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ON THE SCENE: Harvey dampens Olympic Car Show

September 8, 2017
By NAJ WIKOFF , Lake Placid News

Tropical Depression Harvey dropped some of its remaining rain on the Lake Placid Ski Club's annual car show Sunday, Sept. 3, dampening the turnout but not the spirits of those attending.

About one-third of those registering to exhibit their cars arrived, and those who did appreciated the opportunity to connect with other car owners and were glad to be able to help the ski club the best they could.

Good news is that Harvey did not bring the 4 feet of rain that poured from the skies in Texas, more like a half an inch. Even better is that this was only the second time in 35 years that the car show experienced rain and, even then, not nearly as hard as the previous storm many years ago.

Article Photos

Tom Huryn and his bright green Mustang
Photo provided — Naj Wikoff

"The very first time we were rained out, it poured so hard we had to go into the school," said Carol Hoffman, president of the Lake Placid Ski Club. "We've been extremely lucky, but I must say this is the first one I've attended where I could see my breath."

The annual car show on the Olympic Speedskating Oval is the ski club's major fundraiser. Over the years, thousands of local kids have learned to ski through their programs. Whether one dreams of becoming an Olympic alpine or nordic athlete or just wants to learn how to ski for the pleasure of a sport one can do over the arch of one's lifetime, for 96 years the ski club has been helping introduce and enhance the abilities of local skiers in such diverse skiing sports as biathlon, freestyle, jumping, alpine racing, snowboarding, or cross-country (racing or recreation).

The club helps defray the cost of kids who wish to participate in NYSEF, helps their members meet the costs of equipment and travel to events, and gives out awards to recognize and encourage the talents of the youth participating.

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A great event is their annual ski sale, usually held 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. the first Saturday in November at St. Agnes School. It features some of the best deals on skis and ski equipment. Plus, it's a convenient time for people to sign up for their winter programs and take out a membership in the club, still only $45 per family.

When I was a kid, we were all bused to Scotts Cobble located adjacent to Craig Wood Golf Course, unless a jumping meet was scheduled. Then we'd be given to opportunity to boot pack and then ski pack the hill. Of course, today the state Olympic Regional Development Authority has snowcats to deal with such emergencies, but ski club parents and volunteers remain vital to our community's ability to host national and international competitions while the kids train at either Whiteface Mountain, Mount Van Hoevenberg or Intervales.

With that array of programming, the frustration caused by the rain was palpable, though not disheartening by any means as doing outdoor activities requires adjusting to what Mother Nature provides. Some adjustments had to be made by the judges.

"With the rain, we are not worried about people opening their hoods so we can check the engines," said judge Phil Carr. "We are judging by what the interior and exterior of the car looks like and making sure it's in good condition."

"I love everything about cars," said judge Kevin Agnew. "I'm looking to see how clean the car looks and how well it's maintained considering its year. If you're showing an original car, how close to originality it is. With the rain, judging's a little tough."

"I learned to drive with a Chevy 1968 Z-28," added Phil. "A fun car!"

Z-28s were fun. My dad got a white Z-28 convertible in 1967, the year they first came out. My mother and my younger brother Q used to take it to Doors concerts. Another fan of fun cars like that, and seemingly impervious to the weather, is Stephen Vassar, who brought two cars to the show, a 1986 SVO Mustang, one of only 3,200 built that year, and a 2006 Limited Jeep Grand Cherokee tricked out with a 5.7L Hemi under the hood.

"I've always been around cars," said Vassar. "My uncles and dad all raced race cars. We were just brought up around cars. I just got interested and got lucky and got a couple of nice ones through the years and have just had a lot of fun with cars. I've had my Mustang for 17 years. I bought it from a guy who had his daughter up figure skating. My brother and I had to go down to Farmingdale, Long Island, to pick it up."

"I've had my car since '93," said Tom Huryn of his bright green Mustang. "It was a project car for my daughter and me. It had a six-cylinder engine that we switched over to a V8. We had to remove a lot of rust; it was an ongoing project. My daughter is into European cars now, the big dollar cars. I like a car that doesn't look like everybody else's car. You'll never see another car with this color of green. Today if I had a new white Mustang, there would be hundreds of them on the road."

Tom didn't mind the rain and was pleased that it wasn't snowing. Nor did Jack Jewell, owner of a BMW M Roadster. His first car was a '65 Mustang, one of a long line of cars he wished he still owned. Others were a '69 GTO, Sunbeam Alpine, Opel GT and two other Mustangs. He was hanging out under a small portable tent with Cliff Gay, who had a 2003 Nissan 350 Z. They spoke of the importance of the camaraderie they have developed with "everybody" no matter the make or model of car they show.

Three people out camping who decided it was far better to check out the cars than sit in a lean-to were father and son Andy and George Merlo and their friend Nick Piomelli.

"It seems that the weather is keeping the crowds down a little bit, but we're having fun," said Merlo.

"I've been coming since the first year," said Karin Alince, originally from Montreal, who divides her time between Lake Placid and Canada. "We want to support the ski club, and we love the old cars. We get pulled towards the cars from the '50s, '40s and earlier. My first car was a death mobile. It was a Vista. It tried to kill me on several occasions, but it clearly didn't succeed."

What did succeed in spite of the weather was a shared passion for cars and a lot of people out in support of the ski club and the many kids they support. Those wishing to make contributions to the Lake Placid Ski Club can mail them to P.O. Box 691, Lake Placid, NY 12946.

 
 

 

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