The 50s in the Fall Car Show in Lebanon has been put on by the Rollin’ Oldies Car Club for the past 27 years. The club was formed in 1990 by founding father Harry Carter. Today the club has over 120 members as well as several lifetime members. Those who are host cars do not compete for trophies. The show is open to all ages and groups of vehicles.
This year was one of the biggest shows with over 236 assorted vehicles. With that many cars it took up pretty much all of the space of the beautiful River Park which has been the site of the show since the beginning. The only exceptions were when the park was being revamped in some way.
With cars from all over we were treated with oldie, but goodie, sounds from Russ Strohmeyer of Stro’s DJ Service.
The Rollin’ Oldies Car Club is very active in Lebanon. The show has been at River Park from the start. With donations from the club, for example, there has been a new flagpole installed at the park.
Other donations are unique to the needs. Lebanon is home of COMP-Northwest Medical School. The club has purchased medical bags for the student doctors to help them out with expenses. Other moneys go to scholarships for LBCC Auto Shop students, different charities like soup kitchens and the Oregon Veterans Home, also in Lebanon.
Just about every car show has a raffle drawing. This show had some great prizes. The most unique prize I have ever seen was a case of toilet paper. The guy who won that was very happy!
“Rocketeer” Rich Bailey brought his blown alcohol dragster. Rich not only races the dragster, but he displays it at shows, too. This year, after a summer of racing he finished 5th in points, racing at tracks throughout the west coast. Between races he has shown the car at the state fair and several car shows throughout the state, which helps his sponsor Burgerville of Albany and Capital Auto Group of Salem. Not only does it look great, but it sounds great. “Let’s fire this beast up!” is something you always want to hear at a show. Rich and his crew did just that. He started the dragster and, yes, it did sound great!
“Ava”, a love story…After WWII a young man bought a new car, a 1946 Desoto coupe. He dated a young lady from Redmond. Back then to date a young lady you needed an escort, but this Desoto did not have a back seat. The escort had to follow in another car. So, there was more alone time for this young man and his young lady friend. You may think the young lady’s name is Ava, but the car’s name is Ava. Jim bought the car new in 1946 and drove it all the time until 1972. He married his lady friend and they lived together until Jim passed away from cancer. Before he died he put Ava in a heated garage, up on blocks for the next 42 years. In 2017, Jim’s wife passed and the family sold the car to Ray and Dianne Lancaster of Salem. Ava is all original. A 236 flathead six cylinder automatic top shift transmission.
Without the back seat the trunk is huge, big enough to sleep in. Only 531 were made. Now there is a new love story with Ray and Dianne Danny Petersdorf from Salem has owned his ‘59 Pontiac Catalina for over four years. The car is all original except the interior having been redone. Everything else done on the car is “age correct” including Danny’s hairstyle—a purple mohawk—cool! I know they had different hairstyles back then, including mohawks, but maybe not purple!
A true custom, Dan Pullen’s 1949 Chevy Fleetline. Back in the 50’s you built customs from parts of different cars. Dan did just that. He has owned the car since 1987. The car has been chopped, lowered with air bag suspension with a 4 bar rear end. He took parts from a ‘57 Chevy dash, ‘62 Cadillac taillights, ‘57 Chevy grill bar, and an Olds windshield. Dan did all the bodywork himself. He did a great job of splicing and dicing which turned out to be one of the smoothest bodies I’ve ever seen.
Founding father, Harry Carter, who is no longer with us, would be very proud of what the Rollin’ Oldies have done over the last 27 years and what is in store for the next 27 years and longer.
A sure sign that summer is coming to an end is the Oregon Festival of Cars, held each September in Bend, Oregon. Broken Top Club’s driving range is the venue and is a perfect setting. This is a weekend event which starts Friday morning with an optional tour which leaves Ron Tonkin’s Gran Turismo in Wilsonville. With a leasurely drive through country roads, it takes a different route every year. It ends at a car wash in Bachlor Village with all the beer and wash supplies provided, the labor is on you. Later everyone meets in the showroon of Kendall Porsche for dinner, drinks and conversation.
Saturday morning starts with the placement of cars on the driving range with public viewing beginning at 10:00 a.m. The variety of cars is one of the many things I enjoy about this show, with everything from hot rods, customs, classics and muscle cars, to sports cars and classics. This year the featured cars were Badass Cars, and there was a wide variety to choose from. After the show there is a banquet for participants to close things out.
Sunday for those left standing they can choose to participate in a tour which ends with lunch. If you find yourself in Bend the middle of September this is a must see.
Have you ever noticed that when you retire everyone asks, “How’s retirement?” “What are you going to do now?” I just retired after 35+ years from a great job with NAPA Auto Parts and I started to think about my bucket list; how I now, could possibly get some of the things on my list checked off.
Last January I happened to see an ad for the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion featuring the 50-year anniversary of Can Am and Trans Am race cars. This has always been part of my bucket list before I even knew what a bucket list was. You know, sleek bodies, big tires, tall velocity stacks, giant wings… cars that go up to 185 MPH: McLaren, Lola, Shadow, Ferraris… I could go on and on. As a gearhead I have always loved auto racing, of course, and the Can Am cars have always been my favorite.
Let the adventure begin!
Leaving Albany with my good friend Steve Veltman, heading south on I-5. All adventures are not without problems. We found out that because I had made our motel reservations in January when our American Express card through Costco was still the card we always used, I hadn’t thought about the fact that when the motel tried to charge AmEx for the reservation now, that it wouldn’t got through. Of course not… I called the motel only a few hours after receiving the dreaded “transaction denied” notification that came in at 3 AM, but the motel had already given our room away and had no ideas to help out, only saying “Doubt there’s any rooms in the Monterey area, it’s a race weekend.”
As we drove down the road I made contact with my cousin, Pat, in Gilroy, CA. Thank you! She had a place for us to stay that night. Meanwhile, back at home my wife was searching for a place for the rest of the weekend. She found one closer to the track than the original place, only costing twice as much instead of the 3-4 times as much as thought it might be.
Arriving at the track, I was completely overwhelmed seeing cars that I had only seen in magazines and on TV. The historic race is a giant event with cars from all of the US, Europe and Australia. Can Am cars more local to me, the Tacoma area, Willamette Valley and the southern Oregon coast area had representation.
We Took a break from the races and went to the Canepa Motorsports Shop open house. There, they restore vintage race cars and have a museum. We saw cars such as the 6 wheel Tyrell Formula 1 car, Le Mans winning Porsche and Ferraris. What a great place to visit! Twice! I left one of my cameras there. They watched over it for me until I could get back on the way home. Back to the races…
Thank goodness for shuttles. The Mazda Raceway is not level as it is built in a valley. The races go up and down hills on the course. At the top of the highest hill is a turn fittingly called “the corkscrew.” It is an S curve that drops three stories in less than an eighth of a mile. Pretty impressive to watch the cars come around at the top and follow them down the corkscrew!
In the pits was where I saw one of my favorite Can Am cars, a 1971 Shadow Mark II. It has small diameter tires, extreme aerodynamics and a Chevy V-8 engine that has approximately 800HP! I met the current owner, Dennis Losher and we were able to talk for a long time about the car. He even let me sit in it! Getting into a Can Am car is feat in itself-put your hands here, don’t touch this, don’t touch that, stand on the seat, (yes the seat), straighten your legs, slide down into the seat. Squeeze and wiggle, then you’re in! I could imagine what it is like to race this car. You can’t see the front end because it drops off so quickly-better aerodynamics. The engine is right behind you and the velocity stacks are right above your head. Pretty amazing.
While I was in the Shadow pit area, I met Don Nichols, designer and engineer of the first tiny tire Shadow. Even at the age of 93 he is still sharp. He told me how they built the front suspension with small coil springs the size of engine valve springs.
I also got to meet up with a former co-worker and his McLaren M8E/D Can Am car. His car was on display only-oil and coolant don’t mix, possibly a cracked block.
If you think traffic in Portland is bad, try the Monterey Bay area with the historic Races, Pebble Beach Concourse D’Elegance Car Show and several auto auctions and car shows going on at the same time!
We also watched vintage Formula 1 Races. They were exciting, loud and fast Lotus, Brabham, Ferrari, March and Tyrell race cars.
The Trans Am cars were just brute power, fast and loud. Muscle cars you see on the street: Mustangs Camaros, Javelins and a Dodge Challenger were represented there. Quite something to feel and hear.
Getting older is interesting. Leaving behind some important things was humbling (did I mention my glasses?). I left them in a restaurant and got them back also. But I did quickly get into my new habit of checking as I stood up to go anywhere: wallet, glasses, phone, keys-wallet, glasses, phone, keys… so with help from family, old and new friends and my wife who is not afraid of computers, I was able to check one thing off my bucket list. It was a memorable weekend and my own bed never looked and felt so good!