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Life and Arts

On the Town: Event celebrates classic cars, community service

Following the wave of a green flag to signify the start of the Road Kings of Burbank’s 29th annual Charity Car Show, Gino Gaudio sang the national anthem and members of Boy Scout Troop 50 presented the colors for the Pledge of Allegiance on a recent morning at Johnny Carson Park.

With the showcasing of more than 200 classic vehicles underway, three individuals took to the park’s makeshift stage. Road Kings member Ray Astamendi and the show’s chairman, Don Baldaseroni, were joined by Arda Tchakian who was representing state Sen. Anthony Portantino.

Honoring the club on its 66th anniversary, Tchakian presented a certificate of recognition that lauded the organization for its commitment to the Southern California car culture, community service and financial support of Burbank charitable organizations, schools and students.

Among the thousands of Road Kings members and supporters, show participants, vendors and classic car lovers who cheered Tchakian’s presentation, were two special people whose presence signified the past, present and future of the legendary car club — “TV Tommy” Ivo and Joseph Gonzalez.

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Ivo, who was a child actor and has been a longtime Burbank resident, having bought his Orchard Avenue home when he was just 12 years old, is also a pioneer of professional car racing and one of the founding fathers of the Road Kings.

Having appeared in numerous television programs from the late 1940s through the 1960s, Ivo’s resume boasts appearances in classic shows such as “The Lone Ranger,” “The Donna Reed Show,” “Leave It To Beaver,” “Sugarfoot,” “Father Knows Best” and “Petticoat Junction.”

Once he was old enough to drive, Ivo also traveled the country racing a twin, side-by-side Buick dragster, which became the first gasoline-powered dragster to break the nine-second barrier.

An inductee of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America and ranked No. 25 on the National Hot Rod Assn.’s Top 50 Drivers, Ivo was joined by other local racing notables including Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, Bob Muravez, Roy Fjastad, Don Johnson, Kenny Safford, Harry Hibler, Jimmy Miles, Skip Togerson and others to establish the Road Kings in 1952.

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Book-ending Ivo’s appearance at last week’s show was Gonzalez, who represents the club’s future. Accompanied by his father, Al, Joseph Gonzalez is the first third-generation member of the Road Kings.

“It’s an honor for me to be the first Road King whose grandfather and father were also members,” Joseph Gonzalez said.

“I’m walking history,” he added, with a laugh.

The Road Kings produce two charity car shows a year and then grant the proceeds during an annual dinner.

Along with benefiting the auto shop programs at Burroughs and Burbank high schools, the group has also supported the Burbank Police and Fire Museum, Boy Scouts of America Verdugo Hills Council, the Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley, Burbank Temporary Aid Center, La Providencia Guild of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Tierra del Sol, Relay for Life and the Burbank Coordinating Council’s holiday basket program.

DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at dlaurell@aol.com or (818) 563-1007.


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