On a soggy Saturday morning on May 9, Craig Armstrong did something he normally refuses to do. He pulled his meticulously restored 1970 Chevelle SS out of his Grain Valley garage and drove it to Peculiar.
“I don’t drive my car out of the garage in the rain, but I did this morning because I wanted to be here,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong, along with well over a hundred other owners of vintage and unique cars, trucks and motorcycles, were not going to allow a light, early morning shower to dampen their spirits for the annual open house car show at Pete & Jake’s Hot Rod Parts in Peculiar.
“The innovation and technology and people’s capabilities are just out of sight,” Armstrong said.
The vibe is almost like a country fair. Music, food and a lot of unique cars fire up the senses.
“There is something for everybody,” Armstrong said.
Thirty miles almost due north of Peculiar, another car show was underway at the same time in Independence. The 17th Annual Legends of the Past Car Show at Noland Road Baptist Church had the same family feel.
“It is the socialization that people have with each other,” said Ken Lee, who organizes the car show at Noland Road Baptist Church. “”They like to communicate with people who have the same kind of interest. People who do these projects, they enjoy showing them off and talking about it.”
Another common thread with these two car shows Saturday was the money raised for worthy causes.
The money raised at the Noland Road Baptist Church car show will help send some children to the CentriKid Camps in Bolivar, Mo. It also will help pay for mission work in Jamaica.
The money raised at Pete & Jake’s open house will go to fighting juvenile diabetes.
Jason Slover, whose family owns Pete & Jake’s, said they have had an open house for 28 years. But the last six years, the money raised goes to the Kansas City Chapter of JDRF, which was formerly known as Junior Diabetes Research Foundation, to fight Type 1 diabetes.
“It is fun because we get to see family and friends,” Slover said. “It is just a wonderful day. What is so amazing to me is no matter what the weather is, people show up. People are here to support us no matter what.
“It is rewarding to us that we have made connections like that through the hot rod community. That is what we have always tried to do. We try to treat our customers like family, and events like this show that.”
Armstrong calls the open house at Pete & Jake’s a mom and pop car show because of the family feel.
“I have known the Slovers for 40 years,” Armstrong said. “I wouldn’t miss this for the world.”
It’s the sense of family that got Slover involved in JDRF charity. The Sexton family in Peculiar has several members fighting diabetes.
“We didn’t want to be the type of people that walked door to door for donations,” said Marty Sexton, an organizer for the car show at Pete & Jake’s “We wanted to give something back. It is always the second weekend of May.”
Three staff workers from the Kansas City Chapter of JDRF were at the car show, wearing smiles, selling T-shirts and educating people on juvenile diabetes.
They blended in with car enthusiasts, a live band that played at the car show and people selling food.
“I love this event because it is unique,” said Leslie High, executive director of the Kansas City Chapter of JDRF. “It reaches a different audience to help raise awareness of the devastating effects of Type 1 diabetes.
“I just know that car people are some of the most generous people in the world. They show it every year at this event.”
The feeling is the same at the car show at Noland Road Baptist Church.
“For us, this is a positive way to impact our community and also let people know we are here,” said Noland Road Baptist Church Pastor Francis O’Donnell. “We do this because we love Jesus and we love our community.
“One of our goals is people in our church take their passion and use it for the Kingdom. The people here are displaying their passion. We believe the way they restore their cars is how God restores our life. They lovingly rebuild these cars as God rebuilds our life through Christ.”
Terry Storey, a major on special operation for the Independence Police Department, is also a member of Noland Road Baptist Church. He brought an interesting vehicle from his department, an EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) truck.
“We want to be part of the community and show people the robots and the EOD,” Storey said.
Storey added that his son benefited from the car show. He went on a mission to Jamaica.
“They go there and do service for the people there,” Storey said.
Perhaps the most interesting and expensive car at Noland Road Baptist Church was a 1930 Hudson built by Leroy Holler. Eight months ago, it had 156 bullet holes in the back.
“It was sitting in a farmer’s field and they used it for target practice,” Holler said.
Everything on the car, from ground up, Holler made at his shop, Holler’s Hot Rods and Race Cars at 1414 W. South Ave., Independence.
“It has two 502 cubic-inch Chevy motors, two 871 blowers, two transmissions and two nine-inch Ford rear ends,” he said.
The friendly banter with family members, friends and car enthusiasts about cars is the main ingredient that makes a car show an enjoyable time.
It is one reason why Dennis Slaymaker of Spencer, Iowa, drove a little more than 300 miles in his 1934 Ford Coupe for the sixth time to attend Pete & Jake’s open house.
“I like to see things that are a little different from what I see at home all the time,” Slaymaker said. “It is fun to get away from the shop and take a trip. They also do the auction for juvenile diabetes. We like to participate in that.”
Holler, who goes to car shows all summer long, said you meet a lot of good people.
“You visit and talk,” Holler said. “I know most the people here. “It is just a lot of fun.”
Slover agrees about the fun. He was trying to do several different things during the open house. He was running the business and making sales. He was meeting and greeting car enthusiasts. And the smile on his face said he was having a great time.
“We are going full throttle,” Slover said. “It is a wonderful day. It is a laidback atmosphere. There is no pressure. And it is very rewarding that we are helping the kids. One of the comments we always make is, today is all about the kids and for the kids.”