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Wild weekend: Repco Beach Hop 17 (day four)

28 March 2017

If the days leading up to the weekend of Repco Beach Hop 17 were where the relaxation was to be found, the weekend provided the complete antithesis to that, and Saturday was a perfect example of that. The Saturday mega event takes over just about all of Whangamata, and comprises a number of separate shows scattered throughout the town. It’s gotten to the point that many people who travel to Whangamata on Saturday just for Beach Hop will traverse the main road, think they’ve seen all that Beach Hop has to offer, and then bugger off home — not realizing that they’ve seen only a small portion of the insanity. 

Before getting into more of the finer details, the Saturday plays host to the Rock ’n’ Roll Club March, Grand Parade, Repco Pre-’49 Hot Rod Show, Meguiars Main Street Car Show, Ford NZ Car Show, Century Batteries Classic Car Show, Retro Caravan Show, Whanga Books Tot Rod Show, Petrolhead Vintage Market, not to mention the myriad Saturday afternoon stage shows, she’s a bit of a busy one!

The Grand Parade is preceded by the Rock ’n’ Roll Club March, in which various rock ’n’ roll clubs march the main street of Whangamata doing their thing. The actual Grand Parade is split into three distinct components, for Ultimate Pass–holders, Standard Pass–holders, and motorcycle riders. 

The huge gathering of Ultimate Pass–holders assembled at the Esplanade, ready to depart towards the main street after the VIP cars — those of the sponsors and carrying other parties important to Repco Beach Hop 17. This part of the Grand Parade departed at 10.15am, proceeding down the main street at a leisurely pace, before doubling back around the end roundabout and parking up along the east-facing side of the main street. 

This included the motorcycle riders, who rumbled along in a crowd-pleasing procession, with much revving to the delight of all within earshot. 

Then came the Grand Parade for the Standard Pass–holders, who had assembled at the Whangamata rugby park, and converged en masse upon Whangamata central. The massive procession never seemed to end as they cruised down the main street before turning right at the end roundabout, for an end destination outside the Ford NZ Reserve (Williamson Park). 

The morning’s rolling entertainment all taken care of, the Meguiar’s Main Street Car Show kicked off, and this is really what tends to make the evening news. With the main street absolutely filled with delicious iron, New Zealand’s largest public car show could commence. Navigating through the hordes of onlookers can be a difficult task, and makes a thorough once-over of the show a task that can take several separate passes up and down the street. 

Of course, this was made slightly easier every hour, as Karl Boniface fired up his Nitro Flashback nostalgia funny car with a different lucky punter allowed in the hot seat. Not only did this give the crowds an experience of a lifetime — many of whose eyes didn’t seem acquainted with the intricacies of nitromethane! — and tended to clear the main street pretty quickly, in favour of real estate surrounding the Castrol display. 

Further along the main street, the Repco Pre-’49 Hot Rod Show was taking place in the carpark of the Whangamata Club. Displaying an array of hot rods of various styles, the show is exactly what it sounds like, and can’t have been easy for guest judge — ’68 Ridler award winner and custom car builder, among other things — Chuck Miller to have selected a winner from. However, select one he did, and that honour went to Bruce Carter’s beautiful ’33 Ford tudor. 

Retro caravans are another aspect of Beach Hop that have really taken off in recent years, and this year treated us to some amazing creations, although none were more attention-grabbing than the beautifully detailed ’59 Impala and ’76 Lilliput combination belonging to Alex Ross. 

Later on in the afternoon, the Ford NZ Reserve fills up to watch the Saturday afternoon stage shows, including the Retro Pin-Up Competition, Hop Idol finals, as well as the eagerly awaited prize giving and prize draws. 

This year’s Retro Pin-Up Competition proved more popular than ever before, and despite capping entry to only 40 contestants, the show actually ended up with over 60! This meant an interlude was allowed for the sole Retro Wearable Arts & Junkyard Fashion Show entrant, before the judges could get down to the tricky task of whittling down the field of retro-dressed ladies. Ultimately, the winner would be Miss Jenna from Auckland, with Miss Velvet as the runner-up. 

It was the giveaway prize draw that the enormous crowd had gathered for, and that finally came around, with the lucky winner being Graham Bailey from Auckland. As you may predict, he elected to take home the new Beach Hop–edition Ford Mustang GT. Lucky man!

With the main Saturday activities wrapped up, the official programme could take a back seat, although that wasn’t to say the day was over — far from it. With entertainment to be found throughout the town, and the ever-popular night cruising taking place, you’d be hard-pressed to end the day so early. 

However, that’s where this coverage must end, but make sure you keep your eyes peeled for our next issue of NZV8 for more coverage of Repco Beach Hop 17, and be sure to grab a copy of the NZV8 Beach Hop Annual 2017 when it’s out with a free DVD in mid-May. You can pre-order your copy online here