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What: Hangtown Evening Car Show
Who: Placerville Lions Club, Placerville Downtown Association, Kniesel’s Collision Center and Les Schwab Tires
Where: Main Street in Placerville
When: Thursday, Aug. 22 from 5 to 8 p.m.
Cost: No admission
Information: Mike Ocenosak at 530-622-1731
It’s August, it’s a small town and so it’s only natural: Close Main Street for a few hours some evening and fill it with classic cars and nostalgic rock ‘n’ roll to get a true taste of summer.
You’ll have your chance Thursday, Aug. 22, during the third annual Hangtown Evening Car Show, set for 5 to 8 p.m.
Participants showing cars will pay a nominal fee to compete for awards but the real reward for most will be the appreciation shown for their classic beauties by the spectators, who are welcome free of charge.
The Placerville Lions Club is throwing the event, in association with the Placerville Downtown Association, and it is sponsored by Kniesel’s Collision Center in Shingle Springs and Les Schwab Tires on Broadway in Placerville.
Some 140 cars, all from 1973 or earlier, will line the street, and attendees will wander from wonderful older sedans and touring cars to take a gander at the gleaming sassiness of classic muscle cars.
All the while, popular DJ Norm Hammond will be playing music and announcing from the Belltower.
The car show has grown impressively during its young life, from just over 100 vehicles when it began to the anticipated 140 entries, according to show organizer Mike Ocenosak. The cars will begin parking at 4:30 p.m. and the show begins about 6.
Awards will be given for Best in Show, Best Interior, Best Paint, Best Engine, Best Coupe/Sedan, Best Roadster/Convertible, Best Stock/Original and Best Truck/Delivery. Awards will be given out beginning at 7:45 p.m.
Preregistration is suggested by calling Ocenosak at 530-622-1731 but car owners can show up the day of the event and register, for a $20 an entry.
Raffle prizes from various local merchants will be featured throughout the show and a 50/50 drawing will occur as a finale.
One of those who can barely wait to roll his 1947 Ford sedan Super Deluxe out into the summer evening is Les Russell of Placerville, who has been sprucing up the maroon marvel at his home on Diana Lane.
Russell, 76, a city planning commissioner, gave a preview to the Mountain Democrat recently, also showing three other projects in the works in his spacious garage that would be the envy of any auto restoration buff.
Asked how many classic vehicles he has, Russell replied, “Probably too many,” but as he showed the finer points of his Ford sedan then led the way to his three other classics, including at 1927 Model T, it became apparent there’s no such thing as “too many.”
As he drew attention to a partially finished Cobra coupe kit car, Russell said his wife Gail doesn’t give him a hard time over his hobby, which has occupied much of his time since they sold their winery, Granite Springs, in 1995 and “semi-retired.”
“I don’t drink and I don’t gamble. This is my only bad habit,” laughed Russell.
The sedan that will be shown by Russell on Thursday is the culmination of a three-year project, he said.
“This was a basket case, as car guys call it,” he began. “No two pieces came to me together; the body was off the bare frame and it really was built from the ground up.”
Russell said that during the restoration process, he made the decision to modernize the car with upgraded brakes, steering and suspension.
“It’s very reliable and very safe,” he explained. He also put a newer engine in the classic and although it’s “not an economy car” when it comes to mileage, it’s not a beast, either.
“I’ve taken it to Sacramento and back, and it would probably be good for an extended road trip,” he said.
Russell knows all about extended road trips, having participated in 2006 in the Great Race that greatly excited local residents when its route included Placerville. The Great Race that year ran from Philadelphia to San Rafael, with Russell and other participants on the road for two weeks, visiting lucky towns and communities on the way.
Russell, who rode in a 1949 Olds convertible during that trip, said he was particularly gratified when the group of weary travelers arrived in Old Hangtown.
“I pretty much grew up here, went to high school here,” he said. “I didn’t have enough money to buy my first car until my senior year at El Dorado High. I had a ’41 Chevrolet that I think I paid $50 for.”
Russell’s efforts working with the Lions Club proved fortuitous for all, as the club agreed to back this year’s Hangtown Evening Car Show.
Asked what he is looking forward to seeing among the entries in this Thursday’s show, Russell said, “Everybody has their own tastes, whether they like the old classic sedans or the muscle cars like the Corvettes.
“I enjoy them all.”
Don’t let Russell have all the fun. Join him and the throng of other classic car fans at the third annual Hangtown Evening Car Show.
For more information call Mike Ocenosak at 530-622-1731.