Auto Event: Big Al's Poker Run // Perth, Australia

Big Al’s Poker Run? Does that conjure up images of a night on ‘The Strip’ in Las Vegas in the 1940s, or perhaps a Gentleman’s interstate casino hopping jaunt? Well you would be wrong on both accounts. Big Al’s Poker Run is actually one of Perth’s biggest car events for pre-1948 hot rods, pre-1978 custom cars, trucks, pick-ups and classic and special interest vehicles.

Established in 1981 by Al Erdman and Eric Warren and held on the second Saturday in February every year since, Big Al’s Poker Run was held for the 36th time in 2016. Initially focusing on Hot Rods and cars of US origin with 52 participants in its first year, it has grown to incorporate cars of other origin and marques, all being well represented with now up to 600 cars participating each year.

Nine months of planning, interaction with various government departments and ninety volunteers on hand, Big Al’s Poker Run 2016 was held at Perry Lakes Reserve in the leafy Western suburbs of Perth, close to where the stadium for the 1962 Commonwealth Games once stood and the sounds of the Rolling Stones Voodoo Lounge tour rang out in 1995. Sweet sounds of a different kind rang throughout the day in Floreat this year.

The format for the event in 2016 started with a show and shine which kicked off early morning for some participants with a breakfast, along with this year’s vintage markets, food stalls, a fashion parade, pinstriping demonstrations and some great rockabilly music courtesy of The Roadmasters.

Momentum built throughout the day with hot rods, muscle cars, customs, bikes and car clubs continuing through the entrance until mid-afternoon. Some participants drove from Western Australian country towns to attend. Most of the day was spent socialising, catching up with friends, looking at cars and even dancing. This year the weather was mild and Perth’s sea breeze was in early. Thank goodness for the ‘Fremantle doctor’!

The cruise portion of the event kicked off at 4.00pm and that was when ‘the poker run’ actually took place. Participants received a playing card upon leaving Perry Lakes Reserve and were given instructions on how to find four other checkpoint to collect the remaining four cards to make up a five card hand. Each card was recorded against an entrant’s number by the army of Big Al’s Volunteers, so no ‘beating the house’ here...

For the following two hours the northern suburbs of Perth were awash with the sights and sounds of hot rods, US and Aussie muscle and classics from yesteryear. The event finished at the large Kingsway Reserve sporting complex in Madeley with car judging, a BBQ, drinks and more socialising. What a great way to spend a summer day in Perth with family and friends. Part proceeds from the day were donated to charity with $10,000 being given to ‘Uni Camp for Kids’ in 2016.

So if you happen to be in Perth early in 2017, plan ahead, book in the 11th February and come join the fun.