Beaulieu’s ever popular Custom & Hot Rod Festival, held on Father’s Day, saw hundreds of colourful customs and stunning hot rods flood into the picturesque parkland of the National Motor Museum for a day of family friendly fun. The Festival, held in association with Victory Wheelers, the South Coast’s leading Custom, American and Hot Rod club, welcomed 7,320 visitors and whilst the sky was slightly overcast, the weather remained dry and the temperature pleasantly warm.
A large variety of custom cars and motorcycles were on display, with plenty of unusual designs and eye-catching artwork for visitors to admire and a number of trade stands were open for business, selling clothing, Americana memorabilia, merchandise and accessories.
Throughout the day, an array of lively musical performances kept the crowds entertained, with sets from rockabilly band, Ace Trio and 1950s-style singing duo, The Diamonds. Mexican band, Mariachi el Mexicano, were also strolling through the parkland, serenading visitors wherever they walked.
This year, three dragsters formed a special display in a corner of the Beaulieu Arena. The Ratcatcher Resurrection slingshot dragster and Joe Bond’s Nuthin Fancy fuel-altered dragster both fired up for watching visitors, showing off the powerful force of their engines, in morning and afternoon demonstrations. Europe’s first dragster, Sydney Allard’s 1961 Allard Chrysler, which was officially returned to the National Motor Museum at last year’s Festival, following extensive renovation, was also on display.
Visitors also enjoyed free dodgem rides as well as an opportunity to see all Beaulieu’s other attractions, including the National Motor Museum and its two exciting new displays – For Britain & For The Hell Of It, telling the story of British Land Speed Record achievement in a moving multimedia presentation, and The Motorcycle Story, exploring the history of two-wheeled transport with displays of motorcycles and memorabilia covering a variety of racing disciplines, British youth culture of the 1950s and 60s and the Ace Cafe scene. It was a perfect setting for families celebrating Father’s Day with plenty for everyone to enjoy whatever their age.
In the afternoon awards presentation ceremony, attended by Lord Montagu, prizes were presented to each of the winners in the five awards categories. Andy Lee from Verwood won Best Custom with his striking purple Jaguar MK8, Sven Larsen from Bournemouth took Best American with his 1950 Nash, Alan Ford from Surrey was awarded Best Hot Rod for his 1948 Ford F1 pick-up and George Webb from Cowes, Isle of Wight, picked up Best Bike for his Reliant engined trike.
Throughout the day, visitors voted for their favourite vehicle in the People’s Choice category. The award – a special trophy sponsored by Willydog Hotdogs – went to Teri Smith from Mudeford with his beautiful cream 1950 Mercury Lead Sled – which has previously won Best In Show at the 2012 Custom & Hot Rod Festival and the People’s Choice Award at Beaulieu’s Simply American the same year. Beaulieu’s Managing Director, Russell Bowman, also presented a delighted Teri with a cheque for £100 as part of his prize and all the winners each received a pack of Autoglym car cleaning products.
Victory Wheelers also held a ceremony for its members, presenting Trevor Walker, who has been with the club for over 25 years, with the Big Al Award, given in memory of one of the club’s former chairmen, Alan Partridge. The Spirit of the Club trophy was awarded to Maria and Dennis Saunders, for their eye-catching green 1934 Ford and for all their hard work for the club throughout the year.
The Sunday show was part of a whole weekend of fun activities for custom and hot rod vehicle owners and enthusiasts, which included camping from Friday night through to Sunday, evening musical entertainment and food, plus a ride-out on Saturday through the Forest from Beaulieu to the Old Mill Inn, Holbury and back again.
The event is set to return to Beaulieu again next year on Father’s Day, Sunday 21 June 2015. More information will be available at www.beaulieucustomfestival.co.uk nearer the time and you can join the conversation with @Beaulieu_Hants on Twitter using #customfestival.