Newstead to burst at the seams for motor festival

THE smell of exhaust fumes and the sound of roaring engines filled the air at Newstead yesterday for the start of the Chopped Rod & Custom festival. 

Hundreds of car and motorbike enthusiasts descended upon the town’s racecourse for the first day of the annual event. 

Some had travelled for many days to attend the event, which is expected to attract between 5000 and 10,000 people over three days. 

Warragul’s Deano Birch, who set up his own bamboo bar at his group’s campsite, said the event had a good vibe. 

“It’s relaxed and it’s cool,” he said. 

“I came up in a purple 1953 Mercury and we’re planning on having a few beers and watching the dirt drag races.”

His friend Heath King said there wasn’t much to dislike about the festival. 

“What’s not to like about it?” he said. 

“I like the fact that there aren’t many rules, it’s a relaxed atmosphere.”

Eighteen bands playing rockabilly, garage and rock will perform at the event, and dirt drag racing is another key attraction. 

“It’s going berserk,” organiser Ryan Ford said. 

“It’s good for Newstead and the entire surrounding districts. 

“All the accommodation is booked out, which means business for everyone.”

Mr Ford said while cars were the focus of the event, interest in the bands had increased. 

“It’s morphing into a music festival along with the racing,” he said. 

“It’s a unique mix compared with most other shows.” 

Cars entering the festival must be traditional hot rods built prior to 1965 or custom-made models. 

Motorbikes have also had a strong showing at the event, which is now in its fifth year. 

“It’s going really well so far,” Mr Ford said. The festival will finish tomorrow.

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