Fuelers Secratary Warrick Davison and President Scott Conder. PICTURE: ADAM TRAFFORDTHE rumble of hundreds of engines echoed through the car park at Masters Home Improvement in Wendouree on a late September Friday night.
They came from all over town, up from Geelong and down from Castlemaine in their hot Holdens and their fast Fords, their tricked-up Toyotas and their modified Mazdas.
And in their BMWs and Nissans and Mercs and plenty more.
Whilewell organised and billed as a show’n’shine to raise money for Ballarat Hospice Care, it was not a formal affair by any stretch.
The Fuelers Car Club had put the word out via social media for car crazies to meet up in the one place before heading off in their own groups.
Some expected dozens to turn up, some expected scores. Organisers lost count after about 300.
The Friday night event is one of two ongoing monthly car events which have kicked off in the past couple of months.
While Cars n’ Coffee (at the Sovereign Hill car park on Sunday mornings) is pitched mostly at respectable middle-aged types, usually with cars lovingly restored to their original condition, the Friday night showhad a younger, edgier flavour.
One of the night event’s organisers was Fuelers treasurer Darren Gladstone. He said club memberswere a bit stunned by the turnout.
”We just got swamped. It blew us away a bit. The car park up there has 690 car spots and it was full,” Mr Gladstone said.
”We’ve got a Facebook page and we plugged the hell out of it there. We sent out invites to other clubs through that aswell.
”We thought 30-40 cars would have been a minimum,while 100 would have been great.We reckon there were about 300 showcars, but there were hundreds more who came for a bit of a look.”
It is an indicator (pardon the pun) of the level of interest in ”hotting up” cars now.
Those rolling their eyes at young people and their racy machines need remember this is not a newthing – just look at classic films like Grease and American Graffiti.
But through the internet it is more accessible than ever before.
”There is no waywe could have got that many there (without social media),” Fuelers secretaryWarrick Davison said.
”We just put it out there on Facebook and our ownwebsite and word really spreads.
”Not many of us are that computer literate but the internet really helps (with modifying cars). People can share their thoughts online and, if you are stuck on an issue and don’t knowwhat to do next, there may be someone in America who has an answer.”
The reasons for modifying cars haven’t changed much since the ’50s when young blokes (mainly blokes) turned early ’30s model Fords into hot rods.
Sure performance numbers are part of it but going fast is hardly the main motivator.
”It is an expression of individuality. You can be creative with it,whether it is a paint job or a performance mod,” Mr Gladstone said.
”Amodified car used to be very lairy, with hugewheels, but these days it might be a Commodore which looks very plain but might have a supercharger or turbocharger bolted on.
”Or you have theB&S(bachelor and spinster ball) boyswho put a big bull bar and a lot of stickers on their ute.
”Some people might love it, some people might hate it but it is all aboutwhat makes you smile when you drive it.”
Fuelers itself puts no restrictions on membership. It started out 11 years ago as a bunch of mates and nowhas a couple of dozen members.
It is also a broad church with modified and unmodified cars.
”Alot of other clubs have a box they want you to fit into as far as what their ideals are,” Mr Gladstone said.
”Some insist they are old and unmodified. They all have different things they want their members to have.
”With Fuelers,we’ve had an influx because it’s just about people who like their cars and bikes.We don’t care if it’s Japanese orAustralian or heavily modified or unmodified.”
Reflecting the broad ideal of the Friday night, therewere owners who fell within the Sunday driver category.
However, therewere others who would fit the mould of ”hoon” in the minds of many.
Thanks to anti-hoon legislation and related news stories, even the term”hoon” itself is a source of some embarrassment for some members.
”The term’hoon’ is a negative. No one wants to be known as a hoon,” Mr Davison said.
”Driving dangerously on the road endangering other is not what we are about at all.
”I think the anti-hoon legislation targets the right people because the drivers are doing the wrong thing.
But people in stock cars do that too.
”Enthusiasts are more likely in my mind to protect their cars.
”They have spent a lot of money on it and the last thing they want to do is have their car impounded or destroyed.
”The club takes a dim view of it. If people act like an idiot, it reflects badly on the club and we’ve worked hard on establishing a good name.”
Fuelers president Scott Conder and Mr Gladstone agreed.
”We’re not hoons. It is disrespectful of the amount of time and effortwe put into our cars,” Mr Conder said.
”I think the term ‘hoon’ is a very big basket,” Mr Gladstone said.
”Some people tend to put everyone with a modified car into the same
basket and I don’t think that is fair.
”On occasion, the bad image is deserved but some people don’t seem to understand it is in the minority for sure.
”What upsets me is that car people often don’t have a voice. There are peoplewho aren’t into cars and they see a modified car and presume that we are going to behave badly, and it just doesn’t happen that often.
”If you look at photos of cars wrapped around trees or involved in accidents, I don’t think you’ll find too many modified cars among them.
”To modify a vehicle isn’t cheap. Some of the carswe had on that Friday night owe their owners up to $100,000.
”The dangerous hoons are those who jump in an unmodified Commodore they’ve bought for five grand who then go out and rip up some doughnuts.
”They don’t have any respect for their vehicles. Those who’ve spent a lot of money on their cars are less likely to do those illegal activities.
”Members of our club are responsible.We called the police on the night and asked them to show a presence for that reason.”
The Courier was there on that Friday night and the truth is, driver behaviour was mostly good and $1500 was raised for Ballarat Hospice through a combination of gold coin donation entry, raffles and a sausage sizzle.
There were, however, a couple of cars which did burnouts while leaving the car park. They were quickly pulled aside by Fuelers club members,who warned them to ”pull your head in”.
One member told us they had alerted the police about the behaviour of one driver.
People who are devoted enough to their cars to spend hours making their machines look great aswell as run great, they know better than most that mud sticks.
Fuelers’ next Friday meet at Masters Ballarat is on November 7 at 6pm.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.