It happens to all events sooner or later, even the most popular ones, and this time it was the Hot Rod Hayride’s turn. As usual, anticipation builds throughout the year, regular participants recall the good times had in years before, and look forward to the next dose of fun, while first timers wonder what all the fuss is about but are keen to see for themselves. Then, just as the weekend rolls around, the weatherman on TV starts putting out a downer.
We’ve had heavy summer rain in late July before at the Hayride, one year turning the normally dusty dirt track into an entertaining mud oval. This year, however, the British weather surpassed itself, dumping a month’s worth of wet stuff on Bisley on Friday, the day most people arrive and set up camp. Remember, we don’t use motels much over here for rod runs; most people camp onsite in tents. But we British are a stoic lot, and once set up, there was really only one option as the rain came down: head to the bar and drown our sorrows. Except we weren’t going to let a downpour spoil our weekend, oh no! Instead it was “keep calm and have another pint!”
Saturday dawned dry and we were able to grab a few pictures, and it was apparent that this year there were fewer early hot rods in attendance compared with later ‘50s cars and trucks. While this could have been a symptom of the weather, Anna Porter, one of the organisers, suggested that while the Hayride was the principal event here for traditional pre-‘49 rods a few years back, it now competes for attendance with the beach races at Pendine a few weeks earlier, and Gow! afterwards, both popular driving events. The Hayride however does provide a range of side attractions apart from the cars, including some great live music indoors, so it still remains a cool and unique event for participants, most of whom that we spoke to were still having a good time.
Unfortunately, Sunday’s weather repeated the Friday downpour, and most folk had packed up and departed by lunchtime, thus ending Hayride 11 early, with even the usually popular Soap Box Derby cancelled this year.
Like we said before, it happens to all events sometime so let’s put 2015 behind us and look forward to the last weekend of July 2016. Tickets are on sale now at www.hotrodhayride.com. We’ll be there, will you?
Words: Keith Harman, Photos: Keith Harman & Frederic Sougnoux