Rev up for the Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion

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Jamie Lee Pricer

More than 180,000 spectators checked out more than a thousand cars at the 2013 Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion in Ontario. Organizers expect the 2014 event will attract 250,000 fans.
 

So you think your classic 1964½ Mustang convertible, packed with a 289 V8 and four on the floor, beats all? Or is it that slick, passionate red two-door ‘73 Plymouth Barracuda with an Edelbrock carb? Heck, it could be your restored ‘34 3-speed Chevrolet Touring Sedan with dual side mounts.

Need an answer? You’ll find it, or a good amount of debate, at the Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion in Ontario Sept. 19 to 21. Promoters say it’s the nation’s fastest growing classic car show. It’s expected to attract a quarter of a million car lovers. More than 2,000 vintage autos have already registered.

Special attention this year will go to 50th anniversary celebrations of the iconic Mustang and GTO brands. As always, the reunion includes vendors, food, live music and family entertainment. Past shows have drawn crowds of fans from Southern California, the Southwest, Midwest and Southeast U.S. as well as around the world.

Promoters promise a “full-throttle affair,” with 22 blocks of vintage automobiles, motorcycles, chrome and steel lining tree-shaded historic Euclid Avenue in downtown Ontario. Those 22 blocks can be wearisome so do as many spectators do — bring a light lawn chair.

The daily cruisin’ route will circle a nine-block stretch of Euclid Avenue.

A light show on wheels

Some participants have spent years producing specially lit vehicles for the world’s largest nighttime neon light cruise, a virtual “moving light show on wheels.” Other highlights of this year’s event include: Show-n-Shines, Poker Runs along historic Route 66, model car contests, headliner performers and Von Hot Rod’s Shindig with Pin-striping Circus and Nostalgia Rod & Kustom Display.

Also, there will be a kids zone, pancake breakfast, beer garden and nondenominational church service on Sunday.

“Southern California thrived because of its rich love affair with the automobile,” said Michael Krouse, President and CEO of the Greater Ontario Convention & Visitors Bureau, which produces the event. “This is a chance for folks from everywhere in the world to gather and enjoy the nearly mystical passion that is shared by so many.”

Operated by the city of San Bernardino for years, the popular Route 66 event was in danger of ending permanently when San Bernardino faced deep financial problems and could no longer afford to run the event. The Ontario CVB stepped up to host the cruisin’ for the first time in 2013.

If you go

Where: Euclid Avenue and surrounding streets of downtown Ontario, near City Hall at 303 East “B” St.

Cruisin’, vendor booths, shows: 5-10 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday

Cost: Free for spectators

Information: Route66cruiseinreunion.com, facebook.com/Route66CruisinReunion, twitter.com/CruisinReunion, www.youtube.com/ cruisinreunion.