For most of us, as the summer months wind down toward fall and the daylight hours become increasingly short, activities involving our beloved Pontiacs begin to dwindle. Here in the Northeast, the change in climate is inevitable, but there is one difference. The last weekend in August is special for us, as it plays host to the annual GTOAA Northeast Regional Meet.
Hosted by the Garden State GTOs and held August 25-27, 2006, it was the 17th consecutive year for this event, and it was quite special in many ways, including that it was held at a new, larger host facility, The Parsippany Hilton Hotel, and we celebrated Jim Wangers' and Pontiac's 80th birthdays.
Late-model GTOs aren't afraid...
Late-model GTOs aren't afraid of a little rain. This is just a portion of the total new-age GTO turnout. Check out the silver Holden.
Located across the highway from last year's venue, the Hilton proved to be just what these hotels are-the best of the best. A much larger parking lot provided ample room for all cars and classes.
Show attendees started rolling in Friday afternoon, despite intermittent showers that lingered throughout the day. In true Pontiac devotee fashion, the die-hard show regulars weren't about to let a little rain hamper their two-day stint. By Friday night, the rain had abated, and those in attendance were treated to a parking-lot party, complete with a performance from a great local oldies band, The Symphonics. The band played throughout the early evening under a large gazebo located in a tree-lined grove adjacent to an impressive fleet of vintage Poncho muscle. People gathered to enjoy the music and free food provided by Garden State GTO members Frank and Jackie Olandesi.
Saturday was show day, and the rain held off, which resulted in 135 show cars in attendance. Jim Wangers was on hand to greet the show-goers and mingle with the crowd. He signed autographs and posed for photos throughout the afternoon.
A DJ provided music all day, as the Pontiac faithful roamed the parking lotenjoying the show and voting for their favorite entries in each of the popular vote classes. Many door prizes were awarded as well. In the rear of the parking lot, a vender area featured an array of parts and collectibles for those wishing to do some shopping.
Don Stellhorn's wild '64 GTO...
Don Stellhorn's wild '64 GTO road racer was the talk of the event. He designed and built it using the best that aftermarket has to offer
... and thankfully it's Pontiac...
... and thankfully it's Pontiac powered. Look for a full feature on this one in the future.
Tom Szymczyk's '72 LeMans...
Tom Szymczyk's '72 LeMans convertible took home the coveted Best of Show popular-vote award.
Joe Querra's stunningly preserved...
Joe Querra's stunningly preserved '66 GTO earned the GTOAA President's award.
For the second year in a row,...
For the second year in a row, Stephen Kiellar's '65 GTO hardtop garnered the Best of Show Concours award. E
GTOs in all styles from concours...
GTOs in all styles from concours restos to modifieds could be found on the show field.
This full-featured event included a large popular vote, consisting of 16 classes with First, Second-, and Third-Place trophies for each class, as well as a concours judging arena staffed by some of the most knowledge-able judges available. A delicious and reasonably priced lunch menu was provided in the parking lot by the Hilton, much to the delight of hungry attendees not wanting to miss out on any action.
Saturday night's award banquet was the best this show has ever had. Jim Wangers' 80th birthday was celebrated with a huge cake and more than 100 "Wangers face fans." The buffet-style dinner was fabulous, and everything went as smoothly as could be imagined. A Tricky Tray auction was held and provided nice prizes for all to stake their wages on, and a 50/50 raffle was held as well.
Hats off to all members of The Garden State GTOs, who each year help organize and run this show. Also, special thanks to the other clubs attending this event, especially Delaware Valley Old Goats, who in addition to their large turnout, helped tremendously with concours judging and popular-vote tabulation.
Robert Ferguson's heavily...
Robert Ferguson's heavily modified '68 Firebird would not be outdone by anyone in the Firebird/Trans Am class, where the Pontiac took First Place.
Overall, everyone loved the new location, and the Hilton has been reserved again for next year's show, which will be held August 24-26, 2007. If you've never been to this event, don't miss it. Providing the weather is good, we expect almost 200 cars in attendance. Remember, this show is open to all classic Pontiacs, not just GTOs.
To register for the '07 show, check The Garden State GTOs Web site (www.garden-state-gtos) in the early spring for printable registration forms, and remember to register early to ensure banquet seating. If you have any questions, contact Harold Murray through the Web site. Mark your calen-dars for next year's show-you won't be disappointed.