October 25, 2021

Room 9 AV

Genuine Travel

Kicks on 66 show, cruise heats up hot day along Route 157

EDWARDSVILLE – Modified exhausts competed with each other as vehicles powered by anywhere from four- to 10-cylinders roared, blatted and blared away from the exit lane at On the Hill Golf Club Saturday onto Route 157, but no matter the exhaust mods, nothing sounds like a V-8 engine at full throttle.

It was the second Kicks on 66 Ultra Car Show and Cruise, a day for classic and custom car owners and fans to assemble, admire, trade stories about and cruise about in their vehicles. After three hours of showing off, owners began to line up at the golf club’s exit to either go home or participate in the cruise portion of the event. 

“We had lots of positive remarks from entrants and spectators over how much they enjoyed the arrangement of the vehicles and the diversity,” said Kicks on 66 Treasurer Jeff Kennedy. “The show had such a large turnout that we had to create additional spaces for vehicles to be displayed in. We think we had 500 vehicles plus those from the dealers and commercial displays. When online registration was closed, we had already passed 380 entries.”

He added that the farthest display vehicle came from Quincy while for a commercial display was JMar Auctions from Lexington, Tennessee.

Jeff and Cathy Ray, who live in Edwardsville, brought two classics to the show, a blue 1978 Chevrolet Camaro Z-28 and a black 1988 Chevrolet Celebrity Eurosport VR. The traditional definition of a classic car is one that is at least 25 years old, so currently, any vehicle made during the 1996 model year or earlier. 

During his ‘mid-life crisis,’ he began searching the Internet for another version of his first car, a 1968 Pontiac LeMans, one of General Motors’ (GM) quartet of mid-sized cars. 

“Looking for another one, I realized that anything Pontiac is worth its weight in gold,” he said. Pontiac, like several GM divisions, went out of business during the 2000s. However, its popularity has not waned, particularly in the Midwest, hence the high prices for the remaining models, especially the LeMans/GTO models.

“She told me, ‘if you can’t find [an affordable] clone of your first car, what about your second car?’” he said of Cathy.  That’s how they ended up with the Camaro. Jeff said he bought it in 2012 from its second owner in Millstadt, who had owned it since he was in high school. 

One of the changes Jeff made involved swapping out the factory transmission for a five-speed manual in the Camaro, which better allows him to keep up with modern traffic on the interstates. He said he enjoys surprising drivers of much newer vehicles while behind the Camaro’s steering wheel.

“It’s a fun driver; it’s not a trailer queen,” Cathy said of the Camaro, using a term for classic cars that spend more time being admired on a trailer or pedestal than driven. 

The Eurosport VR was the sportiest version of Chevrolet’s mid-sized, front-wheel drive sedan during the late 1980s. GM tried to infuse European influences into its quartet of A-bodies – Buick’s Century T-Type, the Eurosport, Oldsmobile’s Cutlass Ciera International and Pontiac’s 6000 STE. 

It’s rare to see any A-bodies from the 1980s now and the Eurosport VR was even rarer when new. Converted by Autostyle Cars, near GM’s Oklahoma City factory, the Eurosport VR was fitted with ground effects, body decals, a blacked-out grille and aluminum wheels. The Eurosport VR came in only four colors: red, silver, black and white.

Cathy said she thought the VR would make a great candidate to convert to electric power. 

“American Legion Post #199 was wonderful to work with,” Kennedy said of this year’s location. “They bent over backwards to help make the event happen. They are a under-recognized gem that we have here in Edwardsville.”

For those who chose not to go home after the show, they cruised down a two-mile portion of Route 157 between the golf club and Hotshots Bar and Grill. Along the route, there were dedication “pit stops” for specific kinds of vehicles. For example, Trace on the Parkway hosted Jeeps and other off-road vehicles, Wang Gang was the place to stop for all things Corvette. Vallow Floor Coverings hosted a stop for muscle cars.

The night before the show and cruise, EXO Lounge hosted a Motorball pre-party.

Last year, a small group of area car enthusiasts and local business owners joined together to plan the first Kicks on 66 event. It took place at the Sunset Hills Country Club. They deemed it a “wild success that exceeded our expectations and validated our vision to bring people together for their love of cars.” The event is also a rolling tribute to Randy Gori, prominent Edwardsville resident, attorney, philanthropist and major car enthusiast. Gori was killed in early 2020.

According to the Kicks on 66 website, “Randy was a good friend to many of us and regularly held car gatherings at his home. He was a generous contributor, dedicated to making our community a better place to live. He continues to be sorely missed.”

The group also realized they could raise money via this event, taking it on a philanthropic tangent. Proceeds from this year’s show went toward Backstoppers and Got Your Six Support Dogs in Maryville. This year, they became a formal 501(c)3 non-profit organization – Route 66 Kicks, Inc. Aside from Kennedy, Kicks on 66 Committee Members include Ryan O’Day, president, Steve Schmith, vice president, Alex Rosenberger, secretary, Rachael Cox, Adam Micun and Michelle Enloe.

Kennedy said plans are already underway for the third annual Kicks on 66 Car Show and Cruise in September 2022.

Reach reporter Charles Bolinger at 618-659-5735

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