Our Laguna: Classic car show impresses again

Some vehicles are in a class of their own.

Laguna Beach Rotary Club's ninth annual Classic Car Show on Sunday at the Festival of Arts Grounds and the Village Entrance parking lot featured 188 classics in 30 classes — ranging from antiques to hot rods.

The overall winner was a 1960 Plymouth Fury convertible, owned by Denny and Pat Grundy.

The Mayor's Award went to a blue 1954 Chrysler.

"It was Carolina blue," said Mayor Jane Egly, who grew up in the South.

Fawn Memories owner and show judge George Nelson's Woodie took first place in its class, which he could not judge. The People's Choice Award went to a 1931 Cadillac 370-A V-12 Sports Coupe, one of only four in the world, owned by Lagunan Steve Mucillo.

Other local entries included Richard Plavetich's 1953 Ford Facel Comète, Euopean Optical founder Udo Stoeckmann's 1967 maroon and silver MKE Jaguar, Helmut Reiss' 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280 SE, Corky Fontana's 1964 Porsche 356C Cabriolet, John Zraick's E-Type Jaguar, Tim and Patti Tunnell's 1953 XK 120, Rick Shoemaker's Austin-Healey Roadster, Bob and Chris Cuevas' 1961 Bentley — and what would a local car show be without an entry from former school board member El Hathaway.

Hathaway has participated in all nine Rotary classic car shows. This year he entered a 1958 XK 150.

"I am down to two cars," Hathaway said. "The other is a lavender XK 120. There are only 17 in that color."

Bonnie Changstrom bought her 1955 Bentley SI with a Hooper body in 1966 in London and shipped it home.

She drives it up and down Nyes Place, but the Rotary car show is the only one in which she participates.

Fun for car lovers and raising funds for the club's local charities drives the show.

The event kicked off with the inaugural Classic Car Coastal Cruise on Saturday, with 49 vehicles parading from Mercedes-Benz of Laguna Niguel, south to San Clemente and north along Coast Highway to Costa Mesa.

"It was designed to promote the show and those owners [who] love to show off their vehicles," said Harry Bithell, event chair, otherwise known as the Big Kahuna.

It may not take a whole village to put on the show, but a substantial number of folks volunteer their service — about 60 this year.

Steve Dotorotos was up at 4 a.m. making coffee, which he delivered to the site at 5:30 a.m. By the time the show opened at 9:30 a.m., he was napping at home.

Volunteer Marvin Drew and his wife, Pat, arrived at the site at 5:45 a.m. to help set up booths and put out trash cans, made available by Waste Management.

Rick Cerelli began parking cars at 6 a.m.

Laguna Beach High School students Sharon McQuaid and Duncan Lynde earned community service credit by volunteering.

"They are members of the high school's Interact Club, which is sponsored by Rotary," said Rotary Club board member Jeff Redecker.

Lynde is the club's vice president.

Redecker was one of the ticket sellers on the early shift, along with City Treasurer Laura Parisi, Jack Schirm, Pam Estes and Debbie Biscieglia, among a host of others. Beverly Barnes was on the second shift.

Lynn Biscieglia and Andy Turner co-chaired the site committee. Jerry Immel was in charge of registration. Ward Blackburn oversaw marketing, and Chris Kreymann headed promotion. Jan Herkelrath and Noel Johnson co-chaired the raffle and silent auction booth. John Keith was in charge of music and the Burrito Booth — with Ron Sinclair the designated grillmeister.

"The music reflects the years of the cars," Keith said."There is some Sinatra from the late '40s and some Buffett and Beach Boys."

Other volunteers included Dave Sanford, Rick and Cheryl Lang, Bob Ward, Ted Alvarez, Marianne Raczkowski, Joan McLean, Pamela Polzin and Jim Benietz.

Marcie Jacklich and Susie Bithell sold raffle tickets and handed out pieces of Susie's birthday cake.

Laguna Plein Air Painters Assn. member Kerney Erickson contributed a painting featuring '50s cars parked near the Hotel Laguna for the silent auction.

John Dorr and Dan Tavarez were among the 25 judges. Their categories were muscle cars and Corvettes.

"It's not easy," Tavarez said. "So many cars are very, very nice."

The condition of the engine is the most important element in judging, they said. Original equipment — even stickers with specs — also count for a lot.

Retired fire department Capt. Jim Boka was also one of the judges. And retired Capt. Eugene D'Isabella parked his beloved 1931 Seagrave Pumper engine at the event to remind folks it still does not have a permanent shelter.

Show sponsors included Peppertree Lane, Crevier Classic Cars and HOM Real Estate Group.

Among the supporting sponsors: Gil Thibault, Dave Norton, Bill Powers, Zahide Lawrence, Linda Grossman, Joe Baker, the Boys & Girls Club, White House and Thai Brothers restaurants, Black Iris, Bushard's Pharmacy, Laguna Canyon Winery, Tabu Grill, Laguna Outreach Community Art and Hobie Sports.

Next year's show will be held Oct. 6.

The Rotary Club of Laguna Beach was chartered in November 1931 by a group of 12 local businessmen. Membership is by invitation to folks who will put "service above self."

Attending meetings is a must, and being out of town is no excuse. There are 32,000 clubs in more than 200 countries, and all Rotarians are welcome at every one of them.

Locally, they meet at noon on Fridays at Aliso Creek Inn & Golf Course.

Jim Cox is the 2011-12 President. He will be succeeded by President Elect John Campbell. John Nootbar, Jim Lawler, Phil Owens, Helen Maxwell, past president Linda Saville, senior advisor Tom Judy, Marv Drew, Immel and Redecker round out the board.

For more information email info@lagunabeachrotary.org, call (949) 494-1008 or mail Laguna Beach Rotary, P.O. Box 2, Laguna Beach, 92652.

OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Call (714) 966-4618 or email coastlinepilot@latimes.com with Attn. Barbara Diamond in the subject line.

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