CAM Car Club

Classic Car Cruisers

Choice Automobiles
of Madison’s annual show a hit

By Ruth Wright
Staff Writer

MADISON, Ind. (May 2003) – Choice Automobiles of Madison, or CAM, was founded in 1994 by a group of area individuals who shared a common interest in automobiles. “It was just a bunch of car enthusiasts that started talking about (forming a club),” recalled vice president and charter member Bruce Anderson. “We had a lot of people interested.” The club officially obtained status as a non-profit organization in July 1994.

River Run Poster

River Run VIII Poster

CAM held its first car show, River Run I, just two years later in 1996. Despite battling less than perfect weather each year, the show has been a resounding success ever since. Even on the rainiest of days, at least 200 cars have lined along the river front to be judged, said charter member and club president Pete Backus. Enthusiasts have come from as far away as Georgia to enter a large variety of vehicles in one of 15 classes at the show. Last year, 375 automobiles and nine motorcycles were featured.
This year, 10,000 to 15,000 automobile enthusiasts and collectors of all kinds are expected to converge on Madison’s river front on Saturday, May 24, for River Run VIII. Show festivities will begin on Friday night, May 23, with a cruise-in and poker run. The poker run will start at 6 p.m. at CAM’s headquarters at Crystal Beach Pool House on Vaughn Drive and will consist of five area stops. Participants will be given a card at each stop, and at the end of the run, awards will be presented for Best Hand, Best Hand with Wild Card and Best Cruiser.
On Saturday, CAM officials anticipate having more than 350 automobiles along Vaughn Drive between Mill and West streets and the adjoining side streets with access from Broadway. Registration, $15 on the day of the show, will be from 8 a.m. to noon (EST-slow time). All entries must be driven to the show.
In addition to judging, a 50-50 drawing will be held and major prizes will be raffled to show participants. There will also be plenty of food and drinks, music and lots of fun. Concessions for the day long event will be provided by the several local high school band booster clubs.

In conjunction with the car show, each year CAM produces a T-shirt featuring the previous year’s best in show winner and two CAM member vehicles with a historic site in Madison as the back-drop. Past year’s shirts have featured a river front view, the Broadway fountain, the former Park & Eat Restaurant, a popular 1960s hang-out and Lanier Mansion. This year’s shirt, with 15 sponsors, features J.D. Whitman’s red 1934 Plymouth Coupe, the 2002 Best of Show winner, and club members Missy Powell’s yellow 1951 Ford truck and Jeff Webster’s black 1968 Firebird convertible. The historic railroad station and caboose in downtown Madison appears in the background. Mugs featuring the design will also be available.
This year’s T-shirt design was created by Madison artist Larry Rudolech. Rudolech will also sketch this year’s Best of Show, which will be presented to the recipient. The winner will also receive a plaque and a place of honor at next year’s show. More than 150 awards will be presented by Madison Mayor Al Huntington on Saturday beginning at 5 p.m. Huntington will also select a vehicle for the Mayor’s Choice award. The mayor has presented awards at the show since its first year.
Huntington said he enjoys the event and thinks Madison’s river front provides the perfect backdrop. “It’s in a very shady, beautiful area,” Huntington said, “It’s actually relaxing to go down there and look at the cars and the craftsmanship that the owners have put into the restoration.”
Besides River Run, the car club sponsors regular cruise-ins from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the first Saturday of each month from April through October at the Wal-mart Super Center on Ivy Tech Drive in Madison. Anyone is welcome to attend the family-oriented gatherings, which feature a theme each month, music, food and fellowship. The club’s cruise-in season got under way April 5 and, despite chilly temperatures, 41 vehicles showed up, said Backus. In addition to the regularly scheduled cruise-ins, a few special cruise-ins will be held throughout the summer months at other locations.
CAM invites auto enthusiasts of all ages to join. Club activities include road trips, private garage tours, parties and participation in the Madison Christmas parade. This year, the club also plans to be part of the Madison Regatta Festival parade. CAM supports local charities such as the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, the American Red Cross, First Steps and Shop With A Cop and club members volunteer their services to the Festival of Lights. All proceeds from River Run VIII will go to charity. “If we can be of assistance we sure try to do it,” said Backus.
The club also awards two college scholarships to local high school students each year. Yearly membership dues are $12 per person or $18 per family. Club meetings are held at 2 p.m. on the first Sunday and 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month on the second floor of the Crystal Beach Poolhouse, which they share with the Jaycees. Current club officers include Backus, president; Anderson, vice president; Johann Backus, treasurer; Missy Powell, secretary; and Ron Main and Delmar Clarkson, trustees.

For more information about River Run VIII, call (812) 265-3620, ext. 4004 or visit the website: www.camclub.itgo.com. Car club members say hobby is expensive endeavor but worth it.

Now in its 8th year,
River Run offers a colorful display

By Ruth Wright
Staff Writer

MADISON, Ind. – To car collecting enthusiasts, owning and maintaining a classic vehicle is a wonderful hobby. From gleaming paint jobs to customized interiors, classic cars definitely attract attention and produce a great deal of pride.
CAM club vice president Bruce Anderson owns two classic cars, a 1966 Chevy Corvette coupe and a 1967 Chevy Corvette convertible. Anderson, who has owned both cars since the 1970s, said he estimates his Corvettes to be worth around $25,000 each. A substantial value, especially considering he paid only about one-tenth of that amount for the cars when he bought them.

Anderson said he only drives the cars to cruise-ins and shows in order to keep the miles low. Such care is common among classic car owners, who want to protect their investments. For Anderson, that means maintaining the cars he purchased many years ago. But for many classic car hobbyists, that means putting a lot of time and money into restoration. It’s not unlikely for owners to invest thousands of dollars in making an old vehicle look brand new.
To cut costs many hobbyists do as much of the restoration as possible. Versailles, Ind., resident Eric Huntington has been restoring cars as a hobby for more than 20 years.
“When I first started, it wasn’t that expensive. But now things have changed quite a bit,” Huntington said. “Some people might put $5,000 just into the interior. The expense has gone up quite a lot.”
In addition to money, there’s plenty of time and effort that goes into rebuilding a vehicle, according to CAM president Pete Backus. Backus is currently working to restore a 1937 Plymouth. “It’s basically building a car from the ground up,” he said.
How much time it takes to restore a vehicle basically depends upon what kind of shape it’s in. According to www.secondchancegarage.com, “a typical ‘frame-off’ restoration of a common, mid-1960s pony car will take at least 1,000 hours of your time.”
Although many restored cars look as good as they did when they first left the production line, a major goal of most owners is to make sure they run even better. Early cars were fairly primitive, according to Backus, and lacked most of the amenities modern car drivers take for granted. Even more importantly, they were without safety features, such as anti-lock brakes, that are standard on most vehicles today. So when it comes right down to the nuts and bolts of a classic vehicle, safety is almost as important as looks.
One way owners can gauge their cars’ safety is through a free inspection offered by the National Street Rod Association (NSRA), said Backus. The safety inspection, according to the NSRA, “is completely voluntary and includes 23 different items ranging from the lighting system to suspension,” the sole purpose of which is “to advise the street rod owner of problem areas, either real or potential.”
Every state has a volunteer team of NSRA Safety Inspectors that provide the service. Inspections are also offered at each of the eleven annual NSRA events and at hundreds of independently produced rod runs all across the country.

• Individuals interested in classic car restoration can find out more about the hobby at CAM’s River Run VIII car show, where hundreds of restored vehicles will be on display May 24 along the Madison riverfront. Information about the National Street Rod Association can be found on the Internet at www.nsra-usa.com

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