OTHELLO – With the 25th annual Othello Spud Run Show ‘n Shine postponed for a year, it was a quiet break for car enthusiasts. But according to All City Classics Car Club president RJ Lembcke, it was all the more time to build cars and get ready for this year’s show.
It’s the most valuable part of any auto show, he said, seeing the work that goes into each car and what got them to where they are today.
More than 120 cars entered, from the early 1920s to the end of the assembly line. In addition to the raffle prizes, more than 50 trophies were awarded. Two, of course, were for the slow drag and poker run champions, but a whole range of superlatives were recognized.
Those who didn’t run could stroll among the lines of cars on the grass of Kiwanis Park, looking at the engines on display, while listening to 1950s pop music.
“Finally, we bring people out,” Lembcke said. “All weekend people were like, ‘I’m glad we’re doing this again’; and it’s such a wonderful auto show here in the park anyway, nice and cool, nice day.
Lembcke owns an early Ford Model T, he said. While he appreciates all new cars, the classics are really what he can’t wait to see.
As the awards were announced, there could have been plenty of mental drumbeats anticipating the grand Best in Show trophy.
“It’s better if it’s the Bel Air,” someone said.
Sure enough, the grand prize went to Josh Knopp of Moses Lake and his 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air “candy brandy”.
Fewer than 8,000 Bel Airs were built in 1956. According to the Chevrolet Consumer Guide, that year the car received a facelift with a new grille, two-tone body treatments, and front and rear wheel openings. The Bel Air is considered by many collectors to be an icon of the 1950s, especially its third generation design.
Knopp came to his first Spud Run 20 years ago just to see the cars, he said. It was his first time on the show.
He started building hot rods as a hobby, he said, before starting Knoppsters Speed Factory to build off-road motorcycles and powersports engines.
Now he’s returned to his dream of buying, building and selling hot rods, he said.
“I like to see everything, to be honest with you,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a classic motorcycle, a street bike, a Harley or an old school, I like everything. Everything is muscular. I prefer classic stuff to pure muscle, because that’s cool stuff. Power always moves a man forward.
The best part of the auto show is the people, he said. The community, the camaraderie and the guidance are the biggest draws.
Closing the road for slow trails is a blast, Lembcke said. Drivers have the whole street to themselves without distraction.
“Get there early in the morning and look… the hoods up, see all the parts and all the chrome,” he said. “I’m a chrome addict anyway.”
But for Lembcke, the best is also the people. He never does anything to a car for the first time without first speaking to a club member, he said.
This (the show) was a big comeback for the community, he said.
“Othello Spud Run is truly a wonderful and wonderful spectacle,” he said. “To have the chance to come out and start over is just amazing. “
Sam Fletcher can be contacted by email at [email protected]umbiabasinherald.com.