I recall going to early versions of the iconic Council of Motor Clubs display day when it was at much-loved Warwick Farm. As I recall it was mainly pre-war and early post-war cars at that stage, with picnic baskets in abundance on the rolling lawns. What hasn’t changed is the variety and the opportunity to see cars you would literally see nowhere else.
Originally formed in 1963 as the Council of Veteran, Vintage and Thoroughbred Motor Clubs or CVVTMC, the struggle to properly recall the name in either full or abbreviated form led to the annual display day often being referred to as ‘alphabet day’. The first Eastern Creek iteration was back in 1992, with the renaming of the overarching organisation to Council of Motor Clubs in 2000 a blessed relief to all.
Shannons is everywhere in the classic and enthusiasts motoring world and is a long-term supporter of the CMC and the Shannons Sydney Classic display day, at what is now called Sydney Motorsport Park. Both Shannons and the CMC are great supporters of Australian Motor Heritage Foundation (AMHF).
The big event had been cancelled the two previous years due to the COVID pandemic and there was a real buzz around being finally able to run it again on the 14th August 2022. It was a huge day with some 1600+ vehicles on display on both sides of the circuit and some 5000 people in attendance. The CMC provided the great opportunity for AMHF to open its doors to enthusiasts to see what we do, to sell duplicate books, magazines, and programs and to sign up new members.
There was also the idea of having a jazz band playing to the masses from the balcony of the AMHF building. This was translated into the more practical arrangement of the Sydney Zenith Jazz Band, as it turned out, playing from a gazebo kindly provided by ARDC on the grass just in front of the AMHF building.
It was the first time AMHF had attempted anything like this, and it was hard to know how it would pan out. A special bonus was the presence of one of our AMHF Ambassadors, Spencer Martin selling copies of his book from a small table just outside our building, while effortlessly adding loads of cachet and charisma as usual.
So how did it go then? A bunch of us were already out there before 7:00am when the gates officially opened for display vehicles to enter. There were lots of putting up of gazebos, putting out of tables and chairs, erecting banners, and displaying the duplicate books, magazines and programmess that were available for sale. Garen Manoukian one of our volunteers deserves special mention for bringing tools and other equipment and efficiently using them to sort out securing our banners, setting up power cabling etc. etc. Phil Whitton was also at the forefront with very police-like bunting to put across the doorways to the various rooms in our building to keep the touring visitors at arms-length to the collection. (Phil also had a long and friendly chat about various technical aspects of bikes to the motorcycle policeman stationed at the roundabout just outside the entrance gate, likely saving several unaware motorists from getting speeding fines down the 60km/hr Brabham Drive in the process!!)
We had already anticipated that the major task for our volunteers would be talking to people, explaining what we are about and showing them through the building. We were right and soon there was a steady supply of curious ‘punters’, also attracted by the great tunes played by the Zenith Jazz Band. Our Volunteers soon settled into a routine of asking people who approached if they knew about AMHF and offering tours of the premises.
Most expressed a keen interest and took up the offer of a stroll through the building. Inevitably some strong connections were made with clubs and individuals. It was also heartening to see most people readily understood what we are on about and the value of what we are doing. There were several welcome offers to donate books, magazines and other materials to our ever-expanding archive.
The Sydney Zenith Jazz Band fitted in perfectly with the ambience of the day and the AMHF. They were polished, professional musicians and played at a volume that was just right for the setting.
Was it a success? The answer must be a resounding ‘yes’. A lot of the effort was about continuing to put AMHF on the enthusiast’s map as a known and trusted resource, a hub of the historic motoring movement. Just ‘being there’ was important given the exposure to and the interest of so many motoring clubs and individuals. It was also important in continuing to build our relationship with our Partners, the CMC, Shannons, ARDC and the HSRCA, which had a display on the other side of the circuit and with the Clubs themselves. It was also really good just in terms of person-to-person connections and likely in ways which will only play out over time.
A big ‘thank you’ to all our Volunteers and friends of AMHF who helped on the day and leading up to it and to the Zenith Jazz Band. We look forward to building our connections with and supporting the Clubs and to next year’s event.
John Murn and Peter Eppel