The 4 & Rotary Nationals has a new home, but the party is still as good as ever
For as long as most of us will be able to remember, the 4&Rotary Nationals show and shine has taken place at the ASB Showgrounds in Auckland, closely followed by a day of drag racing at Meremere. It had been that way for the past couple of decades, with the addition of a track day thrown into the mix two years ago. So, while we’d all consider that to be the status quo, sometimes you have to shake things up in order to create a little energy, and when the show’s shift to Hamilton’s Claudelands Event Centre was announced in 2019, it certainly did that. The question on everyone’s lips, including our own, was would the show still have that special ‘Nats’ vibe about it? The short answer is: yes!
In case you’ve missed it, the event (as well as Jamboree) had been on-sold to Alan and Pare Togia, the team behind events like Autofest and Summer Jam. So it should come as no surprise that there were new ideas and changes for the 2020 showing. One of the biggest changes to the judging format was the introduction of the Final Four. Arriving at the show on Saturday morning, the top four cars, as per the judging which takes place the night before, had flags displaying the fact they’d been judged one of the top dogs in attendance, as opposed to everyone having to wait until prize giving to see who walked away with the brass. The final four for 2020 consisted of Tony Hill’s GTAE Mazda Familia, Paul Gibson’s BATMAN Ford Anglia, newcomer Michael Browne’s Ford Courier, and Bevan Aymes’ standout Mazda RX-2, which would later be announced as the top car overall.
Another big change was limiting the number of cars each club could bring to only ten, with the intention of lifting the level of cars on display. For big clubs like NZFC this posed a problem when it came to which cars would make the cut. Club president Bhavish put the vote to the club members as to what cars they’d display, which also put the squeeze on the likes of Shoneel (this month’s cover car owner) to finally complete his build. It paid off, with the boys taking home Best Presented Club, although Untamed would edge them out for Top Club.
It was, of course, not all about the show cars. Alan, who also happens to own a concrete company, had his team pour a brand new burnout pad in preparation, which a handful of drifters and dedicated skid machines christened with more than a few popped sets of rubber. Elsewhere in the venue, Team Cream, CJC, Midnight Shifters, and Rota Mayhem took hammers and grinders to four down-and-out beaters in the Interclub challenge. The goal was to build a burnout machine for a showdown on Sunday at Meremere. The eventual winner was CJC, who pulled out all the stops, not only completing an engine swap, but also turbocharging the new D15 in the process. To top it off, their Integra also received a Spoon-inspired livery.
Messing with anything classic can be risky business, so making changes to something that is an institution is always going to be risky. But the Downtime team pulled it off, and it is safe to say that the Nationals has a new home. So when 2021 arrives, book yourself some Hamilton accommodation because it’s going to be one not to miss.