Big Bear Lake California
August 10-13, 2017
by Conrad Monroe
This year we tried something different, the Big Bear Fun Run which is held at Big Bear City, California. Thanks to Bob Bailey for taking the time to plan the trip, organize the hotel rooms and coordinate with the Over The Hill Gang – San Bernardino. The San Berdo club reserves a large block of rooms at the Holiday Inn Resort. In doing so they get a major break on the room charge which was quite nice.
Making the run were the following members: Tom and Val Altgilbers in their Suburban, Rick and Debbie Aronson in their 1941 Ford Pick Up, Bob and Betty Bailey in their 1940 Ford Coupe, Dave and Anne Bennett in their 1937 Cadillac Sedan towing their teardrop trailer, Charlie and Danise Cover in their 1937 Ford Club Coupe, Jim and Carol Dalton in their 1937 Chevy Sedan Delivery, Paul and Judy Nolte in their 1939 Ford Coupe and Michelle and I in our 1956 Dodge Sierra Station Wagon.
Other than Bob Bailey losing a fuel pump while climbing the last hill up to the lake, the trip was rather uneventful. We all met for breakfast on Thursday morning at the Country Kitchen in Wickenburg before heading out to Parker, AZ where we picked up CA-62 W to Joshua Tree, CA where we had lunch. After lunch I checked out an International Bus that had been converted into a go anywhere/do anything RV. It was quite a piece of work! After lunch we picked up CA-247 that took us CA-18E for the run up to Big Bear. This road is not for the faint of heart, very steep, very winding with a number of blind uphill switchbacks. The weather at the bottom was hot and sunny, around 105°F. The heat and steep climb will create problems unless you have a well designed cooling system. OH, and to make things even more exciting you will meet double bottom semi trailer trucks hauling gravel down the hill… it was a bit of a pucker factor at time. The next time we are headed here I would suggest either CA-38 that comes in from Redlands or CA-18W that comes in from San Bernardino. Still twisty curvy but without the sharp switchbacks and steep grades.
Thursday & Friday Travel, Registration and Relax
On Friday we hit registration which was an absolute breeze. The Big Bear Lake Antique Car Club definitely have their act together. The registration area was well laid out and organized, the club members were courteous and helpful. The The town streets were closed off to traffic and each of the 500 cars were assigned a numbered parking space for the show. If you indicated that you were with a car club or other organization, they would do their best to see that you were parked together. We got eight adjacent spaces with a good sized shaded grassy area behind the cars. The space was large enough for our awning, which added to the shade.
After registration we headed back to our hotel to clean up the cars and to replace Bob’s fuel pump… as luck would have it, the local NAPA store only had one manual GM pump in stock… Paul and Bob installed it and had a devil of a time getting the car to run, even with copious priming of the carb. As it turns out on this particular pump the inlet was mislabeled so instead of pushing gas to the carb it was trying to suck gas from it… after a plumbing change all was in order and the car ran like new…
While Bob and Paul were playing mechanic, most of us went across the street to a German Restaurant for a cold beer or two and a sandwich. For dinner we all were invited to Charlie’s old school mate Jerry’s cabin for a cookout. The weather was beautiful and Jerry was a most gracious host to open his house to a bunch of car people! Great evening! Thanks to Jerry and Charlie Cover for setting it up!
Saturday Car Show
We were in line and promptly at 7:00 AM the let us into the parking area. The club members handling the parking duties did a great job of getting us in and into our assigned spaces. After getting set up, we sat around and visited a bit and talked with some of the other clubs parked near us, then headed off for breakfast. Big Bear has a wide variety of restaurants and bars so finding a good place to eat was not much of an issue. Finding an empty table on the other had was a tad more difficult. Not having anything better to do, we enjoyed the wait talking with members of the San Diego OTHG who were parked along the street near our restaurant.
Around mid afternoon the organizing club came around and notified the owners of all of the cars that had been selected for an award on Sunday. In addition to the usual info that is asked for they also wanted each winner to write something down about the car, its build and or what other interesting tidbits that you would like to share with the audience. This is not often done, but I think it is a great idea.
Around 4:00 PM cars started leaving the parking area and headed off for a Cruise around Big Bear Lake. Much like the Midnight at the Oasis show in Yuma and the Run to the Pines show up in Pinetop/Show Low, thousands of spectators lined the Cruise route around the lake. From what we picked up talking with wait staff and folks at the hotel, this event is by far the most popular of many that are held in the town throughout the year. It’s crowds, even surpass the 4th of July weekend!
Saturday Cruise Around Big Bear Lake
I must say that the 500 cars that were on display were all very high quality builds. Some of the higher end cars have had national acclaim at various major shows on the west coast. The organizing club members were tasked with selecting 70 notable cars for the Awards on Sunday. They have a Best in Show, a number of Best Makes, Interior, Engine etc, Top Twenty and several interesting categories. Dave and Anne Bennett were chosen for a Top Twenty Award and Michelle and I were chosen for the Best Fins Award… as an aside, when I picked up the car it was missing one of the chrome bolt on rear fins that identified the car as a 1956 Dodge. After several weeks of searching on EBay I saw a listing that showed a photo of both fins (the are of course right and left handed). The seller had identified them as “I have no idea what these are, or what they belong to” He had a buy it now price of $40 for the pair. I don’t think I have ever bought anything that quickly before… anyway had it not been for EBay there would have been no fins on the car… I have never seen another pair again.
Once again the organization of the awards was 1st class. Each winner was assigned a number and numbered parking space. The parking spaces were laid out to make it easy for the winner to get in line when the awards began. Each car was directed to park in front of the grandstands with two large US Flags displayed behind them. The announcer would cover the details of the car and owner and also would share with the audience the write up that each owner provided. It was a lot of fun, the driver was handed the award and the passenger received a very nice long stem Rose.
Having an 9 hour drive home ahead of us, we chose to leave as soon as we received our award. The ride down the mountain was very enjoyable. We stopped for gas at perhap the fanciest Circle Ks in the world. Complete with marble walls and floors, a waterfall and premium coffee. Outside seating with free WiFi… almost made the price per gallon that we had to pay seem justified … 8-)…
Our ride home was uneventful, and other than the 100°F desert temps for 6 hours out of the 8.5 hr drive it was enjoyable.
Larry Besore had asked me if I thought that the show was worth the drive and money to get to it. I have to say it was. I have been to numerous car shows since 2002 when I bought our 1939 Ford Sedan, and I would have to say that this one is well in the top ten, maybe top five of all of them. The organization, courtesy, venue and weather all teamed up to make for a very worthwhile experience. I would not mind coming back again…
Till next time…
Next up for Michelle and I is our annual trip to the Pacific Northwest to visit friends and family and then the 2017 Run to the Pines show in Pinetop, and possibly a trip to Tennessee and Arkansas to visit an old friend and a couple of 1st cousins that I never knew I had… After this trip to Big Bear, Betty has 34,000 miles on her Dakota Digital odometer and will probably pick up another 5 to 6K by the end of the year… You Gotta Drive Them!