Interest revving up in Cobar’s classic car film festival plans

Cobar is looking like the place to be this October with the Running On Empty Festival organisers getting revved up for what’s sure to be a huge event.

The Cobar Weekly spoke with one of the event organisers, Ben Hewlett, last week about the festival’s plans, the growing exposure for Cobar, plans for magazine articles and a visit by a film crew.

The weekend focuses on celebrating the cult classic car movie ‘Running On Empty’, which was filmed in and around Cobar in the early 1980s.

Mr Hewlett explained that when he and his mate John de Bruin came up with the idea they believed it would be a great “little” event. However it is now looking to bring between 1,000-1,500 vehicles to town.

“John and I have been getting absolutely thumped on social media, email and everywhere!” Mr Hewlett said.

He said several stars of the movie, including Max Cullen (also famed for acting in All Saints and Love My Way) and Terry Serio (Blue Heelers and Water Rats) will be attending the festival.

“We have tracked down a lot of cars from the movie, or replicas of those cars to be here,” Mr Hewlett said.

Nationwide car magazine Street Machine will be covering the event, and plan to run  articles in both their March and November issues.

“All of the full time staff of Street Machine will be coming to the festival,” Mr Hewlett said.

A film crew will also be covering the event.

Travelling out from Sydney, they are developing a 25 minute documentary for YouTube so people worldwide can see what the festival was like to attend and hopefully attract people to visit Cobar.

Mr Hewlett expects with all the coverage the festival is attracting that over 250,000 people may be exposed to Cobar through social media and other media outlets.

“It’s a really hot topic at the moment, people are talking about Cobar!”

Mr Hewlett and Mr de Bruin want to ensure that Cobar is well prepared for the number of visitors expected for the festival weekend.

“We have approached some businesses, we plan to do all of the ones in the main street, to chat with them about how they could get as much business on that weekend as they do in the lead up to Christmas,” Mr Hewlett said.

He also plans to talk to the Cobar Police to ensure they are also prepared for the large increase of people and cars in the region.

“Saturday afternoon and evening, the main street will probably look like a scene out of American Graffiti,” Mr Hewlett joked.

“I apologise now to the people of Cobar for any traffic delays all those extra cars may bring.”

He laughed suggesting that anyone who doesn’t like loud cars may want to book a nice holiday away and put their house on AirBnB.

“Every time we put something about the festival on social media the caravan park gets another dozen to two dozen bookings,” Mr Hewlett said.

He said some locals have already put their homes up on AirBnB for that weekend and they were booked on the same day.

With events running right over the weekend (including a dinner which is already booked out) the two organisers are being kept very busy ensuring both the festival is well planned and Cobar is also going to be well prepared.