Penticton car buff Barry Wood knows all too well the friendships that are forged carefully leaning over the hood of a classic car.
“People come up and ask you a question about your car, or you may go ask them a question, and all of sudden you are talking with this complete stranger for over an hour about your common interest,” he said.
There is an unspoken bond between car enthusiasts, whether that is a wave as they cruise past one another or a simple nod acknowledging the years of cranking wrenches or tracking down auto parts that have gone into a restoration. It is that type of respect that makes the annual Peach City Beach Cruise which takes place this weekend so successful.
Wood, who owns a 1959 MGA Coupe that was handed down form his father in 1993, spent five years working on the vehicle to restore it.
“You are always tuning it and fiddling with something on it. All of these classic cars take a lot of time. You are always tinkering or polishing it, it is a lifestyle,” said Wood, adding that his family doesn’t mind the hours he spends with his MGA. “The grandchildren like it because I take them out for rides and they think it is really cool.”
His work has paid off, having placed first or second in his class for the past 11 years at the Penticton show and earning numerous other recognitions at car shows in Spokane, Whistler and Vancouver. The Peach City Beach Cruise remains his favourite.
“It is such a great turnout of every type of car enthusiast. The sheer numbers make it a great show and we usually have perfect weather and a great venue for it,” said Wood.
Penticton Historic Automobile Society president Ron Muzzillo said he has his fingers crossed for sunshine for the show which is expected to equal last year’s registration of more than 700 vehicles, the largest to date. Enthusiasts from as far away as Arizona and Texas are expected for the three-day event, which will also feature vintage tractors, machinery and stationary engines on display.
It kicks off on Friday with the parade of show vehicles (antique, custom, hot rods, motorcycles, muscle cars and trucks) from Skaha Lake to Okanagan Lake starting at 6:30 p.m. and continues with an evening display of cars in Rotary Park. Friday will also be a time of remembrance for the Beach Cruise’s founder, Ken Paton. On Saturday all the vehicles will be on display the entire length of Lakeshore Drive. Live musical entertainment and a wide selection of vendors will be featured in Gyro Park throughout the weekend.
Entertainment headliners include Elvis tribute artist Jeff Bodner, ‘50s and ‘60s rock and roll band Appaloosa, Daryl Weyman as Johnny Cash and country-rock singer Pam Ferens. The Peach City Beach Cruise also has partnered again with the ElectricGarage.com to present a collector car auction located in a large tent on the Penticton Lakeside Resort and Convention Centre parking lot.
Stan Bobowski, vice-president for the Penticton Historic Automobile Society, said it is a mix of great volunteers, sponsors and the car enthusiasts themselves that have made the Beach Cruise such a success over the 13 years it has been held in Penticton. But, most importantly, there is the star of the show.
“It’s the classic cars. It is a phenomenon in the land right now and the people that are into cars are like family. People that are interested in cars will go anywhere to see their friends and, of course, the vehicles,” said Bobowski.
“We call the Penticton strip the magic mile during car show weekend because it is just so magical to come down here and see all the different eras represented.”