The 16th annual Smoky Valley Car Show, in Lindsborg’s Swensson Park on Saturday, August 5, is a certain magnet for memories. The vehicles there, a hundred or more of them, will recall another time, their features blurred and almost forgotten, for they were unreal even in their reality. The show brings to this magnificent park, its grassy cushion and almost limitless shade, row upon row of back-when and once-uponour- time and often a wistful longing for simpler times when glass-packs, Hurst and four-barrel carburetors ruled and single-exhaust six-bangers were only for the un-hip.
The show begins almost at first light, a swell of anticipation rising with the sun, rolling in with the first rumble, and the second racking of pipes as the drivers arrive, easing up onto the grass with their prize machines: gleaming street rods, custom jobs, reincarnations, new racers, old cruisers, rag-tops, classics, plain Janes, all and more. Most are from a time when vehicles were metal and their paint, renewed by masters with the care and touch of surgeons, holds that magnificent blinding sheen particular only to a body of steel. Row after row, the cars and rods and trucks, every kind and size, are each a treasure for the owner and a memory – oh, the memories! – for all who stop for a look:
A ‘66 Malibu Super Sport, 396 … ‘55 T-Bird… ‘53 ‘Vette convertible… ‘32 Ford coupe… ‘63 Lincoln Continental (suicide doors, convertible)… old Cadillacs, new and old Mercedes, Falcons, Corvairs, a Valiant…the first Mustang (‘64½)… over there, a ‘69 deVille convertible…a ‘41 Willys…a ‘65 Sting Ray… those classic ‘57 Chevys and more, and more.
The car show rewards with awards as judges roam the scene, clip boards in hand. Among more than 60 prizes are Best Club Participation (from a single club with largest paid registration), Long Haul Award for longest distance traveled by the car; popular awards include Police Chief’s Choice and Sheriff’s Choice for the cars most likely to be stopped by those agencies; and the Highway Patrol Award for the car most likely to be stopped for no reason at all.
All through the Park the music throbs, a special luster of doo-wop and Motown to enrich the scene and the reminiscence.
Anyone remember a time when the new models came out in September? In small towns with many dealers, September was when it took forever for a youngster to walk home from school. Take forever again, on Saturday at the Smoky Valley Car Show.