TOM GOMEZ February 22, 2023 All Feature Vehicles
We were invited to the 8th Annual Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion car show in beautiful Ontario, California. A celebration of America’s love affair with the automobile and the world-famous highway, Route 66.
Held annually each September along historic Euclid Avenue, this isn’t your ordinary car show, there were contests, live entertainment, great-tasting food all along the downtown streets making this one of the best events of its kind.
Two days of custom cars on display and of all kinds cruisin’. From classics, hot rods, lowriders, and the wild custom rat rods were all making a strong presence this year.
One of the great things about this show is, it’s a family-friendly event with activities for adults and kids alike. We had fun checking out all the activities and vendors that seem to be on every corner.
The Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion created by the Greater Ontario Visitors & Convention Bureau works on this event a year in advance to ensure the show is not only a success but to make it better year after year and boy did they pull out all the stops on this year’s event.
We were chosen to be one of the judges of the show and what a difficult job that was. The tough part was picking that one car that was the DRIVE Magazine’s Choice Award. Talk about choices. To make our job a little easier the great folks of the show provided us with a golf cart to cruise the 3-blocks packed with custom cars and trucks one way and make a U-turn and cruise the 3-blocks of custom cars and trucks the opposite way. We could never cover that much territory on foot, packing camera equipment and stopping at almost every vehicle to give it the attention needed to judge it correctly. So thank you Greater Ontario Visitors & Convention Bureau folks for that much-needed transportation.
We were told that 500 vehicles had pre-registered and by the day of the show that number grew in the neighborhood of 900-plus custom cars and trucks in attendance on the final day.
900-plus custom cars and trucks in attendance on the final day.
We met one car owner who traveled all the way from Arizona in a custom-built rat rod truck. If you know anything about rat rods they are not your average show car. They are usually vehicles from the ’20s, ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s. This one was from the late ’20s and looked like it was held together with rust. We asked him how long it took to trailer his truck to California? He replied, trailer? I drove this thing all the way down here. Holy moly and Dale Earnhardt Jr. we couldn’t believe it made it. We take that back. We did believe it once we looked at the craftsmanship that was put into that vehicle. Ingenuity was the key factor in building that truck. We loved it!
As we cruised the streets we were met with happy people waving and asking us if our golf cart was custom-built and how much money we had in it? We know sarcasm when we hear it. Good times folks, good times!
In addition to the rows of cars, there were food vendors selling dee-licious hot dogs, burgers, bar-b-que, and sweet treats that you can imagine. But we couldn’t stop and try any, we had judging to do!
As nighttime fell, so did the temperature and the cool southern California breeze took over. It definitely re-energized us and we got ready for the award ceremony.
The Mayor’s award was given by Ontario Mayor Paul Leon to Larry and Belinda Trinidad and their 1952 Chevy Styleline Deluxe. As we mentioned earlier it was difficult to pick just one car, but eventually at the far end of the show there it was. A 1965 Buick Riviera in pristine condition with an even more pristine interior. We found our vehicle. John Florez was the owner of this immaculate Buick and he told us the story of how it became the cool ride that it is today. Lots of hours and hard work, he said.
As the last award was being handed out it was time for us to return our beloved golf cart and say goodbye to all the new friends we met that day. We wanted to give special thanks to Carol Popejoy and her staff for making our stay a blast and taking care of us.
Walking away from the golf cart barn we realized that we had parked several blocks away and lugging camera equipment was starting to hinder our stride down the street.
Boy, we sure could have used a golf cart right now. Now, where did we park?
See you next year Route 66 fans!
BEST OF SHOW
1931 Packard Super 8 – Jose Chacon
DRIVE! MAGAZINE EDITOR’S CHOICE AWARD
1965 Buick Riviera – John Florez
PETERSEN Automotive Museum Youth Award
1956 Chevy Bel Air – Joe Lozano
EDITOR’S CHOICE AWARD FROM CHEVY HARDCORE
1965 Chevy El Camino – Dean Torso
STREET MUSCLE EDITOR’S CHOICE AWARD
1971 Chevy Camaro – Solon Towner
MAYOR’S CHOICE AWARD
1952 Chevy Styleline Deluxe – Larry & Belinda Trinidad
2021 SHOW WINNERS
20s STOCK: 1914 Buick – Bob Obermeyer
30s STOCK: 938 Chevy Coupe – Leo Galvan
30s MODIFIED: 1936 Plymouth Tudor – Will Estrada
40s STOCK: 1940 Chevy Coupe – Vincent Terrones
40s MODIFIED: 1948 Chevy Fleetmaster – Tony Herrera
50s STOCK: 1955 Chevy Bel Air – Mike Mendoza
50s MODIFIED: 1951 Mercury Coupe – John Zepeda
60s STOCK: 1962 Chevy Bel Air Wagon – Raymond Ernandez
60s MODIFIED: 1969 Chevy Caprice – Art Mendoza
70s STOCK: 1972 Chevy Chevelle – Norberto Corna
70s MODIFIED: 1978 Ford T-Bird – Roy Rubio