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National News / Automotive

Sunday, 19 October, 2014 11:43 PM

Scaled back Rendezvous Back to Route 66 still chugging along in San Bernardino


1967 Ford Galaxie 500 at the 2nd Annual Rendezvous Back to Route 66 in San Bernardino, Calif.


by Jason Rzucidlo



SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. -- The Rendezvous Back to Route 66 car show returned to the San Manuel Stadium on Oct. 10 and 11 in San Bernardino, Calif. It replaced the Stater Bros. Route 66 Rendezvous, which formerly took place on the streets of San Bernardino up until its funding was cut in 2012.

“We’re very excited to have it again,” said Judi Penman, president and CEO of the San Bernardino Chamber of Commerce. “We’re trying to re-establish the Rendezvous Back to Route 66 where it all began. Then, not necessarily because of the bankruptcy, it was more the loss of the convention and visitors bureau, which the city chose not to put any money into. Because of that loss, they were unable to continue the Rendezvous. People were missing that. The Chamber decided to step up to the plate and continue a presence of a Rendezvous Back to Route 66.”

The car show featured classic and antique cars, NHRA and NASCAR race cars and drivers, dragsters, sprint cars, midget race cars, an open-header contest and People’s Choice Awards.

“We’re having a great time, good mix of people and cars,” said Tom Bogner, director of motorsports at Lucas Oil. “I’m really happy to be here. We brought the race cars from Lucas Oil. We just kind of walked around to see what’s here. It’s hard to say which one is the best because there are so many nice cars. A lot of classic cars, a lot of new cars. I’m glad that Terry put this together and tried to bring this back. I think it’s a great location here. It’s clean. It’s still fun. Obviously, I think Terry can grow this thing. We need to get San Bernardino back involved like they used to be.”

Aleta Conlee from Riverside introduced me to her 1969 Mercury Cougar named “Bob.” She had a silver tray on the passenger window with a burger, cupcake, soft drink and condiments on it. So I asked her the obvious question, has it ever been to Bob’s Big Boy?

“Yes, I have over in Corona actually I took it to Bob’s Boy Boy,” she explained. “My car’s name is Bob for Big Orange Beast. My husband’s name is Bob and he built the whole thing for me. It has a 351 [engine] but it’s been stroked to be a 393. It puts out about 400 or 500 horsepower. It had to be repainted. All of the silver rims had to be ordered because it was missing from this car. The interior was redone as well because it was badly torn up. I get a lot of stares, how about that.”

Jake McCloud brought his Dean Engineering top fuel dragster to the Rendezvous Back to Route 66 as part of the Cackelfest. McCloud and several other drivers fired up their cars and made lots of smoke for attendees to enjoy.

“My late brother and I built this car in 1967,” McCloud said. “We raced it for about three years. We won five straight top eliminators. We lost the sixth one in the final round. It’s a 170-inch wheelbase RCS car. It’s got a 400-inch Chrysler HEMI in it. It puts out between 2,500 and 3,000 horsepower. I finally put it back together as a Cackel Car and just show it. This is pretty nice here. I think they’ve got to get started with it, get it advertised and I think it will be a good show here. Although the downtown show where they blocked off the streets was fun also. It’s good for the merchants and stuff in the area. Things like that makes for a good show also.”

Juanita Bigelow from Grand Terrace won an award for her 1956 Ford Thunderbird. Horace Mann Insurance nominated her.

“It’s my first Route 66 trophy,” she said. “I bought it in 1959 and it’s been through a complete restoration. I haven’t really customized anything, I’ve tried to keep it as stock as possible. It used to be my work car right after I got out of high school. I was working at Norton Air Force Base. I was a key punch operator. It’s a 312 engine. I don’t know what the top speed is, I haven’t gotten there yet.”

The event also featured food vendors, creative kids games, inside park poker runs and variety merchandise vendors. The Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP) hosted a healthy spin game show on Saturday from Noon to 5 p.m.

“I’m really glad that they’re keeping it going,” said attendee Bennie Hutchins from San Bernardino. “It’s a little disappointing compared to what it was in the past, but at least they’re trying to keep it going. We miss the cruising. The music is great.”

Her friend, Tony Moreno, agreed: “I believe the city should open up, at least open up the streets to these people here to really show off their cars. People like to see the different older cars that they have. I think they should talk to the city and get the city to open up again. We just like to look around and see what we find. If there was better food like there used to be, it would be great. They had a lot of food vendors.”

The Motorsports Racing Display was new this year. It featured NHRA and NASCAR race cars. Drivers Ryan Partridge, Toni McCray, Eddie Fischle and Brian Fischle and his brother, Matt Fischle.

“I like it, but it’s not as good as Route 66 a few years ago,” said Jim Booth, an attendee from San Bernardino. “It’s making a comeback. Hopefully, each year it will get a little better. I like hot rods in general. There’s a lot of nice cars here. It would be hard to pick one. I would like to see it go back to the streets in a few years. That would bring in a lot of spectators, a lot more cars. It would be a good thing for San Bernardino. I’ve got a Corvette and I’m building a Cobra roadster.”

Visitors had the rare opportunity to meet the all-female racing team of Shawna Craig Racing. They were on hand to promote their reality show “Speed Sirens,” which is in need of a TV home.

“We did film season one,” said Michele Jolie, pit crew member and future driver. “We are looking to not only empower women, but we’re also racing for juvenile diabetes and we’re looking for other causes to race for. We actually race and work on the car. Blake, our mentor, is teaching us how to pull it all apart, work on it. Obviously, there’s females out there who race, but none of them are owned by a female all-race pit crew and all-driving crew. The No. 18 car is Blake’s old car. We haven’t named her yet. She’s a Chevy and is all track legal.”

Many attendees and car owners agreed that they would like to see the Rendezvous return to the streets of downtown San Bernardino. What are the chances of that?

“It’s a little difficult because of the sbX [Rapid Transit Bus],” Penman answered. It goes right down E Street. They’ve taken away all of the parking on E Street. We could probably have it in a different area. One of the complaints with the car owners was if it was open like that, it was kind of allowing almost anyone to come in. Some of their cars were getting a little damaged. We heard that loud and clear. So we decided to have it here. It was a safe and secure area. Everyone seems to be pleased with that. It takes people a while to get used to a new routine. It’s keeping the tradition alive in San Bernardino and also on the Route 66.”

What does the future hold for next year? Who knows...Maybe a car show back on the streets of downtown San Bernardino.

For more information about the Rendezvous Back to Route 66 car show, visit

Related Stories: Attendance a little lower at 2012 Route 66 Rendezvous in San Bernardino, Calif.; 2012 Route 66 International Festival rolls off into the sunset




The car show took place on the grounds of the San Manuel Stadium.



Pasadena Larry's race car



Official festival t-shirts



The All-Female Shawna Craig Racing team



Banner above W. 2nd Street in San Bernardino


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Unauthorized duplication or use of Text, Photos, Videos, Site Template, Graphics and or Site Design is Prohibited by Federal and International laws. See our Notice/Disclaimer.