As the last moments of 1999 ticked away the world anxiously awaited the arrival of Y2K. Some people believed our society would grind to a halt when the computers that we have grown dependent upon would fail to acknowledge the year 2000. The New Year came and nothing changed, or did it?
Once again we are starting our Club calendar of events with Auto Rama. We displayed 8 Club cars in this, our 14th Club showing. The results were as follows. Four first place awards, two second place awards, one fourth place and one sixth place award.
The Club took the “Best Club Display” by Auto Rama and by Sponsors Choice. After 14 years of hauling cars to downtown Cleveland in the dead of winter the show had started to get a little long in the tooth. No one knew it at the time, but this was our last Auto Rama display as a Club.
On February 26th we once again visited the Detroit Auto Rama. 55 people attended the annual bus trip to the Nations top rated car show. After a day of walking and talking the hungry travelers made a stop in Toledo, Ohio for a welcomed dinner.
Erin Chase, the representative from Ronald McDonald House attended our February Club meeting. She came to thank us for last years efforts, our mid year fund raiser. She was also there to answer any questions pertaining to our 2000 Charity Cruise. That night we were informed that we ranked in the top 10% for private contributions to the House.
A humorous note from the Cleveland International Car Show at the IX Center. Thanks to the American Cruiser Car Club we were invited to display our cars in the Classic Car Show downstairs. Our Club members could clearly hear spectator comments about our cars being displayed. Many self proclaimed experts identified Ed Pezak’s Cobra as everything from a Mustang to a Corvette. Someone thought it was a BMW. Another person was sure it was the display car from American Commodore Tuxedo. Sue Pezak’s Mustang had come from a museum. Gary “Chico” Oberc’s Merc was in the movie “Grease”. They say humor is the best medicine. These automotive wizards served up enough laughter to brighten up the long days.
Our cruise season began May 16th with the Millennium Cruise. The schedule ran to mid October ending with the Halloween Cruise. Charity night was Tuesday night, August 22nd.
In the year 2000 we would lose some valuable parking spaces at the south end of the Solon Commons parking lot. RTA extended its bus line to the Solon parking lot when they built a bus shelter to accommodate travelers from Solon and Cleveland.
We had two Test-N-Tune dates for the season. The June 4th date was a complete success. The same can’t be said for the September 4th date. Did you guess rain may have been a problem? Now you know why they call Thompson Drag Raceway “The Thunder Capital”.
June 3rd, ten cars traveled to Pickle Bills in Grand River for another Mystery Cruise.
One Tuesday night cruise stood out for its strange turn of events. The cloudy, over-cast evening of June 27th did not look very promising. Club President George Lemmerman showed up in his daily driver. The rains failed to materialize. The lot filled to capacity and the cars still were coming. The police gave permission to park cars in one fire lane. When the gates were shut we had show cars lined up all the way down Aurora Road to Cochran Road. You may be asking yourself “what was the attraction”? It was Corvette night.
Summer Club events would include the Garfield Heights Home Days where we displayed 32 cars. The Bedford/Bedford Heights 4th of July Parade won us first place in the Antique/Classic Car division. The $100.00 prize was made possible by the 16 cars representing our Club.
The Bedford Street Fair was always a favorite event for many of our members. 20 Club cars showed up for the July 15th event.
Once again Timberlake Park in Solon was the site of out Club picnic on July 23rd.
I have not mentioned a charity event that I was involved with a year earlier because it was not an official Club event. Because of the large number of Club members involved in the 1999 and the 2000 events and the conditions that they endured I thought it would only be proper to include the events as part of out Club History.
In 1999 I agreed to help the people from Rolling Thunder to get some show cars to ride along with their Charity Motorcycle run from the Solon VFW to the Brecksville VA Hospital. Once there we would display our cars for the Vets at the Hospital and take part in their cookout/picnic. 1999 went off without a problem. I had someone else drive my motorcycle. George Lemmerman brought his motor cycle as did Chuck Mote. We had a total of 35 Club cars and several hundred motor cycles on the road with a police escort from start to finish. Imagine driving 20 plus miles through a dozen cities and not stopping once.
The July 29th, 2000 Charity Run and Cook-out was to be an exact copy of the year before. As I left my house in the Mustang I thanked God for my roof and wind shield wipers. It was pouring down rain. The Rolling Thunder people ride rain or shine. I know that car people are a different breed. I was 100% sure I would be the only car to show up. To my surprise Ed and Sue Pezak pulled up with the Cobra. This is a semi topless car when the top is up. Rick Krawczyk showed up with his new show car that he claims had never been in the rain until that day. One by one more Club cars were showing up. When we pulled out of the parking lot we had 27 Rock-N-Roll Capital Street Machines. The rain let up along the way, and at the Hospital three more Club cars were there waiting for us.
I had people set up a video camera along the route to film both of these Charity Runs plus I was given some video from the Rolling Thunder people. I have enjoyed these tapes many times. I feel a sense of pride in knowing that all these people would come out under these conditions to pay their respects to our veterans.
There were plenty of events the Club participated in 2000. July 30th ,Loehman’s Plaza Cruise, July 30th, The Solon Home Days Parade, Our very successful Charity Cruise on August 22nd, and we were the featured Car Club at the Streetsboro Wal-Mart Cruise on August 24th.
Friday night, August 18th, our Club made its TV debut on the Big Chuck and Little John show. Imagine turning on your TV and seeing all those familiar faces.
Some of my favorite Club events were the hay rides. On September 23rd, 52 people enjoyed chicken, ribs, side dishes, beverages, and an endless array of desserts and snacks. This hay ride took place at Meadow Ridge Farm, about an hour drive east of Cleveland. There were two hay wagons running nonstop. The rides through the country side would last about 45 minutes.
The night ended as it began, indoors, in front of a huge fire place. A white elephant party and door prizes ended the night.
I cannot do the justice our 2000 Charity Cruise really deserves without writing an entire chapter. Here is a recap of parts of the night.
Dennis Gage from the hit TV show “My Classic Car” was our main attraction. Someone saw to it that all the newspapers would spread the word. The thought of being on television attracted car owners we have never seen before. By 9:00 a.m. they began to arrive from Marietta, Oh, Pittsburg, Pa. and everywhere in between. By 1:00 p.m. the lot was half full for a show that was to start at 6:00 p.m. At 5:00 p.m. the lot was full, and cars began to fill the surrounding lots, grassy areas and the field behind the Commons. Solon streets were grid locked. Traffic backed up on the Route 422 freeway. Aurora Rd was at a standstill from S.O.M. Center Road west to Bedford Heights. The Police department had to take charge. An estimated 3,000 show cars were turned away.
The Charity Cruise turned out to be a huge success. Dawn Conover, the Ronald McDonald House representative gratefully accepted our check for $4,368.20 at the September Club Meeting.
Once again the subject of switching Charities came up at the October Club Meeting. We voted to stay with Ronald McDonald House for another year.
The “My Classic Car” episode that was filmed at our Charity Cruise was shown on National Syndication the week of December 4th to the 12th. Copies of the episode were available on VHS from My Classic Car for $15.00
As the year drew to a close we lost one of our original members. Chet Matusik always had a smile and a kind word. Whenever there was a job to be done, Chet was there to help out. If you knew him you will have missed him.
Thankfully the Christmas party has not changed throughout the years. Someone has always stepped up to make sure that young and old alike would have a wonderful time and an enjoyable meal.
Your fellow cruiser, Joe Artale, member since 1987.