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Street Wheelers ready to roll

Posted on July 4, 2018 by Richard Amery
Photo by Richard Amery Colourful cars line the grass at Galt Gardens during last year’s Street Machine Weekend show ‘n shine. Auto fans can expect plenty of fun when the 2018 edition rolls around.

Street Machine Weekend celebrate it’s 40th anniversary, July 13-15. “Street Wheelers Weekend has been happening for 40 years; the Street Wheelers club has been around for 43 years,” observed Street Wheelers club president Chris Houston, who joined the club 10 years ago just in time to help the 30th annual Street Machine Weekend.
“Other than the drive-in movie, it’s pretty much business as usual,” he said.
There will be a special showing at the Enmax Centre of “Gone in 60 Seconds” on Thursday, July 12.
Gates open at 6:30 p.m., with the film beginning at dusk.
“And that turns the three-day weekend into a four-day weekend. There will be a 30-foot inflatable movie screen and they’ll play the sound through your car stereo. It’s a family-friendly event and it only costs $10 a car so it doesn’t matter how many people you have,” Houston said, adding he isn’t sure if the drive-in movie will become an annual event
The rest of the weekend will include the controlled cruise down Mayor Magrath Drive and 3 Ave S. from 7-10 p.m. on July 13, the 100-foot race at Exhibition Park Grandstand on July 14 and the Autocross race also at Exhibition Park in the north lot. The always popular show and shine takes over Galt Gardens on July 15, beginning at 9 p.m.
Street Wheelers members choose the most unique cars to be among the 850 cars in the cruise.
“We don’t want too many of the same newer cars. I think people want to see the older stuff,” Houston observed, adding he tries to get his cars into the cruise including a Nissan Globe and a Chevy Blazer.
“And I just got a new 1990 Mustang,” he said adding he’ll drive one of the cars, his wife another and one of their friends the third.
“It creates a lot of reaction on both sides. Some people are happy with it. Then some people will say I just spent $100,000 on a new Corvette, and we’ll have to say ‘we already have 30 of those,’” he said.
“But there’s every kind of car you’d want to see, from classic cars to foreign cars. We banned diesels with clouds of black smoke because people weren’t enjoying that,” he said
He has been part of Street Wheelers for the past 10 years.
“People book vacations around it. And their weddings around Street Machine Weekend because they don’t want to compete with it,” he said.
“Hotels are usually booked up by January for the event, so if you’re looking for one now, you probably won’t find one,” he said, adding it attracts people from Edmonton to all over Montana and all over southern Alberta.
“Even if you aren’t really into cars, Streetside always has live music and a couple of the bars on the route always have a bash,” he said.
“There’s bands and barbecues. It gets a lot of support from the community,” he continued.
“And we’re a non-profit club, so any money we make is given to charity,” he said, noting they have made donations to numerous groups including Meals On Wheels, Youth One, the Last Chance Cat Ranch and many other local charities.
“About half of the club is actively involved in organizing the Street Machine Weekend. But we rely a lot on volunteers,” he said.
He said the event has become a lot more controlled over the years.
“We had people who would watch who had nice cars but they wouldn’t want to participate in the cruise because they would be afraid of being rear-ended by some punk kid driving his mother’s station wagon,” he said, adding safety and good driving are paramount.
“There are people who drive carefully because they really care,” he said.
“A lot of people love the 100-footer race because it gives them a chance to see what their cars can do, which they wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. We have people who can do it in 1.7 seconds, going from 0 to 100, so that is impressive,” he said, adding the Code 3 challenge, which allowed police and emergency services personal to show off their driving prowess, won’t be happening this year.
“One of the major groups from Edmonton had a prior commitment, so they won’t be coming. We had Taber Police, Blood Tribe and RCMP participating, but the city police never participated,” he continued.
The autocross, in the Exhibition grounds north lot, also gives drivers a chance to test their skills on a slalom race.
It costs $20 to enter the 100-foot race $10 to watch $20 to enter the cruise and $10 to enter the show and shine and $20 to enter the autocross.
There is no charge to watch. Registration is Friday night.

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