Happy Days drove in again

Local car enthusiasts were more than happy to show off their classic cars Saturday afternoon at the 10th annual Happy Days Car Show in San Martin.

Throughout the day, the sun cast its warm rays onto the usually empty field located inside the spacious Ludewig Ranch, just off Monterey Road.

Vintage vehicles glistened in the light, while their owners sat nearby, seeking refuge under trees and tents.

But spectators didn’t mind braving the heat for a chance to get a closer look at the 78 eclectic, colorful cars.

An estimated 2,000 people came to celebrate the show’s decade-long run.

The show’s organizers, the San Martin Neighborhood Alliance, an organization that supports and promotes the town’s businesses, have been running this event since 2002 and they hope to see it grow, despite a small dip in tickets sales and registered cars this year.

Nonetheless, Chairperson Connie Ludewig said she couldn’t believe the show was already in its 10th year.

“It started here and it’s a great place because it’s centrally located in San Martin and people with cars have come to know it,” she said. 

Of the large property filled with vehicles, vendors, food, and stage with two local bands, she said: “It was a prune ranch before and the Ludewig Family has been here since 1920 and selling Christmas trees since the 1970s,” referencing her family’s popular Christmas tree farm located on the same lot.

Car lovers from the area came out in full force, some bringing with them their prized possessions.

Automobiles were lined up in neat rows, clean and pristine, with their hoods popped open to show off custom features.

Sam Russell, of San Martin, entered his blue 1960 Cadillac Coupe Deville for the second year in a row.

“A lot of nice people out here, a lot of nice cars. It’s a good show. I’ll probably be here next year. Even though the dust is kind of brutal, it’s a fun show, “ Russell said. 

He’s been to plenty of car shows, but said the relaxed, easy-going environment is what keeps him coming back to San Martin.

“The smaller shows, to me, are more fun. The bigger shows are just harder to get in and out of and you have to be there at the crack of dawn,” he said. 

Rich Furtado, of Gilroy, entered two cars: a 1937 vanilla Ford Sedan and an orange 1931 Dodge Coupe.

He said he’s been to several cars shows throughout Northern California, including this one, and says for him, restoring old automobiles is more than just a hobby.

“I always liked cars, then I got a little bit older, and my kids grew up and I had some expendable cash, I started building cars. I’ve been doing this for about 12 years,” he said. 

Tony Ivelich and his wife Pam, of Gilroy, came with their 1929 Ford Model A.

“We come to most of the car shows around here,” he said.

And like a true car enthusiast he admitted he doesn’t want his hard work to go unnoticed.

“You put a lot of work into the car, so you want to take it around.”

Thanks to the endurance of the Happy Days Car Show, it’s developed its fair share of devoted followers.

Ludewig said she’s glad that the show can have such an impact on San Martin, and the area as a whole.

“Whether you’re from Gilroy, Morgan Hill or San Martin… we really just want to encourage people to be good neighbors and to have a good time.”

“It’s really great because it brings the community together. All the volunteers are from this area,” she said, just before eyeing event-goers who were on their way out, waving and giving a friendly shout, “Thanks so much for coming! Bye!”

The Taste of Morgan Hill’s 23rd annual Custom & Classic Car Show will feature a trio of favorite sock-hopping, drive-in-parking, apple pie-transporting, oldies-thumping American beauties – the 1955, 1956 and 1957 Chevrolets. 
The 2012 car show will take place downtown during the Taste of Morgan Hill festival, on Monterey Road between Fourth Street and Dunne Avenue, Sept. 29 and 30, according to the car show’s co-chair Myles Taketa. 
Staging for the car show will begin at 8 a.m. both days, and will conclude about 3 p.m., with an awards ceremony recognizing the owners with the “most spectacular cars in the show,” according to organizers. 
A continental breakfast and lunch will be served to car show participants both days. 
The Custom & Classic Car Show is a fundraiser for the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the annual Taste of Morgan Hill food, music and art festival. 
T-shirts and raffle prizes donated by Morgan Hill businesses will also be available at the car show. Music from the 1950s and 1960s will accompany the show as well. 
For more details and to register for the 23rd annual Custom & Classic car show, contact co-chairs Taketa at 408-221-1702 or Lou Mirviss at 408-779-4554. Or contact the Chamber at 408-779-9444. 

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