Motorsport keeps Masterton revving
Forget about 'Home of the Golden Shears', maybe Masterton should rebrand itself 'Petrolheads' Paradise'.
Wairarapa's central town hosts a remarkable number of motorsport and car enthusiast events every year and with the new world-class drag strip it also now has some of the best facilities around.
Hotrod guru Lloyd Wilson is the key local man responsible for organising the 2014 Pre-49 Street Rod Nationals which are coming to Masterton this week. He points out that Wairarapa has become a favourite place for automotive events because of our great country roads, stunning scenery and lack of congestion.
"Castlemaine Australia has a big sign advertising it is the 'hot rod capital of Oz' - maybe we need something depicting the automotive heritage of Masterton," Mr Wilson said.
The Copthorne Solway Park Hotel & Resort probably hosts more marque car and motorcycle events than any other hotel in the country. Copthorne general manager Jerry Crump says they have had groups bringing just about every desirable and collectible make of car over the years including: Ferraris, Austin- Healeys, Jaguars, MGs, Buicks, BMWs and more.
The upcoming Pre-49 Street Rod Nationals is a huge event for them and last time the event was held here back in 2000 it was one of the hotel's highest turnover weeks.
"That thing of Lloyd's is absolutely massive - four or five nights where we are just absolutely chocker," Mr Crump says.
He said the Copthorne was tailor-made for these events.
"We're the main one-stop-shop in the region. We've got 102 rooms, we've got 24 acres of land, two restaurants, two bars, plenty of conference space and swimming pools, tennis, squash, golf - it goes on and on."
It is a mixture of annual and one-off events that keeps the region revving with motorsport and automotive rallies.
Magoo's Street Rods hold their annual open house, which usually attracts up to 200 cars, many owners coming from out of town specifically for the event.
One-off events include Americarna and the British Car Rally which came to Masterton in recent years.
The region is home to enthusiastic car clubs such as Wairarapa Vintage Car Club, the Ramrodders hot rod club plus Masterton is also the home of the Shoebox Club, which caters mainly for the 1955-57 Chevs.
Car clubs from Wellington and Palmerston North often come through Wairarapa when they drive "around the block". This region is also a favourite for Ulysses Club rides and performance bike and chopper cruising.
Masterton has hosted two drag racing nationals and is now about to have the region's second Pre-49 Street Rod Nationals.
The town is home to some businesses that have earned excellent reputations nationwide. Ngaumutawa Road panel and spraypaint specialists Supreme Automotive Refinishers undertakes work for some of the most exotic and expensive cars in the country.
Automotive tourism attractions like Pointon's Collection and Gasoline Heaven are both home to some great examples of classic and vintage cars.
The area has also produced some remarkable drivers and carmakers. Richard Mason has won the New Zealand Rally Championship several times in recent years. John Cockburn performs well in his Chev Camaro in national muscle car competitions, Scott Miller is a stand out in drag racing, Spike Taylor in the sidecars, and Brent Ward is a national 4WD champion. Lloyd Wilson won the coveted Stroker McGurk Award at the Good Guys West Coast Nationals in Pleasanton in 2008, one of the most world's most prestigious prizes for open street rods.
Major upcoming events:
February 6-9 - Pre 49 Street Rod Nationals
February 15-1 - Masterton Motorplex official opening on the brand new track near Hood Aerodrome.
March 8 and 9 - Central Drag Racing Nationals
April 12-13 - Nostalgia Drags
June 28 - Trust House Racetech Rally Wairarapa is round 4 of the New Zealand Rally Championship.