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Garden City River Rod Run

When: Fri., June 28 2013

This two-day classic car-based good time also has tunes and plenty of trips down memory lane. For full schedule visit missouladowntown.com. When I was growing up there was a picture of my father—a former car mechanic—that sat on a coffee table by the front door. He was sitting inside of an old dragster, with smoke billowing from the tires. I grew up on stories of him climbing inside of the massive engine bays of '56 Chevys and dismantling an engine in a matter of hours. When I turned 16, I got my first car, a 4x4 Nissan SUV, and promptly turned around and traded it for the car of my dreams—a rear-wheel drive Toyota hatchback. It might not sound like much to you, but it was everything I could’ve hoped for. I parked the car in the garage, and over the next few years I pulled the engine and transmission, rebuilt the top end and managed to get it up to 420 hp at the wheels. Every time I do one mod, I decide it's time to do another. In the eight years I've owned it, I've driven it less than 5,000 miles. It's still sitting in my garage, while I wait for parts to be delivered. Everyone I know, including my parents, think I'm crazy for buying a car like that, in a state where winter lasts 10 months out of the year. Loving cars is the most self-destructive and self-serving bad habit out there, outside of major drug abuse, that is. It’s hard to explain to someone why it feels so good to spend five hours waxing and buffing a giant slick of metal, only to park it in the garage and cover it up. But taking pride in what you drive is as old as, well, driving. This Friday and Saturday is the annual Garden City River Rod Run, which is one of the biggest car shows in the state. More than 200 hot rods are expected, and if it’s anything like last year, there should be around 3,000 spectators. On top of the five-hour “show and shine,” where spectators get a chance to look at their reflection in cherry red paint, there will be a “hot rod parade,” likely to include the ungodly sound of a 454 bouncing off redline. Us car guys have learned not to spout vaguely sexual and incoherent phrases like “bored and stroked” and “Holley four barrel 600 CFM” for fear of drawing confused looks. But for one weekend, the town—and the language—is ours. —Eben Wragge-Keller

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