A FUNNY THING HAPPENED AT TAUPO
when it all started to get messy. Really messy. Someone else went and got a spoon from the kitchen and smeared a bit of margarine over the first table, and — as I’m sure you can very well imagine — that acted like fitting a 14-71 supercharger to a lethargic post-emissions 454 Chev engine. The guys now shot across the first lubricated table like a bullet, so it was only a matter of minutes before a big spatula came out and a thick layer of slippery, slimy margarine was being smeared across all of the five tables. With their new-found speed, five tables stretched into 10 tables, and while some guys got their aim right and resembled a low-flying rocket, others didn’t line themselves up so well on their approach and slid off the tables, crashing heavily into the adjacent chairs. After the chairs were moved out of the way, things improved even further, but not everyone got it right. One guy, my old mate Rod Sklenars (who was always a starter for a bit of fun like this), cocked up his approach. But, rather than sliding off course onto the ground, he skewed off to the left very early during his high-speed slide and slammed shoulder-first into one of the heavy aluminium support pylons that was being used to hold up the roof of the marquee. Poor old Rod ended up at the Wanganui Hospital when he got home, diagnosed with a broken collarbone. By now, there were dozens of ‘entrants’, and some of the guys had so much speed on that they were thumping into the vinyl wall of the marquee. Upon spotting this, a couple of the guys snuck around the outside of the marquee and undid a section of wall, so that, as the faster sliders came shooting along the tables and were about to hit the wall, the guys outside would quickly lift the wall section, and the table-slider would fire out of the marquee into the cold black night and land in a heap on the ground, the marquee wall immediately closing up again in wait for its next victim. Inevitably, someone had an ugly landing that resulted in another injury, so the tent wall was closed back up properly so that there were no more disappearing acts by the more long-distance table-sliders. By around 3am, things were going strong, and, among all of the stupid ideas getting bandied about, someone thought that, given that the Street Rod Nationals was an NZHRA event and that all ‘speed events’ have to be specifically sanctioned (for insurance purposes), we should ring the NZHRA to apply for sanctioning. You can see how this was going to go, right? “Let’s ring the NZHRA secretary for sanctioning!” someone said. “Don’t be a wanker, mate. You can’t sanction table-sliding,” came a response. “That shouldn’t stop us from trying,” someone else said. “It’s three o’clock in the f***ing morning, you twat,” said another. “That doesn’t matter,” still another chipped in. And then someone offered up, “I know the secretary’s home phone number.” So that was pretty much that. Cell phones had arrived by ’93 (although still looking like bricks), someone had the secretary’s number, and so the call was made. Considering the circumstances — being woken up by a group of drunken hot rodders at three in the morning to be asked the ridiculous — the secretary took it pretty well. So, that was my one experience of the inexact and unsafe art of margarine-lubricated high-speed table-sliding. I guess it sounds pretty stupid, and maybe it’s one of those things for which you had to be there — but I thought it was bloody funny at the time. I hope that there are a few guys around the country reading this who can remember that night!