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Cars and crowd ignore rod run rain threat


Following the gala, Mangawhai Domain was host to another big summer drawcard, one with sleek curves, shiny bodies and grumbling engines.

The 15th annual Black Swamp Rod Run (BSRR) drew a large crowd of car enthusiasts and the curious to the classy line-up of more than 180 classic automobiles and hot rods including Roadsters, Camaros, Model T’s and Mustangs on January 3.

At 10.45am, the convoy revved their engines and headed out to Waipu via Cove Road, taking in the beautiful coastline scenery and entertaining the roadside audience along the way before heading back to a private residence on Black Swamp Road for an afternoon of music, dance, feasting and catching up with the latest in all things regarding classic cars.

Co-organiser Sandra Brunt ,who comes from a family of car enthusiasts, says the BSRR is not a club but a community event, offering a chance for the local community to chat to the car owners who come from ‘all walks of life’ and for the car lovers – who rally from Kaipara, Whangarei, Auckland and as far afield as Thames – to take their prized vehicles out for a run.

“We enjoy everyone coming down to the Domain, asking questions and being part of the Run,” she says. “It’s also nice to be with like-minded people and for the car owners to be able to catch up with people they see maybe only once a year.”

Starting with only 13 cars, ‘mainly family and friends’, for BSRR’s maiden convoy in 2007, the non-profit event has remained a family affair over the years with Brunt’s brother Phil Lathrope opening up his olive orchard home every year for the after-run party. Musician cousin Billy Hood entertains with his ‘Slick Back Rockabilly’ band along with rock ‘n’ roll dancing fans, and approximately 40 friends and relatives pitching in to help manage the day from set-up, clean-up and traffic control.

Spot prizes with gifts from Repco, VTNZ including warrant vouchers along with NZ Hot Rod mag and Petrol Head magazine subscriptions, were also part of the post-run party.

“We also normally do goodie bags but didn’t want to ask people to donate goods after the hardship of this year with Covid – didn’t feel right.”

The event also benefits Kaipara with $400 of gold-coin donations going to Otamatea High School and Paparoa Lions collecting funds via proceeds from their food truck which served at the Domain and the after-run party. A few members of Mangawhai Heads Volunteer Lifesaving Service were also on hand keeping a watchful eye on swimmers while they cooled off in the Black Swamp pond.

Brunt says she has enjoyed watching BSRR develop from its humble beginnings and was ‘extremely happy’ with the numbers of people who attended this year, especially with the possible threat of rain and thunder ‘as some owners don’t like to take their cars out in the wet’.

“The Run is well-received by the community, it is always cool to see loads of people along the route to Waipu sitting under trees or set themselves up on bean bags or chairs to watch and wave as the cars go by,” she says. “One regular who has only missed the event three times, told me she looks forward to the Run the same way other people look forward to Christmas, for her it is Christmas Day, which is great.”

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Chris Westlake takes a group of excited kids for a blat around the grounds in his mini-ute, a regular in the nationwide ‘Pork-Pie Charity Run’ which raises funds for Starship Hospital, Leukaemia & Blood Cancer NZ, and KidsCan.



Dressed to compliment her 1952 Chev, Wellsford’s Debbie Stevenson is a regular driver at the event with friend Alisha Hausin from Waitakere, attending for the first time.



Aaron Ellis-Smith and Rachael Elliot’s stunning matt-finish 1938 Studebaker.


34 Ford pic

The Rod Run also takes in some of the areas beautiful coastline. PHOTO/ALISTAIR MORROW

Picnic pic

Classic car owners settle in for a social afternoon at the olive grove, a great way to end the event. PHOTO/CATHERINE REID

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