There seems to be something on pretty much every weekend at this time of the year and that was the case for the weekend of March 7–8. Sopranos Street Rods of Palmerston North held their annual picnic in the quiet town of Tokomaru on Sunday 8. The electrical storm and torrential rain during the night before was but a distant memory as the cars began arriving at the quaint spot known as Horseshoe Bend.

The brief was simple; bring your lunch, bring your car, bring your mates, and if you were brave enough to chance a dip into the murky depths of the swimming hole, bring your togs, which a couple of young brave souls did.

For those not familiar with the venue, it’s pretty much a grass clearing in amongst the trees, perfect for a park up and unfolding the deck chair to socialize amongst friends. 

As regulars to the picnic, the Early American Car Club grabbed a prime spot, put up their marquee, sat back, and enjoyed the view with every marque in attendance. These guys are based in Wellington and have members from all over the lower North Island.

Fresh from the success of the recently held All Aussie Day at Manfeild a few weeks ago, Dwayne Burrell had his tough Falcon parked up in the trees. He wasn’t sure if Aussie iron would be welcome, so he ran it past the Sopranos first to avoid disappointment of being made to park outside because he ‘had the wrong car’. Being a good bunch, they let him in so that he could enjoy the day.

Bevan and wife Debz Parker rolled in with the Good Bastards Hot Rod Club. Bevan has owned his 390-cube ’66 Mercury Montclair coupe for around 12 months. Imported in a beautiful shade of tan, he got sick of “all the old bastards” telling him how much they loved it. Being relatively young this was not the attention Bevan wanted, so the hue was quickly changed to a much more age appropriate black. Now that he has the big, old tank looking much tougher Bevan can’t decide what to do next, airbags or a blower are on the list. Just quietly Bevan, your car is plenty low enough so we’d suggest you go with a hole in the bonnet so you can stick a mountain of chrome out of it!

Speaking of blowers Shane drove his wild ’32 all the way from Johnsonville. In our opinion, nothing looks cooler than spoked front runners, Hilborn injection, and a supercharger on top of a 468-cube big block.The Alex Cook–built coupe has been residing in Shane’s shed for about eight months now. The tough engine is backed by an equally strong Chuck Mann Turbo 400. It was Shane’s first visit to the picnic and he can’t wait for the next one.

Come lunchtime, the Mexican blankets were unfurled and everyone stopped for a bite to eat. Steve Paterson has taken things one step further and transformed his One Tonner into a mobile BBQ. The build started a fortnight ago with his plan being to have as much fun on as little money as possible. So far the 350 Chev–powered kitchen owes him just over $2000 — and that includes the cost of the car!

If you are in the area this time next year, make sure you keep your ears open as it really is a fun day for the whole family.

Shane Wishnowsky

My first experience of the V8 engine was not a good one. Picture a white-haired young boy bawling his eyes out when an un-muffled sprintcar was fired up. My Dad, who had been car mad all his life, thought I was broken and he’d produced a dud! He persevered though and a few years later took me to Thunder Park; it was here that I fell in love with the V8 engine and I was hooked! Since then I have been a regular on both sides of the fence at drag strips in the North Island, both as a spectator and a crew member. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that 40 years down the track I would end up photographing and writing about them, not that I’m complaining!