Back and bigger than ever, the Friday night pre-cruise events hosted by the Escalon Lions Club at Hula’s along Jackson Avenue have gained a reputation as being among the best showcases in the area for classic cars.
Kicking off May 24, the Friday night shows will run through Aug. 30 and the only time they will not be at the Hula’s location is June 28, when they will gather in the city’s Main Street Park. A fireworks stand will be set up in the parking lot adjacent to Hula’s on June 28, requiring the move, but the cars will be back on July 5. D’Boni’s Pizza will be offering pizzas for sale at the park on June 28 as part of the festivities.
The pre-cruise shows run from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. each Friday.
“Opening night we had 75 cars here,” said Escalon Lions Club member and Autumn Cruise coordinator John Salvin. “Last week it was 65.”
The June 7 showing was smaller, due largely in part to the fact that it was ‘Graffiti Weekend’ in neighboring Modesto and that community welcomed native son George Lucas back to town for a celebration of American Graffiti and a downtown cruise on Friday night.
“We expected a slow one,” Salvin admitted of June 7.
Temperatures also climbed past 100 during the day, keeping a few people away.
But overall, he said, the Friday night pre-cruise events are a great way to celebrate all things auto, and get the community and car enthusiasts geared up for the annual Autumn Cruise downtown. This year’s event will be Saturday, Sept. 7. The cruise is a fundraiser, helping the Lions Club award scholarships to graduating high school seniors at Escalon High.
“This year we gave 14 $1,600 scholarships to EHS seniors,” Salvin explained. “That was a big deal.”
That was the largest amount ever given out by the club and Salvin said hopes are to continue offering the same type of funding for deserving seniors from year to year. The 2013 show will include some favorite staples, with music, a fashion show, food, vendors, opportunity drawings and more. A new calendar was added last year, with auto enthusiasts paying to have their car displayed on the calendar. Also pictured were some of the car show winners.
“We got two scholarships out of the calendar alone,” Salvin pointed out.
Pre-registration for the 2013 show is already going on and the first 150 people pre-registering will receive a ‘goody bucket’ of items.
“It will have a calendar and items that will exceed the price of entry,” Salvin said.
Cost to pre-register a vehicle for the autumn show is $35 and day of registration is $40.
“There’s over 70 awards we will give out at the show,” added Salvin.
Among those with a vehicle on display at the June 7 pre-cruise was Bob Morrill of Escalon, who had his 1991 Ford pull truck on display.
“Competition is all it’s used for,” he said, explaining that he has already been at a couple of events. He came home winners from them in his first year on the circuit. The truck pulls a sled, weighted, and his schedule for the summer is packed.
Overkill Pull Team will be in Merced on June 13, Stockton on June 14 and 15 (fairgrounds), in Sonora on July 12, Turlock on July 17, Plymouth on July 26 and Hilmar on July 27. Fall events are Madera on Sept. 14 and Modesto on Oct. 12.
“This is the first time I’ve brought it here,” Morrill said of displaying his custom built truck on Friday. “I’ll go to the show uptown, too.”
The 850-900 horsepower engine can pull up to 40,000 pounds. Morrill and his son Kyle, a recent EHS graduate, worked on the truck together.
“It took us two-and-a-half years to build,” he said. “But I knew I had to finish the project.”
Salvin said the pull truck, motorcycles, specialty cars, classics, all are welcome at the pre-cruise and the autumn events. All the money goes to help local students, so he said it’s a win-win for all involved. Grower’s Choice-Longstreth Farms remains a major sponsor, as does Save Mart, while Hula’s is the ‘pre cruise’ headquarters for the group and the adjacent D’Boni’s Pizza is also a sponsor.
Salvin, who had a 1956 Chevy he was fixing up a few years ago to sell, instead found his wife wanting to get involved.
“She helped a little bit,” he explained of wife Marylyn, who now displays her truck – complete with a rose painted on the door – in the show.
“We should have around 300 cars again this year,” Salvin said.