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by Bob Lincoln
The 3rd annual MassMopar annual cookout and car show was held Sunday, August 30, 2009 at Rutland State Park off Rte 122 in Rutland, MA. It was my first time attending and meeting a larger group of members. The morning dawned cloudy and cool, but as the convoys reached the park, the sun burst through and the temperature was near 80F. A fleet of late 60s and early 70s muscle cars arrived, tuned exhausts burbling through the woods to the recreational area. They parked on a grassy field in the sun where the cars could be displayed to best advantage.
The club was founded by the late Tadeusz “Ted” Atanowski, who passed away in June 2009, after a brave struggle with cancer., exactly four years to the day that he founded the club. By all accounts, he was a remarkable man who built his own home, restored several MoPars to pristine condition, and was very well liked by those who knew him. Normally the cookout is very informal, but this year’s event had a somewhat subdued tone. Ted’s widow made an appearance, but left after a short time.
Portable gas grills were set up, and hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, homemade potato salad (delicious!), fruit, chips, cake, water and soda more than enough to feed the crowd were set up under a pavilion that provided cool shade.
At this point, the Bluesmobile made its entrance. External speakers blaring the theme music from “The Blues Brothers”, a 1977 Chrysler Newport that has been painstakingly and lovingly converted into a Bluesmobile cruised slowly around the entrance road and parked to the side of the other cars [the actual Newport was a 1974 Dodge Monaco]. Jerry Carlson and Dave Rathbun of AutoRust, Inc of Cranston, RI were the two soul men riding in the car. Shortly after their arrival a Rutland police cruiser pulled up alongside, the officer having received a report of this suspicious vehicle having entered the park. He didn’t leave his cruiser to inspect it and left shortly afterward. No arrests were made, and use of deadly force was not authorized.
The cars were incredible. There were about 20 in all. Some of the owners had painted and restored the cars themselves, others had it done professionally.
My personal pick for “Best In Show” was a red Dodge Challenger. Unfortunately, the owner left not long after the food was served, so I didn’t get a chance to get any contact info or details on the car. I did manage to get some good photos early on, however.
My car, a 1984 Dodge Daytona Turbo Z, was easily the newest car there by about 10 years or so. In fact, I discovered after the fact that the ranger waved the other cars through without charging, but collected the entrance fee from me, apparently not considering my car to be part of the show, even though I had told them I was with MassMopar.
Toward the end of the day, a remarkable vehicle made a casual entrance. A lime green 1966 Dodge Charger, somewhat plain in appearance, cruised in and parked off to the side. Further inspection revealed that this is a rare car, indeed – a 426 Hemi engine, Hurst 4-speed shifter, power front disc brakes and power windows – all from the factory. The owner had heard of the gathering and came over on a whim.
As a 1968 Charger attempted to leave at the end of the day, I heard that sound that is like music to my ears - a reduction gear Chrysler starter. It was not, however, followed by the roar of a big-block V-8. Instead it spun without catching. Before I could blink, the hood was up, diagnostics made and a new ballast resistor was loaned to the owner so he could make his way home. The motor started promptly. Always carry a spare. This one was of recent vintage, and the newer knock-offs seem to be less reliable than the OEM.
The day ended with the Bluesmobile backing out and doing figure eights in reverse while blaring the theme music again.
With the death of the founder of the club, there was some concern as to its fate. However, Dave of Autorust has taken over the domain and moved the site to his own servers, and the loyal following continues on. Membership is growing, and joining is as easy as showing up at an event.
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