Rain Or Shine | The 2019 Rattle Trap


Words & Photography Chris Cooper

Crowdy Head on the New South Wales mid-north coast was awoken from its winter slumber this past May with the third annual beach invasion. The Rattle Trap was back…

Driving into the small township of Harrington, only a short 5min drive from the hallowed beach, anxious excitement grew as the main street started to remind you of the good times of previous years. Passing the Barons C.C. clubhouse opposite the Harrington Caravan park excelled the excitement levels.


With Matt Finks’ recently completed Chopped 48’ Ford Coupe power-parked out front along with a plethora of period correct hot rods in the front yard, it was a real-life little pages diorama. A few ales and jalapeño poppers later, long tales of years gone were passed around the smouldering treated pine until a reasonable hour of the following morning.

Waking up earlier than expected, it was with either thunder from a hangover, or mother nature had wet her pants. After a few phone calls and stalking the Drag-Ens facebook page for any news of a cancellation, it was obvious that the day ahead was for the hardcore. “Rain, Hail, Seaweed or Shine, we’re racing".


Driving past the epic beach front on my way to the Barons HQ, the weather couldn’t deter spectators with car parks and nature strips already full of eagerly awaiting patrons. After some well-deserved procrastination and some morning banter, the Barons started to pile up and roll out down to the Beach. “Well, once you’re wet, you can’t get any wetter, right?” mentioned Paul Mortimer before taking his 327 powered 32 roadster down to the staging area in less than desirable conditions.

Rolling into the staging area, the atmosphere was restrained compared to previous years, but let's not cry over spilt milk here. Drivers and spectators alike made do with makeshift ponchos and any awning they could find or muster up to keep the elements at bay.

Pedalling the clutch down the narrow goat track onto the beach led to a biblical sight. Moses had come down and parted the red sea. Seaweed had made its home in Crowdy Head bay for the weekend, turning the sea into a murky red wine like soup, resulting in the beach to resemble a war zone with debris all over the finishing line, to which the drivers were more than happy to lend a helping hand in clean-up duties alongside the Drag-Ens crew.

“Well, once you’re wet, you can’t get any wetter, right?”

The weather hadn’t deterred the drivers either. Coming from all parts of this great southern land, mother nature was not going to put a stop to this one day, once a year event. With more entrants than previous years, it was quite obvious the Drag-ens had their jobs cut out for them choosing a solid contingent of period correct bikes, hot rods and speedsters.

At 11:30 am, the tide clock began ticking and drivers took note, some more so than others by completely destroying gearboxes amongst other components.


When the natural elements really pushed the boundaries at around 1 pm, entrants wiped their goggles, picked seaweed from their teeth and pushed the throttle harder.

Bets were on that the sun would come out once the last race was done and dusted and sure enough, as Gavin Starr-Thomas lined up his Willys powered belly tanker for the last jaunt down the hallowed beach, ol’ mother nature snuck in a smile. The clouds parted and the glorious sub-tropical sunshine came bellowing down. A much-welcomed relief to the Queensland crew.


For guys like Paul Mortimer, the Rattle Trap has become the go-to hot rod event of the year. When you hear statements like that and stories of Johnny Formosa completely losing track of time halfway down the strip behind the wheel of Paul Falzon's Flathead-powered roadster due to the overwhelming sense of nostalgia and disbelief, the Rattle Trap can’t be denied as one of the greatest events to be hosted on Australian shores in recent times.


On a daily basis, we admire and visually pull apart photographs from the gone by era of the golden years of ingenuity, discovery and speed. One can only hope in 50-100 years time, future generations will look back on photographs from special events like the Rattle Trap and admire our stamp on the history of the hot rod.

Follow Chris: @crcooperphoto.