Groundhog Gala, Sanford, Florida, Fuel Curve

Groundhog Gala! Rods and Customs Cast Long Shadow

The 18th annual Groundhog Gala was a treat for fans of traditional hot rods and customs. While most of the country in early February pays attention to a Pennsylvania rodent that emerges to see (or not to see) its shadow, that wasn’t the case in Central Florida.

Groundhog Gala, Sanford, Florida, Fuel Curve

Groundhog Gala, Sanford, Florida, Fuel Curve

Produced by the Misfires Car Club for nearly two decades, the one-day show celebrates traditional hot rods and customs in a big way. This year’s event on Saturday, Feb. 3, in Sanford, FL, attracted more than 300 cars and hundreds of fans to enjoy the cars, live music, pinup girl contests, vendors and balmy weather.

Groundhog Gala, Sanford, Florida, Fuel Curve

Groundhog Gala, Sanford, Florida, Fuel Curve

The Groundhog Gala attracts a wide variety of rods and customs, but you can also see rides such as Sixties-era Ford Econolines and a slew of Volkswagens, from cars to vans and utility vans. Several vintage choppers also were on display.

Groundhog Gala, Sanford, Florida, Fuel CurveGroundhog Gala, Sanford, Florida, Fuel Curve

Stir in a few gassers and you have something to satisfy any taste. In addition to traditional-style gasser coupes, two Fiat Topolinos and a Morris Minor displayed their gasser bona fides.

Groundhog Gala, Sanford, Florida, Fuel CurveGroundhog Gala, Sanford, Florida, Fuel Curve

And the show wasn’t a total Chevy/Ford V8 love fest. Unusual power plants included a Mopar Slant 6 in a track T roadster, a roadster pickup powered by a six-cylinder, an early-Sixties Ford Falcon powered by a tri-power six, a T-bucket roadster powered by a dual-carb, all-aluminum 215-cubic-inch Buick V8 and a ’40 coupe sporting an Olds V8 among others.

Groundhog Gala, Sanford, Florida, Fuel CurveGroundhog Gala, Sanford, Florida, Fuel CurveVendors ranged from the usual swap-meet parts sellers to old-school clothing, jewelry, artwork and collectibles merchants. Jack Mullins of Mullins Kustom Designs in Green Cove Springs, FL, displayed his striping efforts and worked on customer cars throughout the day.

Groundhog Gala, Sanford, Florida, Fuel CurveGroundhog Gala, Sanford, Florida, Fuel CurveSeveral late Fifties and early Sixties barges also made the show, including a couple of Impalas, a Buick and a ’64 Ford Country Squire station wagon. Oh, yeah, and a four-door-hardtop Corvair sporting fender skirts. You don’t see that very often.

Groundhog Gala, Sanford, Florida, Fuel CurveGroundhog Gala, Sanford, Florida, Fuel CurveSpectators joined in the fun, too. In addition to dressing the part, one cool kid cruised in a lowered, custom wagon built by his dad. Talk about a laid-back little dude! And a couple of other toddlers tore up the dirt with their toy cars.

Groundhog Gala, Sanford, Florida, Fuel Curve Ron Stetter showed up with his home-built ’32 coupe that has been in his garage since he built the car in 1952.

Groundhog Gala, Sanford, Florida, Fuel CurveThe day concluded with the awarding of several trophies, all creatively custom made.

Groundhog Gala, Sanford, Florida, Fuel CurveThe Misfires organized in 2000 to celebrate what they describe as the golden age of hot rodding and customizing. The small but dedicated membership expanded its work last year to launch the Dragstrip Riot last fall. The drag race event features vintage front-engine rails, funny cars, gassers and other period-correct drag cars, as well as a car show.

Groundhog Gala, Sanford, Florida, Fuel CurveThis year’s quarter-mile event is scheduled for late October at the Orlando Speed World dragstrip. We will be there to bring it to you faithful fuelers!

Photo Extra!

Dave Doucette is a long-time Goodguys member with a career in newspaper, magazine and website journalism. He was one of the founding editors of USA TODAY, editor of two daily newspapers and co-owner of a magazine publishing and trade show company. He owns and operates Real Auto Media. His first car was a 1947 Ford; he has owned Camaros, Firebirds, El Caminos and a 1956 Chevy that was entered in shows from California to Florida before being sold last year. He was one of the original Goodguys Rodders Reps and served as president of two classic Chevy clubs. Doucette grew up in South Florida, avidly following the racing exploits of local hero Ollie Olsen and, of course, Don Garlits. He remembers riding his bicycle to Briggs Cunningham’s West Palm Beach factory to peak through the fence at his Sebring and LeMans racers.

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