Street Machine - - Running Start -

Grab a map of Oz and Co­bar sits on the red dirt of out­back NSW, about mid-way between Ade­laide and Bris­bane. Syd­ney and Mel­bourne are a de­cent day’s drive away, too, so the ROE Fes­ti­val is a rip­per rea­son for a long-haul cruise.

Street Ma­chine’s Scotty, Paul and the pho­tog­ra­phers cruised here in the just­com­pleted Car­nage Dodge Phoenix. My mates Brad, Joe, James and Lyn­ton have spent two re­lax­ing days driv­ing up from Ade­laide, lux­u­ri­at­ing in the V8 rum­ble of their red SL/R 5000 and blue GT replica, overnight­ing at the iconic Sil­ver­ton Ho­tel west of Bro­ken Hill, right in the mid­dle of Mad Max coun­try! For the peo­ple I’m camped be­side in the Co­bar car­a­van park, the ROE Fes­ti­val has made a per­fect book­end to their ter­rific week-long cruise that be­gan with the HK-HT-HG Holden Na­tion­als in SA the pre­vi­ous week­end. I was sup­posed to be swag­ging in my shed-find Com­modore wagon, but en­gine prob­lems meant it had to stay home. Still, even in some­thing late-model-white bor­ing, my eight-hour drive un­der a big sky was good for the soul.

As the sun sets, the Dodge and the Chev – and plenty of oth­ers – do a few laps as peo­ple ar­rive. While those two are un­doubt­edly the he­roes, it’s great see the ef­fort that peo­ple have put into repli­cas of other cars from the film, too – The Gaz­zard boys’ EK Holden; the RAM­MER 1950s Chev; even the blue XB Fal­con cop car from the movie has a cou­ple of trib­utes cruis­ing in Co­bar.

But al­though there is a good crew of Holden HK-T-G cruis­ers in town, we don’t see one yel­low early Monaro like the one in the film. Maybe it’s be­cause that car came to a fiery demise in the movie’s open­ing scenes when its “he’s just a bad loser” driver crashed and burned after be­ing de­feated by Fox.

Fri­day night is drive-in movie night. Guess what we watch? Yep, Run­ning On Empty on a (not so) big screen at the lo­cal sports ground. Up the back are dozens of cars, drive-in style, with plenty of space for pic­nic blan­kets on the grass down the front.

The Rebel’s Garage site used in the movie is at Can­belego, about 45 kays out of town, so that’s the des­ti­na­tion for a cruise on Satur­day morn­ing. After pics are taken at the huge ‘Co­bar’ sign at the east end of town, our kilo­me­tres-long con­voy of cars con­tin­ues on.

The build­ing used as the out­back servo in the movie has un­for­tu­nately been de­mol­ished, but the Co­bar Men’s Shed mob have set up a tribute, com­plete with old-style fuel bowsers, of­fer­ing a bright and breezy back­drop for some mem­o­ries from some of the film’s stars, and, later, a stack of pics of peo­ple with their cars.

After that, it’s back into town for an all-makes show ’n’ shine just off the main street and more laid­back cruis­ing all af­ter­noon.

What a rip­per week­end: wide open spa­ces un­der a big sky, and three great pubs and a cou­ple of ter­rific clubs to eat and drink in. Let’s hope co-or­gan­is­ers Ben and John (see break­out, p78) and their loyal Co­bar lo­cals can sort out an­other cruisy week­end in the spirit of the Run­ning On Empty Fes­ti­val.

BELOW: An­thony Pat­ter­son (right) brought his ’57 Chev from the NSW mid-north-coast town of Kempsey. “I’ve been a petrolhead all my life,” he ad­mits. “I saw the movie back when it came out – I think I’d just left high school. Of course, I could never af­ford a ’57 Chev two-door un­til later in life, but I bought this about 10 years ago from an Amer­i­can im­porter.” It runs a 700hp blown 408cu­ber, ’Glide and 9in. “I’ve had some faster cars – but this is the tough­est!” he says with a laugh. He’s chat­ting to Ted King who helped with the Run­ning On Empty stunts

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