Burmah rally a forerunner to 2012's vintage drive
When the Wanganui vintage car enthusiasts hold their annual Burmah rally on Anniversary weekend, it will be extra special. The rally, and some events tying in with it, are the first tangible signs of the international vintage car rally that will be hosted by the city in January next year.
That holiday weekend will see the national executive of the Vintage Car Clubs of New Zealand meeting in the city as the countdown to the world rally continues.
Bruce Hutton, the international rally director, said the weekend would also see executives welcomed on to two local marae which will be visited by the hundreds of cars here for the two-week rally next year.
"On Sunday [January 23] we will be welcomed at Ratana Marae because the cars will visit the village at the same time as the annual Ratana celebrations," Mr Hutton said.
"And the next day the executive will be welcomed on to the Jerusalem marae, which will also be visited by the cars next year."
Mr Hutton said they had been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm local Maori had shown towards next year's rally.
They decided to hold the executive meeting in Wanganui because "things were picking up speed" before the international event.
"Things are shaping up very well in terms of the organisation."
Another key event happens on Saturday afternoon when "Bertie", the face of the international rally, is unveiled.
"Bertie's also the face of Napier's annual art deco weekend," he said.
Mr Hutton said the extra events were all planned to make the international rally more than a one-off event and something that could become a regular on Wanganui's calendar.
Ed Boyd, local enthusiast and a member of the international rally organising committee, said the Burmah rally (January 22) would also be a time to have a "dry run" with some other aspects of next year's rally.
"There's a dinner being organised on the Saturday night in one block of central Victoria Ave and that will see the cars parked on one side of the street and diners sitting down on their meal on the other side of the avenue," he said.
The dinner is being organised under the banner of the Lions Club of Wanganui, and the club has been given district council approval to close a 400m stretch of Victoria Ave from Guyton St to Ridgway St from 5-10pm on January 22.
Mr Boyd said every effort was being made to ensure the impact of the international rally would be lasting.
"We don't want it to be a one-off event. We certainly are working to make sure that we build on this in the future."