Rod Run to the End of the World: Summer's bold exclamation mark

The Peninsula's great end-of-summer classic car and hot rod rally draws thousands from throughout the region. KEVIN HEIMBIGNER photo

Almost 1,100 cars were registered for the 2003 Rod Run to the End of the World. About the same can be expected this year, in one of the greatest car events in the West. According to Beach Barons President Jerry Benning, the annual event brings nearly $9 million to the local economy each year.

The Rod Run was moved a few years ago to the weekend following Labor Day.

Show and Shine tops the list of events at the car extravaganza, with the vehicles and their owners being the stars. Kids' games, door prizes, bubble gum blowing, hula hoops, and a 1950s costume competition are all part of the Rod Run. Live music fills the air in the afternoon.

Taking place Sunday are a treasure hunt, seafood barbecue, drawings for prizes up to $1,000 cash, raffling off two car engines, and trophy presentation to 135 winners.

The Beach Barons have 175 regular members and many more associate members who live away from Pacific County. "One of the requirements of being a member is helping to make Rod Run a success," Benning says. The event happens east of Ocean Park on land the Beach Barons purchased with receipts from previous Rod Runs.

"We couldn't do the quality of car show we do without a whole lot of people working together. The women are great helpers, too, and when a husband joins, the wife is automatically a member. They cook, paint, do anything that is needed," Benning explains.

The Rod Run has had up to 1,600 entrants in past years, but the Beach Barons set a 1,200 car limit several years ago to make sure the quality of the show was kept at a high level and that the grounds and surrounding area were manageable, according to Benning, who is a retired Pacific County Sheriff.

One of the key components of the manageability of a giant car show is that alcohol is prohibited on the grounds. Organization and paying attention to detail is another.

Parking areas at U and Z streets in Ocean Park are available.

Benning is the fifth president in the 20-year resurgence of the Beach Barons. Bob Langendorfer and Duey Ames shared the honor the first 16 years of the Rod Run. Ted Sondren and Gene Klinger split time the next two years and Benning is completing his two-year term as president. Ames was a member of the Beach Barons in the 1950s before they were as organized as now, according to Benning.

"The Chamber of Commerce came to us and asked if we could have a car show to help spur the economy," Benning explains. It is likely they had no idea how much their proposal would grow. "Max Morehouse came up with the name - Rod Run to the End of the World - and it has obviously stuck."

Most of the proceeds from the show go to improving the grounds. "Now that we have paid off the property we would like to finish paying for the new kitchen," Benning says. A charitable contribution of $6,000 is also given to local causes from the Beach Barons.

For additional show information and registration requests, call 665-3565 or check the web at www.beachbarons.com.

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