Race rolls through Oak Creek, Steamboat


— Oak Creek rolled out the red carpet for the Great Race Monday by rolling in a local car show on the green lawn at Decker Park.

Routt County car lovers primed their engines for the race's vintage Indy cars, Rolls Royces, Thunderbirds and Chevys passing through town with the afternoon storm by spending a sunny afternoon swapping stories and gawking at their own impressive local car collection. Oak Creek's "Take a Monday Break" celebration was festive with live music, food and gold foil stickers for everyone's lapels.

The town even put out their own version of vintage red "Burma-shave" signs with white lettering that used to dot the American highways similar to F.M. Light's roadside signs. Entering Oak Creek from the south, the signs welcomed the Great Race with "Drivers... Here's a real poser... Hell may be close... but Oak Creek... is closer... Burma-shave."

The car show was Oak Creek resident Bob Baker's idea.

"I knew people had these cars hidden away and you never get to see them all together," said Baker, who was showing off his 1952 Citroen.

Ron Kreutz had his bumblebee yellow 1960 Porsche 1600 out for its second day on the road since he finished putting it together. That's a long way from where he started, with the car torn to pieces and every last nut and bolt packed in boxes.

The Porsche convertible is "20 years of love," Kreutz said.

Willy Whelan was showing off the black 1959 Jaguar roadster he inherited from his father. Whelan and his father restored the car together over the years, and it just recently arrived in Colorado.

"My whole life, it has been around," Whelan said. "It's like having a part of my dad here."

Whelan's Jaguar was joined by Foster Tudor's cherry-red 1964 Jaguar, a spotless machine that he called his "fair weather toy," and John Dodd's deep burgundy 1960 Triumph, "basically a four-wheel motorcycle," he said.

Brian and Holli Enger had their scarlet 1966 Impala Super Sport on display. Everything was still so original and well-cared-for that they said they just took a set of 20-year-old studded snow tires off the car. With a 396 Super Sport engine, an eight-track player and room for the whole family, Brian called it "dad's hot rod."

Candy and Maury Bunn were showing off their 1967 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser, a Yampa Valley original that had previously been painted "kitchen cabinet yellow from the 1950s and had shelf paper that looked like wood" in it, Candy said. Now the station wagon is sporting a white body with black flames off the front and it manages to cruise coast to coast with nothing more than an oil change, Maury said.

"It's a big cruising machine," Candy said. "And when you put the back seat down it sleeps two," Maury added.

Oak Creek's car show kudos go to the rat pack of aficionados from South Routt who had an assortment of impeccably restored vintage cars on display -- most of which had been plucked off area pastures and salvaged from rust and decay. Bill Voorhees, Richard "Woody" Wood, Dick Palmer and Leland Thailkill had plenty of tales to tell about the many cars they have found and restored, only a sample of which were on display Monday. Most of the men said they had helped each other with the various restoration efforts.

Voorhees, a retired mechanic who can barely fit behind the wheel of most of the cars he helped restore, was on hand to assist with show-and-tell even though his own 1916 Overland seven-passenger touring car was home "with a Gremlin." But Palmer had both his1936 Dodge Railway Express Agency truck and his 1931 Chrysler roadster with a rumble seat out for a drive.

"It was a rust bucket we found in Newcastle behind the gas station," Palmer said of the Dodge. The truck used to meet railroad cars at the train depot to pick up packages and make deliveries.

Palmer and Thailkill cleaned up the cargo truck and made it look good-as-new.

The men even did their homework on the paint job, a reproduction of a stork delivering a package to the industrial silhouette of a city on the side of the big green truck.

Rounding out the collection was Wood's forest green1929 Ford Model A pickup truck -- a classic that people are likely to see tooling around Routt County roads on a regular basis. Wood said he still drives it year-round. He even claimed to have passed a semi-truck while driving up to the Eisenhower Tunnel in his 75-year-old truck.


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