Article Launched: 09/17/2006 12:00:00 AM PDT
Vroom, vroom, vroom
Crowds get a charge out of SB cruise
Leonor Vivanco, Staff Writer
SAN BERNARDINO - They flexed their muscles Saturday and the crowd cheered.
Some were exposed and others covered up - car engines, that is.
The classics, hot rods and custom cars cruised along downtown streets, revving their engines so mightily the noise drowned out conversations and blaring music.
"It's something that charges you up," said Chuck LaForest of San Diego.
Vroom. Vroom. Vroom. One by one, the engines fired up. The air smelled of exhaust and the ground vibrated.
Only the 2,448 vehicles registered in the Stater Bros. Route 66 Rendezvous presented by Firestone competed in the Open Header contest.
The cars revved their engines to the loudest point and were judged in three categories using a decibel meter: loudest, best sounding and crowd pleaser.
The loudest engine won a rebuilt engine donated by Wayne's Engine Rebuilders. All other winners received an award plaque.
"It's like watching races. It's the raw power that you're experiencing," LaForest, 52, said as cars practiced during the Open Header Cruise.
Joe and Carol Lona yelled to the drivers, "Rev it!"
"It's fun. You get a high," said Carol Lona of Hesperia.
It made people meandering the streets, chomping on hot dogs, stop and stare.
The cars, with their hoods propped open, parked on downtown streets had the same effect on car enthusiasts.
"It's interesting to see what people have done to their vehicles, what work they've done and how much time they put into it," said Mark Norman, 46.
The Beaumont resident had his eye on the vintage 1967 Camaros because he used to own one.
"It always has a special place in my heart," he said.
Anna Kuzo of Highland said she liked perusing the cars that were well preserved and in pristine condition.
"It keeps the history alive of not only San Bernardino but the cars themselves," Kuzo, 41, said of the Rendezvous.
But the cars were not the only attraction.
Lines snaked around City Hall as families collected goody bags as if they were on a shopping spree. Stater Bros. handed out Oreo cookies, Capri Sun juice boxes, Gatorade, soap and toilet paper, among other items.
Saturday was jampacked with events, starting with the Cruisin' Hall of Fame induction, where four auto icons were honored.
Inductee Gene Winfield taught himself the art of customizing, chopping, welding and painting. He's worked on cars for television and movies, including "RoboCop."
Honoree So-Cal Speed Shop, owned by Alex Xydias and Pete Chapouris, was one of the first automotive speed shops in Southern California and is known for its customization of cars and motorcycles and specialty racing engines.
Kenny Youngblood , an inductee, is a graphic artist whose work has graced motorsports publications and record albums. Nicknamed the "father of modern-day race-car designs," Youngblood's work has also appeared on television shows like "Monster Garage."
The Teardrop Trailer was also recognized for revolutionizing camping. The camper first appeared in the 1930s and gained popularity in the late 1940s. Two people can sleep comfortably inside. Kitchen facilities are in the back of the teardrop.
Other celebrated guests included Los Angeles Lakers basketball player Luke Walton and former Los Angeles Dodgers baseball player Ron Cey, who signed autographs for fans.
"He's the greatest third baseman in the world and he played for an L.A. team," said Kevin Burnett, 43, of Riverside. "I idolized him."