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Hot rods roar: End-of-summer car party mostly safe, successful

Natalie St. John

Published on September 12, 2017 1:32PM

Last changed on September 12, 2017 1:34PM

A spectator leaped into the street to cheer for a passing muscle-car during the annual Saturday night cruise in downtown Long Beach.

NATALIE ST. JOHN/nstjohn@chinookobserver.com

A spectator leaped into the street to cheer for a passing muscle-car during the annual Saturday night cruise in downtown Long Beach.

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This ’56 T-bird certainly brought back memories for Donata Kalisch of Nehalem, Oregon. Her father borrowed this exact same car to take her family on a trip to Montana over 40 years ago.

ROBERT HILSON PHOTO

This ’56 T-bird certainly brought back memories for Donata Kalisch of Nehalem, Oregon. Her father borrowed this exact same car to take her family on a trip to Montana over 40 years ago.

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For some, the cruise is a family event, and a chance to bond with other car enthusiasts. The cars ranged from prize-winners that have been featured in magazines, to works-in-progress like this one.

NATALIE ST. JOHN/nstjohn@chinookobserver.com

For some, the cruise is a family event, and a chance to bond with other car enthusiasts. The cars ranged from prize-winners that have been featured in magazines, to works-in-progress like this one.

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Roni Zonnefeld, 27, of Kirkland worked hard  rebuilding this 1963 Ford F-100 truck with her dad.

ROBERT HILSON PHOTO

Roni Zonnefeld, 27, of Kirkland worked hard rebuilding this 1963 Ford F-100 truck with her dad.

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‘Rat rods’ and other eccentric vehicles - and people - are an increasingly common feature of the Saturday night cruise.

NATALIE ST. JOHN/nstjohn@chinookobserver.com

‘Rat rods’ and other eccentric vehicles - and people - are an increasingly common feature of the Saturday night cruise.

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This year’s cruise drew participants of all ages and backgrounds. While many were hot rod-owners, others simply appreciated the parade of vintage vehicles.

NATALIE ST. JOHN/nstjohn@chinookobserver.com

This year’s cruise drew participants of all ages and backgrounds. While many were hot rod-owners, others simply appreciated the parade of vintage vehicles.

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Rat rods have been increasing in popularity at Rod Run in recent years.

ROBERT HILSON PHOTO

Rat rods have been increasing in popularity at Rod Run in recent years.

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Rod Run fans had to look for shelter as the rains came Saturday afternoon.

ROBERT HILSON PHOTO

Rod Run fans had to look for shelter as the rains came Saturday afternoon.

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The shimmering  newly  painted hot rods weren’t the only draw last weekend. This rusty head-turner got a lot of attention on Saturday as well.

ROBERT HILSON PHOTO

The shimmering newly painted hot rods weren’t the only draw last weekend. This rusty head-turner got a lot of attention on Saturday as well.

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Bruce Sewell of Long Beach relaxed with his dog Barney in his 1959 DeSoto.

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Bruce Sewell of Long Beach relaxed with his dog Barney in his 1959 DeSoto.

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Television personality Dennis Gage was on hand at this year’s Rod  Run producing the popular TV show “My Classic Car.”

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Television personality Dennis Gage was on hand at this year’s Rod Run producing the popular TV show “My Classic Car.”

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The 34th annual Rod Run brought thousands to Wilson Field in Nahcotta last weekend.

ROBERT HILSON PHOTO

The 34th annual Rod Run brought thousands to Wilson Field in Nahcotta last weekend.

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When traffic stalled during the cruise, spectators frequently dashed into the street to visit old friends, or praise cars they liked.

NATALIE ST. JOHN/nstjohn@chinookobserver.com

When traffic stalled during the cruise, spectators frequently dashed into the street to visit old friends, or praise cars they liked.

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Did they paint the car to match the dog? While many pooches were intimidated by the crowds and noise, this one appeared to be enjoying the attention.

NATALIE ST. JOHN/nstjohn@chinookobserver.com

Did they paint the car to match the dog? While many pooches were intimidated by the crowds and noise, this one appeared to be enjoying the attention.

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A pair of muppets motored through downtown Long Beach on September 10.

NATALIE ST. JOHN/nstjohn@chinookobserver.com

A pair of muppets motored through downtown Long Beach on September 10.

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Car owners scrambled as sudden gusty winds blew over a few tents at Wilson Field on Saturday afternoon.

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Car owners scrambled as sudden gusty winds blew over a few tents at Wilson Field on Saturday afternoon.

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Terrel’s Barbecue proved to be a very popular lunch spot.

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Terrel’s Barbecue proved to be a very popular lunch spot.

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Pacific County Undersheriff Ron Clark, pictured without hat, was assisted by members of the Lewis County Sheriff’s department creating a safe yet relaxed atmosphere last weekend.

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Pacific County Undersheriff Ron Clark, pictured without hat, was assisted by members of the Lewis County Sheriff’s department creating a safe yet relaxed atmosphere last weekend.

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Old technology met new, as Allen Hunt of Kelso took a break showing off his 1966 Ford Galaxie, and checked the weather on his Samsung Galaxy.

ROBERT HILSON PHOTO

Old technology met new, as Allen Hunt of Kelso took a break showing off his 1966 Ford Galaxie, and checked the weather on his Samsung Galaxy.

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Paitynn Lemons, 4, on left and Sawyer Harlin, 4, of Longview, enjoyed the Bouncy Dry Slide.

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Paitynn Lemons, 4, on left and Sawyer Harlin, 4, of Longview, enjoyed the Bouncy Dry Slide.

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The rain didn’t seem to deter Rod Run’s faithful crowd.

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The rain didn’t seem to deter Rod Run’s faithful crowd.

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Over 800 cars were displayed at Rod Run this year.

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Over 800 cars were displayed at Rod Run this year.

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Moderate temperatures and cool breezes early in the day brought many visitors to Rod Run on Saturday.

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Moderate temperatures and cool breezes early in the day brought many visitors to Rod Run on Saturday.

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LONG BEACH — The noise rattled windows and terrified dogs, as participants in the traditional Saturday night cruise roared through downtown on Sept. 10.

The event resulted in one police chase and one rollover wreck, and some police officers said the atmosphere seemed a bit rowdier this year. But aside from those incidents, the Rod Run was safe and successful, authorities said.

More than 800 vehicles registered at the official Beach Barons’ Wilson Field east of Ocean Park, a club member said. Rain on Saturday afternoon somewhat dampened the celebratory atmosphere, but on Saturday morning the field looked as full and lively as it ever has.


Younger, wilder


People who pour their life-savings into vintage cars are pretty sensible drivers — they don’t want to destroy an irreplaceable part or destroy a perfect paint job. But the long line of raised jeeps and old Toyota pickups from an off-roading club had no such concerns. As they pulled through the intersection of Pacific and Bolstad at sunset, one Jeep-driver peeled out, and jerked backwards, slamming on his brakes just as he was about to hit his buddy’s Jeep. On each pass through downtown, they revved their engines, surging forward and screeching to a stop again and again. Some observers cheered, others looked seriously annoyed.

Officially, the Beach Barons’ Rod Run to the End of the World is a celebration of lovingly-restored “hot rods” and classics. The 34th annual Ocean Park car show was open to cars made no later than 1987. But this year, the informal cruise seemed to draw a lot of cars — and people — who were made well after 1987.

As always, there were pristine Mustangs, Bel Airs and Barracudas whose owners hovered over them with chamois cloths in hand. There were custom-paint jobs worth more than the actual cars, mirror-like chrome bumpers and hand-upholstered leather interiors too beautiful to sit on. This year, there were also more souped-up model Ts, ancient Chevy pickups and other jalopies that wore their flat paint, rusty bumpers and dents like badges of honor. These were the “rat rods,” the redheaded-stepchildren of the hot rod world.

Mixed in with the vintage cars were dune-buggies, homemade mopeds, coupes with giant spoilers and neon lights, and giant muddy trucks.


Drinking on the downlow


Early in the evening, a visiting officer from Castle Rock noticed a man in a black truck talking on his cell phone as he drove through downtown. When he signaled the man to pull over, “The guy dropped the cell phone, turned and took off. He went to Ocean Beach Boulevard,” Washington State Patrol Sgt. Brad Moon said. “The driver was headed north, accelerating to the point where he lost control of the vehicle.” Near Bolstad Avenue, the man crashed into a white SUV and jumped the curb, nearly hitting a woman in a wheelchair.

Officers from several agencies arrested him at gunpoint. Tests later revealed the man had a blood-alcohol level of 0.26, well over the legal limit of 0.08, Moon said.

Though a bouncer meticulously checked IDs at one popular watering hole, a lot of drinkers didn’t bother with bars. Many of the people who lined the route of the cruise surreptitiously pulled out flasks, or sipped from red plastic cups filled with mystery-punch. When a spectator threw something into the bed of a passing truck, a hidden cache of empty cans clattered loudly.

There’s always a certain amount of partying associated with Rod Run weekend, Moon said. But crime dropped significantly after local authorities moved it to after Labor Day and beefed up the downtown police presence several years ago.

Fifteen years ago, Moon said, State Patrol would send as many as 40 troopers to help out, and they’d arrest 40 to 60 drunks over the weekend. For the last few years, they’ve arrested four to six people drunk drivers each year. This year, there were three DUIs, Moon said.


Rod wrecks


There was one fender-bender involving a 1948 car that lost steering and crashed into a bush near Chinook, Moon said. The only other Rod-Run-related wreck occurred on State Route 103, near the Dunes Bible Camp in Ocean Park.

Two men in an open-top Jeep were headed south on 103 on Saturday night, when the driver missed his turn.

“We suspect he was going too fast for the conditions,” Moon said. “He did a u-turn. It rolled over.”

Both passenger and driver were ejected from the vehicle. At first, the passenger, who was “highly intoxicated,” appeared to be unresponsive, but he woke up. The driver was not drunk. Both men were up and walking around by the time responders arrived. They refused aid. The vehicle had to be towed.

“That ended up being a minor injury collision,” Moon said.

The Observer will publish a list of winners and many more photos from Rod Run’s Wilson Field next week.







































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