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Horsepower By the Bay Car Show

Atlantic City

The second annual Horsepower by the Bay car show Saturday produced a lot more horsepower than the original model.

The first event last year drew 120 or so classic and antique cars, and the crowds coming out to see them were held down by rain.

This time, the organizers said, they stopped counting the cars after 200 owners arrived to show off their meticulously maintained machines, and the grounds at the empty lot off Bay Avenue were crowded.

That instant growth spurt has the organizers, led by the Somers Point Historical Society, dreaming of a much bigger future.

“If we got 200 (cars) this year, we’ll do over 300 next year,” said Kirk Gerety, the chairman of the show for the Historical Society.

“We want to fill all of Bay Avenue. Our goal is to be the Bayfest of car shows,” Gerety added, referring to the town’s signature spring festival, which has drawn so many people to Bay Avenue the street has to be closed to traffic for the day.

Horsepower by the Bay is in part a fundraiser for the history group, although the organizers don’t charge the car owners to show off their wheels or charge the spectators to check them out. The money comes from sponsors and vendors, who did everything from sell pizza to promote banks.

“But visibility is important, and we’re giving back,” said Sally Hastings, Historical Society president.

There was some definite history in the show’s rows of cars. Take the 1934 Plymouth that Larry Strang brought with him from his Egg Harbor Township home. He has owned it for eight years and put a lot of time and work and weekends into it, and he’s used to the reactions it draws on the road.

“I get a lot of thumbs up,” said Strang, who has taken his 82-year-old baby to car shows as far away as upstate New York.

Some of the other show-and-tell cars were even older, but it doesn’t take almost a century to qualify as a classic. Mark Richman’s 1965 Corvette just had its 50{sup}th{/sup} birthday last year and was attracting as much attention as the ’34 his buddy, Strang, parked next to it.

Richman likes to bring his ‘Vette to car shows any chance he gets, “but I drive it on weekends if there’s no show,” he said.

And he was happy to relax outside in the sunshine, but Richman is no fair-weather friend to old-time cars.

“It has been shown in the rain, and it has been on the highway in the rain,” he said. “It’s a driver. Any day you own a classic car is a good day to drive.”

Photos: Craig Mathews

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