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Car fanciers revved up at Fawn Cruise’ In

Tawnya Panizzi

FAWN: Car enthusiasts converged Sunday at Tour-Ed Mine to catch a glimpse of the wildest, oldest and best kept models in the Valley.

The third annual Cruise’ In, sponsored by the Ridge Runners Car Club of Indiana Township, didn’t disappoint. Owners showcased more than 50 cars from souped-up station wagons to classic Chevys, like the 1956 model on display by Saxonburg’s Dan Pozzuto.

“We come to one every weekend,” said Pozzuto, who stretched out in a lawn chair with his boxer pup, Mickey, and answered questions for a continuous stream of curious passers-by. Pozzuto vied for attention against his wife, Lynn, who arrived in a 2002 burnt-red Trans-Am.

“It’s relaxing,” the two agreed. “We could go to one every night of the week.”

Proceeds from the auto show benefited the Alle-Kiski Valley Historical Society on East Seventh Avenue. The event raised $2,500 in 2002, according to founders Rhonda and Jim Russell of Frazer. The pair decided three years ago to combine their two passions, history and cars.

“We have a ’68 Camaro and we enjoy going to cruises, so we thought, ‘Why not have our own?'” said Jim, whose wife volunteers at the historical society. “You’ll see everything from wild to weird here.”

In the first two years, the number of participants jumped by 40 percent, from 100 to 140 cars. The Russells were hoping the rain would hold off Sunday to top their previous success.

“They look at the sky before coming out,” Rhonda said. “There are some people who won’t bring their car out if it looks like rain.”

Jason Taylor of Lower Burrell isn’t one of them. The harshest storm couldn’t hamper Taylor, who with his 1989 Chevy K-3500 looked like he could make it through a war zone. The shiny red truck sits about 4 feet from the ground — at the front bumper. You have to climb up the 3-foot tires to get in.

“It’s not really practical, but it’s a good show vehicle,” said Taylor, 22. “It has 24 inches of lift.”

Another eye-catcher was the 1936 Ford Deluxe Eight Sedan, owned by Allegheny Ludlum and made, fittingly, of stainless steel. It is one of six original vehicles that rolled off the line in Detroit nearly 60 years ago.

“The other five are in museums now,” said Al Bennett, a former Ludlum employee who volunteered to chaperone the relic.

Bennett of Freeport owns a 1930 Model A but said he’d rather drive the silver signature piece around town.

“People stare and ask questions,” he said, laughing. “But they stare at me anyway.”

The cruise offered activities other than hood-hopping. A train sponsored by the Tour-Ed Mine chugged around the lawn offering rides to children while vendors set up shop with hard-to-find parts. Safety demonstrations were given by Eureka Hose Company, The Pittsburgh Children’s Institute and the Center for Organ Recovery and Education.

By 1 p.m., a crowd of about 100 perused the 40-acre grounds, pausing periodically to peek at personal favorites.

The cars of the 1960s captivated Carol Silvio of Plum, who voiced her partiality to the 1966 Chevy Impala.

“The first guy I dated had one,” she laughed. “It brings back good memories.”

Several stopped to size up an old gray station wagon souped up with bright blue flames. Others ogled a red Plymouth Prowler, a futuristic-looking low-rider with a pointed hood. Some, like Steve Minarik, preferred the vintage vehicles. Although he was on hand to show his black 1998 Corvette coupe, Minarik and girlfriend Lish Hall were drawn to the antique Chevy hot rod parked a few spots down.

“There’s an old tractor that just pulled in and I wanna see that one, too,” said Minarik, who set out to eye each one. “As long as it has an engine in it, I’m interested.”

Andy Staraniec and John Pasquarello, members of the Ridge Runner’s Car Club, said they couldn’t comprehend why anyone would settle for less than the car of their dreams. Each of them have built custom models from nothing but a pile of old parts.

“We take basket cases, cars that people consider junk and find something of value in them,” said Staraniec, a founding member of the car club.

Pasquarello of Indiana Township showcased his reconditioned 1966 Oldsmobile Starfire and likened the club members to nothing more than kids with a passion.

“We’re the oldest teenagers you know,” he said.


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