Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Our little band of cruisers left Stafford, VA on Saturday to attend the annual Hoppers Auto Club, Fall Halloween Auto Show in Stephens City, VA. It’s an 83 mile cruise so we decided to run up the day before the show and motel overnight so we would not be so tired the day of the show. Dan & Ramona did that last year and it seemed to work out just fine. Dan reserved rooms about ½ a block away from the event….a really cool idea. We checked in then walked to one of the nearby restaurants for dinner….then back to the motel’s front porch and a few hours of conversation while we enjoyed the cool evening.

Sunday morning, after breakfast we started to leave and found that the hot rods had developed a glacial crust on them….frost! That was weird since they all usually live inside a garage! After scraping off the frost (yeah right!), we moseyed over to the event where Dan picked out a primo spot with grass adjacent to the asphalt parking lot. That’s one of the downsides of staying in a motel, you carry a lot of support stuff that can’t be left in the car during the show….we needed a lot of extra room and Dan found it! We have attended this show three times but family conflicts prevented us from attending last year’s event. Those pesky grandchildren….I mean how many times do we have to have a birthday party for the munchkins anyway. I figure one sometime before they are 18 and that ought to do it….I know I know, Hallmark has my picture with a red slash mark across it by their cash register…. As soon as we were about set up Fred & Debie and Tony drove in….we scrunched our cars together a little closer so they could fit in with us. It’s good to see others from Stafford venture out to other events….especially these cruisers….they make the banter a lot more fun!

The Hoppers Auto Club has been around since 1959 and they do know how to run a show like an atomic clock! The registration process was a little tense for me….till I was directed to a door with the very large red sign that said “REGISTRATION”….who would have thought of a sign? I always go to the canopy near the DJ and give them my money….not here….it was way too sophisticated for me….grin And the fee was $10….when was the last time you attended a show for $10? The DJ, Fred C., took care of the announcements and music all day….always playing genre appropriate tunes. Usually the food at car shows is not….too….fancy. Some is just shy of a science project but still mostly edible. But the vendor at this show had really good food. You can always tell because so many people revisited the vendor for seconds and beyond….even the Princess went up twice!

Let’s get in my way-back machine and see what’s going on at Fontana Drag City in the early 60’s when J&M Speed Center was racing their red '62 Chevy. We could usually always find a little more horsepower but getting it on the strip was the dilemma. The rear tire selection was limited to about 7” wide recap slicks and when we found the HP it went up in smoke! So some started setting up the cars with the front up in the air….a lot up in the air. The theory was that more weight would be on the back tires when they launched the car. Some physics magic about moment arms times thrust conversion over the reticulated dingle arm would propel the car like a moon rocket!? This is where the Altered Wheel Base cars came from that morphed into Funny Cars. Anyway some racers got the bright idea that since it was the amount of weight transferring to the back tires if you had more weight to begin with it would be better. So….a station wagon or panel delivery had lots more weight over the back half of the car….hmmm So we started seeing the large, boxy race cars actually doing well. It’s rare to see one of the old wagon race cars complete with the fender well headers, straight front axle with 10 spokes, white wall cheater slicks with spun aluminum discs and the front jacked up to the nosebleed seats….but here we were treated to two of the dinosaurs that wouldn’t die! AND both of them ’57 Chevys to boot. There were many other throwbacks from our drag racing roots on display.... which is always something good to see. Another unusal car was the stock blue '64 Studebaker Daytona R2, with the Paxton blower! You have to check out the pictures.

The judging is by participant voting. This usually ends up with whoever brings the most friends wins….not here! You had to vote for your favorite 30 vehicles out of the 156 registered entrants….yes 30. That evens out the friends deal….unless you bring 30 friends….hmmmm….that could work! This event is always attended by a high percent of Mopars, so if you worship at the Pentstar you will like this event. This is another one of the 5 shows each year that we try to attend….and so should you!

Since it’s a Halloween show a lot of the entrants decorated their vehicles….which was different. Most of the time owners go apoplectic if anyone gets near their vehicle but Sunday they draped all manner of things across their rides….and gave away treats to anyone that got near their vehicle! You have to check out the pictures. The club wound up the event around 3:30….the Princess won a top 30 plaque….I hope that satisfies her till March!? It was fun watching the cars leave on Rt. 11….I always liked to tickle the loud pedal on the RedRat when I left….the Princessmobile just makes little mouse noises….chuckle The cruise back home was uneventful, the day was superb and all enjoyed running the Virginia roads…. giving people something to wave at. I love this hobby!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Cookies 1, Slacker 0

Friday evening we cruised to the BK in N. Stafford and about 5 cars showed up! I think that ends the season for us….it’s just too cold to sit in the parking lot….we’ll wait for spring to start enjoying that cruise again.

Saturday we met with Ron and cruised 37 miles to Bowling Green, VA and their 17th Annual Harvest Festival, Car & Truck Show. This was to be the 6th time we have attended the event and we have always enjoyed ourselves. The event draws participants from Maryland and Virginia so the mix of vehicles is always diverse. This year there were about 170 cars registered and of those about 160 were very high quality cars. And most of the entrants drove their vehicles from home….not many trailers except for the few race cars! There were too many very nice cars to pick from and I’m sure the judges had their hands full trying to decide which ones were the best! There were 8 ’55 Chevys that ranged from bone stock to highly modified….I liked the black over red one the best! Then the red ‘32 Ford stake body PU and the red flip front early 50’s Ford PU was perfect. And the red ’33 Ford highboy tub with the rumble seat….how many of those have you seen around? There were two ’54 Chevys….a near bone stock black & white and a custom two tone green one….you choose! I also liked the blue ’34 Ford PU and Mr. O’Neale’s ’30 Sedan Delivery. I don’t usually comment on the Best of Show winners but the green ’69 Plymouth Road Runner seems to be running the board at shows around here! If the owner wasn’t such a nice guy I would say it’s getting monotonous….but this car is the best example of a ’69 RR I have seen, check it out. The event also had a display of antique farm tractors and stationary engines that always attracts a lot of attention. I could give almost all the cars a shout out but you have to check out the pictures of the event and decide for yourself.

This is a “Town” event….the Main Street is secured for show vehicles and all kinds of vendors, especially food vendors. Like cookies, crab cakes, cookies, cotton candy, cookies, BBQ, cookies, curly fries, cookies, Oriental food, cookies, kettle corn and the Church Ladies were selling homemade pies, cakes, candy and believe it or not cookies too! Everyone within 50 miles knows this event is like a carnival without the rides! A lot of spectators walk through the display, sometimes it’s shoulder to shoulder! Which makes it difficult to get clear, sun in the correct position, people free pictures of each vehicle….I had to wait a while at each vehicle for a clear shot….it took me about 4 hrs to take the pictures of 170 vehicles! Way too long….but that is what these kinds of events are….it’s all good.

The event is run with the precision of an English subway (tube) and everything happens on time….which is good for those that want to move on after the show is over. I don’t attend the award ceremonies but the Princess usually does….but this time she was sitting in her “Princess” chair enjoying a homemade peach pie and missed the award announcement while she was munching out! Luckily Ron was near the award ceremony and he picked up the Princesses top 21 award! Thanks Ron….there would be wailing and gnashing of teeth if she ever found out she missed a trophy….you have no idea!

We packed up and headed for the last cruise of the year in Orange, VA at the BK on Rt. 15. It was 65 miles of scenic Virginia country roads to take in but along the way I started feeling a little queasy…. It couldn’t be the 73 oatmeal cookies I ate at Bowling Green…..could it? The closer we got to Orange the sicker I became. I didn’t know what was going to happen but I knew it wouldn’t’ end well! So when we arrived we sat awhile in the Princessmobile but my condition was going downhill….I told DJ Ron we had to go home. I knew the Orange County Cruisers had planned a great evening of games for all….I really wanted to stay for the event. A lot of people were dressing up themselves and their rides in their Halloween best….it was going to be a night to remember but we decided it was better if we leave. So we cruised 58 miles home…. It was a wimpy end for a great day driving Mrs. Daisy around in the Princessmobile.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Hot Wire Man and other Heros....

Friday evening we met some friends at the Burger King in N. Stafford, VA for the weekly cruise. We had 16 special cars show up and a number of spectators walking through the mix asking questions about the cars. The Princess and I left about 8:30 because we had a long day in the morning….very long.

Saturday Andrew met us at our home and our two cars began the trek to the Culpeper Regional Airport’s, 12th annual AirFest….in the dark, 5:40AM Along the way we met Dan & Ramona then we all cruised on….in the dark….in the fog….in deer mating season….did I mention it was dark & foggy? The headlights on the Princessmobile are 10” ’34 Ford Commercial units. They are larger than the standard 7” headlights but they don’t throw much of a beam….they are really bright but the brightness ends about 25’ in front of the car. When I drove the RedRat the headlights were like laser beams and since she always followed me I never worried about the headlights on her car….now I need to worry! The country roads we travel don’t always have centerlines ….or ….sidelines. So when it’s dark and foggy I almost have to drive by feel letting the bumpiness of the car as it goes off the edge of the road tell me to turn left a little….not a friendly feeling. We started seeing dead deer carcasses on the side of the road too, about 438 of them. But we have to preserver on to the event; we are in charge so we can’t let a little thing like not being able to see the road slow us down!? And besides dodging the deer is like playing a video game….except for the Princess screaming things like “where are the hunters when you need them?” and “Bambi had it coming”. Then she muttered something about why the deer didn’t use their crossings, the yellow signs with the running deer silhouette, that way we would know where to watch out for them? I need my own car! About the time we were half way to the event another group left N. Stafford for the same destination….in the dark, fog, deer mating season and all that previously detailed excitement. That group was led by Fred and assisted by Ron. They put the original Ford Model T between them so the group was paced to the speed of the Model T. Like anyone could go fast in the dark, fog, deer mating season and it was cold for an open car too!

Our group arrived at the airport before sunup and Matt’s sinister black 38 Pontiac was already waiting in the parking lot! We worked out some details of the display while we waited for the rest of the thundering herds to descend upon us. Andrew would be out on Beverly Ford Rd. to sort out the display vehicles from the spectator vehicles then direct the display vehicles to me in the parking lot. I would explain to the owners how we wanted them parked then direct them to Dan who was in the display field. Dan would park the vehicles to get the most exposure for the vehicles and at the same time ensure there was adequate distance between vehicles so the spectators could maneuver without impacting the display vehicles. He wanted to also have enough room for those that may want to erect a canopy. This year we had a treat for the spectators in Ron’s Alcohol dragster. This vehicle was very popular with the spectators all day! Soon the rest of the display group started rolling in and we ran around, waving our arms and somehow got everyone in their place by 8:30….whew. Some of the ladies huddled under Fred & Debie’s canopy most of the day….talking and laughing to the point that Fred had to leave the area before his head exploded….with that many ladies all talking at the same time it gets real scary….and I think they have mastered talking while they breathe? It’s like 5 chain saws running at the same time! It’s nonstop….it’s amazing….it’s other worldly….us mere men do not stand a chance.

Our display is meant to be an addition to the total day’s event and not to be a distraction from the airshow. The participants are picked so we have a diverse group of vehicles to show the spectators and that the owners enjoy talking about their vehicles. We feel that aviation and automobile interests are intertwined and can be enjoyed together….so the airport has allowed us to set up this display for three years now! We also use this event for Prince William Cruisers to present Ray & Terry with the donations they have collected during the year for Wounded Warrior Project. This year the Cruisers gave Ray & Terry a check for $5100! There was also another $600 collected for WWP at the event….what a day for WWP!

The day was perfect, weather wise, and program unfolded with mechanical certainty. Tanya, the Airport manager, and her staff made the day seem to roll along perfectly. The vendors were varied and numerous. The restroom facilities were first rate for an event like this. And the flying was superb!

I am a recovering pilot wannabe and washed myself out after 9 hrs. of flight time a long long time ago. My Dad was a fighter pilot in the big war and was intent on helping me follow in his flying shoes…. So when I was 16 he said it was time I quit talking about it and start learning how to fly….so my short introduction to the majestic discipline of flying started. Since I was an Air Force brat, he was going to teach me at the aero club at Minot AFB where he was stationed. He was one of the instructors in the aero club and had a gazillion hours in a lot of different airplanes, (P-51, F-80, F-84, F-86 to name a few). So after many hrs. of ground school, at home, it was time to learn how to be a birdman. It was winter and the airplane we used was a Cesena 140. We had to have two Herman Nelson heaters to go flying, one to heat up the engine and one to heat up the cockpit! And I had to prop the engine to start it….on PSP….in the snow & ice….yeah flying was going to be fun!? So off we went but I soon discovered that I couldn’t keep from looking at the ground as we flew around, it was so interesting to me to investigate the different perspective of our earthbound environs. Dad had to keep telling me to watch out for other airplanes and watch the horizon and the gauges and our location over the ground and too many other things more important than looking at the wondrous landscape unfolding under me. I wasn’t a good student…. This was in 1960 and I guess not much was really understood about Clear Air Turbulence…. The runway we used was the active runway for the base….which had B-52G’s and F-106’s using the same runway. I guess they are great generators of CAT? After I had about 9hrs of instruction my Dad was nudging me to think about soloing soon. I was set up for landing and we were on final, about 100’ in the air and all of a sudden the airplane shook and jumped around and when the disturbance was over the airplane was pointing almost perpendicular to the runway and we were still losing altitude. My Dad kicked the little 140 around and landed….I was frozen….I got out and told him that was enough for me…..and I have been a ground grabber ever since. I still love airplanes but I have no interest in flying them myself but I do have a great appreciation and respect for those that embrace all the nuances of flight, they are truly masters of their realm.

The flying demonstrations of the day were perfect and the formation flying was very impressive. But most of the spectators, including us, were waiting for Art Nall and his flight demonstration in the only civilian owned Harrier in the world! If you have never seen a Harrier fly you are truly missing something in your life. The first time I saw a Harrier was in the early ‘60s at Edwards AFB. It was called the P-1127 Kestrel then and was being tested to see if it would fit our Country’s needs. The announcer told everyone that off in the distance was the new VTOL airplane being tested at Edwards and that it was going to give us a demonstration of its flying prowess to include a vertical takeoff. It was a hot day in the desert and the little airplane whistled and moaned then bounced from one wheel to another but couldn’t get airborne! It made a lot of noise and black smoke but just taxied around a while then went back into a hanger…. But now the little screamer is a proven piece of battle hardware that in the capable hands of its pilots is a force to be reckoned with. And this is the only time anyone gets to see one outside of a Military airshow….it’s a real treat. After the Harrier flew the crowd started to leave….a fitting end of a really great day at the airport.

We all broke camp and started to cruise to N. Stafford but one of our group had a little problem firing up his ride….but have no fear….hot wire man is here! It took one guy to figure out how to start it, one guy to corroborate the fix, one guy to donate the wire and the rest of us walking around looking serious with deeply furrowed brow and pointing authoritatively to the engine compartment while we muttered things like….12v, 7 1/16, terminal end, ballast resistor, flooded, linkage lockage, secondary wire and other phrases better left out of a family dissertation. But the beast finally relinquished its stubborn grip on silence and roared to life….so with one of hot rodding’s little annoyances behind us we all jumped in our cars to leave only to find out another vehicle was being stubborn….but hot wire man to the rescue again and that one was fixed too….THEN we really did begin our cruise back home.

When we arrived at Bruster’s in N. Stafford the year end “Blow Out” show was in progress so we parked out on the outer perimeter parking area then walked to Sam’s Restaurant for dinner. We met with Steve & Sally from the Prince William Cruisers who joined our group to share a meal. We all enjoyed each other’s company while time marched on and by the time we got back to the show it was almost over! Oh well….another fun filled day with friends and hot rods….what’s not to like?

Be sure to check out the pictures and video at;

Monday, October 3, 2011

Here comes winter

Friday we cruised to BK in N. Stafford and enjoyed a pleasant evening with friends. There were about 12 cars in the parking lot when we went inside to grab a burger. This year the seasons around here changed from summer to fall on September 23rd at 5:05AM EDT then to winter on September 23rd at 7:15AM EDT. It now gets in the high 40’s when the sun goes down. That makes sitting outside in lawn chairs not really relaxing and fun but rather a test of controlling your trembling body parts while you try to talk normally. Your hand gets so cold that when someone gives you a cup of coffee you don’t know it’s burning your hand until you start asking if someone is barbequing close by! So….the Princess informed me that unless the temperature was more to her liking, she would not need her chair taken out of the coupe for a while!? I told her to be careful because she would have a lot of trouble getting up and down from the curb….I thought it was funny….apparently the correct comment was that I would find a heated chair for her….and the beat goes on….

Saturday I got up and checked the weather outside at 5:00 AM….a little cool but no rain….so I began getting everything ready to go to the tenth annual Christ Episcopal Church show in Spotsylvania, VA. At 6:15 the driveway was wet! The weatherguessers were showing rain around us and more coming from the south west. So I called the cruisers that expressed an interest in going with us at the Friday night cruise and we decided to wait till 9 AM to cruise to the event. The ground might still be wet but the show was still “on” so we would see how the morning unfolded.

Ron met us at WAWA and we all cruised the 35 miles to the event. We parked on asphalt and set up for the day. There were about 75 cars in attendance which is less than previous years…..no doubt because of the rain. But there were still some nice cars that did venture out. An unusual vehicle was the red ’58 GMC coe….not many of these around. The yellow ’56 Chevy pickup was a nice ride too. Almost all the rest are vehicles were ones that we see at most shows and cruises so no surprises to write about.

When I have written about this show in the past I always mention the raucous cannon firing. The noise is very loud and never at any consistent interval….and it is rarely announced when it will be fired. So to say that it startles everyone within a mile or so is being way too kind. I guess I have gotten a little numb to the concussion it makes as it really wasn’t bothering me like it has done before. But I decided to wander around and find out what was making everyone jumpy. The noise came from a Civil War re-enactment group that had set up a Confederate “camp” next to the show. They had a ‘Mountain’ cannon that they shot, without a projectile, every so often….the man I talked to said they shot it at regular intervals but I don’t think so. I was going to enlighten him about what “regular intervals” meant to the rest of the world but then thought better of my emotional response….after all he did have a bigger gun! And off in the distance four of his friends were coming back to their camp! So I told him to have a nice day and strolled back to the safety of the cars….

This show is a collaborative endeavor in that the Prince William Cruisers assist with part of the workforce behind the scenes. Roger guides the church members that assist. They have quilt raffles, food sales, vendor items and generally make the execution of this show very seamless. The judging was done quickly and they began giving the awards out a little early. Since this is the last show the church is putting on….it made it special just to be there. We packed up and cruised back to N. Stafford and home. We were going to attend the Bruster’s cruise after the show but the cold had taken a toll on us….we would need the warmth of our fireplace and much rest for the next day. We are to leave at O dark thirty for PA to visit our youngest daughter and her family, and then return home the same day!