Motorhead mecca

Phillip Retemoza, from Watsonville, performs "La Bamba" with a custom guitar and a speaker system in the trunk of his 1950 Mercury on Monterey Street at Fifth Street during the 12th Annual Garlic City Fun Run.

Downtown revved up for the Garlic Festival with another popular summer bonanza, the 12th Annual Garlic City Fun Run and Car Show last Saturday.
The event officially launched garlic festivities with the ceremonious lighting of the giant garlic bulb. This year’s reigning Garlic Festival Queen, Olivia Echeverria, 22, received the honor of lighting the enormous garlic bulb sculpture, in a symbolic ceremony that ushers in the beginning weeks of the Garlic Festival.
The venue allowed classic car owners to line up their dazzling, decked-out vehicles and boast their rides’ features such as built-in amplifiers or unique customizations. Some of the cars have even made appearances in movies.
From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., approximately 3,000 motorheads showed up to ogle at 146 classic cars ranging from handcrafted Model T’s to supped up American muscle cars lining Monterey Road between Fourth and Seventh streets. Those who entered the competition touted their slices of Americana to onlookers and judges in hopes of becoming Best in Show.
While many car owners find pride in having decked-out vehicles with high performance parts, Gilroyan Dan DeMerritt, 78, showed off his homebuilt 1923 Model T. Having attended every year since the car show’s inception, DeMerritt, who built the Model T over a span of four years between 1986 and 1990 and used parts from a spread of vehicles and makers, said he enjoys talking about his vintage creation with passersby and seeing old friends.
“I started fiddling with cars back in the 50’s when I was a teenager,” Demerritt said, adding that since then, he has always been interested in cars.
“But now, I’m getting old, so if I were building it today I’d put doors on it,” DeMerritt said with a chuckle. “It can be hard to climb in and out when I drive it around.”
Despite coming in a few cars short compared to last year, Brian Dauenhaughter of the Gilroy Downtown Business Association – which organized the event – said this year was a success. The GDBA made a few changes this year such as bringing in food trucks, using a DJ instead of bands and ending the show at 5 p.m. instead of 9 p.m. (at the request of several participants who did not want to drive home in the dark).
Opting for a DJ, Dauenhaughter explained, allowed music to permeate the entire event area and was more compatible with the GDBA’s sound system. Dauenhaughter added that the food trucks were all a huge hit and raked in some solid business.
After an afternoon of deliberation, the five anonymous judges announced their verdict and bestowed Best in Show to Phillip Retamoza, 52, of Watsonville for his sparkling purple 1950 Mercury outfitted with amplifiers and an accompanying purple guitar, which he played for the judges.
“It’s an honor. There are a lot of nice cars out here,” Retamoza said. “I built (the Mercury) to have a nice car, not to win awards. I’m thrilled. I put a lot of heart and soul into this car.”
Stunned by his victory, Retamoza was quick to highlight his appreciation for the people who helped restore his Mercury, such as Eric Limones of Gilroy for the restoration and renowned car customizer Gene Winfield from Los Angeles for the Mercury’s paint customizations.
Motor enthusiasts say they flock to the event every year because of its fun, car-centric atmosphere.
“I enjoy the show a lot, there is great entertainment and I like to come out and hang out with other car fans,” said 64-year-old San Jose resident Tony Sanchez, who owns a Camero 350.
Now in his third year of entering the show, Sanchez proudly displayed that his Camero starred in the soon-to-be-released “Jobs” movie about Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, starring Ashton Kutcher. Sanchez – who caught a ride into stardom with his car – got to play an extra in the film, donning polyester pants and a 70’s wardrobe.
“They gave us 70’s clothing and polyester leisure pants,” he chuckled. “I acted as the neighbor across the street doing lawn work. In the trailer, you can see the Camero over Ashton Kutcher’s shoulder.”
On Saturday, Sanchez was in the good company of other crazy-for-classic-cars attendees, like 50-year-old Diana Goff of San Jose. Goff said she loves coming down to the Garlic City Car show because she gets to show off her Plymouth Belvedere GTX II, which Goff said exclusively features parts made by Mopar – a brand of auto parts from Dodge and Chrysler.
“Mopar,” Goff explained, is also a term classic car owners use to describe cars that feature Mopar parts.
“I come from a Mopar family,” She grinned. “Between us all, we have six Mopar cars.”
Having won Best in Show at other car shows, Goff said the appearance and sound of her all-black Belvedere are very important to her.
“From the hoses to battery caps, everything (under the hood) is Mopar,” Goff added. “It’s a cool car. It tends to get a lot of attention at shows.”

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