While some prefer the safety of limiting actions to words, for better or worse, I’ve always been the type of guy who’d prefer to fail catastrophically over never trying.
The idea for Speedhunters Live first came to mind after seeing the sterling turnout for Paddy’s display at the Irish Motor Festival. The internal drive to create was strong, and ideas of how to best transform Speedhunters from a bunch of ones and zeros floating in cyberspace to a real-life experience where fans and builders could interact swirled and evolved in my imagination for months.
Witnessing the great success that Dino, Blake, and Ron had in Japan rekindled a desire to pursue the plan, as scary as it seemed at the time. Seeing such positivity in how the attendees reacted to our shift from virtual to reality reaffirmed that an Australian Speedhunters Live needed to happen. Our Aussie fans deserved this, and our international friends deserved to see what Australian’s East Coast could showcase.
With absolutely no previous experience in organizing events, no real solid plan, and no idea for a venue that was both worthy and feasible within the city limits of overpriced Sydney, moving the plan along would require some outside-of-the-box thinking.
Late one night (and possibly after a scotch or two) a solution struck me: What if we partnered with Australia’s largest car show, Meguiar’s MotorEx? The more I stewed on the idea the more it made sense. This was an opportunity to not only bring our scene together, but also to unite with other fragments of the motoring community that traditionally don’t cross over.
But enough about how it happened, let’s focus on what turned out to be a kick-ass weekend.
It’s Show Time
Dino, Blake, and a motley crew of friends assembled with me shortly after the sun rose at Melbourne Showgrounds, ready to usher in a delicious selection of Australian metal. I vividly remember spending the second half of my time bumping in cars wondering how the f*ck we’d make them all fit in our limited real estate.
Somehow though, we made it work. And just in time, too.
Which was lucky, because I may have let a little OCD creep into the car positioning aspect. Every wheel and logo was set as perfectly as possible for each car; I guess old photography habits die hard.
With trophies on offer and wave after wave of enthusiastic photographers en route to the event, spending a little extra time positioning cars just felt like the right thing to do. Not only did we want every car to look its absolute best, but it was also important that as many budding photographers walked away happy with what they managed to capture on the day.
It wasn’t long after the final cars were locked into position that the gates to Meguiar’s MotorEx 2019 opened to the general public and the guests began rolling in.
Traditionally, the focus of MotorEx has been historic Australian and American muscle, customs and hot rods – older cars with an older crowd. Of course, I’m over-generalising a bit, but Speedhunters Live definitely brought a youthful injection to the show.
Typically, fans of Speedhunters hang around because they themselves are fans of automotive diversity. I knew the people we’d attract would love the insane quality on display within all zones of MotorEx.
What I was less keen to make a wager on was how our unique flair would be responded to by the regular MotorEx fans.
Not that I believed there’d be a commotion; I just thought many of the traditionalists may opt to walk around, rather than through the Speedhunters Live area.
Only hours into the show this fear vanished, with plenty of muscle-manics and hot-rodders spending plenty of time admiring what we had on offer.
Wherever I looked throughout the entire weekend, I was bombarded by massive smiles. I’m going to count this as a small victory in itself.
Bringing It All Together
Really though, what’s not to like? The people and machinery who’d turned up for Speedhunters Live to celebrate car culture with us were as diverse and eclectic as the cars we’ve spent the previous decade showcasing.
If it was modified, it was welcomed. Certainly, some builds resonated more or less with different groups of punters, but isn’t that the point of modifying?
Regardless of whether your heart skips a beat for kyusha, modern classics, or whether you prefer to travel at race-car-fast or low-car-slow, there was something to pique your interest amongst the 80-odd cars that attended.
On a personal note, how cool is it seeing actual race cars sharing space with their street-driven cousins? On display were three completely different ways to extract maximum speed out of Mazda’s FD3S RX-7 platform. Cliff Clayson’s mental BN Sports-kitted drift rig, Chris Exner’s immaculate Targa-inspired build, and Jason Dorrington’s carbon-clad time attack machine that looks more akin to a stealth fighter jet, all brought something unique to the Speedhunters Live table.
Along with Jason’s FD3S, the guys behind Victoria Time Attack turned up with a full contingent of circuit-spec weaponry, including Freddy’s Top Stage full carbon bodied Nissan Silvia S14.
Sure, racing is a way more visceral experience than hard parking, but it’s often difficult to get close enough to soak up the amazing small details and incredible fabrication work that transforms a comfortable street car into a four-wheeled rocket ship.
Talking about those details, an hour or more could be easily spent diving deep into Riverside Racing’s uncovered (and unfinished) Hyundai Excel sports sedan.
The humble Excel began life as a cheap and nasty Australian fleet econobox, a stark contrast to Liam Hill’s creation today. Now it sports a complete tube frame complete with an ex-V8 Supercar engine wedged up front.
Add some VIP style and a healthy dose of very tastefully modded Europeans.
A smattering of equally authentic and nostalgic JDM-inspired street drifters.
Some very interesting engine bays.
Traditional car show fare.
And of course a strong Japanese contingent. Now you’re getting the idea.
If diversity was the goal, I’m pretty sure we kicked the ball out of the park.
All of this on display was amplified by some really unique characters.
The positive vibes felt all weekend lead me to believe the massive crowd that constantly flowed through Speedhunters Live must have thought so too.
I wonder what sort of impact our scene and our show left on Blake who quite recently relocated to Melbourne, and also our international guest, Mr. Dino-san?
I can feel a discussion piece along with a list of trophies winners coming along very, very soon.
Until then, thank you to each and every one of you who entered a vehicle, visited the showgrounds, or followed our live show coverage on Instagram. Without you, we would have no purpose and no Speedhunters Live.