Restoration is what Nelson Vintage Car Club’s members do, so it’s not surprising that they have transformed a run-down old building into an immaculate new-old clubrooms at the Top of the South Speedway on Lower Queen St.
The former Speedway Association rooms were “a bit of a mess” when the club purchased the building in February 2014. However, the club’s volunteers completely renovated the old building and they will be officially opening the new, improved version on Sunday.
“It was originally a hall at the forestry camp near Rai Valley until the speedways guys relocated it here for their clubrooms around 1982-85,” club president Jim Wareing says. “When the speedway moved into their new clubrooms we took over their old building and set about renovating it – it was going to be demolished so you can imagine it was a bit of a mess.”
Jim says the club’s volunteers spent hundreds of hours working on the old building with retired builder Ron Johnson overseeing the project. The club also benefited from a $40,000 grant from Pub Charities which was used to install a new kitchen and toilets.
The club is holding an open day on Sunday to celebrate the official opening of the clubrooms. They will be holding a display of some of their cars, as well as cars and motorcycles from all the region’s 27 motoring clubs, as part of the celebrations.
“It’s not a fund-raiser -it’s free and a chance for people to find out about our club and see some of our members’ cars and watch some fun events. There will be all sorts of vintage cars and, with all the other car clubs, we’ll have a pretty impressive display.”
Jim says the new clubrooms are “a big change for the club” which had been based at Founders Heritage Park since 1964. He says Lower Queen St is a perfect site for the clubrooms because it saves members “from driving right through town to get to the start of a rally and then driving back through town to finish.”
“We have plenty of room at Lower Queen St too and we get on well with the speedway guys,” Jim says. “This is home now and long may that last.”
The club has 385 members and holds a club night and club run every month and also organises a ladies run for lady drivers. Jim says members typically own two or three vintage cars and often take them on tours around the country.
National president Diane Quarrie will officially open the clubrooms at 3pm and award 50 year badges to two members Tony Hansen and Jack Ainsley. The club will also present the Restoration of the Year with “three or four cars that will be on show for the first time” in line for the award.
The public can drive through the speedway pit gate on Lansdowne Rd from 1pm to see the car display. Admission is free.