Ben Winter could be seen as your typical Kiwi farmer, with the sleeves rolled up on his checkered shirt that is half tucked into his shorts and mud-covered gumboots. But there is a little more to Ben than one might think. Having grown up riding shotgun in his dad’s ’48 Ford Bonus pickup, ’56 Customline, and ’78 GMC pickup, Ben developed a love of cars. Not just any cars, though — cool cars. One of the first half-decent cars that he owned was a ’79 XC Falcon 500, which had quite a hard life on the back roads of South Canterbury. Although he tries to get to as many shows as he can in between work and family life, purchasing a rather rough-looking 1950 Chev to get around to those shows in, the Chev really didn’t see much use in that capacity. So, last year, an idea was born to hold his own event that would give him an excuse to use it more.

Run for the first time last year, in a paddock next to his Sefton home, Rust ’n’ Dust attracted eight vehicles. The cars took to the grass trying to complete the hillside circuit in the quickest time. As well as the racing, several cars were also parked in the next paddock, creating a kind of mini show all on its own.

Now, Ben’s old ’50 Chev might be gone, but the passion isn’t, with this year’s event attracting more than double the entrants of last year and a large number to the paddock car show. So many that, Ben stated, “To keep it small and manageable,  next year’s event will be by invitation only”, and we think he’s on to something here. Leaning on the fence, which is usually the domain of the cocky watching the sheepdog trials, we can see the potential for events like this to happen up and down rural New Zealand.

For 2019, Rust ’n’ Dust ran several classes, starting after lunch with the Pre ’30 then moving on to the Pre ’67 class, followed by the ’68–’79 class. Later in the day saw a grudge race between pickups — a Ford F150 XLT and a Chev 2500HD — much to the delight of loyal brand supporters. This was an entertaining match, as the Ford appeared to experience a problem staying on track and took a real liking to the bales of hay stacked along the fence … 

The kids weren’t left out either. Ben’s daughter Mary took kids for rides around the track in her little 3hp petrol-powered home-made jeep. And, keeping the event as a family affair, wife Jaime was responsible for much of the organization, as well as doing the official timekeeping. At the end of the day, a small awards ceremony was held, with some cool-looking trophies handed out, all handmade by Ben’s mate Troy.

Summing up the event — and we couldn’t have said it better ourselves — Ben said, “It’s a relaxed afternoon of good mates and new mates and grass-roots Kiwi fun” that invariably turns into a few beers and a few yarns as the debrief carries on till the small hours.