Vroom, vroom, vroom… Engines revving, the multi-colored cars rolled into Ron’s Drive-In, where Thursday night more than 50 owners of the classic autos strutted their stuff.
“I’ve been cruising at Ron’s since I was in high school,” says 54-year-old Jim Burke, who bought his 1940 Chevrolet just before starting college at Spokane Falls.
The Chevy is a shiny, dark blue metallic capsule with purple “scallops,” as Burke calls them.
This week’s Thursday night rendezvous at Ron’s, as always sponsored by the Valley-based Old Irons Auto Club, had some special guests.
The National Street Rod Assocation is hosting its 14th annual convention in Spokane this week. Plenty of convention-goers showed up to show off their hot rods in the parking lot.
Part of the convention is an auto show which continues through Sunday at the Spokane Interstate Fairgrounds. Visitors to the show can see 1,200 classic cars, all built before 1949.
“These cars are so different, there’s just no two alike,” says Pat Newell, the 61-year-old special events executive for the National Street Rod Assocation.
Newell expects between 8,000 to 10,000 visitors at the fairgrounds show this weekend.
People still love the cars because they provide a window into another era, and they boost self-esteem, he says.
“It’s gotta be an ego trip for them, because everyone turns and stares and looks at the cars,” said Newell.
Denny Hegewald, the owner of Ron’s Drive-In, has fond memories of his own hot rod days.
He bought a purple Ford Model T roadster in 1969 for $600.
“The girls liked it,” said Hegewald, 50. “I think Ron’s and cruising go together. Nothing fits this location better than guys and street rods.”
He remembers when, back in the 1950s, the cruising guys would order “pure raw onion burgers” from Ron’s.
The reason was simple.
“So the guys could go home on Friday nights and cover up their beer,” he joked.
Those days are gone, but Ron’s still provides discounted burgers and fish sandwiches for members of the Old Irons Auto Club.
The Valley club is open to anyone with a distinctive or classic car. Members cruise to Ron’s every Thursday night and hang out in the parking lot from 6 p.m. to about 9 p.m., said Burke, club vice president.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: CHECK IT OUT Want to check out some of the hottest rods around? Get over to the Spokane Interstate Fairgrounds this weekend for the National Street Rod Assocation’s 14th annual auto show. The show, which continues today and Sunday, features approximately 1,200 custom and classic cars, all built before 1949. Hours today are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; on Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, and $3 for children ages 6 to 12. Children under six are admitted free. Or check out the scene at Ron’s Drive-In, 12502 E. Sprague, any Thursday evening this summer. The Old Irons Auto Club’s weekly cruises typically feature about 50 fine old street machines.
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