Lobbing Sand in Wales - The Pendine Sands Hot Rod Races

Words: Scott Blackburn  Images: Maisie Walker 

Composed to: Prophets of Rage - Prophets of Rage

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Hot rods originally came about in the 1920s as a testament to the American determination to drink no matter what Congress said, with bootleggers modifying their booze-running cars to outrun the police. Come the 1930s and Californians had the brilliant idea to start racing them on dried lake beds. Ever since hot rod culture and racing has held on as a stunning display of creativity, mechanical ability and a love of speed. Six years in the running the Hot Rod Races at Pendine Sands in Wales are a ruggedly vintage example of this.

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This year, from the 30th June to the 1st July, was no exception with a huge array of  hot rod owners hurling their vintage machines across the sand at 100 odd miles an hour in a blur of white-walls and noise. The event has been growing year on year despite the organisers' original scepticism about its longevity. This has all been achieved without losing the small scale feel that a hot rod event should have. With expansion in mind however all of this year's scrutineering was confined to the Friday, with a scrutineer's marquee set up to emulate a working garage and give the process a little more ceremony.

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All this allowed for more racing on the Saturday with track being set up earlier and the weather being just as hot as it had promised. After a morning of blisteringly beautiful runs the racing had to be called to a halt half way through due to the beach surface becoming too dry, causing a few wobbly runs and in one case a dramatic spin with the driver crossing the line backwards.

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Sunday started with a later tide and better race conditions on the sand. The second day turned out to be just as impressive as the first with the modified machines breaking the 100 mph mark and fighting over who could push it furthest. In the end the fastest time was placed by Matt Farrant, hitting 118.08 mph and beating the second place, David Sollis, by just 1.5 mph. This is the third time Farrant has placed the fastest time in his 1929 Ford Model A Roadster Pickup, or 'Uncle John' with its small-block Chevvy engine.

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The trip over to the Sands is definitely worth it for anyone with a love for beautifully crude straight line speed and amazingly preserved and adapted old machines. The event is growing happily year by year and like so many of the events Ferrous has covered this year is a sign of the comfortingly growing interest in automotive tinkering and preservation.