Columnists

It’s All About Dad at Father’s Day Car Show

(The Times photo by Betsy Reason)
Central Indiana Vintage Vehicles’ 31st annual free Father’s Day Car Show — which annually features 200 cars and attracts thousands of people every year on this holiday honoring dads — will be from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday under the big shade trees on the grass at Forest Park.

When I think of Central Indiana Vintage Vehicles’ Father’s Day Car Show, I think of Dave Shank and Larry Grabb.

As long as the car club has been having car shows, they’ve been involved.

But it’s not just about them, it’s about all of the people who make this show a success at Forest Park in Noblesville.

“We just have a group of local car owners that pull together to make the event happen for our community and raise funds for The Elysian Foundation,” Shank said. “We are not big on who does what. We just all chip in when and where needed to make the event our gift to the community on Father’s Day.”

The 31st annual free Father’s Day Car Show — featuring 200 cars and attracting thousands of people every year on this holiday honoring dads — will be from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday under the big shade trees on the grass at Forest Park.

Grabb, a charter member of the car club and member of the club’s board of directors, was club president for several years but Shank holds the record for number of years as president of the car club.

With the Father’s Day Car Show, Grabb has been the deejay for the past, maybe, 25 years. “We were paying a lot of money to have a deejay, and it was just money we could not give to the Elysian Foundation,” Grabb said. “I’m kind of an old rock ‘n’ roll junkie and had a ton of music available, so we just took it from there. We borrow the amplifier and speakers from First Presbyterian Church and really appreciate their donation of that every year.”

Shank admitted he’s been president almost all the years that the club has been in existence, because, he said, “No one else wants the job.”

(Photo provided)
This 1952 Studebaker is Noblesville’s Dave Shank’s first car.

He said, “I was involved in the formation of CIVV to get it started in about 1988. But a lot of others were involved who have died or moved on for other changes in their life. A core group has been together for most of the years.” He does a lot of the public relations work and gets about 25 sponsors who donate funds to ensure that the car show is a financial success and buy the dash plaques and awards.

“We have a very unique show because we do not have many classes for show cars to enter and be judged to receive an award as most car shows do. That is a nightmare and causes many hard feelings. We just raffle the awards off by pulling car-entry numbers out of a hat so that every car there has a chance for an award. People with cars can win a trophy at our show who could never win at shows where they are judged. But we do have special awards that are listed on our flyers,” Shank said.

Shank and Grabb are both dads themselves and enjoy taking their families to the show. Shank, 78, has three kids and six grandkids. Grabb, 77, has three kids and two grandkids.

Shank and Grabb’s love for old cars began long ago and shared some stories.

Shank bought his first car, a 1952 Studebaker, when he was 15. “I had five sisters, so my mother raised six kids but never drove a car in her entire life,” Shank said. They lived in the Broad Ripple neighborhood, which in the late 1950s was the outer limits of Indianapolis.” I also was dating the sweet little girl who has been my wife for almost 60 years,” Shank said. “Our dates were trips to the drive-in movie theaters and restaurants that catered to the automobile with car hops.” In other words, Shank said, they would cruise the drive-in restaurants “to show your car and what girl was sitting next to you in the front seat.”

He said, “Everybody customized their car with fender skirts, loud mufflers and shiny chrome add-on parts. Those were the days.”

(The Times archive photo)
Larry Grabb of Noblesville, a Central Indiana Vintage Vehicles board member, bought a 1967 Buick Skylark with his father-in-law and enjoys the car for its design and the turquoise color. The club’s 31st annual Father’s Day Car Show is Sunday at Forest Park in Noblesville.

The next chapter of life was college, where you had no money and your girlfriend was probably in a different school far away, said Shank, who married the girl he met, then got a job, had a family, bought a house and acted responsible for many years.

Many years later, a friend asked Shank, “What do you do for fun?” Shank didn’t have an immediate answer. But it did make him ponder the question. His answer: find an old car like he had in high school. His search ended with a 1954 Chrysler that had been stored for many years and was in mint condition. The Shanks drove the car to the Channel 6 Auto Tour one year, and were asked if then Noblesville Mayor Mary Sue Rowland and husband, Ted, could be passengers for the tour. “What an honor…,” he said.

Shank then contacted the Noblesville Christmas parade organizer to get the names of the old car owners who participated. Shank would contact those folks to see if there was any interest in starting an antique car club in Noblesville. “She told me she was tired of organizing the parade, and she would only give me the list if I would take over getting the cars for the parade,” Shank said. It worked out perfectly, and Central Indiana Vintage Vehicles was born.

The first car show was June 22, 1991, at Don Hinds Ford when the dealership first moved to Fishers that year. The next year, they moved to a shady location, on the grass at Forest Park, where there are public restrooms nearby and an opportunity to serve food and drinks. The show has been there ever since. Noblesville Lions Club and Noblesville High School Leo Club will sell pork chop on a stick, chips and drink for $10, and hot dog, chips and drink for $5, also donuts and coffee in the morning, and food a la carte.

“After 31 years of presenting the Father’s Day Car Show, what makes it all worth the time and effort is seeing the families all coming together spending time together enjoying the old hobby,” Shank said.

Besides the Studebaker, Shank has a 1938 LaFayette with an upgraded drivetrain that’s considered a street rod. He also has a fiberglass reproduction of a 1929 Ford Model A Roadster. Since he can only drive one car at a time, he said his grandsons would drive the Shay to the Father’s Day Car Show with a cute girl sitting next to them.

Grabb, who will be perched at the deejay table playing his favorite rock ‘n’ roll tunes on Sunday, shared a little more about his love for cars.

Growing up in Decatur, Ill, Grabb learned how to drive on two cars at the same time. His mom had a 1958 Oldsmobile 98 four-door hardtop, an automatic and “quite a car.” His dad drove a new 1960 two-door Mercury Comet, a 6-cylinder with a manual transmission, and the most difficult to master.

“One time, Dad had me driving out in the country, and we were going up a long and fairly steep incline. About half-way up, he said, ‘Stop the car.’ Once the car was fully stopped, with my foot firmly on the brake to prevent us from rolling backwards down this hill, he said, ‘Ok, you can go now.’” That, my friends, is when and where I learned to drive a stick shift, going up a hill from a standing stop. It took a number of tries, and my Dad was grinning and chuckling the whole time. We repeated this exercise several times until I became a champ at it,” Grabb said.

(The Times photo by Betsy Reason)
Larry Grabb of Noblesville is usually found perched at the deejay table playing his favorite rock ‘n’ roll tunes on Sunday for the free Father’s Day Car Show, organized by Central Indiana Vintage Vehicles, of which he is a charter member.

He got his own car at age 17, between his junior and senior years in high school. He had to get a car because of his summer job as a lifeguard at a pool that was about 30 minutes from home. After much searching, he discovered that one of the school maintenance workers had a car he wanted to sell. And Grabb could afford it. “Only $40.” He took his dad to look at the car, a 1952 Chevy four-door sedan, dark green over light green, with the motor sitting in the trunk and a rod through the block. “The car was solid, there was zero rust, the interior was in good shape, and there was an AM radio sitting on the backseat waiting to be installed.” By the time he was driving the car, the total investment was $40 for the car, $35 for a good friend’s junkyard to install a good engine out of a 1953 Chevy and $40 for four new tires, complete with port-a-walls. The neglected paint was given a hand rubdown with running compound followed by a good coat of wax. “Man, did it shine. I went through the interior, painting the rubber flooring black, shining all chrome to new condition, and removing the sunshade over the windshield so the car wouldn’t look like it belonged to some old person,” Grabb said. “The car was geared low and would go anywhere. I carried a strong chain under the front seat and would often be called upon to pull friends out of mud or snow of whatever. I charged $2, and I was a lot cheaper than a tow truck, and their parents would never know.”

Grabb has owned a few cars over the years. Now, he has a 1961 Buick Electra, a 1967 Buick Skylark and a 1969 AMX, the latter of which he’ll show on Sunday. “I bought it new when I came back from overseas and needed a car,” Grabb said. “The car had been sitting for 13 years in my pole barn and it has undergone a lot of mechanical refreshing in the past two years. It is now ready to drive as of last week.”

The Father’s Day Car Show means everything to Grabb. Proceeds from the show go to The Elysian Foundation, which benefits severely brain-damaged young people who are housed in Hamilton County and supported by Normal Life of Sheridan. The Indy GTO Club of Indianapolis also adopted the Elysians as its charity. Each Christmas, the clubs make residents’ holidays more special.

Grabb said the Father’s Day Car Show is “a chance for car owners to interact with the general public and share knowledge of each owner’s specific car … People will enjoy the opportunity to walk through a beautiful park, gazing at the variety of cars … There really is something for everybody.”

– Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.

Want TO GO?

What: Central Indiana Vintage Vehicles’ 31st annual Father’s Day Car Show.

When: 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday, rain or shine.

Where: Forest Park, 701 Cicero Road, Noblesville.

How much: Vehicle show registration built prior to 1997 and/or customized or altered. Free admission to spectators.

What’s to eat: Noblesville Lions Club and Noblesville High School Leo Club will sell pork chop on a stick, chips and drink for $10; and hot dog, chips and drink for $5, also donuts and coffee in the morning, and food a la carte. No alcohol allowed.

Where the money goes: The Elysian Foundation to benefit residents of Normal Life of Sheridan, a home-based care program for the severely brain injured.

What else: Dash plaques to first 200 entries, 50/50 drawings, door prizes.

Info: http://civv.club/index.html