Crowds flock to collector cars and their squealing tires

Collector cars from far and wide flooded the Sunshine Coast this weekend for the 24th annual Sleepy Hollow Rod Run and Show and Shine, also known as the Festival of the Rolling Arts.

“Word on the street was that it was an excellent show. Everybody had a really good time,” said Ken Begg, president of Coasters Car Club, which organizes the event.

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A mix of local and off-Coast spectators and participants attended the two main car shows and auxiliary events. While heavy rains on Sunday forced the Sunshine Coast Drag Racing Association to postpone their 20th annual race until September, the Legion at Madeira Park went ahead with its quieter show-and-shine and hot rod parade.

At least 330 cars registered for Saturday’s Show and Shine in Sechelt. Cowrie Street was closed to traffic most of the day to accommodate the mass of polished hot rods and other vintage and not-so-vintage vehicles. This year, for example, at least four electric cars were on display.

A 1940s Ford won the “hard luck story” trophy, one of the more than 50 awards up for grabs. The Ford broke down on the way to the show, and was serendipitously saved by another festival-goer heading to the Sunshine Coast, who drove to a nearby Lordco for the Ford’s new fuel pump.

Clubs from Powell River, Hawaii, California, Quesnel and Port Alberni were among those in attendance, as were licence plates from Alberta and Washington state.

“I think it’s the glamour, to see how people look after their cars, especially older cars. A lot of people weren’t born when these cars came out,” said Beggs of the attraction.

That was true for 17-year-old Marley Mural, who like hundreds of others, gathered at the side of the Sunshine Coast Highway on Friday for the Sleepy Hollow Rod Run, which saw at least 430 collector cars parade from Hackett Park to the Halfmoon Bay Fire Hall and back. “I would say it’s mostly just older people for sure, but there are definitely some younger kids who are into it,” said the Davis Bay teenager, who grew up with the car show.

This year he got a prime location, a few hundred metres north of Norwest Bay Road.

“It’s such a nice area to watch all these cars go by, there’s so many people that come from so far… It’s just an awesome scene. And you get the banana guys, which are the best. I normally just come out here for them, to be honest.”

The banana guys are a group of young men who for the past 12 years have religiously attended the rod run, which they call “Summer Christmas.”

“We always dress up,” said Sean Fenton, wearing a bright yellow banana costume.

“We can also say ‘peel out’ to the cars. I know they’re not allowed to, but you can say it, and it kind of fits,” said one of his friends, also dressed as a banana.

Peeling out, also known as burnouts – where cars burn their tires on the asphalt, creating clouds of smoke – were an attraction for some spectators.

Organizers regularly blast announcements at the staging area in Hackett Park to discourage them, warning drivers the act disqualifies participation in future events. Nevertheless, this year, as in years past, “it was an issue,” said Beggs.

“We sure don’t like it. We can’t control it. We tried everything to the best of our ability. We’ve gone to the police,” he said of the club’s efforts to stop them. Burnouts are classified as “stunting” under the Motor Vehicle Act and offenders are subject to fines and cars must be impounded.

This year five police officers monitored the event, and issued one violation ticket. “This is not a rogue event, this is a controlled, well-oiled machine,” said Sunshine Coast Sgt. Michael Hacker of the event. “You have a few people bring negative press to the event, when in fact it’s a small number of people,” he said.

But prohibition makes it more appealing, speculated Mural who, along with several others on the side of the road, pumped their fists while shouting “burnout” to encourage passing motorists, a handful of whom acquiesced. “That seems to be the best part. The fact that you’re not allowed,” he said. “Everybody wants them done, [it’s] that little edge, you know?”

Though not everyone can actually perform the trick.

From his lawn chair Mural spotted former Sechelt mayor John Henderson driving past in his orange sports car. “I don’t think that car could do a burnout if it tried… It’s electric.”

A few hundred metres away, another woman, Jackie Tyson, waited at the back of a pickup truck for the parade of cars to return from the Halfmoon Bay Fire Hall. Her family, she said, has been on the Sunshine Coast since the late 1800s.

She loves the August rod run. It gives neighbours a chance to slow down, pull out the lawn chairs and socialize. “That small community feeling, it comes back.”

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