“Once a year, since 2013, the village of Pendine turns into a Mecca for hot rodders from all over the UK and beyond. The clocks are turned back to around about the middle of the last century, when as many as 200 hot rods and custom cars take to the beach in the Vintage Hot Rod Association’s Hot Rod Races.
It’s an old fashioned time trials, where cars and drivers are sent down the beach one by one, going flat out to break a class record, or to find their way into the elusive 100 mph club. None of the cars are newer than 1948, with some going back to as far as the 1910s. Most of the cars are old Fords, but there’s old Chevrolets, Plymouths, Willys and more. Whilst the Ford flathead V8 is one of the more popular engine choices, there’s cars powered by the famous Chrysler hemi and Chevrolet’s venerable small block, whilst at the other end of the scale, Model T and A sidevalve four bangers push the more antiquated cars along the beach. Many cars are fitted with exotic sounding speed equipment by the pioneers of hot rodding, Navaro, Edlebrock, Winfield, Iskendarian and so many more. Then there’s some old slang thrown in to describe the cars, flivvers, gow jobs, modifiers, kustoms and streamliners. There’s a history lesson going on with every turning wheel.
But it’s all about the speed. Cars are hopped up to within an inch of their lives, with drivers wringing every single horsepower out of the engine as the pedal is mashed to the floor. And what a place to do it, Pendine Sands. Once the fastest place on earth, when Malcolm Campbell and J.G. Parry-Thomas fought for the land speed record back in the 1920s. Racing starts as the tide recedes, and once the course is set up. For around five hours, until the tide chases the cars from the beach, you’re treated to car after car hurtling down the beach, with the exhaust note rising with every gear shift, as the cars fade into the distance. Fast times are back at Pendine, and the Vintage Hot Rod Association are loving every moment of it.
It’s free to come and watch this amazing spectacle on the beach, and for a small fee, you can actually park near the action on the hallowed sands themselves.”