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How A Muscle Car Show Can Come To An End

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By Mark Weisseg

This story is a tough one to write. It all started in the summer of 2001. A large church bought the property a few years back from a local Drive in movie. The drive in was named the Wexford Starlight Drive in. Like so many other drive ins the attendance was shrinking. It hurt me as when I was a teenager we spent many Friday nights at this drive in. But, time marches on. The church now owned the property and its pastor- Jay Passavant had an idea. He loved old cars so he started a Friday night car show. At first the numbers were small. Maybe 30 cars would show up between 5pm and 9pm. But, the little show was fun and local.

However, the show grew quickly. Soon there were hundreds of cars showing up. The show expanded from just the lower lot to an upper lot that had paved areas as well as a grassy area. Volunteers were needed to park cars correctly, keep pedestrians safe, and to control traffic safety. Then, a DJ was added for live music and announcements. After that local businesses started erecting tents to sell there wares. The next step was food vendors, face painting for children, a section for motorcycles, and it all was free.

What started out as a old car show turned into hot rods, classics, trucks, fire trucks, class 8 rigs, military vehicles, and all other kinds of cool vehicles. The show then started a blessing for the bikes, a prayer and the national anthem, and other such events. Soon if you did not arrive by 3pm you had to park in the upper lot. The weekly attendance now was over a thousand vehicles every week.

A web site was now added and the word spread like fire. Quickly cars and trucks were coming from Ohio, West Virginia, and all over the state of Pennsylvania. The Friday night cruise had now become the largest weekly show on the east coast. The average weekly attendance now was approaching twenty five hundred cars. Spectators now were in the hundreds. It was the social event of the week for many in the area. Some of us feared the show would become too large to handle. The local police were often cruising around but in seventeen years there was never any issue that needed police assistance.

Well, the church was growing as well. They have about four thousand members and have services Saturday’s and Sundays. Then the church did something none of us saw coming. They sold the large upper lot to major medical company. Quickly we lost the upper lot and that cut out hundreds of spaces that were sorely needed. So in turn the lower lot was still in operation but the spaces filled up quickly. Some people were dropping off cars the night before or getting there in the mornings of show night. These actions hurt the people like myself that were working and could not be there that early. It really was a big adjustment.

Well, we all adjusted to the new way of doing a car show but we all missed the ” old days” of having over two thousand cars a week. Still, the show was always packed with cars, trucks, bikes, vendors, photographers, drones, and more. It was a blast and everyone had a great time. Just walking around the grounds looking at all the varieties of vehicles and asking questions of the owners was fun. We all hoped it would never end but it did.


Last year we started hearing rumors that the show would end. The volunteers were dwindling, the pastor was retiring and all the hard work was taking a toll. You have to remember that as the sun started to set they had to have generators at the exit point for lighting. The church gratefully opened up the lobby so people could use the bathrooms. There were tents that had to be set up along with picnic benches for people to sit down while they ate food from the vendors. Now with a new pastor and all of the issues of cleaning up and more the church had to make a decision. Then it was discovered that chick filet made an offer to buy the corner piece of the parking lot for $2.1 million dollars. Well certainly enough that rumor was true and as they started construction we lost over 120 parking places. That started to seem like the beginning of the end but we were not sure.

When 2017 began the church finally announced the decision that this would be the final year for the car show there. I didn’t meet anybody who is not saddened by this because this became a way of life for thousands of people every Friday night. We watched as they began construction of the new restaurant. Yes over 120 parking places were now gone. The church informed us via their website that traffic control for the new restaurant that would be opening in the fall of 2017 would cause major issues on Friday nights. The restaurant had legitimate concerns that customers would not be able to get into the restaurant him would be very difficult to get out. So the deal was sealed and now everyone was very sad.

We got some good news also this year that another Church in Cranberry Township Pennsylvania was going to take over the show on Friday nights. The church has had a few car shows the last several years but never got the attention or attendance that the other church had. But as we all know something is better than nothing.

Sure enough this past Friday on September 1 the car cruise came to a very sad End. As usual the parking lot was full. As a matter of fact it was full by 3:30 PM over 90 minutes before the official start. The weather was good and the mood was good but also very sad. My fear why so many others in the circle that I am with is that the new cruise site will never have the same amount of vehicles as the last. We should applaud that the new church is willing to go through all of the work to make a successful car cruise. Anymore and most times it seems like there is a car show every night of the week somewhere. However it is going to be very difficult for anyone to have the same atmosphere and crowds we so much enjoyed at the former car show.

So I write this bitter sweet story with much sadness. All of you who have classic vehicles and go to car shows understand how difficult all of this is. I am quite sure in time we will adjust to the new surroundings and hopefully build a good crowd over time. The only issue we really had with the last car cruise was that many people couldn’t come because they couldn’t get there early enough so they were just turned away because there was no place to park. Our hope is that the new church which is further north of the last one will bring new vehicles for all of us to enjoy. We heard from some people at the last show they were not willing to drive the extra 15 minutes north if they lived south of the city. So hopefully we will start to see some vehicles we have never seen before.

So thank you for reading this story because it is an important story for those of us in the fast musclecar world. I reminisce about the time when the original car show was so small and watched her grow into a magnificent monster. For all of you reading this I know it is hard to maybe understand but when you see or saw almost 3000 vehicles a week from everything you could imagine it is difficult to understand how we are going to move forward. We all loved when members of the military would bring military vehicles including trucks, Jeeps, and yes even cannons. When the entire group would pause for a prayer for their safety and our national anthem was sung. It was quite motivating and heartwarming.

I will occasionally keep all of you posted on how the new car cruise shapes up over time. I hope you folks attend your local car cruise and enjoy the fellowship of others.

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