LONG BEACH — For some of the spectators — and many of the dogs — watching the Saturday night car cruise, the ear-splitting roar of souped-up engines and modified mufflers was overwhelming. For others, it was the whole point.
While the official 35th annual Rod Run car show took place in Ocean Park, the ever-popular cruise in downtown Long Beach drew hundreds of spectators on Sept. 8.
Eager to see the show up close, true classic car enthusiasts staked out spots on the sidewalk early in the day. For people with party trailers or roadside private lots, the partying started early in the afternoon.
Others, who were as excited about the spectacle as the cars, came later to cheer on the vehicles that screeched and honked their way down the main drag, happily obliging the scattered “Rev it up!” signs.
As always, the event was all about nostalgia for the America of yesteryear. For many, Rod Run is a celebration of the country’s mid-century prosperity, peace and manufacturing might. Spectators cheered for the sleek, stately cars from the 1930s, 40s and 50s, and some even dressed the part, with slicked-back pompadours and cuffed jeans or poodle-skirts and bobby socks.
However, over the last few years, the event has increasingly drawn people with a different vision of the past. This year’s cruise featured a larger number of “rat rods,” the quirky, less-elegant old vehicles that embrace their storied pasts. It also featured a more cruisers whose vehicles weren’t vintage at all, and who seemed more nostalgic for the Jim Crow Era than for sock-hops, Bel Airs and soda fountains. They joined the cruise in jacked-up, mud-spattered pickups, gunning their engines and sometimes coming perilously close to rear-ending wildly expensive show cars. Several drivers wore Confederate-themed gear, or displayed Confederate flags on their trucks, and one was outfitted with a large decal in the shape of the United States that said, “F--- off, we’re full.”
Despite the culture clash, police said the event was relatively peaceful. Local responders dealt with a few domestic disputes and intoxicated people, but not much else. State troopers made five DUI arrests between Friday and Saturday — a typical number for Rod Run Weekend. In the past few years, troopers have generally handled four to eight DUIs on the Peninsula during the event, which brings thousands of tourists to the area.
See next week’s Chinook Observer for the complete winners list and additional photos.