For those out there who have never attended a Muscle Car Madness weekend held in Rangiora, you have no idea what you are missing. This year’s event ran from January 26–29, and traditionally, it all unofficially starts sometime on the Wednesday, when it becomes a race for the best campsites, usually found around the cruise route.
By the time that we arrived on Thursday morning, at least half the available space at the Rangiora A&P Showgrounds was already taken, with caravans, motorhomes, and tents being the order of the day.
Thursday is usually a laid-back sort of day, with time being spent setting up camp, and some vendors and stallholders unloading their wares. A new event run for the first time this year was the Main Street Party. Working with local businesses, which remained open, the main street was closed to traffic so that nearly 120 cars could be displayed for the public from 6-9pm, and judging by the turnout, it was very successful.
As Friday dawned, the temperature was already up to nearly 20 degrees. With plenty of cars rolling in the gate, and the registration hall open, the place was humming. Once again, the cruise was set down for the day, leaving at 11.15am, and heading out to the Ashley Gorge — the popular venue that has been ventured to over the past two years.
With the mercury hitting 25, the gorge is a great place to relax, sit under the trees to eat lunch, or take a dip in the nearby river. Entrants then made their way back to Rangiora at their own leisure.
With the temperature so high, most people chose not to wander far from camp, choosing to just kick back and watch the goings-on.
Saturday dawned very warm, with the trusty Canterbury nor'wester blowing. Looking around the grounds, things were buzzing, the vendors and stallholders were up and running, food trailers were flat out, and coffee venders had long queues. The inner field where the show took place was filling fast, and by mid-morning the field couldn't fit another car in.
Additional space running along the public car-park fence was used for the overflow. With the weather being the perfect summer's day, it wasn't surprising to see so many cars on display, with nearly 1500 filling the grounds.
The two queues to get into the show were huge, stretching at least 100 metres across the car park, and they never looked to be getting any shorter. Without a doubt, the most popular event of the day was the burnouts. People started filing into the burnout arena nearly two hours before tyres starting spinning, just to ensure they got a great view. Such is the popularity of the event, organizers had to turn several cars away this year.
To kick things off, young Liam Pycroft was given the chance to drive his go-kart around the pad, doing wee skids, much to the delight of the massive crowd.
If the sound of angry engines and the smell of tyre smoke wasn't your thing, then you could check out the talent of the airbrush artists, or make a purchase at one of the many stalls.
Crowds were entertained by several bands, and, later in the afternoon, the Retro Rockabilly Pageant took place in front of a huge crowd. As the day came to an end, and the crowds thinned out, entrants took to cruising the showgrounds, with the cruise route being changed this year to one-way.
Due to the hot, dry weather, dust was quite an issue on the course, but it didn't deter people from getting out and enjoying the evening. After such a great day, plenty of sleep was needed to recharge so that everyone could get up and do it all again on Sunday.
For those of you that have never made it to a Muscle Car Madness weekend, make sure you put it in your diary for next year, because if you are a true petrolhead, this is an event you don't want to miss.