15th Annual Classic Car Show Set to Hit the Road in September

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(Sally Hogarty, Photographer)
Chip Herman (2nd from left) turns over the keys to the car show, not to mention the Corvette, to Classic Car Show co-chairs Bill Waterman (in car) and Diane Lautz. John Vanek (far left) of Orinda Motors looks on.

    Americans, and especially Californians, have long had a love affair with cars. Maybe a restored Model T, a classic cruiser or a sporty roadster sparked their interest in wanting something besides just transportation. 
    Whatever the reason, people still enjoy looking at and dreaming about owning a car from the past or a technical marvel of the future. One of the best ways to take a peek and maybe even a ride in one of these beauties is at the annual Orinda Classic Car Show.  
  Now entering its 15th year, the show, presented by Orinda Motors, takes place Saturday, Sept. 7, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.  The popular event features a plethora of classic and exotic cars displayed in and around Orinda Motors, 63 Orinda Way. As in previous years, the event culminates with a special “drive” through Orinda where attendees can ride in one of the cars for a small donation. Food will once again be provided by Taverna Pellegrini. 
     “We will also have Lamorinda Idol singers and, we hope, the Miramonte Jazz Band providing entertainment while people enjoy all the great cars,” says Bill Waterman, co-chair of the car show.
    This popular local event began when resident Chip Herman, who had recently purchased his first classic – a ’66 Mustang – noticed that others in Lamorinda had classic cars but didn’t take them out that often. At the same time, Herman was looking for someone to take care of his Mustang and went to John Vanek at Orinda Motors. The men found they had a common interest in classic automobiles and before long, the idea of an Orinda Classic Car Show came to fruition.
    Interested in a car show with a community feel, Herman organized a committee whose mantra became “let’s have a little fun and raise a little money for a local cause.” Herman found the perfect organization to donate to when he met Kate Wiley, founder of The Orinda Association’s Seniors Around Town (SAT) ride program. Benefiting a nonprofit that provided free rides for local seniors seemed like the ideal fit to Herman and his committee.
    “We loved the idea of aligning ourselves with an organization that we could really help make a difference,” Herman says. “The show continues to support SAT as well as several other local groups.”
    The car show’s support has certainly made a difference to SAT as the nonprofit has grown from offering only a few dozen rides in 2005 to more than 1,300 last year. Proceeds from the car show now also benefit the Educational Foundation of Orinda, The Orinda Association, The Lamorinda Arts Council, Orinda Rotary and more. 
     Children are also an important component to the Orinda show, Herman says. “I love that kids come to the show and see things they’ve never seen before,” he says. “I can’t count the number of times kids have asked me: ‘What is that crank in the door?’ They’re amazed when I tell them that’s how you open and close the window. Many have never seen a stick shift before or an 8-track tape player.”
    In the third year of the car show, Herman’s wife Carolyn started the “Dancing with the Cars” dinner that takes place the night before the show and usually features some of the cars that will be displayed the next day. The Orinda Rotary took the dinner over five years ago and will once again organize the event which takes place on Sept. 6. While a location hasn’t been determined yet, there are several fun venues under consideration.
    While many popular aspects of the car show will continue this year, the driving force of the event will be taking a backseat. Chip Herman after 14 years behind the wheel has turned over the “keys,” so to speak to Bill Waterman and Diane Lautz, who will co-chair this year’s show. 
    “I’ve been trying to announce my retirement for a few years but somehow I’ve always managed to stay involved. This year I’m just trying to stay away and let Bill and Diane and the committee execute their vision for the show,” says Herman. “The show is moving forward with great stewardship. I will, however, be there showing my ’66 Mustang.”
    The committee driving this year’s show includes many from past shows including John Vanek, Bill Criswell, Mike Robinson and David Alvarado.
    “We are so indebted to Chip and Carolyn for all their work,” says Waterman. “We are excited to carry on their legacy by taking over the planning of the show, which always attracts such a diverse, eclectic mix of automobiles.” Registration for cars is now open. To register or for more information, visit www.orindacarshow.com. T-shirts for this year’s show are also available on the site.

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