Over the past 37 years, The Street Machine Weekend , July 10-12, has slowly evolved into a Lethbridge institution for car buffs, aficionados and gear-heads of all types.
Lethbridge gets influx of between 15-20,000 people from all over Canada and the United States for the event which brings in millions of dollars to the city every year.
“It’s a great to see people having a good time doing something they love,” said new Street Wheelers Club president PJ Nadeau.
“People spend countless time and money on their cars so this is where they get to show off all of their hard work,” he continued.
“And it’s a great place to meet old friends,” he continued.
Street Machines takes over the downtown core and Exhibition Park, July 10-13 beginning with Cruise Control, Friday night , July 10 at 8 p.m., during which 832 cars will be cruising around the city core on 3rd Ave. South and Mayor Magrath Drive, 7-10 p.m.
“That’s the number the city has determined the road can handle,” observed Nadeau, a Volkswagen buff who joined the Street Wheelers, because he didn’t think there was enough attention being paid to Volkswagens.
“There’s something for everybody — people who like muscle cars, Mustangs, Japanese cars, Volkswagens…,” said new Street Wheelers’ president PJ Nadeau.
“We hand select the cars so there is something for everybody— Corvettes, muscle cars, European cars, Japanese cars. They have to be show ready,” he said, adding the entries must have something unique about them.
“Unfortunately we have to turn a lot of people away and it fills up in an hour,” continued Nadeau.
“Watching the Cruise is an amazing experience, but it doesn’t even compare to the feeling of actually being part of it,” he said.
There is a $10 entry fee to enter. They only have room for 832 cars in the cruise.
“ I grew up playing with cars — Matchbox cars, Hot Wheels, Transformers — anything to do with cars, I loved them, especially Volkswagens,” he said, adding he joined the Street Wheelers to meet people who were just as interested in cars as himself. He has been a member of the club for five years. The club has been in existence for 39 years.
“It’s a great way to meet people. We have members who are interested in all sorts of different cars,” he continued. He has several different customized vehicles including a 1960 Ford Vespa, a 2001 Audi and a 2006 Trailblazer.
“I call it the mini-van, though it really isn’t. If people think they can beat the ‘mini-van,’ they’re wrong. It’s souped up,” he said adding his beloved 1970 Volkswagen rounds out his collection.
If you love racing cars, the 100 footer happens at Exhibition Park, Saturday morning beginning at 11 a.m. Registration is bright and early at 8 a.m.
There is more racing for the Autocross all day Sunday beginning at 8 a.m..
Even the police get involved with Autocross as some of their their drivers participate in a special race.
“The cherries are flashing and sirens are going. It’s about communication. The police aren’t against you because you have a car, but they are against street racing and being stupid,” Nadeau said, estimating 70-80 drivers participate in the Autocross.
“ It’s a great opportunity to see stuff you won’t see anywhere else. It‘s a great test of the drivers. It’s the only place you can see a Corvette lose to a Mercury Zepher,” he said.
If you just want to see the cars, there is the show and shine at Galt Gardens from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
“There aren’t a lot of places you can entertain the family for $20 for a day for the races if the kids are under the age of 12,” he said.
A special event returns this year — the Ultimate Street Car Challenge, for which the best of the participants who are part of the three main events, will be chosen.
Nadeau won’t be part of the Ultimate Street Car Challenge as he will be manning the microphone for the 100 Footer.
“I’ve never been into drag racing,” he said.
“I’m on the microphone. Our former president Ross Spencer is usually on the mic, but he’s undergoing chemo. So we’re all hoping for the best for him,” he said.
He always enjoys the event, which is the culmination of a year’s work for the Street Wheelers’ approximately 30 members.
“It’s a lot of fun. We spend a lot of time and money making sure it is safe for the drivers and the audience. It costs a lot of money to put on. Getting 3rd Ave isn’t free and neither is Exhibition Park. It doesn’t go to waste. Even Street Wheelers Club members still have to pay, just like everyone else,” he said.
More information is available about Street Machine Weekend and the Street Wheelers Club at http://www.streetwheelers.com/