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Polo Car Show a hit across generations

Four-year-old Ali Merath, Janesville, cleans a mirror under her grandfather’s 1967 Chevelle during the Polo Car Show held Aug. 11 in downtown Polo. Photo by Earleen Hinton
Four-year-old Ali Merath, Janesville, cleans a mirror under her grandfather’s 1967 Chevelle during the Polo Car Show held Aug. 11 in downtown Polo. Photo by Earleen Hinton

Santos Rodriguez always makes sure the Polo Car Show is on his list of things to do in the summer.

“I love it,” said the Sterling resident as he looked at cars with his sons Isiah and Jeremiah on Saturday under sunny skies and mild temps. “I just have a good time here and bring my sons and we have a really nice day.”

Rodriguez started attending the show when his older sons, now 30 and 26, were younger.

“Now they bring their sons to the show,” he said. “It’s a lot of good clean fun.”

Mike and Kathy Blaser, Janesville, Wis., made the trip back to Polo after a 10-year hiatus.

This time they brought their 1967 Chevelle to show and their 4-year-old granddaughter Ali along as a helper.

“We came here about 10 years ago and then we quit for awhile and decided to come back this year,” said Mike. “We brought the car down on a trailer.”

The Chevelle sports a 454 engine. “I run racing gas in it and that’s about $6.95 a gallon,” he said.

“It’s really Ali’s and her grandpa’s car,” said Kathy as Ali cleaned one of the Chevelle’s mirrors. “The heat finally broke this summer. It was just too hot to go anywhere before that.”

Stratford resident Ron Baker had a much shorter drive to the show when he hopped into his 1927 Star made by Durant Motors and motored five miles west to Polo.

His wife followed him along Pines Road to make sure the “depot hack” didn’t falter.

“We made it,” Baker said smiling. “I’ve had a couple of Model Ts and this kind of looks like one of those, but it is different.”

The Star’s roomy interior, framed in wood, seats six passengers. Its four-cylinder Continental engine is powered by a vacuum fuel system and complemented by a three-speed manual transmission. The Star was designed to compete with the Ford Model T.

Baker purchased the vehicle from an estate sale in northern Wisconsin. Saturday marked the first time he taken the car out for an extended ride.

“It has had some work done on it so its not original. I don’t think there are many of them still out there that are drivable. It does seat seven so it’s like an SUV,” he said smiling. “They call it a depot hack because they used it to take people back and forth from the train depot.”

Just 20 yards away Rich Phillips, a Thomson resident, was showing a much different vehicle—his rat rod, a 1951 Chevy truck with lots of after-market add-ons including an animated wooden clown in the passenger seat and a water-spitting fish as a hood ornament.

“The clown is from an old bank,” he said. “This is a rat rod so I have stuff all over it,”

Some of that “stuff” included old license plates, a hub cap for a steering wheel, and the water-spitting fish that Phillips controls with a remote control, much to the surprise of unsuspecting passersby.

“I have fun with it,” he said.

But the Chevy has earned its awards too, taking part in the 7-State Power tour three years ago.

“We went everywhere in 2009. We got a long-hauler award when we went from Madison, Wis., to Bristol, Tenn.” he said.

Dave Knutson, Polo, also had his “new” 1965 Shelby on display.

“I bought it in December so it is new to me,” he said. “I’d been looking for one and I found this one in St. Louis.”

The sporty two-seater is powered by a 351 Ford Windsor engine and five-speed manual transmission.

Show organizer Cliff Harmon said he was pleased with this year’s turnout.

“We ended up with 131 cars, 12 tractors and about a dozen motorcycles,” said Harmon on Monday. “It was a very good show and the weather was great. We keep trying to improve it each year. I think this was probably our best show in eight years.”

The winner of the 50/50 drawing was Delores Massey, Oregon, who won $2,302.50. Delbert Smith, Franklin Grove, won the $100 cash prize, and Sarah Rademacher, won the $50 prizes. The drawings were sponsored by the Polo Chamber of Commerce.

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