Riverfront Run Car Show
popularity continues to grow
Madison, Ind.’s Brooks inherited
his love for classic cars
(May 2018) – Everyone has a car story – the shiny sports car of your childhood dreams, the memories of your grandfather’s antique car, the first car you bought with your own money, an awesome car to cruise around town. And there’s always one more car in your dreams.
• 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Saturday May 26 on the Madison, Ind., riverfront.
• Car entry fee: $20. Free to spectators.
• (812) 599-6635
Lifelong Madison, Ind., resident Jeff Brooks grew up with cars, as his grandfather, Maurice Thacker, operated the Phillips 66 station on the Madison hilltop. Today, Brooks, 49, does have shiny sports cars, does remember his grandfather’s 1922 Model T Ford, and he does still have his first car. On a peaceful summer evening, he does cruise around Madison in one of his many awesome cars.
Brooks will bring his cars, plus that Model T, now owned by his uncle, Bill Thacker, to the 2018 Riverfront Run Car Show, set for May 25-27 at the Madison riverfront and adjacent streets. More than 300 vehicles will be showcased.
The car show, a fundraiser to provide local scholarships and fund for the Shop With A Firefighter program, is sponsored by the River Rat Rodz Car Club. The weekend opens with a Friday night Cruise-In and a Golf Cart Parade from 7-8 p.m. The car show is from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Madison riverfront is the most beautiful venue to showcase cars, making it the favorite of all car shows for Brooks. He brings all of his cars to this show because he enjoys photographing the cars with the river and the Milton-Madison Bridge in the background. Every one of those cars has a story. Here are a few of those stories.
His first car was a 1955 Chevy, bought in Paoli, Ind., for $700 in the early ’80s. He worked with his father, Gary Brooks, to completely restore the car, inside and out. The original back seat was re-upholstered, but the front seats had to be replaced. He found a match with two black leather seats from a ’68 Thunderbird. When it was ready to be painted, the custom painting and detailing was completed by Michael Fountain of Deputy, Ind.
Photo by Sharyn Whitman
Jeff Brooks poses with some of the cars he plans to bring to the Riverfront Run Car Show in Madison, Ind., in late May. They are a 1955 Chevy and a 1969 428 Super Cobra Jet Mach I.
Next in his garage is a maroon ’69 428 Super Cobra Jet Mach 1. His father and mother, Judy Brooks, bought it from Terry Demaree at McCubbin Ford in Madison when Brooks was only 1 year old. His father loved to take the Mach 1 drag racing at Harrison County, Ind. and Cleves, Ohio, near Lawrenceburg, Ind. Brooks has photos of the trophies won by his father at those races.
Participants will have the opportunity to shop at various automotive type vendors and enjoy a variety of food vendors.
A rare find is a ’69 Fairlane Coupe with a 429 Cobra Jet engine. This car is rare because only 46 cars were made in the color “New Lime,” and this one is the only model of those cars with a painted black top. Brooks found the car in Wyoming and had it brought to Madison. He said cars were located by searching the pages of car magazines.
Another fast car is the ’63 Plymouth Sport Fury 426 Max Wedge. He also saw this one advertised in a magazine and traveled to the east side of Indianapolis to purchase the car. It still has 90 percent of the original paint plus the original elegant red upholstery and interior.
In 1988, Brooks saw an ad in Hemming Motor News for a ’71 Plymouth Road Runner. He had owned one as a teen but damaged it in an accident. That year, he was working in a gas station and had saved $1,500. The owner in Hayes, Kansas, sent photos in the mail, and Brooks purchased it for exactly $1,500 – all of his money! This car, like others in his collection, has the original hood pins, a required racing accessory, to keep the hood closed during a race. The Road Runner has signature emblems on the body of the car and the grill, plus features a unique “beep-beep” horn.
His ’62 Galaxy started as only an engine that he found at a junkyard. The 427 Ford engine was on the ground, upside down. He recognized it as the heart of a drag racer and bought it for $25.
At that time, picking through the junkyard was a regular Saturday activity for Brooks.
Another Ford in Brooks collection is the 1987 Mustang GT 5.0 that his mother purchased as her own brand-new car. It is untouched and in excellent original condition. Brooks is also taking a 1968 426 Hemi engine to the show. Chrysler only made the street Hemi from 1966-1971. His current project is a bright red ’71 Dodge Demon.
“Cars are all I’ve ever known,” he said. He paused, adding, “Cars brought a lot of happiness” to his family.
Brooks comes from what he describes as the “ultimate car family.” His grandfather, parents and uncles all enjoyed cars. His grandfather also collected antique cars and stock cars, buying, restoring and selling them. One memorable restoration was a 1906 Cadillac. Brooks still has a photo of his grandfather with that car.
He has 8x10 photos of family cars over the years, with childhood photos of himself and his uncles, and then his son, Kyle, in those cars. The family history is a history of fast and unique cars. His grandfather was the ultimate car guy. He was an incredible person and mentor, taking his grandson, Brooks, to car shows as he was growing up.
Thacker was a World War II veteran who received both a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for bravery following his service as a frontline medic at Omaha Beach along the coast of Normandy, France.
“If not for him, what would my life be?” Brooks mused.
He said he is looking forward to the Veterans’ Banner presentation on May 19 for Jefferson County (Ind.) Veterans. He is so proud of his grandfather and grateful for his patient teaching over the years.
That’s what car shows are all about: the cars of your dreams, combined with memories of the people in your life who made those cars and dreams a reality.
Every car and every participant has a story, as well as every visitor – hundreds of car stories at just one show. Reminiscing and sharing car stories is a great way to connect and make new friends.
The Riverfront Run Car Show is the “biggest event of the year” for Brooks. With a broad smile, he said, “I’m excited, I can’t wait!” He will be there, rain or shine.
Dedicated car club members and show organizers, Kim and Ken Washer, echoed Brooks’ enthusiasm, saying, “The best part is everyone coming together, enjoying friendships and our love for cars.” The hub of all the activity this year has been moved to a 40x40-foot tent at Bicentennial Park.
Commemorative 2018 Riverfront Run Car Show T-shirts will be for sale at that tent. Kim also noted that a 55-inch TV provided by sponsor Aaron’s Rental and a basket of Lukas Oil products are among the prizes to be awarded throughout the day to registered participants of the show.
The Riverfront Run Car Show starts on Friday with the Cruise-In. The Golf Cart Parade, a separate Friday night fundraiser benefiting the United Way, is a new event. The parade will be held from 7-8 p.m., ending at Madison Bicentennial Park for the evening’s Movie in the Park.
Spectators can purchase tickets for $1 each to vote for the best golf carts. Prizes awarded for parade vehicles will include $300 for Most Creative, $300 for Most Enthusiastic, $300 for Best Theme, and a $300 Cunningham’s Gift card for the People’s Choice Award.
The pre-registration fee for golf carts is $20 or $25 at the door. Information on the parade is available at: www.JCINUnitedWay.org.
The day concludes with the presentation of more than 160 trophies and awards at 4:30 p.m. at the main tent in Bicentennial Park. Admission is free to the public.
Pre-registration fees for the Car Show are $15 or $20 at the door. The car show is an open show, accepting any make, model and year of car.
Trucks, fire trucks, military vehicles and motorcycles are also welcome. Onsite registration for the car show runs 8 a.m. through noon Saturday. Details are available at: www.RiverfrontRunCarShow.com.
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