John Holmes blazes the tires in preparation for a run in Arnie Beswick’s original ’66 “Sta
With a total of 865 registrations, 210 popular vote showcars, 103 cars present for Points Judged certification, and 86 non-judged “Road Warriors”—all of which were driven to the event—the 2011 POCI Convention held in Bowling Green, Kentucky, on July 5-9, 2011, proved to be a rousing success as convention-goers were treated to a variety of showcars, racing, activities, and sightseeing.
“Holding the convention in Bowling Green was a great fit for POCI,” said President Dave Bennett. “With the Corvette factory and museum and Beech Bend Park, the area is well-prepared for automotive events of any type. We also were fortunate to have the Bowling Green Convention and Visitors Bureau and Entourage Management handle much of the planning of the operation.”
The 2011 POCI Convention also marked the 50th anniversary of the ’61 Pontiacs, and the club put out the word that this model year was being saluted. As a result, there was a wide array of both full-sized and compact models—even two Canadian versions were on the grounds. Wilf Kaszantis brought two six-cylinder-powered, full-sized ’61s to Kentucky—a Laurentian two-door post sedan and a Parisienne convertible. He also brought a gorgeous Tri-Power ’61 Bonneville convertible. All were the same shade of brown—an impressive display to be sure.
Super-Duty collector extraordinaire Bobby Knudsen brought two of his original Royal Pontia
Of course, the rare stuff is what gets everyone’s heart beating faster, and there were no disappointments in Bowling Green. It’s almost a given that there would be at least one ’61 Super-Duty Catalina, like Keith Curry’s ’61 Batwing sedan, or a Ventura, like Bobby Knudsen’s ’61 Royal-sponsored racecar. Both are impossibly rare machines, but where else but at a POCI Convention would you find not one but two Super-Duty Bonnevilles? Yes, it was possible as a dealer-installed option. Richard Ebert’s black ’61 SD 389 even ran down the dragstrip, piloted by none other than Arnie “The Farmer” Beswick.
In addition to the Super-Duty cars, there were also many rare examples of Pontiac history on the ground, including two George Barris-customized Firebird convertibles, Jack Dale’s Super Teen Firebird, and a rough but real ’69 that was used on the hit ’60s TV show I Dream of Jeannie.
Other vehicles of note included Bob Knudsen’s Royal Pontiac-sponsored ’62 Catalina racecar, which had been missing for decades and had just come off a full restoration at Scott Tiemann’s Supercar Specialties. It took a Gold in Points Judged. Eugene Riotte’s red Lane Moak Pontiac ’62 Super-Duty Catalina, originally driven by Lewis Sharp, was also on display. In addition to winning a Points-Judged Gold, Eugene brought Lewis Sharp himself along to meet and greet and answer questions from convention participants.
Curt Richards’ silver ’69 Firebird is purported to be one of the two Trans Am prototypes b
Also being shown for the first time was Tom Gerrard’s ’59 Catalina Safari Pickup prototype, a former Department X feature car. He purchased the “El Catalina” from longtime owner Darrel Lotridge, who rescued the one-off machine back in 1969 and had partially restored it. Lotridge sold it in 2008 to Gerrard, who had the restoration completed.
Seminars were also a big hit this year, with discussions led by Fred Simmonds on Pontiac racing history. Mike Matune held the Ropeshaft Rountable on road-racing Tempests, Tim Dye did his Pontiac Museum presentation, Gary Dickinson myth-busted Rochester carbs, Randy Pribyl discussed show-day car prep, and Arnie Beswick and Mike Garblik discussed drag racing.
Thanks to the efforts of Debbie Ciepiela, Bandit Run event and media coordinator, and the POCI officials, the largest seminar was without a doubt the incredibly entertaining and fascinating talk given by legendary stuntman and director Hal Needham, who was the creative genius behind Smokey and the Bandit (I and II), as well as Hooper. POCI members were thrilled and fortunate to have him there, accompanied by his wife, Ellyn, and a fleet of movie vehicle replicas, including Buford T. Justice police vehicles, Tyler Hambrick’s Snowman’s Peterbilt semi and trailer, and even Buford T. Justice impersonator David Betz. Of course, there were plenty of SE T/As there as well (see the photo in Up Close).
A nicely stocked swap-meet area was adjacent to the Holiday Inn host hotel and Sloan Convention center. In a park-like setting, vendors provided everything from the basic resto fare to rare Pontiac parts and seldom-seen memorabilia.
The car show was held on Saturday at Beech Bend Raceway and took place along with the inau
Mark Smith, from Collinsville, Oklahoma, brought his meticulously restored ’70 Hurst SSJ G
Smokey and the Bandit director Hal Needham autographs a Trans Am’s console for a fan. Need
This replica of Sheriff Buford T. Justice’s ’77 LeMans Enforcer police car was on display
Rodney Butler and Travis Quillen’s ’63 LeMans performs an intense burnout. This car has re
Eugene Riotte displayed the original Lane Moak Pontiac/Lewis Sharp ’62 Catalina, complete
Aaron Johnson’s ’78 Trans Am is flanked by Dave Alger’s ’76 Limited Edition Trans Am and R
John Campbell’s Judge-striped ’70 GTO convertible, Frank Chapman’s ’70 Judge, and Alan Lei
Arnie “The Farmer” Beswick pilots Mark McConville’s compressed natural gas-powered ’66 GTO