Gear Up Your Enthusiasm as Car Show Nears
By SALLY HOGARTY and
On Saturday, Sept. 8 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., Orinda will host its 14th Annual Classic Car Show. This free event, which continues to delight car fans of all ages, benefits The Orinda Association’s “Seniors Around Town” transportation service, the Educational Foundation of Orinda (EFO), Lamorinda Arts Council, Orinda Historical Society, Orinda Rotary, Orinda Chamber of Commerce and other local causes.
Over the last 13 years, the event has centered on efforts to raise more than $525,000 for local charities. In 2005, Orinda resident Chip Herman and John Vanek, backed by Orinda Motors, partnered together to start the Orinda Classic Car Show as a way to bring together the local classic car community and to raise money for local charities.
An 11-year Orinda resident, Mike Robinson has always loved cars and feels helping out with the car show is a great way to share his love of cars with other enthusiasts while helping local nonprofits at the same time.
“I met Chip during the fifth year of the car show when I entered my car, a bright red 1970 Buick Grand Sport convertible, one of the classic muscle cars,” Robinson explains. “I saw Chip scurrying around doing all kinds of things, and I asked him if he needed any help. I’m not sure I helped him much that year, but I did get a phone call the next year and have been involved ever since. It is neat how the show allows people to connect.”
A highlight of this year’s show is the Vintage and Historically Significant Race Cars. Coordinated by Orinda resident David Alvarado, the exhibit will include pre-war racers to 1960s-1990s vehicles. The March Formula car Bobbie Rahal raced in the 1976 Formula Atlantic season will be among those displayed as well as a 1976 March 76B, 1973 Chevron B21 Formula racer, a 1963 Lotus 23B, a Ferrari 308 and a 1963 Shelby Cobra LeMans
“We try to shake it up a little,” says Robinson. “There are a couple things about this show that are unique. Somewhere between 30-40 percent of the cars each year are cars new to the show. People get wind of the show and want to participate and others, who have acquired different cars, want to show them off too. We have people coming from all over the East Bay.”
Robinson has a special fondness for the drive component of the Car Show, which he coordinates: “Guys sit around all day at other shows looking at each other’s cars and that’s it. On the other hand, we end ours with a drive of cars where people get to show them off a little and others get to see these great classic cars in motion.”
The route of the drive will take the classic cars down Orinda Way, over to Moraga Way to Moraga and then over to Rheem Boulevard and back to Orinda. “The Police Departments help us by keeping those intersections open. It’s a nice jaunt for everyone through the main part of Orinda and Moraga while smiling and waving to the people they pass. We get quite a number of people standing along the side of the road looking to see what cars show up,” Robinson explains.
Robinson, who applauds Orinda Police Chief Nagel for his help in making everything work smoothly, proudly trumpets another unique touch Orinda has added to its car show: “We raise a little bit of money by allowing people at the show to ride in one of the cars during the drive for a small donation. Maybe it’s the car of their dreams. This is an interesting twist, benefitting local charities, that I haven’t seen at any other car show.”
Robinson’s duties preclude his participation in the middle of the drive, but he still finds a way to participate in what he loves: “Since I’m so busy organizing and getting everyone ready, I don’t have a chance to take people in my car except for my kids. Usually at the end, I hop in my car and follow along. But I’ve talked to a couple of young people – teens and younger – who have done the ride, and their reviews have been great. The drive allows them to actually ride in a car they saw at the show that interested them. The drivers are always very gracious, and their passengers come back with big smiles on their faces.”
The vintage racing cars won’t be in the drive since they aren’t street legal. Robinson points out, “Those aren’t vehicles you want rolling through streets. Still, the exhibit around Orinda Way and Camino Sobrante will be really special.”
Robinson cautions that the show, “a great event which has a small town feel to it, has sold out a week or two in advance the last few years and is on track to do that again.” If you want to register your car, you need to do so immediately at www.orindacarshow.com. Robinson concludes, “Watching kids, like my girl and boy, look at the cars with big smiles on their faces that are full of wonder, you can sense that they are dreaming about being behind the wheel.”