A Full Day of Fun in So-Cal, Cruisin’ for a Cure Comes Alive!
Cruisin’ for a Cure – billed as “The world’s largest one-day car show” filled the O.C. Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa with chrome and candy colors the third Saturday of September offering a car guy mega show all packed into a span of 10 hours. Over 3,000 classics showed up for the 17th annual gathering including celebrity appearances by Barry Meguiar, Chip Foose, Velocity Network’s Chris Jacobs, Ed Iskenderian, and a host of other notable So-Cal hot rod legends
Started back in 2000 by Debbie Baker after her husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer (he passed away from the disease in 2008), the event is a powerful reminder of the good things car people can do when rallied for a cause. Over the span of those 17 years, countless dollars have been raised for prostate cancer awareness. Nearly all of the event’s proceeds go to the cause. Making it that much more successful is the all-volunteer event staff who handle everything from marketing, operations, and logistics.
The event format works well for Southern California’s diverse car culture. Along with the usual suspects in their early Fords, classic Chevys, big Buick’s and other favorites, this year event management threw open the gates to exotics as well adding Porsche’s, Lamborghini’s and McLaren’s creating an eclectic mix of machinery.
Playing off the event name, cruisin’ is a big part of the event experience here. The dawn patrol-style ingress of show vehicles lasts a good three hours and that’s after many were lined up in the middle of the night to get in as early as possible. Once mid-morning rolls around, many bail on their coveted parking spots and fall in line for a 1.5-mile long cruise lane snaking through the entirety of the event along the midway through the show fields and back around again. It made for a dynamic scene before the traditional 4pm drive out after the awards ceremony.
All 150 acres of the facility are used in order to accommodate the crush of cars and people here. The folks at Meguiar’s sponsor the awesome “Meguiar’s Hanger” with their super trailer, cool cars and an interactive stage where Barry Meguiar himself holds court chatting with celebrity guests to talk shop. It’s a really cool exhibit.
Among the field of killer cars, we spotted Bruce Wanta’s AMBR-winning coachbuilt Packard-style roadster by Hollywood Hot Rods, Ralph Holguin’s “Dream Catcher” truck built on the RMD Garage TV show, Timeless Kustoms’ “Viscous Mustang,” and other favorites from this year’s national event circuit.
Of course, the impetus of the event, prostate cancer is a prevalent theme. Anyone who wants to take a FREE prostate cancer screening right there on the event grounds is encouraged to do so. In a recent LA Times article, show founder Debbie Baker exclaimed “Guys need to take care of their bodies the way they do with their hot-rods,” she said. “Come on guys, it could be your life, your dad, brother or uncle.” Baker has been extremely successful at not only raising awareness but catching the disease early in a few unsuspecting victims. One such man, Carson Lev who worked at Foose Design for years, got screened at the event back in 2002 and tested positive, catching the disease in its early stages. He calls Baker his “Guardian Angel” and returns each year.
To that end, Cruisin’ for a Cure is a major success. Guys want to talk cars all day but when it comes to any kind of medical test, many of us hit the brakes. Debbie Baker has dedicated the last 17 years of her life making sure to change that.
Photography by Jonah Licata