RACING LEGEND: Former 82-year-old Whakatane man Bill Ward, the first Kiwi to take a car he built to Utah’s Bonneville salt lake and lead singer and guitarist of the Bonneville Band, entertains the crowd. Photos Mandy Hague D9291-26

MEMBERS of Whakatane Rod and Custom Car Club showed they still know how to tear it up at their 50th anniversary bash in Onepu last weekend.

“We know how to party,” says club president Pete Tyrrell. He says there was an even bigger turn out than they had expected, well over 500 people, and the event had gone off “without a hitch”.

“I had a 92-year-old gentleman ring me up who’s been hot rodding for close to 68 years and he reckons its the best event he’s ever been to. I would have had a dozen phone calls from old timers with the same answer.

“We inducted three new life members – hot rodders of distiction – to our club, Paul Sattler, Bruce Taylor from Tauranga and Michael Wells, who joined the club when he was 14 years old.

“We also had 700 motorbikes from Maketu Gentlemans’ Club turn up for their mystery run.

They had a poker run and they called in at that venue to pick up a card. They stayed there for about an hour and a half and it looked mighty impressive, 700 Harley Davidsons leaving.

Pete says the event took two years of planning by the club’s 35 members. “It’s a very small, staunch club,” he says. “There’s four members who live in Tauranga but are still members, because that club is special.

A dozen visitors from the United States and 29 ex-pat members from Australia were among the guests. “One founding member flew back from Perth especially for it. His name is Smell Bell. We’re a club of nicknames and to tell you the truth I don’t know his real name.”