Cruise-ins at Home Depot through last Friday in September
by Tina Johansson
Vintage cars. Everybody seems to love them.
Just take a look at the people who visit car shows each year: Young and old, all income levels and backgrounds.
Whether they’re souped-up, gleaming with chrome and fancy paint jobs, or as close to original as possible, vintage and antique autos are all the rage.
“Cars are the one thing that brings people together,” said Lou Moore, a retired Waukegan police officer and former postman. He added no matter what, “This is the one thing all men and women have in common: We all like cars.”
In fact all summer long and into the fall, car shows and cruise ins are so popular, you’d be hard-pressed not to come across one. “You can literally find a cruise night seven days a week,” said Moore of Waukegan.
A former Marine, Moore is president of North Shore Rods, Inc. an organization he founded nearly 20-years ago, which has been sponsoring car shows and cruise ins all around Lake County.
The three who run the shows are Moore, Reggie Riley, vice president of the club; and Dan Rixie, treasurer and secretary. Their wives, Laura, Jill and Patty, are also involved.
The official registered name of the events is Scoop the Loop. “We own the trademark and copyright (for Scoop the Loop),” said Moore.
“Our events have grown,” said the club president. “We get people from everywhere that want us to do cruise nights all the time.”
The shows certainly seem to bring a sense of happiness for visitors who ooh and ahh over autos and trucks, many reminiscing back to days of their youth. The ‘50s and ‘60s music ringing out at the events gets people all the more enthused.
Those were the days
Dan and his business partners said they grew up cruising downtown Waukegan back in the day, on many weekend summer evenings.
“I’d take my dad’s car out. A lot of people did that, and I don’t think their dad’s knew about it,” he quipped. Flirting with girls was a big part of it, he added.
“That’s how I met my wife,” Riley said of Jill. “Man, gas was about 25-cents a gallon back then.”
“A pack of cigarettes were probably 23-cents back in the 60s,” added Rixie.
The shows must go on
Besides their special shows at area festivals—recently it was Gurnee Days and Beach Park Fest—North Shore Rods, Inc. sponsors a weekly event in the parking lot of Home Depot in Gurnee through the end of September. They meet Fridays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Moore hands out discount coupons to visitors for nearby Uno Pizza.
“This show is really busy. We usually have 200 cars in the (Home Depot) lot,” said Moore.
Riley added, “You can bring your kids and grandkids to our shows.” Moore added that alcohol is not permitted.
People like Tim Johnson of McHenry are die-hard fans of cruise nights. He admits he’s probably visited hundreds throughout the years, including one he stopped by recently while on vacation in Glendale, AZ.
Johnson, who graduated from Grayslake High School, has had his beloved baby blue 1966 Chevrolet Chevy II for more than two decades. He even had a lift installed in his home garage so he could better tinker with it.
“I am always changing something on the car, so to me it is never really finished,” he said.
In fact for most collectors, their cars are a never-ending project, happily dealt with as time allows.
“We’re never done with them,” said Riley who owns a rare red ’33 Chevy three-window coupe. “They are always a work in progress.”
Rixie who has a ’57 Chevy, recently restored a ’67 metallic midnight-blue Chevy Camaro for his wife Patty, the third of its kind he’s re-built in the last several years.
Moore bought his street rod from Riley. The shiny black 1946 Ford Coupe was updated with a Mustang II front end suspension, and has a Chevy 305 under the hood.
The club president said he won’t soon forget his first car—a ’66 Chevy Impala he bought while stationed in the military in Hawaii.