Written by Kerrie Alexander
It was 16 years ago that about 10 car enthusiasts came together to host what is now one of the most highly anticipated events on motoring enthusiasts’ calendar and not just in Hervey Bay, but around Australia.
The Wide Bay Rodders Car Club members have worked hard to make the annual May in the Wide Bay Cruise and Show and Shine one of the most iconic motoring events in Queensland.
With 550 magnificent cars and about 30 motor bikes turning out for the three-day weekend in early May, I believe they have done just that!
President Allen White said one of the highlights of the event is seeing the public turn out in droves to embrace the car community with thousands of people “elbow to elbow”, lining the Esplanade from Urangan to Pialba for the cruise on Saturday.
Everything from V8 muscle cars to Lamborghinis are proudly driven by their owners while the crowds show their appreciation with cheers and waves from the street and the Bay’s Esplanades packed pubs and cafes.
A further 4000 people turned out this year for the Show and Shine on the Sunday where all the cars lined the grounds at the Fraser Coast Sports Precinct.
“It’s just so great to see,” Allen said.
“There are millions upon millions of dollars’ worth of cars that show up for this event.
“The Wide Bay region has the most toys per head of population than anywhere in Australia and that is backed up by statistics from Shannon’s Insurance.
“There’s was one guy who brought out his Ferrari, Lamborghini and Aston Martin… and that’s just one bloke!
“It’s just so great to see people come out and show their support.”
However, it’s not just the car enthusiasts who reap all the benefits of the show.
What most don’t realise is that the entry fee at the gate of the show and shine goes back to five local charities who will this year receive a share of a massive $30,000 raised by the club.
While the charities names remain a surprise until the presentation later in June, I can say that the club has chosen some extremely worthy causes that will benefit the whole Fraser Coast community.
“We only focus on local charities so the CEOs that are on $150,000 don’t get it… we don’t give to those ones.
“We give to the true hardcore locals that we know will distribute these funds to the right place, so it’s felt by other locals.
“When you hand the money over to these people that aren’t expecting it and tears run down their face, you can’t beat that.
“It changes what they are doing straight away, and you know the money is going to where it needs to be.
“It makes all the hard work worthwhile.”
There’s also the economic factor of the event with a huge amount of money injected back into the community through hotels stays, eating out, buying car parts and visiting the local shops.
The Ingenia Caravan Park in Urangan is home to over 400 members from Car Clubs from all over Queensland during the event with Wide Bay Rodders providing breakfast lunch and dinner from Friday to Monday, except for Saturday night.
Allen said that’s when the club sends the crowd out to local venues for a meal.
“Most of the guys who come here have been to Rockynats first at Easter then come here and stay for two to three weeks, not just two to three days.
“We don’t feed them on Saturday night so everyone goes out to local venues to eat and that’s our way of giving back to the community.
“The whole thing is just huge.”
While the May in the Wide Bay event will always be on the Fraser Coast’s event calendar, Allen would love to see the Fraser Coast Regional Council embrace more opportunities for local car enthusiasts, young and old, by backing plans for a Wide Bay Motor Complex in Maryborough.
WBMC Inc has a 30-year lease over a site on the Maryborough-Cooloola Coast Road and are focusing our efforts towards developing a facility which will hopefully include a Drag strip and Circuit incorporating driver training facilities as well as some smaller components such as Jet Sprint Boats, and a 4×4 course.
They just need the funding to bring the project to fruition.
“Because a lot of people living in the region have got the toys and have the passion, something like this would just give them somewhere to vent and get amongst people with the same interest.
“We have a hang night on the second Friday of the month, and we get about 100 people just to that.
“We’re doing our part in giving somewhere for the people that do have an interest to show their cars, but we need to go that one step further.”
Allen said having the complex would also inject money back into local businesses.
“It’s a sport that needs to be embraced and that would trickle back to local businesses like tyre places, mechanics, pop up race car builders.
“There’s a guy in our club in his late 70s with a mustang with a 800 horsepower but there’s nowhere for him to use it.
“People want to get in and give them a good run. You need to open their legs every now and again and blow out the cobwebs.”
To find out more about the Wide Bay Rodders find them on Facebook under Wide Bay Rodders Inc Custom Car Club.
To find out more about the Wide Bay Motor Complex visit widebaymotorcomplex.com.