Disappointment as Felixstowe loses popular annual custom car and hot rod rally

The hot rods and custom cars rally at Felixstowe. Picture: GARRY CATCHPOLE

The hot rods and custom cars rally at Felixstowe. Picture: GARRY CATCHPOLE - Credit: citizenside.com

Visitors to the resort will miss out on one of its best-loved and biggest events this year – after the attraction decided to relocate to another part of the country.

Those magnificent men and women and their driving machines - visitors loved the display on the prom.

Those magnificent men and women and their driving machines - visitors loved the display on the prom. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT - Credit: Archant

The loss of the annual late summer Bank Holiday custom car rally is a blow for Felixstowe as the event attracted thousands of people to enjoy the seaside.

The car cruise to the coast was part of the National Association of Street Clubs’ (NASC) Street Rod Nationals event.

Owners of the cars, a dazzling display of dizzying designs and an outrageous assortment of vehicles, camped at Trinity Park, the Suffolk Showground, for the weekend for the event, but Paul Hurley, NASC committee chairman, said this year they had not been able to agree a deal with the venue.

However, Trinity Park said it had been informed in January, just eight months before the event was due to take place, that it was relocating to Rutland Showground.

The hot rods and custom cars rally at Felixstowe. Picture: GARRY CATCHPOLE

The hot rods and custom cars rally at Felixstowe. Picture: GARRY CATCHPOLE - Credit: citizenside.com

A spokeswoman said: “As far as Trinity Park are concerned, location is what the new chairman felt the move was best for the show, no negotiations were made and no contact was made to try to make the event happen at the Suffolk Showground.

“The new chairman wanted to move the event more central in the country and as attendance has dropped over the last couple of years, a move was the decision.

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“There have been no price increases and since 2015 the venue hire has actually decreased by 7% to assist with the organisers’ profit margin due to the drop in attendees for the event.

“For 13 years Trinity park have worked hard on this event with its organisers to make it the great success which it has been.

“This was a big show for the showground and as the event has always been given first refusal on the bank holiday – this year it has left little time to replace it with something else.”

Mr Hurley revealed that even if the Street Rod Nationals had stayed at Trinity Park the car run to Felixstowe would have been scrapped.

He said: “For many years I have been concerned about the Saturday run out to Felixstowe – it was providing a free show for people and that meant that we had less people come to our Show ‘n’ Shine event at Trinity Park on the Sunday.

“It was nice for the public but it had an impact on our main event and a loss of revenue.

“I had been concerned for sometime and as the new chairman, had we stayed at Trinity Park, I would have brought it to an end. We would have still had a run our somewhere but not to do a free show at the seaside.”

Mr Hurley said the event had enjoyed its 13 years at Trinity Park and it was a shame to move but terms could not be agreed to continue. The weekend had always been attended by thousands of enthusiasts, camping at the showground and enjoying a range of events and live music, as well as the car cruise and Show ‘n’ Shine.

Around 200 cars took part in the rally at Felixstowe, with the throbbing of high-powered engines and outlandish colours of the gleaming and spectacular custom cars and hot rods attracting large crowds to the prom.

Owners stayed to chat to enthusiasts about their pride and joy, and the restoration work lovingly undertaken. Vehicles on show included American and English cars given an individual makeover which retained the classic lines of the 1950s and 60s with modern stylish additions.

Helen Greengrass, Felixstowe Forward change director, said it was disappointing to lose the rally and her team had looked to see if the Street Rod Nationals could be accommodated at the resort but there was not a space large enough. The town still had a wide programme of summer events for visitors to enjoy.

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