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Drivers from across California head to Merced for 'Wings and Wheels'

"Wings and Wheels" is the theme for the 10th annual Springtime Reunion Car Show next Saturday at the Castle Air Museum. This will be the second time special-interest vehicles will be shown with vintage military airplanes at the Atwater museum.

Jennifer Krumm, chief operations officer for the sponsoring Greater Merced Chamber of Commerce, said anything from a 1923 Ford roadster to a 2007 Ford Mustang Cobra can be expected for the traditional spring car show.

About 150 vehicles are expected along with 2,500 spectators. Merced has hosted an old car show each spring since the late 1970s. The shows were first promoted by the National Street Rod Association, then Goodguys Rod and Custom Association and finally the chamber when Goodguys pulled out a decade ago.

"I am looking forward to the event," Krumm said. "It is truly a sight to see the beautiful cars, new and old, underneath the historical planes and all their glory. Not to mention great food and family fun."

Car owners from Merced, Atwater, Winton, Delhi, Turlock, Modesto, Chowchilla, Marina, Hickman, Mariposa and Campbell are expected to attend. Entries also have been received from car owners in Vacaville, and the Southern California cities of Crestline and Yucaipa, which are 340 and 345 miles away respectively from Merced.

Legendary Chowchilla pinstriper Craig Judd, whose paint designs have been featured in movies and numerous magazines, will be on hand, along with diecast car creator Steve Metz of Southern California.

Forty-five volunteers will help the three-person chamber committee run Saturday's event for its second year at the air museum. The chamber took over the car event so Merced motels, restaurants and businesses would continue to benefit from car show visitors' patronage.

"We had to cut it down from a three-day event to a one-day event to help with expenses," Krumm said. "We also moved the car show last year out to the Castle Air Museum because we felt it would be a great venue to display the cars and planes together and also give an added bonus to the people attending the event to not only see beautiful cars but also admire the spectacular planes that have played a major part in our history."

The event will conclude with an exhibition firing of "The Beast" jet-powered dragster by driven Jeff Atamian of Madera. The Madera-based dragster is crewed by Ralph and Joyce Frye of Atwater, Mike King of Merced and Joanna Pitman of Madera.

A "Cruisin' to the Oldies" dance will be held Saturday night after the car show at the American Legion Hall on West Main Street in Merced, featuring Willy and the Poor Boys.

Car entry fees are $10 for adults and $6 for children 6 to 12 years of age, with those 5 and under admitted free. Car registration starts at 7 a.m. gates open to the public at 9:30 a.m. Awards will be presented at 3 p.m.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2485 or