Auburn Cruise Nite a Hot Summer Classic
"As long as you've got an ice cube in your pocket, you've got air conditioning" -- that philosophy, shared by one visitor at a recent Auburn Cruise Nite, was likely held by many of the 300 classic car owners in attendance.
Who needs creature comforts like power steering and heat when you're behind the wheel of a masterpiece?
That's certainly the sentiment of one Cruise Nite participant, local real estate attorney Kevin Kemper. Kemper puts his 1963 Volvo 122S through the long-distance rallye paces, driving hundreds of miles without air conditioning.
"It's a sickness," Kemper said. "But it's always a lot of fun, too."
Like many of the car owners lined along Lincoln Way between Elm and High Streets, Kemper and his wife, Christine Kemper, chatted with friends, and made post-cruise dinner plans while their children zipped around the collection of vintage cars.
That's one reason Bob Kennedy took over organizing the event six years ago -- he loves the way it brings a few thousand people to Auburn, and it brings old friends back together, too.
"It's a good, fun, family atmosphere," Kennedy said. "If you listen to conversations, you'll hear people say, 'My dad had a car like that when I was a kid,' or 'My neighbor drove a car like this.'"
Guy Smith of Foresthill was one of the people deep in car conversation. He was there with his newly refurbished white, step-side, '67 Chevy, half-ton pickup. It took Smith13 years to restore this pride and joy, piece by piece.
And he was having a cheerful argument with an old friend about which parts of the pickup were true to the original.
As Smith and his friend bickered happily, a school-aged boy passed by with his mom in search of the oldest vehicle on the scene. They heard there was a 1928 paddy wagon up the hill and headed in that direction.
Kennedy, who's been involved with Auburn Cruise Nite for 15 years, is proud that the event is offered free to car owners and oglers alike.
Some events charge car owners up to $30 to place their hard work on display. As a vintage car owner, Kennedy said he's only interested in those car shows if they benefit a local charity.
If they're free or benefit charity, he said, the more local car shows, the better.
So if you didn't have a chance to attend the last Auburn Cruise Nite, or you just need a vintage car fix before the next Cruise Nite, Kennedy recommends the Seventh Annual American Graffiti Classic Car Show at Original Mel's Diner.
Registration begins at 7 a.m., Saturday, June 24 at 1730 Grass Valley Highway. Proceeds support Auburn Senior Center, the American Cancer Society, Special Townsmen and Roamin' Angels Club.
Kennedy will be there.
It's not just the cars that are special, he said. It's the fundraising and the friendships.
One of his favorite Cruise Nite moments is when he tidies up at the end of the event, and he sees long-time friends still catching up in the street even though the sun's sinking low and most everybody's gone home.
Future Auburn Cruise Nites will be held: 4 to 9 p.m., Friday, July 14, Friday, Aug. 11 and Friday, Sept. 8