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Cool Cars & Tech

The evolution of the car show

Rain or shine, gearheads flock to new event to view vintage rides

Published August 3, 2013

What if you threw a car show and nobody came? A scary thought.

It crossed Janet Klein Slavin’s mind shortly after she started pondering a cruise-in as something different for the Prosserman Jewish Community Centre’s annual open house in June.

But when you’re not a gearhead with good contacts, where do you begin? It takes more than a few orange highway cones and a guy in a “Chevy 4-Ever” T-shirt directing traffic.

Slavin, senior programs co-ordinator at the centre in North York, had no idea how to put flesh on the bones of her idea. Nor could she find anyone to advise her.

She turned to Wheels for help. And Wheels got her in touch with some knights of the road in shining autos.

“I would like to have a classic or vintage-car event … and don’t know who to reach to inquire if this is possible,” she explained in an email to me.

“I have been Googling like crazy and come up with nothing, although I have seen such events throughout the city.”

Yes, indeed. There are car shows and cruises all over the GTA, every week from spring through fall. If you know where to look.

“Are there already too many?” Slavin asked anxiously on the phone. “Are they too popular? Would ours just get lost?”

Not at all.

People can’t get enough of them. And her plan to include a barbecue, live music and free admission certainly won’t hurt.

The key is in getting the word out, both to participants and spectators. And sooner rather than later. There are only so many dates in a car buff’s calendar and they fill up pretty quickly.

Timing can be an issue. From originally looking at Father’s Day, Slavin decided another Sunday might work better. Good thinking. Dads won’t be quite as spoiled for choice.

I sent her an online list of local clubs that might offer some advice.

In less than an hour, she’d made contact with Danny Facchini, president of the Newmarket-based Highway 11 Cruisers. Formed in 2011 and with 97 members, the club is very active in charity and community work.

It hosts a cruise night every Tuesday, May 21 through Oct. 8, at Harvey’s Restaurant on Yonge St. in Newmarket, as well as staging larger events.

Facchini suggested an on-site meeting so he could check out the centre’s parking lot (Slavin wasn’t sure how many spaces would be available) and take it from there.

“I’m thinking it could probably accommodate about 160 cars,” he told me. “So we’d need maybe seven volunteers to run things and then everybody else just to show up.”

Eventually, the centre settled on Sunday, Aug. 18 for its classic car show and barbecue. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., there will be music, children’s activities and food available for purchase.

“I think it’ll be a blast,” says Facchini. “(It will) Raise awareness for the centre, bring the community closer. We’ll put out a call for people.”

Facchini drives a ’79 Pontiac Trans Am. The club is open to “any vehicle, as long as it’s modified. We even have tractor-trailers, done up for shows.”

Members, men and women, range in age from 22 to 70, he says. The weekly events at Harvey’s average 110 hot rods and up to 50 motorcycles, Facchini says. “But we did a bigger show at Upper Canada Mall that brought out 823 cars.”

So what Slavin has in mind doesn’t phase him at all. But what if it rains?

“What if it does?” he says. “People will come out anyway. What the heck, their car’s already wet. We’ve done shows in the pouring rain and had a great time.”

Rain or shine, if you’re interested in the Prosserman show, contact Slavin at janet@prossermanjcc.com.

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