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The Best Ute Gear In OZ

Ute Competitions :

The following information has been posted on Bluey’s web site
to assist people who would like some advice in running:

“UTE COMPETITIONS”.

(If you simply want to find out where Ute Competitions are taking place, please go straight to What’s On.)

Background:

Many local communities and organisations throughout Australia have started incorporating Ute Competitions (or “Ute Comps” or “Ute Musters” as they are sometimes called) into their events, in order to attract bigger crowds (especially younger people). Typically, most Ute Comps are staged to coincide with rural and agricultural shows, or B&S Balls, and most are run with a limited, or no, budget. A few of these Ute Comps have become well known stand-alone events.

If you haven’t run a Ute Comp before, it’s important to understand that there are currently no hard and fast rules about any aspect of these Competitions. There in no national or other body that controls them, and there is no “handbook” on how they should be run. In fact this document is probably the first attempt anyone has made to define and explain the Aussie Ute Comp! In this document we have simply put together a summary of what we have perceived, over a period of years, to be the “Ute Comp” scene.

The fact that there are no widely accepted rules has resulted in disappointments and arguments at some events, however good organisation and communication can always result in a successful Ute event.

While Bluey’s Ute World doesn’t pretend to “know it all”, we are happy to share our knowledge and experience with the Ute “community” in the hope that all Ute owners may ultimately benefit.

If, as you read this document, you feel you have something that should be added (or something needs amending), PLEASE let us know so we can update this information and make it as accurate and relevant as possible.

Benefits of a Ute Competition:

Ute Comps usually provide the following benefits:

• Entertainment and recognition for enthusiasts’ and their Utes
• Rewards for people who have restored or enhanced their Utes
• Entertainment for the viewing public
• Raising funds for worthy causes
• Commercial opportunities for the Ute “industry”
• Addition of colour and interest to Ag shows, etc
• Recognition of that great Aussie icon, the UTE, and the people that drive ‘em!

The Objective of a Ute Competition:

There is only ONE real objective:

To enjoy that unique Aussie mateship that binds blokes and girls who drive UTES

(If this element of FUN is missing, you haven’t run a genuine true-blue Aussie Ute Comp)

What is a Ute Competition?

A Ute Competition is a public event where the organisers invite all Ute owners to enter their vehicles in one or more predetermined “categories”. EVERYONE is welcome. The vehicles are all marshalled in a specific area in a static display, and they are available for public inspection over a period (typically an afternoon). Utes are usually not moved during the Comp. Selected Judges then decide awards in the various categories, which are then publicly announced. Winners usually receive some sort of prize, trophy, or other recognition.

What’s a Ute”?

Ask ten people to define what a “Ute” is and chances are you’ll get half a dozen different answers.

While such a definition may seem academically unimportant, it IS important when it comes to running a Ute Comp. After all, how can you judge entries if you can’t decide who’s vehicle is acceptable, and who’s isn’t?

Some people will claim that the only true Utes are the so-called Aussie made Holden and Ford Utes (Kingswood, Commodore, Falcon etc). Others will include the Japanese brands (Hilux, Navara, Rodeo, Triton, Bravo, etc). Some will include American pickups (F series, Chevs, Dodge Ram, etc). Even others will include the minor brands including vehicles like Peugeot Utes, Morris Minor Utes, cut down Rolls Royce Utes, and the like.

In Bluey’s experience, the most widely accepted definition of a “Ute” is:

“Any vehicle with a tray area which has a carrying capacity of up to one tonne.”

This includes all Holden, Ford and Japanese style Utes, as well as the minor styles such as Peugeot Utes, Morris Minor Utes, cut down Rolls Royce Utes, etc. Age of the vehicle is not a consideration, nor is brand, modifications or anything else. However by the nature of this definition, American pickup trucks are NOT considered Utes – they are in a distinct category of their own – namely “Pickup Truck”. (NOTE: This doesn’t mean Pickups can’t be included in a Ute Comp, but if they are, they should have their own appropriately named category so they are competing with the “Utes”.)

Competition Categories:

The “categories” for any Comp are decided by the organisers, and can be absolutely anything that they may feel will be entertaining and popular. Some of the most popular categories that are most commonly nominated in Ute Comps appear below. (Some brief comments defining each category appear in brackets after each one).

• Best Town Ute (Well accessorised, nudge bar instead of bullbar, no stickers, clean, shiny, new or old)
• Most Immaculate Ute (Indicates a fastidious owner; sometimes enters Ute Comp on trailer)
• Most Accessorised Ute (Loaded to the hilt with every Ute accessory imaginable)
• Best Country Ute (Bullbar, aerials, side skirts, spotties, CB, etc; can be dirty or clean)
• Best B&S Ute (Over the top Country Ute plastered with stickers, beer dash mat, etc)
• Best 4WD (includes anything with constant or part time 4WD off road capability)
• Best Tradesmans Ute (Best fitted out for “work”; boxes, racks, Hiabs, signage, etc etc)
• Best Chicks Ute (Ute shows evidence of the female touch; but appeals to the blokes!)
• Best Aussie Ute (Best locally made Holden or Ford; or maybe even old Valiant)
• Best Restored Ute (Older the better; restored to original or customised)
• Best Original Ute (Old-timer that’s been maintained in, or restored to, absolutely original condition)
• Best XYZ Brand Ute (Best looking Ute of the nominated brand eg Hilux, Rodeo etc)
• Best Feral Ute (Most dilapidated, unrepaired, poorly doctored, dirty, run down, etc)
• Ugliest Dog & Prettiest Chick Ute (Be very careful; the winner is always disputed!)
• Best Dressed Driver (Encourages silly/humorous/sick/smart dress by driver/passenger/dog)
• Best Ute ‘n Dog (Usually the Dog determines the winner)
• Most Passionate Ute Owner (Ute set up reveals passion; home made parts, unusual modifications)
• Peoples’ Choice (The crowd can vote to select their best Ute)
• Ute of the Show or Supreme Ute (This is the overall winner – the best Ute present on the day)

The above list is by no means exhaustive, and the challenge for organisers is to keep coming up with new, humorous or challenging categories, in order to keep their Ute Comp ahead of all the others. (If you’ve seen other categories, why not email Bluey’s so we can update this list?)

Ute Comp Judges & Judging:

It is usual for at least three people to be appointed as official Judges, either for each category, or for all categories. It is important that the Judges are, and be seen to be, unbiased and impartial. If they are biased (eg local Holden dealer principal who may be seen as biased toward Holden Utes) then the judging panel should be balanced (add the local Ford dealer principal as well). It also helps if the Judges are celebrities (adds interest and colour) or well known in the Town. Some suggestions for Judges are:

• Local motor dealer Principals or managers
• Local Councillors; or Mayor
• Prominent business people
• Motor racing identities
• Country music stars or other well-known entertainers
• Ute Comp organisers
• Ag Show committee members

Usually the Judges are inexperienced and new to the judging role, so the more help the Organisers can provide, the smoother and fairer the judging will be. It is a good idea for the organisers to provide a “judging sheet” which is given to the judges for them to fill in. This removes a lot of the confusion and onerous aspects of the job. It is best to have a separate Judging Sheet for each category. A sample judging sheet appears below:

Category ~ Best Town Ute
Rego #
Brand
Year
Accessories
Presentation
Motor
Cabin
Tray
Wheels
Stereo
TOTAL
ABC-123
Ford
1998
8
6
4
8
7
2
9
44

With this sheet, the organisers can decide the judging criteria, and all the Judge has to do is fill in his/her score (out of 10) for each item, hand it to the organisers, and that’s it. Such a sheet means all Judges are scoring the same criteria, so the final winner will be a result of consensus rather than whim.

Judging Fairness:

Bluey’s has found that Judges almost always try to be as fair as is possible, no matter whom they work for or what brand of Ute or business they may represent. After all, they are there to have FUN, and no one wants to upset the general Ute driving public.

However the main problem that often arises is that some competitors may interpret a result as being “unfair”, and if this happens it is usually because the judging criteria have not been communicated. It is therefore vital, when announcing the Comp results that the announcer gives a quick run down on the judging criteria. He/she could simply read across the items that were judged within each category, allowing competitors to see their strengths and weaknesses. This helps the competitors to understand and appreciate why they won/lost in any category.

Judging Criteria:

The judging criteria in any category can include any number of items, and again it is up to the organisers to determine which are appropriate for their Ute Comp. Some of the criteria that are often judged, depending on which category is considered, are:

• Sound (the exhaust note when engine is revved; don’t do this next to the livestock pavilion!)
• Stereo (the size, volume, quality & presentation. Again, watch the cattle!)
• Engine (modifications, cleanliness, presentation)
• Detail (overall vehicle cleanliness, maybe including engine bay, wheel arches, tray, cab)
• Innovation (tricky extras that others haven’t thought of)
• Lights (spotties, side skirt running lights, top of aerial lights, front & rear marker lights)
• Stickers (range & quantity important, should cover Ute exterior, excluding windscreen)
• Air Brush or artwork (art appearing on external panels, tailgate, sides etc)
• Flags (Aussie, Eureka, Southern Cross, Bundy, etc etc)
• Grunge (Dirt, grime, disrepair, defect stickers, mad modifications, & rust; Feral Utes only)
• Tray (Condition, paint, modifications)
• Suspension (lift kits, etc)
• Accessories (the number, size, quality, integration, novelty)
• Bullbars (5 posters are almost a category in themselves)

Funding your Ute Comp:

While everything these days costs money, your Ute Comp can easily break even, or generate a modest profit for charity etc. Here are some financial suggestions:

A. Registration Fees ~ It is always acceptable to charge a “Registration Fee”, but don’t go overboard or you’ll kill your own event. Typically organisers charge $5 for each category that a Ute enters. This means that if a Ute owner enters two categories, he pays $10 in registration fees.

B. Entrance Fees ~ Most Shows charge the general public a fee to enter the overall Show. If you do this, then the Utes on display should be part of the value people receive for entering the Show, and it is not a good idea to charge any further fee to the public (it could kill your event). If however you have a really big stand-alone Ute Comp (with lots of related attractions), then an Entrance Fee may be justified.

C. Sponsorships ~ A good Ute Comp that is well publicised can always attract commercial sponsorships. Usually the businesses in the local area can be approached to assist in this regard. If, for example, there are six categories being judged in your Ute Comp, you should be able to find six local businesses to sponsor a category each. The amount of contribution will vary between events, but you should always try and provide an incentive to the sponsor by providing him with good “value for money”. This would include the sponsors names/logos appearing on programs, flying on banners around the Ute Comp area, being mentioned on radio/TV when promoting the event, being mentioned when prizes are being awarded, and so on. In fact if you can list down all the ways that a sponsor will receive benefits, it makes it very easy to approach him and get his active participation. And don’t forget to consider the sponsor as a Judge at the event, as this gives him an interesting role and provides him with extra exposure.

Good sponsorship prospects include local motor dealers, local automotive businesses (wreckers, parts shops, 4WD accessory shops, service stations, etc), budding local politicians, local radio and TV stations, and a wide range of local businesses.

Ute Comp Prizes:

Always remember that most blokes and chicks enter Ute Comps for two main reasons:

• Fun
• The kudos associated with their Ute being recognised as a winner in its category!

Therefore, the best prizes are ribbons, stickers or trophies that indicate their success, and which they can display in or on their Utes. The best prizes we’ve ever seen were engraved gold plated (plastic) trophies (in the shape of a Ute) given out at the inaugural Ute Comp at the 2002 Mt Isa Rodeo. The winners LOVED them, and proudly displayed them wherever they went.

Trophies can also be engraved with the sponsors name, giving the sponsor an incentive to spend the $25 or so that the trophy may cost (eg “The Country Ute ~ Sponsored by Smiths Tyres”), meaning that the trophy costs the organisers nothing.

Other most acceptable prizes can be:

• Gift vouchers on local businesses (at sponsors businesses?)
• Various automotive type goods (eg tyres, seat covers, filters, oil, petrol, etc)
• Ute accessories (eg Ute Lids, Bullbars, Tie Downs, Mats, Liners etc)
• Ute Knick Knacks (eg Caps, T Shirts, Beanies, Belt Buckles, Dash Mats – all with Ute slogans)
• Ribbons (similar to Ag Show ribbons, which denote the event won)
• Tickets (to local events such as movies, theme parks, etc)

It should always be possible to get most of the prizes donated as part of sponsorship packages.

Promotional Activities:

It’s no use holding an event if no one knows it’s on; therefore you must do all you can to let the world know about it. Here are some tips, gleaned from years of experience:

• First of all, plan your event well in advance; twelve months in advance if possible. Too many organisers start thinking about their Ute Comp 6 weeks before the event, and by that then there’s almost no time left to promote it properly.

• As early as possible, draw up an Event Summary, listing at least the following details:

A. The name of the Event
B. The date, time and place of the event
C. The categories being judged
D. The registration fees for each category
E. Any additional Entry Fee (to get into the Show grounds)
F. How to enter/register (mail, email, on the day, etc)
G. Any special entertainment or features
H. Any camping/eating/drinking facilities available
I. Your alcohol policy (see more on this below)
J. Details of prizes
K. A list of your sponsors
L. Name and contact details for more information
M. What happens if it rains

Once you have the above list you have something to use for promotional purposes.

• Mail or email your Event Summary to anyone who’s involved in the Ute scene. Such people could include “Outback Magazine” (Beaut Utes section) and Uteman web site (www.uteman.com.au). These type of people will usually give your event free listing in their “What’s On” type pages. Bluey’s Ute World (bluey@blueys.com.au) will also add your event to its web site as well as hand or mail out your flyers to their customers (these are free services if you supply the flyers).

• You may also advertise your event in the Press at minimal cost. For example the “Public Announcements” section of Rural Press’s “The Land” is widely read by your prospective target audience.

• You can also turn your Event Summary into a “Press Release” and send it to your local radio and TV stations, as well as the local newspapers.

• Ask your sponsors, as well as other businesses in the district (including milk bars, pubs and service stations) if they will allow you to paste your Event Summary in their windows or on their walls in the public areas. The toilet wall in any Men’s’ toilet is the BEST advertising space money can’t buy – every male in town will read your Event Summary if you can get it up there (ask the owners permission first, otherwise it wont stay there long!)

• If you’re really adventurous try and get onto “talk back radio” a few days before the event, and grab some free publicity. Most talkback hosts are looking for entertaining input, so if you can rave on about all the Beaut Utes that are heading for town, mentioned some of the characters that drive them, you’ll get some free airplay and drag a lot more people into the event.

• Don’t forget that if you’re part of an AG Show, make sure the overall event organisers include all your Ute news in their press releases and literature. This wont cost you anything, and can help spread your message far and wide.

• Another good long-term promotional device is to print a “Ute Comp” bumper sticker. This would mention the event name, place and year (eg “Mudgee Ag Show Ute Comp 2003″ and could include a website if appropriate. It would be something given out FREE to all Ute drivers at the event (both entrants and spectators who drive a Ute). Ute owners generally would be most inclined to display the sticker on their Ute, and this sows the seed for next year’s event in the minds of both those Ute owners as well as others who read it.

Registration for the Event:

While you may offer participants the chance to register for the event beforehand, you will find that most Ute drivers simply like to turn up, unannounced, and pay their money at the gate. Ute drivers are easygoing people who rarely like to get highly organised, so even though your Registrations may be very disappointing before the vent, you may be very surprised at how many rumble through the gates on the day.

On the day of the Ute Comp:

Prior to the Event, you need to enlist a team of volunteers to help the event be a success. There’s nothing worse than a few stressed people running around like chooks without heads!

Once you have your Team selected, meet before the event to allocate responsibilities, and run through with them on how the event is to be conducted, and who does what and when.

When the Big Day of the Ute Comp arrives, here are some tips on how to run the event:

1. Have a big sign at the appropriate gate/s that says “UTES IN UTE COMP ENTER HERE”. Have Marshals (who could be decked out in special T Shirt or Cap or whatever) at the gate to register the entrants. It’s best to have a mini-marshalling area where the Utes can pull off while this is happening, so they don’t block other traffic. Have an entry form for each category, and ask driver to fill this out. Grab his entry fee. Give him a coloured card (different colour for each category entered) with his rego number on it, and ask him to leave this/these on his dash where Judges can read them. Point the driver in the direction of the Ute Comp marshalling area.

2. Have another Marshal greet the driver at the Ute Comp Marshalling area, and point to where that Ute must park. In smaller events all Utes can park together, but in larger events it’s best if Utes are parked by category, or by brand. This assist Judges when making their rounds.

3. It’s also a good idea to have the Rules for the Event posted on some sort of bulletin board in the Marshalling area (or on a sheet which is handed to each entrant). The Rules can cover everything that the organisers think is important, including (where appropriate):

• Details of Categories, Registration & Entry Fees
• Prizes & Sponsorships
• Name (and mobile phone) of organiser or Chief Marshal (for queries)
• Time of Judging
• Identities of Judges
• Method of Judging
• Prizes and SPONSORS
• Announcement of winners & presentation of prizes
• Movement of Utes (when they can leave the Marshalling area)
• Alcohol policy (see below)
• Safety issues (if required)
• Disqualification issues (outlaw bad behaviour, drunkenness, abuse etc)

4. Always allow enough space for the general public to walk around and inspect the Utes. If you decide to have a “Peoples’ Choice” category, you will need to have some method for them to register their vote (forms, pens, ballot box)

5. Don’t try and tie down the static Ute display for too long. Most entrants are happy to leave their Utes on display for a few hours (say 1pm to 4pm) but once you go over that period you may find drivers trying to leave before the event is finished. This is very disruptive and gives a bad public impression.

6. Ensure Judging starts on time. Ensure that the Judges get around to inspect every Ute, even those that appear at first glance as “losers”. It’s important to remember that some entrants have driven hundreds of kilometres to be there, so they deserve a fair and equal shot to compete. Nothing causes more aggro that someone feeling his/her Ute hasn’t been taken seriously.

7. Gather the Judges score sheets (or decisions) and have results ready for “prize announcement” ready right on time. Make sure the Announcer explains each category and the prime judging criteria, and then mentions briefly why the winner won. Congratulate the winner publicly, thank the sponsor/s, and hand over the prize/s.

8. Keep a record of all entrants, winners etc after the event, in case there are any queries or other issues to address.

9. When the event is finished, the Marshals should thank each entrant for coming. They should also ask each driver to exercise care as they leave the grounds, as there are usually a lot of pedestrians on the roads.

10. During the event you should take a few photos of some of the winners – especially the most colourful ones, and send them to the local papers. In fact most local papers send their own reporters and photographers to these Shows, so make sure you get the main organisers to send them over to the Ute Comp to get their own shots. This sort of publicity helps build the event for the next year.

11. After the event is over, and within the next week while it’s still fresh in everyone’s mind, get your Marshals together and analyse the event. Make a list of “what went right” as well as “what went wrong”, so that next year you improve your performance.

By observing some of the simple activities outlined above, you should be able to mount a professional, smooth running, aggro free event.

Alcohol:

If you don’t have an alcohol policy, some Ute drivers will arrive with a Ute tray full of alcohol. Most Comps are run in “family” environments, and while responsible alcohol consumption isn’t usually an issue, excessive consumption can cause problems. It is therefore important that organisers consider this issue in advance, and decide upon their policy for the event. The ensuing policy should be well advertised (with the other Rules) and enforced by Marshals.

From experience, alcohol consumption tends to become a problem when entrants have nothing to do other than sit around the marshalling area and drink. The provision of other entertainment (if none naturally exists, such as around an Ag Show) is a good way of avoiding problems, and maximising the enjoyment of all Ute Comp entrants.

Other Considerations:

• Make sure your event is covered by insurance (Public Liability especially)
• Most Ute Comps state that all Utes entered must be registered & road worthy
• If your venue is “out of the way”, publish a map to help people find you
• Always include area codes in phone numbers
• Consider access to First Aid in the event someone does get injured
• Let your local Police know what you’re doing, well in advance
• Have a contingency plan in the event of bad weather

Related Ute Events:

There are many opportunities to extend your event from just being a Ute Comp (as detailed above) into other areas of entertainment and interest. Some of these activities are: –

Bar ~ Having a Bar on site can alleviate the Alcohol issue

Camping ~ Bearing in mind many Ute drivers will travel long distances for some events, it can be a good idea to provide a camping area where they can swag down for the night before and after the event. Consideration obviously needs to be given to provision of food, showers, toilets etc

Parades ~ A parade of the Ute Comp entrants through town can add colour and excitement to the event. This is relatively easy for smaller events, but larger numbers require careful consideration of logistics. (Consult with Police and RTA in advance)

Circle Work ~ Circle Work competitions are also an extremely popular add-on, but they require detailed planning. In NSW you will need a special license to conduct such an event, which is issued by the Dept of Sport & Recreation. Both Police and RTA will need to provide support in order to gain such a license. The subsequent organisation of a Circle Work Comp involves a huge range of additional considerations and issues.

B&S Balls ~ Some B&S Ball organisers have incorporated a Ute Comp with their functions, These two types of events can run well in conjunction with each other, as both attract a high proportion of Ute drivers. Again, a B&S Ball requires a whole additional range of complex issues.

Dog in A Ute Comp ~ A number of these style events have been run in various locations throughout Australia. They involve each Ute having to be accompanied by a dog, and the novelty of the rules can help set the flavour of the event. The main additional considerations for these style events relate to the handling and well being of the dogs involved, and the RSPCA should be at least contacted if not involved in the event.

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