Subscribe to Forte Magazine


Three days of dirt drags, hot rods, customs, bobbers, 25+ bands, tiki, cocktail and craft beer bars, choppers, vintage speedway and more. There is a whole lot packed into next month’s Chopped Rod and Custom, so we revved our engines and took a ride down the Chopped highway with Kyle Ford.
Hey Kyle, thanks for taking the time to chat with Forte Magazine about such a wonderful and unique event. First of all, can you take us back to the start and tell us about how Chopped came to be?
Well, actually the first Chopped came about in 2007 as an A5 magazine. Three of us got together, myself, my brother Ryan Ford and our great mate Paul Williams, and decided to try and fill what we found to be a void in the market and put out a hot rod magazine that concentrated on purely what we were into – the traditional hot rod and custom scene, based mainly on Australian content.
There was a great reception to this so we kept at the mag for a while and in 2008 decided that we would put on a car show. We ended up with two days, five bands that had nothing to do with our scene, about 400 people through and 130 cars and two motorbikes from NSW, SA & VIC – and everyone had a ball. We were pretty happy with that. In 2009 it doubled in size, we got bands that suited and filled up and outgrew the local football oval. So then it was on! We moved location to the old horse track on the outskirts of town, set up the dirt drags, vintage speedway and upped the ante on the music side and set up the massive ‘Tiki Palace’ bar.
Chopped is now known all across the globe and I have heard it referred to as “something like no other”. Has the rapid rise surprised you? Why do you think the idea is so appealing and how do you maintain the rage?
Yeah, we have people coming from all over the world to attend which is pretty amazing, it blows us away really. The rise at the start did take us by surprise but from what we can tell it’s simply someone who has had the best time going away telling their mates and bringing one of them along next year to enjoy the fun. It’s a good natural growth and from our end we put everything into it. We keep adding and improving to make sure that no one can walk away saying it was just like last year … That will never happen.
Take us through the format briefly. Chopped is obviously primarily to celebrate custom cars and bikes from the ’50-’60s, but how is the festival set out across the three days?
The format is everything and is happening at once all day long, you just choose where and what you want to be doing when – watching the drags, having a cocktail, chilling at your tent, checking out a band. There is no real format, just something to do in every direction.
Tell us about the location.
Newstead Racecourse – last race on in the early ’60s. Australia’s first and longest racetrack, I believe.
The festival includes a whole variety of events including craft beer and music, bobbers and vintage cars. Is there a particular ideology behind the things the festival chooses to celebrate?
We celebrate a lot of the good things in life. To us all of these things are great fun and close to our hearts. The whole idea of Chopped is to put on the show that the three of us want to go to ourselves, and going by the response to that there are plenty of folk out there that have similar thoughts.
What is something totally unique to 2014?
How about a dare-devil jumping a motorcycle through a hoop of fire? That’s pretty unique these days.
Obviously the famous dirt speedway is a very popular feature. How does this element of the festival work? Can anyone join in the fun or are there certain hurdles that need to be jumped in order to participate?
We have strict rules on what is and isn’t allowed into the event arena. This goes back to the original inception of Chopped and reflects the concept of celebrating traditional style hot rods, custom cars and traditional style chopper and bobber motorcycles. Only vehicles that pass this are allowed on the tracks.
Take us through the music. The line-up this year would be the envy of a lot of music festivals – you guys have done well.
Headlining on the ‘Levis Stage’ this year are Aussie rock legends Cosmic Psychos, alongside Intoxica, King Salami & The Cumberland 3, Papa Pilko and the Binrats, Mesa Cosa and more. We have 25 acts, predominantly Australian as usual, playing rock, garage, country, blues, rockabilly, psychobilly, bluegrass and more.
The music is half of the festival now. Between all of the acts on the Levis Stage, the Levis Rambling Truck rolling music throughout the entire venue and the Chopped DJs on the vinyl in the Tiki Palace, the only thing you will hear that isn’t music is a car going down the drag strip.
What about people that don’t really dig the whole custom car culture? Is this festival still something unique they should try out?
70 per cent of the people at Chopped don’t have cars or motorcycles. It’s definitely a hybrid festival. Then there are the people that come because it’s something different and alive and wild in ways that they have never seen before.
When&Where: Newstead – October 3, 4 & 5