Let's cruiz

·4 min read

Sep. 16—Some folks buy a vehicle, keep it a handful of years or so then move on to something different.

That's not the case with several members of 20th Century Chevy Car Club including Tom Underwood, Mike McLemore, Kenny Wright and Kenny Free who will all be participating in the 44th Annual Cruiz-in and Carfest this weekend at Eastside Park.

"Anyone who has had a car for 50 years is just awesome," said Underwood, who ordered his Corvette Sept. 24, 1964. "It was supposed to be my birthday and Christmas that year. The car was made on Dec. 12 and made it to me on Jan. 19."

Underwood used the flashy red car as a daily driver for a number of years and after he got married, the car was put into retirement.

"At one point, I thought about trading it in or selling it," said Underwood, who said when he originally ordered the car, he wanted blue but was convinced by the dealership that red would be better and be worth more later on.

In fact, one time, Underwood had the car loaded up and ready to go to a potential buyer out of state. That fell through and now Underwood said he's lucky it did.

"It set idle for around 30 years," said Underwood. "Then last year, a friend of Larry McLin approached me and said he wanted to help me get the car going again."

The Corvette was loaded on a trailer and taken to Omaha where it was tuned up and is ready to hit the road again.

"He had it out in Omaha for around six months," said Underwood, who said the car is in it's original condition. "This is the first time I'll be in the Cruiz with it."

McLemore and his wife, Diane, keep their 1940 Chevy Coupe on the road.

"I've owned the car for 54 years," said McLemore, who said their car has appeared in every Frog Folley car show, for cars built before 1949, except the first one. "We've taken it to Panama City, South Dakota. We take it a lot and have even displayed it at the U.S. Nationals."

The sleek coupe attracts a lot of attention and garners awards with its black and dark cherry paint scheme. It also helped him catch the eye of Diane many years ago.

"I was out in the car and she saw it. I asked her if she wanted to go for a ride," said McLemore who is a founding member of the local car club. "We did and the rest is history."

Kenny Free has owned his turquoise and white 1956 Chevy Bel Air for 56 years and he's also an original member of the 20th Century Chevy Car Club.

"When I asked Linda out, my roadster was in the shop so I drove the Bel Air. I ran out of gas on the way to pick her up so I ended up meeting her dad over at the neighbor's house and he brought me five gallons of gas," said Free, who is also Underwood's brother-in-law.

The awkward first meeting didn't seem to bother Linda. She and Free have now been married 51 years.

Wright has owned his 1955 Chevy Bel Air for 52 years.

"This car is coming out of hibernation," said Wright who said the red and black car was just reupholstered the beginning of June. "I didn't do a lot with it until I retired and it's been an extensive project. I want to make sure we get it done right."

Registration for the Cruiz-in will open at 2:30 p.m. Saturday with the cars rolling off for the drive promptly at 5:30 p.m. Open to vehicles year 2000 and older, registration is $15.

Once the Cruiz is complete, live entertainment will be offered at the park.

Sunday's festivities will start at 8 a.m. when registration opens for the car show. As is tradition, 19 awards will be given to participates.

"We have the same awards we do every year," said McLemore. "One that is different is that this time we will doing a golf cart and trailer donated by Sharp Trailers as our raffle instead of a car."

McLemore said the golf cart is street legal.

"We've had a lot of people say they really like this," said Underwood.

A silent auction will once again feature items donated from area businesses. Proceeds from the purchase of those items help support the Christmas project the club takes on each years as well as other projects. Vendors and a swap meet will also be taking place.