Now in its 36th year, Big Al’s Poker Run is a WA cruising institution


THERE’S something about Big Al’s Poker Run that brings cars out of the woodwork. It’s the one event in the Western Australian scene that drags cars out of the shed that you never see any other time or at any other cruise – and they come from far and wide. At this year’s event about half a dozen cars cruised down from Kalgoorlie, a lazy 600km drive one way, and I’m pretty sure a few Albanians made the five-hour trek up from their great southern capital, Albany.

The Poker Run has become one of, if not the biggest, one-day cruise in the country. Sure, you might get more cars rocking up to a show ’n’ shine somewhere, or a thousand or more pulling up to a shopping centre and then cruising to another car park. But we’re talking an organised, multi-path cruise route that can cater for over 500 cars, with checkpoints in between.

If you’re not familiar with the poker run format, this is how it goes: Just like in poker, you get five cards, but you don’t get them all at once. You receive one as you leave the meeting point, as well as the instructions on how to get to the next four checkpoints. At each of those you’re given another card randomly selected by the volunteers. Don’t bother trying to cheat by putting down five aces on your run sheet, either. Each card is recorded against your entry number, so they know which cards were handed out to each and every car.

It’s also a great event for the family, and with the recent move to Perry Lakes for the starting point, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better location to hang out for a few hours. This year there was the added bonus of market stalls, bouncy castles and more ice cream and slushie vans that you can point a sugar-crazed toddler at.

Although the run itself doesn’t start until 4pm, people still rock up early in the morning to spend the day catching up with old friends and checking out all the cool rides that show up – and when there’s over 500 of them to scope out, it takes a bit of doing. Lots of shady trees and a coastal location that catches plenty of the world-famous Fremantle Doctor means you don’t end up looking like a West Aussie crayfish.

The cruise takes in a large part of the northern suburbs, up and down the coast and inland a bit, before finishing at Kingsway Reserve. With the sun setting behind the trees, a bar and barbecues on hand, and a massive oval to let the kids run off all the sugar, it’s the perfect way to finish off the day.

This year was the 36th time ‘Big Al’ Erdman has put the show on, with the first being held way back in 1981 with just a few dozen hot rods. It’s always been on the second Saturday in February, so you might as well lock in 11 February 2017, and check out closer to the date for more info.

Big -Al -Poker -Run _003Event founder Big Al Erdman’s super-cool HOTTUB

Big -Al -Poker -Run _004Look closer, it’s not an HG Monaro but a South African Chevrolet SS

Big -Al -Poker -Run _009This sweet Model A pick-up was running a hopped-up four-banger. Don’t see that too often these days

Big -Al -Poker -Run _015We featured Craig Cooper’s ’58 Chevy Sports Sedan back in SM, Jan ’05. It’s still looking good

Big -Al -Poker -Run _018This tasty ’64 Thunderbird was just one of over 500 cars that rocked up. Whether they’re stock or modified, they’re all welcome at the Poker Run

Big -Al -Poker -Run _021Rory Smith recently finished his ’35 Ford Model C. It’s basically the same as a US ’35 Ford, only it’s been through the wash a couple of times

Big -Al -Poker -Run _037This HK Monaro was running a blown and injected SBC and had a crowd around it all day

Big -Al -Poker -Run _039Apart from the slammed stance, this HT looks stock as a rock

Big -Al -Poker -Run _046Dave Busher’s ’58 Chev was turned into a convertible back in the 80s. It was out of action for a long time, but he’s cruising the wheels off it now

Big -Al -Poker -Run _058My brother Emil Viskovic recently got his ‘Mexico’ tribute on the road. It’s a big hit with drunk Irish backpackers when he’s cruising around Northbridge

Big -Al -Poker -Run _066Brenton Webb’s HR ute was one of several cars that cruised down from Kalgoorlie

Big -Al -Poker -Run _076Everyone loves a General Lee Charger. No sign of Daisy Duke though

Big -Al -Poker -Run _079Simon Coates’s ’66 Rambler Rogue is a beautiful restoration that sports a 401ci AMC and runs high 12s

Big -Al -Poker -Run _085Can’t get much tougher than a black HQ coupe

Big -Al -Poker -Run _110Cruising down the West Coast Highway we passed this sweet AP5 that is still rocking the Slant Six

Big -Al -Poker -Run _116The best bit – cruising around with a whole bunch of cool cars

Big -Al -Poker -Run _145John McSweeney cruised in with his stunning ’59 Ford Skyliner and took home a trophy for his efforts. If the name’s familiar, it’s because John raced the quickest Ford-powered drag car in the world

Big -Al -Poker -Run _146Barry Batten’s ’56 F100 ‘big window’ is new to the scene and took home some tinware as well

Big -Al -Poker -Run _151What do you have to do to a ’58 Chevy Impala to make it look cool? Apart from lower it, nothing!

Big -Al -Poker -Run _153Big Al’s Poker Run even drags out a few Pontiacs, including this gorgeous ’65 Grand Prix

Big -Al -Poker -Run _170And of course, a Smokey and the Bandit-inspired Firebird

Big -Al -Poker -Run _174It’s not just Yankee stuff that shows up either. Great to see a young bloke and his lady cruising this HR with Tasmans and whitewalls, keeping up a fine Aussie tradition

Big -Al -Poker -Run -178Peter O’Leary was an early adopter of EFI on his SBC-powered HK Monaro and the first to run the big-inch mag wheel version of the GTS hubcap