Tracy Ledford, John Machado and Joe Santo are going to meet with some of their close friends Sunday, talk cars, enjoy some music and raise money for charity.
Ledford, Machado and Santo are members of the Valve Burners car club, which is conducting its 23rd annual Super Sunday at the River car show from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Snelling's Henderson Park off Highway 59.
The club is hoping to have 250 to 300 vintage vehicles on display at the park along the Merced River. Last year's event was marked by rain everywhere but Snelling, and Santo concedes that it probably had an impact on attendance. There were 187 street rodders and old car enthusiasts who braved the elements last year to attend the show.
Hinds Hospice remains the main charity benefactor of the Valve Burners' efforts. Over nearly two dozen years, the 25-member group has raised more than $150,000 for hospice efforts.
"You meet new friends and get reacquainted with old ones," Santo said. "It's a lot of work for the one day, but it's just rewarding. Then you start all over again, working on next year's show."
This is a guy's version of going to the mall, Santo said, but women are more than welcome. Several vendors will cater to everyone's taste, including those selling hot rod clothing for both sexes and all ages.
Santo, the club president and event chairman, has a bright orange 1941 Chevrolet two-door sedan he has owned for 11 years. Sporting a throaty rumble, it is powered by a 305-cubic-inch engine from an IROC Camaro. The slightly customized Chevy has front and rear rolled pans and eye-catching purple flames.
Santo's Atwater garage also holds a 1958 GMC one-ton dual-wheeled pickup and a 1968 Chevy Suburban.
Ledford owns the Cotton Chopper rail dragster that members of the original Valve Burners club campaigned on area dragstrips in the 1950s. The club, now 60 years old, was dormant from 1960 to about 1987 before it was revived.
A club member for 15 years, Ledford also has a 1953 Ford F-100 custom truck that is chopped and channeled, along with a 1931 Ford Model A five-window coupe that's in the middle of getting its Chrysler hemi engine rebuilt. In addition, he has a 1957 Dodge pickup truck that he's turning into a 1960s-style gasser.
"It's fun meeting everybody," Ledford said. "It's for a good cause."
Apart from the local area, the club has received preregistrations from enthusiasts in Hollister, Gilroy, Fresno, Modesto, Oakdale, Los Banos and Berkeley.
Machado drives a 1967 Chevrolet C-10 pickup every day. He also has a 1971 Chevy custom four-door quad cab truck, a 1969 two-wheel-drive Chevy Blazer, a 1953 Willys Aero Ace two-door sedan, a 1963 Cadillac Coupe de Ville two-door hardtop, a 1948 Ford F-1 pickup and a 1941 Chevy two-door sedan.
Machado said he likes meeting new people and looking at what other car enthusiasts have created to gain ideas for his own projects. It's a hot rod gathering where club members display their prized possessions.
Twenty-nine awards will be given out Sunday. The Golden Valley High School FFA will provide food and there will be music, too.
A Saturday Night Rendezvous will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Lowe's home improvement store parking lot on West Olive Avenue to accept preregistrations and build interest for Sunday's event. Valve Burners representatives also will be present at Friday night's cruise-in at the Atwater Sonic Drive-in near Bellevue Road and Winton Way.
Car entry fees for the Snelling event are $25; spectators will be admitted for $4, with children under age 12 admitted free.
Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.