Bringing Good Car-ma

Classic cars — and curious onlookers, young and old — line Mission Street during a previous Cruz’n For Roses Hot Rod & Classic Car Show. The show returns to town this Sunday. Courtesy photos

It’s the wheel deal.

Now in its 15th year, the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses Cruz’n For Roses Hot Rod & Classic Car Show is scheduled for this Sunday, Sept. 15, along Mission Street. The popular event is expected to draw thousands of attendees, with car owners from across Southern California traveling to display their rides.

“It’s a great event that gets people in town and gives them the opportunity to explore Mission Street,” said Laurie Wheeler, CEO of the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce. “In previous years, there have been cars that were made famous in movies, like the ‘Love Bug’ vehicle. People come out because they get to see all these immaculate cars — there’s not a speck of dust on them. It’s a fun afternoon where car buffs get to meet car owners and have a really great time.”

Janet Benjamin, the show’s coordinator, has been involved ever since her father, Ted Shaw (founder of Shaw, Moses, Mendenhall & Associates Insurance Agency), co-founded the event 15 years ago with Jerry Rosenfeld.

“My dad used to be a mechanic and Jerry had a nice collection of cars, and we were looking for a new way to raise money for the Tournament of Roses float,” said Benjamin. “When we first started out, we showcased about a hundred cars — now we get more than 200. It brings in a huge amount of spectators, and local businesses do really well during the event. It has evolved to where the entire Mission District gets involved.”

All proceeds from entry fees will directly benefit the city’s Tournament of Roses float, which is the oldest self-built float in the New Year’s Day parade. The cost to enter a vehicle is $30 prior to the event, $40 on the day of the event, or $70 for the VIP section — which is in a prime location for participants to park their cars, and includes a T-shirt, VIP badge, coffee and donuts, lunch, and a golf cart tour of the show.

According to volunteer float builders, the cost to build a float costs approximately $100,000.

The event is free for spectators, who are welcome to come any time between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to check out the wide array of cars on display.

In the past, cars have included everything from 1932 roadsters and 1950s Chevys to a Mercedes Benz Gull Wing and a Cobra Sebring. Awards are also given in various categories such as Mayor’s Award, Best in Show and Most Unique Ride.

The show kicks off with an opening ceremony that will include a color-guard presentation, the Pledge of Allegiance and national anthem. The closing ceremony takes place at 2 p.m. The local police and fire departments will set up booths along Mission Street, but no activities will be held in the back lots, as part of efforts to minimize costs.

“The neat thing about this show is that we have such a huge spectrum of cars and anybody can enjoy it,” said Benjamin.

“This year, the YMCA will be joining us, and they’ll be doing their Pinewood Derby races in front of Carrows Restaurant. We’ve also opened up the show to motorcycles and a new “Under Construction” category to encourage young and new car owners to bring in their vehicles that they’ve started to work on but are still in progress.”

In the wee hours of the morning before the car show begins, Benjamin and her husband Rob will walk up and down Mission Street with cans of spray paint, putting dots in the street that are 12 feet apart where the cars will be parked. They do this in order to create enough room between the cars so that spectators can move around more freely, while car owners feel relaxed knowing that their cars are safe from being scratched.

“We really try to look out for our cars and make it good for everyone involved,” Benjamin said. “We want families to have fun, and it’s great seeing parents and grandparents point out the cars they grew up with to their kids and grandkids. It really gives off that hometown feeling, which is what South Pasadena is all about.”

For more information, call (626) 799-7813.

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Kamala Kirk is a contributing writer for the South Pasadena Review, San Marino Tribune and The Quarterly Magazine. Kamala formerly served as Managing Editor of Beauty Launchpad Magazine, West Coast Editor of American Salon Magazine, and Digital Editor for E! Online. A native of Hermosa Beach, California, she is a proud USC Trojan and pug mom to Wrigley the Pug (@pugofpasadena).

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