finishing on the main street.
The Rock ‘n’ Roll Club March kicked off the main street festivities, with a large number of rock ‘n’ roll clubs doing their thing down the street — a pretty fun warm-up for the main spectacle.
That main spectacle would be the Meguiar’s Main Street Parade, led by the prize Mercury down the main street, and followed by a trail of sponsor vehicles and Beach Hop entrants. Before long, the main street was absolutely full to bursting with cars and people alike. Some cars were definite points of attraction, and almost never without a deep crowd of admirers. One of these cars was, predictably, the incredible custom 1952 Chev Sedan Delivery of Queensland’s Nigel Sheiles — the car really is a sight to behold.
Also in attendance, and lurking on the fringes of the street, was a dormant pack of some serious drag weaponry. Mark Bardsley’s Top Doorslammer Camaro was on display beside the Meguiar’s stand of Smits Group, with Karl Boniface’s awesome ‘Nitro Flashback’ funny car next door, under the Castrol tent. Two more Nitro funny cars would be seen — Les Herst’s ‘The Phoenix’ and the new, banana yellow Capri of Les McNab and Mary Thomas. The legendary Rat Trap was also to be seen, pre-empting its appearance at the Nostalgia Drags meeting at Meremere Dragway. Speaking of Meremere Dragway, Karen Hay’s ‘Evil II’ Model-T roadster also made a bit of a scene, as it rolled down the main street as part of the parade.
The Nitro funny cars, and the Rat Trap, would be performing routine fire–ups throughout the afternoon, starting at midday. You can imagine the racket and smell of nitro in the air, but it was an awesome experience, as always.
Further down the street, the Repco Pre-’49 Hot Rod Show enjoyed a thriving display of yesteryear’s finest cars — whether they were retro–style Model As, or full–on custom rods, all were welcome, and the variety made for a great display.
The Whangamata RSA played host to the Lifestyle Finance Classic Car Auction, which saw a range of old-school automobiles put under the hammer, including a cool Holden Torana LJ, Chev–powered Jag XJS, and heavily modified 1967 Chev Impala — none would sell under the hammer, unfortunately, but perhaps that could be attributed to the weather, which decided to pour some rain down during the auction action.
Further down town, the Century Batteries Classic Car & Tot Rod Show was taking place. This show displayed a fine selection of machinery, as well as the cool cruisers that some of the Beach Hop kids were rolling in. From only a few ‘tot rods’ present at last year’s Sony Beach Hop 14, the game has really stepped up this year, with many extraordinarily well–presented examples on display.
At the other end of town, in the Ford NZ Reserve, action of another kind was taking place. The space inside the park was jam–packed with cars, stalls, and live entertainment — every conceivable taste was catered for.
The stage shows are a large part of Beach Hop, and this was the same for Repco Beach Hop 15. The Adrad Retro Wearable Arts & Junkyard Fashion Show had contestants dressed up in the wackiest outfits they could construct from what they had lying around the garage, and the Retro Pin-Up Competition was a hit as usual — with over 40 contestants entered this year, it just keeps getting bigger and bigger.
Hop Idol was another crowd pleaser. Essentially a live singing contest, it had the entrants belting out their favourite tunes, from last year’s winner Robbie Barrie belting out ‘Rebel Yell’ to Carlo Booth’s acapella ‘Delilah’ — the winner was to be Whangamata local doctor, Sandy Moss, with her action–packed rendition of ‘Proud Mary’.
In a break from the loud and proud stage shenanigans, the moment everyone was waiting for drew near — the main prize draw, and everyone’s focus was on the 1950 Mercury prize car. But first, an auction for local surfer Ella Williams was to be held, auctioning a custom surfboard, with all proceeds going towards Ella to further her surfing career. The bidding first hit $1K, then $5K, then $10K, and onto $15K, before it settled … on an incredible $20K! Congratulations to Ella, and the buyer, for the remarkable outcome.
Shane Cortese hopped into the Mercury, by now full of entry forms, and pulled out a slip — believe it or not, the unlucky bloke was not present, and the crowd voiced their pleasure at the imminent redraw. That redraw saw a very lucky Niki Hayes, from West Auckland, take the prize. She had no hesitation in choosing the Mercury — a splendid way to round off her Repco Beach Hop 15 experience!
With that, the crowds began to disperse, ready to unwind from a hard day’s worth of sightseeing. Of course, the Saturday night cruising is one of the highlights of Beach Hop, and as with past years, the main street was a hive of activity right up until the early hours. Some would get an early night, ready for the Top 10 Shootout on Sunday morning, while others made the most of the night — whatever it was, all would no doubt have been stoked at how great their day had been.